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How to Make Pancakes

Fiber One Pancakes
You know ‘em, you love ‘em—not only are pancakes perfect for just about any meal from brunch to brinner, but they’re an easy, customizable addition to special occasions like Valentine’s Day, birthdays or Christmas. 

Pass the syrup, because we’ve got the lowdown on everything pancake related, from how to make pancake batter to creating fun, festive shapes and choosing your toppings.

Types of Pancakes

Pancakes—or hotcakes, griddlecakes or flapjacks, as they’re also known—are thin, often round cakes cooked in (you guessed it!) a pan or hot griddle. While they can be made from cornmeal, buckwheat or even potatoes (a method common in many European and Middle Eastern cultures), generally a basic pancake batter consists of wheat flour, eggs and milk or buttermilk, sometimes with butter, oil or other ingredients. Pancake styles vary all over the world, and in general, you can make them thicker or thinner by adding more dry or wet ingredients respectively. In the United States pancakes tend to be fluffier thanks to a leavening agent—usually baking powder. In France a thinner version (called crêpes) is common, and the Dutch and Germans serve puffy pancakes called pannekoeken or Dutch Baby pancakes, which are often made in the oven and filled with sweet or savory toppings. Thin Asian-style pancakes are often made with savory ingredients like scallions, then served with veggies, meats and/or a spicy or sweet dipping sauce. There’s even a national Pancake Day, aka Fat Tuesday, the last day of feasting before the start of the Lenten fasting season.

How to Make Pancake Batter from Scratch

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Making pancake batter is really pretty easy since so few ingredients are involved. A homemade batter, like in this classic whole-wheat buttermilk pancake recipe, is simple to put together with a few pantry ingredients like Gold Medal flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, vegetable oil and salt.

How to Make Pancake Batter with Bisquick

Bisquick mix makes pancake batter even simpler, since all the dry ingredients are already in the box. Follow Betty’s all-time favorite Bisquick pancake recipe to see how it’s done—just three ingredients needed!

How to Make Gluten-Free or Dairy-Free Pancake Batter

Pancakes can easily be made gluten free using Bisquick Gluten Free Baking Mix (like in this gluten-free pancake recipe), or by substituting a gluten-free flour or flour mix in your favorite pancake recipe. Yummy Gluten-Free Paleo Pancakes have a unique flavor thanks to a mixture of coconut flour and almond meal flour, as well as creamy coconut milk—they’re also dairy free and fit the Paleo lifestyle.

If you’re avoiding dairy products, experiment with almond, soy or coconut milk instead of cow’s milk in your favorite recipe. And if you’re vegan or allergic to eggs, the Betty Crocker test kitchens have some fabulous vegan egg substitutes (including bananas) that will help bind your pancakes and keep them fluffy.

What You'll Need to Make Pancakes

  • An electric griddle set to 375°F, or a frying pan over medium-high heat
  • Batter
  • Something to grease the pan: cooking spray, vegetable oil or shortening
  • Something to scoop or pour the batter: a ladle or ¼-cup measuring cup OR a plastic squeeze bottle with a narrow opening (if making pancake shapes)
  • A spatula to flip pancakes
  • An oven-safe plate or cookie sheet to keep fresh pancakes warm

Making Pancakes

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1. Pouring the Pancake Batter
You’ll know your cooking surface is hot enough when a few drops of water sprinkled on it dance and disappear. To make regular round pancakes, pour the batter by slightly less than ¼ cupfuls onto the hot griddle or pan. A pancake batter dispenser can also help make evenly sized ‘cakes. Make sure to leave room between pancakes so they don’t run together—you may only want to make one or two at a time.

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2. Pancake Shapes
If you’d like to make pancakes in different shapes, use a squeeze bottle with a narrow opening to better control the batter as you pour. This is a great way to make letters, hearts or fun shapes like reindeer or Yeti.

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3. How to Flip Pancakes
When edges are dry and the bubbles on the surface of the batter start to break, carefully turn the pancake and cook on the other side until golden. You want to make sure the pancakes are cooked all the way through, but not overcooked—this usually takes about 1-2 minutes per side. Pro tip: Don't flip more than once! Repeated cooking on both sides toughens rather than browns the pancakes.

As your pancakes finish cooking, place them on an oven-safe plate or cookie sheet and keep in a 250°F oven until you’re finished making the rest of the batch.

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4. Pancake Add-Ins
Upgrade pancakes with fresh fruit, spices, cocoa powder, nuts or mini-chocolate chips stirred (very gently!) right into the batter immediately before cooking. For larger or more delicate add-ins like apples or bananas, gently press thinly sliced fruit on top of the pancake when cooking the first side. Some of the liquid in your batter can be replaced with canned pumpkin, applesauce or protein-packed Greek yogurt for extra flavor.

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5. Pancake Topping and Garnish Ideas
Half the fun of pancakes is all the toppings you can pile on! Butter and maple syrup is a classic combo, but have fun with other ingredients like fruit, flavored syrups, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, nuts, sprinkles, jam, peanut butter, applesauce, yogurt (Greek yogurt will be thicker and add more protein), coconut flakes and chocolate chips. If you’re making savory pancakes, try topping with shredded or soft cheeses (think ricotta or brie), bacon, ham, sausage, or veggies such as green peppers, tomatoes or mushrooms. You can even make pizza pancakes!

Special Occasion Pancakes

Pancakes are a delicious way to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Whip up a big birthday stack—complete with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles—for your favorite person’s special day, or you can even make birthday cake pancakes using a Betty Crocker cake mix added into the batter. Red Velvet Christmas Pancakes with cream-cheese topping are an especially yummy way to celebrate Christmas morning; set up an Easter Egg DIY pancake-decorating station for an adorable Easter brunch.

Make-Ahead Pancakes

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Storing pancake batter isn’t recommended for more than a day; instead make all the pancakes and freeze the extras to be reheated in the microwave later. Follow Betty’s How to Freeze Pancakes tutorial (complete with a big-batch recipe) to stock your freezer with pancake goodness.



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