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Making pancake batter the night before?

I am pretty much a novice with them but I was thinking of having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow and was wondering if there is any reason that I can't make the batter tonight and have it ready to go in the morning?
I'm also wondering why most recipes call for 1/4 cup or so of batter? You almost never get them that small when you eat out and I like them big. .so I sorta don't understand why anyone would want to make small cakes? I would think most of us have skillets at least 12" and larger? What am I missing here?

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  1. you can make pancake batter the night before, but I think it gets a little gluey. When you make it right before throwing it on a hot skillet, it still has a lot of air whipped into it and makes very airy pancakes with lots of "cells."

    Crepe batter, OTOH, should be refrigerated.

    And I think recipes just call for 1/4 cup for sake of uniformity and giving correct "serving sizes" for not only the pancake, but how many cakes the batch will make. Make 'em as big or small as you like, just make sure to watch cooking times so you don't end up with burnt or raw-in-the-middle flapjacks.

    1. I always make crêpes, not the thick kind of pancakes (we call the latter "galettes") so of course I make them the night before, or even earlier. Much less risk of failure that way.

      1. I think buckwheat pancake batter is best made the night before. And if it seems too stiff in the AM a quick drop or two of liquid works.

        I for one gave up on making huge skillet size pancakes, hard to flip.

        1. A yeast recipe is what you need if you want to ready it the night before. Quine is right about buckwheat. Look for a package of buckwheat with a yeast based recipe on the package. Then you can adapt it for regular flour or (my favorite) whole wheat pastry flour.

          1. Batter made with buttermilk and baking soda should be used right away, since CO2 is produced upon mixing. Double acting baking powder produces some of its CO2 upon heating, so making the batter ahead of time is an option. Crepe batter does not have these rising agents, and so benefit by 'resting', during which time the flour has a chance to fully absorb moisture. Yeast (and sourdough) based batters are allowed to rise overnight, with the final addition of ingredients in the morning.


            4 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              Since I usually make crêpes, I never add a rising agent to those.

              I have made blini (those are small yeast-based pancakes, not blintzes which are similar to crêpes). But since they are yeast-based, once again I let them rest. And sourdough, which contains less gluten than wheat, definitely needs a rest.

              1. re: paulj

                I agree w/this - don't make a regular ol' baking soda or powder/buttermilk batter the night before. To save time, combine dry ingredients the night before, and mix em up quick w/the wet ingredients in the morning....but not before.

                1. re: JaneRI

                  I third this motion - with the leavning action you get you don't want the batter continue reacting overnight. I also feel that the texture is compromised whith leftover batter - never seems to get the golden crisp on the outside/fluffy inside unless it's made fresh.

                  1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

                    Yes. Mix dry ingredients and leave on counter. Mix wets in a separate bowl and refrigerate. In the morning combine the two mixtures and take it from there.

              2. I'm sure my Joy of Cooking says it's good to refrigerate batter, even overnight. That would be batter with baking powder, I suppose (I don't have the book in front of me), because the powder activates upon heating.

                As to portion size, just go with what you like and don't worry about what the recipe says.

                1. Make 'em in the morning and use buttermilk -- you won't regret it! I second the suggestion to mix dry & wet ingredients separately the night before, and combine them in the a.m. Also, the 1/4 cup suggestion is just a guide, but you DO want to be able to flip them, so I wouldn't make dinner-plate-sized pancakes.

                  1. If you're going to make a baking powder batter the night before, be sure to use a double acting powder that will get a second chemical rise when the batter hits the hot griddle. You will lose some rise, but as long as you're not picky, it will work.

                    I like the suggestion of making a yeast raised batter to rise in the fridge overnight, as that will get you great flavor development and the rise won't suffer at all. James Beard has a recipe for yeast raised pancakes in one of his books, as does Marie Cunningham (do I have her name right?) They are classics, and you'd probably google them up if you did a search.

                    1. Much as Quine says, the main reason home cooks don't make big pancakes is that big pancakes are very hard to flip, especially if you're trying to make them in a pan and not on a griddle. Personally, my rule of thumb is that a pancake wants to be about the size of a 45-RPM single. That's seven inches, for the non-musical.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                        I have a nephew that use to work as a morning cook at a resterant an he always had
                        the pan cake batter made the night before. I like it both ways. I usually eat pancakes at least twice a week. love them.

                      2. Go directly to the fabled Fannie Farmer yeast-raised waffles, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Yeast-raised waffles are so much better and so easy to make, and you prepare the batter (save the eggs and pinch of baking powder, which are added just before cooking) the night before - I keep mine lightly covered in the oven with the oven light on.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Karl S

                          Have you made pancakes with the waffle batter? I admit that my reservations tend to run in the opposite direction - I don't think waffles made from pancake batter are very good - but I'm curious about the reverse.

                          1. re: Allstonian

                            Generally waffle batters are quite a bit higher in fat, to produce some crispness.

                            1. re: paulj

                              Exactly - that's why I'm wondering how that would work out as a pancake batter.

                        2. I think a lot of this burning issue has to do with what we mean by pancakes and how we want them to turn out. I can't stand the fluffy white things one gets in institutional cafeterias: if I make thicker pancakes (as opposed to crêpes) I want yeast or sourdough in there, and even the crêpes have to "ferment" a bit...

                          1. I know this is a tad late but FYI, You can mix the pancake batter the night before for convenience sake but the reaction between B soda and B powder and the oil in the egg yolks and the butter will cause the batter to dry up a bit, which can be bad if your batter is dry in the first place... I just use a bit more buttermilk (um.... or milk) when I mix em the night before.

                            @charlesbois My god when you "whip air into" pancake batter you create gluten... the more gluten the batter has the more likely your jacks will be rubbery and hard not light and fluffy! Barely mix the batter!!! BARELY!

                            When you try to whip air into your batter you're actually ripping cells apart. It's the reaction between the culinary chemicals that cause those cells to grow and flourish... Pancakes are not whipped cream or meringues... Mix JUST until the batter comes together, no more, leave the little flour chunks they'll cook out. Stop killing your pancakes!