How to Make Pancakes From Scratch

5 from 19 votes
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Fully homemade pancakes stacked high and drizzled with sticky maple syrup make for the best breakfast recipe. Learn how to make pancakes from scratch using a combination of flour, buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, and leavening agents.

Homemade pancakes stacked up high coated in syrup with a pad of butter on top.

Recipe Science

  • Mixing the batter just until combined prevents overdeveloping gluten, ensuring pancakes are tender and fluffy instead of tough and chewy.
  • Using baking powder in the batter releases carbon dioxide when heated, causing the pancakes to rise and become light and airy.
  • Cooking pancakes on a preheated pan creates a uniform golden-brown crust through the Maillard reaction, enhancing flavor and providing a slight crispness.

Why It Works

There’s something special about starting the day with a tall stack of homemade pancakes topped with maple syrup. Over the years, I’ve tested numerous recipes, from vegan pancakes to oat pancakes, but I’m now sold on using yogurt to enhance flavor, nutrition, and texture. Each pancake is soft and slightly spongy, which is excellent for soaking up the sweet syrup.

These hotcakes bring instant satisfaction and are easy to make any day of the week. They also freeze and reheat well for a quick breakfast on busy mornings. Since the toppings are endless, you can switch them up each day.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients for homemade pancakes spread out on a table.
  • Flour: I use all-purpose flour because it has a moderate protein level, about 10 to 13%, which yields a pleasant chew without tasting tough.
  • Sugar: Adds a hint of sweetness and accelerates browning for a golden surface.
  • Leavening agents: Baking soda is added to initiate the bubbling reaction with the acidic buttermilk. Carbon dioxide is formed so quickly that it can deflate before the pancake finishes cooking. That is why baking powder is also added to create more bubbles for extra lift.
  • Salt: Enhances the taste of the pancake mix.
  • Buttermilk: The acidity in the fermented dairy product reacts with the baking soda to create bubbles and make tall pancakes. The fat adds richness, and the tanginess enhances the flavor.
  • Yogurt: A small amount of yogurt in the pancake batter adds a slight tartness. Yogurt has fat, protein, and probiotics, keeping the texture tender and moist with added nutrition. I recommend whole milk plain Greek yogurt like Fage 5%.
  • Eggs: The yolks add fat for tenderness, the whites add air to the batter, and the proteins bind everything together as it cooks.
  • Butter: The fat coats some of the flour proteins to reduce gluten formation, giving the pancakes a tender texture. The milk solids add a delicious taste and enhance the browning.
  • Oil: Use neutral-tasting oil like vegetable, canola, or avocado. I’ve tested using butter and found that the milk solids brown too quickly, creating uneven spots and a burnt taste if cooked too long.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

Now that you know how to make homemade pancakes, customize the batter as you like! Try these fun and delicious suggestions:

  • Flour: Use whole wheat or white whole flour for extra fiber. If the batter is too thick, add more buttermilk or water; these types of flour absorb more liquid. For dietary restrictions, use gluten-free flour.
  • Sweetener: Brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup can be used. Compared to using granulated sugar, the pancakes will not be as golden or crisp on the edges.
  • Buttermilk Substitutes: There are various buttermilk substitutes, like regular yogurt, kefir, diluted sour cream, or plain yogurt.
  • Flavoring: Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to bump up the baked aroma and taste. Give almond or banana extract a try.
  • Mix-ins: Add colorful sprinkles, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or fruit like bananas, strawberries, or blueberries. Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or pumpkin pie spice.
  • Toppings: Fresh whipped cream, Nutella, chocolate chips, strawberries, bananas, chopped nuts, or a berry compote are all delicious choices.

How to Make Pancakes From Scratch

Bowl of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Step 1: Combine the Dry Ingredients

Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl to ensure proper rise. Whisking together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt evenly disperses the fine particles.

Make Ahead Tip: This dry homemade pancake mix can be stored in a glass jar for up to one month. This is great for meal prep! When ready to make a batch, just add the wet ingredients.

Buttermilk being poured into a bowl of eggs, yogurt, and melted butter.

Step 2: Combine the Wet Ingredients

Whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, and melted butter in a bowl. Ensure the butter is at room temperature so it does not curdle the eggs. Combine until smooth.

Pouring buttermilk from a measuring cup into a bowl of flour.

Step 3: Make the Pancake Batter

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. To avoid a tough texture, fold the batter gently and minimally, with just enough mixing to combine the ingredients with lumps remaining.

Lumpy pancake batter in a white bowl.

The batter for this homemade pancake recipe is thick and lumpy. This is exactly what you want! It will give them a sturdy structure while keeping them moist and tender.

Overmixing to make a smooth batter will set off a lot of gluten formation, resulting in a rigid structure. A small amount of mixing plus letting the batter rest for 10 minutes ensures that the gluten proteins relax for a more tender product.

Spatula flipping pancakes in a nonstick pan.

Step 4: Cook the Pancakes

Set a lightly greased, nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Use a measuring cup to portion out ¼ cup of batter. Typically, about 2 to 3 pancakes can fit in a large pan. Cook the pancakes until the bottoms are golden brown and bubbles start to break through the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Flip and cook the other side until dry and lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not press down! This will create flat pancakes. Cook the remaining batter, greasing the pan in between batches.

Pro Tip: Once poured, the pancakes will not be exact circles, but you can use a small offset spatula or butter knife to help shape them for a more uniform appearance.

Fork placed into a stack of pancakes showing the layers inside.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make homemade pancake mix?

Measure out the dry ingredients, then whisk together. The flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt can be stored in an airtight container, such as a glass jar. When ready to cook, mix with the wet ingredients.

How do you make thick and fluffy pancakes?

Baking soda forms carbon dioxide with the acids in the buttermilk to lighten the batter right away. As the pancake cooks, the heat creates a secondary bubbling reaction with the baking powder for extra lift. This ensures light, tall, and fluffy pancakes. Another important tip- never press down on the pancakes once flipped. This will press the air out, leaving you with dense and flat pancakes.

How can you tell when to flip the pancakes?

A good indicator of when to flip the pancake is when the edges start to set, and you see bubbles break the surface of the uncooked batter. The bottom should be golden brown and crisp, if you’re not sure, take a little peak on the underside to check. Gently turn them over and let them finish cooking.

How do I keep the pancakes warm in between batches?

Place the pancakes on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Transfer to a 200ºF (93ºC) oven. Keep warm for no more than 20 minutes so they do not dry out. Cover with foil if needed.

Can I freeze the pancakes?

Pancakes are great for meal prep! I recommend placing pieces of parchment paper in between to prevent sticking or individually wrapping. Store in freezer bags for up to 2 months. They are great microwaved or toasted for crispy edges.

Why do you rest the batter before cooking?

Giving the batter 10 minutes to rest after mixing creates more tender, taller pancakes with better structure. The time allows the gluten formed to relax, which affects the texture. It also allows the flour to fully hydrate, so the batter thickens and holds its shape once poured as it rises and sets.

More Breakfast Recipes

If you tried this Homemade Pancakes recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Best Homemade Pancakes

Easy to make homemade pancakes stacked up high and drizzled with sweet and sticky maple syrup makes breakfast time better.
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 14 pancakes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt, 5% milkfat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • vegetable oil, for cooking

Instructions 

  • Combine Dry Ingredients – In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Combine Wet Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, and cooled melted butter.
  • Make the Batter – Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients leaving a few streaks of flour. The pancake batter should look lumpy. Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes before cooking.
  • Cook the Pancakes – Heat a large 12-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, then use a paper towel to spread it into a thin layer. Add ¼ cup of batter, making 2 to 3 pancakes at a time. Cook until golden brown, the edges set, and bubbles begin to break the surface, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not press down on the pancake after flipping or it will not be fluffy. Repeat with the remaining batter, and oil the pan as needed.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Yogurt Substitute: Use full-fat sour cream.
  • Omitting Yogurt: The pancake will be slightly fluffier but a little more bland in flavor.
  • Rounder Pancakes: The batter is lumpy, so the pancakes may not be perfectly round. If desired, use a spoon or small offset spatula to lightly spread the pancake into a more circular shape right after the batter is poured into the pan.
  • Keeping Pancakes Warm: To keep the pancakes warm in between batches, heat oven to 200ºF (93ºC). Place cooked pancakes on a wire rack sitting in a sheet pan. Keep them warm in the oven for no more than 20 minutes so they do not dry out. 
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. 
  • Reheating Frozen Pancakes: Microwave pancakes in a single layer for 45 to 60 seconds until hot. If you want crispy pancakes, toast them in a toaster or toaster oven.
  • The recipe was adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, The Science of Good Cooking

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 14 pancakes
Calories 128kcal (6%)Carbohydrates 17g (6%)Protein 4g (8%)Fat 4g (6%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Cholesterol 40mg (13%)Sodium 171mg (7%)Potassium 110mg (3%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 175IU (4%)Calcium 64mg (6%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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17 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Melissa says

    Hi Jessica,
    I love all your recipes! You have taught me so much about cooking!
    I want to make these for a brunch on Sunday for the 49er game. Can I add blueberries to these pancakes? When would I add them before cooking?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question! I like to pour the batter into the pan and wait for about 10 to 15 seconds when the bottom just sets and the surface starts to form some bubbles. Scatter the blueberries on top. Thanks for cooking along with me Melissa!

  2. Stacy says

    Congratulations, I really like your site and I am more inspired by you for my own creativity. I wanted to thank you for a number of useful and tasty recipes. Husband and children are delighted. Thanks for the help.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes! I let the pancakes cool down and freeze them. I pop them in my toaster to reheat, so easy for a quick breakfast!

  3. Heather says

    Made these this morning. WHAT A DIFFERENCE in FLAVOUR due to using the buttermilk and yogurt. The buttermilk had been languishing in the freezer for months. I thawed it out yesterday, poured it all out of the carton, whisked it to re-incorporate the solids, poured off 2 cups for this recipe and went to town. Absolutely delicious and fluffy. Will make again and again.

  4. Rue Ann Eyler says

    Thank you SO much for this recipe! I’ve tried many and finally a light, fluffy, delicious pancake!!! My family has decided this a keeper❤️

  5. Karen says

    I’ve been making pancakes for about 40 years and I have fine tuned a recipe that my mother used and my kids and grandkids love them. The recipe is very similar to yours. However they don’t require any yogurt, buttermilk or unsalted butter. I’ve always felt like pancakes should be inexpensive, so adding things like yogurt or buttermilk or even butter to the dough just makes them more costly for families pinching pennies. (Spend the money on real maple or fruit syrup)
    And I’ve never understood the “lumpy” dough thing. I whip mine until it is smooth and lest it rest until the pan is hot. They are never tough or chewy. I’ve found adding the dry ingredients to the wet makes mixing them a lot easier.

    The choice of pan can make a big difference too, I have a cast iron griddle that fits 2 plate sized pancakes perfectly. I’ve tried stainless or non-stick and you just don’t get the same color as with cast iron.

    Lastly, one of my kids would have a reaction to too much baking powder so I’ve done what you do using some soda and some baking powder.

  6. Mr. Ron says

    I don’t understand why restaurants only make thick pancakes. Growing up in NYC in the 40’s, there was a pancake house called B&B that made thin pancakes, no thicker than 1/4 inch. They were served as a stack with butter and real maple syrup. They were great and to this day, I still make them that way. I find thick pancakes are too doughy in texture.