HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Making Pancakes, need tips

  • v

Yeah, I know. Might as well be asking how to boil water, but believe it or not, I've never made them. I always outsource my pancakes. But my 4 yo has requested that I make her some, so I thought I'd get some tips. I got Arrowhead Mills Buttermilk pancake mix, so I don't need a recipe. I'm wondering how not to make them heavy and how not to burn them, etc. Tips are what I need -- please help! How do you make a terrific batch of pancakes?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Heat your skillet or pan and when you throw a few drops of water into it and they "dance" (hop around and sizzle), the pan is ready. I always use a little bit of butter or oil in my pan, even if it's nonstick, so the first batch comes out okay. Drop about 1/4 cup batter in the pan, leaving space between the pancakes so you can flip them easily. Keep the heat medium-low (hot enough to cook them, low enough to keep them from burning). When you see bubbles form on the tops and they don't close back up, the pancake is ready to flip. After your first few pancakes, you'll get a feel for whether or not to flip them earlier or later.

    Don't overmix the batter and you'll keep the pancakes light.

    I've been known to use pancake mix at times, but making them from scratch is really easy! I alternate between the Better Homes & Garden recipe and the one from Cook's Illustrated.


    1. Most importantly, remember to make fun designs in your pancakes. Drizzle flowers, smiley faces, letters (reverse them), let cook a minute or two then pour batter over them. Very fun.

      1. I really like the basic pancake mix (aunt jemima or whatever) but prefer the ones to which you add the egg, water, milk (or buttermilk?), oil etc rather than the "just add water" variety.

        Adding the liquid ingredients to the dry in the right amount so you've added enough but not too much without over mixing the batter is really the only trick...as long as you keep in mind that you want to avoid over working the batter (which produces the toughness), I think you'll do just fine.

        I also like to add some ripe banana to the mix- the sugar in the banana caramelizes with the heat of the pan and is tasty, but bananas are not for everyone.

        Watch your heat- as first responder said, after the first one or two sacrificial pancakes, you'll turn out some perfect ones.

        PS- signed, your pancakes on friday mornings partner, KG

        1. I don't make them very often, but when I do, I use the recipe from the The Cake Bible, which calls for using cake flour - makes them very light. I find I have to cook a batch or two before I get them right.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MMRuth

            This recipe is so time consuming compared to other recipes. They are nice and light, almost pillowy. It's a toss up between that given how much time it takes and the Best Recipe one which is quick and still delicious.

          2. Melt just a little crisco on the skillet while heating pan before dropping the batter making sure it is hot but not too hot. I seem to always sacrifice the 1st small pancake. It primes the skillet.
            Buttermilk always seems to make better pancakes-even if it is a buttermilk mix.
            Practice-you'll eventually find the groove.

            1. hi vvv03 I purchased Heckers self rising flour and just now sent an e-mail with a request for the same recipe. I do have a recipe for Dutch pancakes using the flour with eggs, lukewarm milk, pinch of salt and raisins. Will inform you how it turns out after receiving their answer.

              1. Jfood's tips for pancakes

                - do not use the "just add water" variety. using the mix where you add aggs, milm and shortening is much better. Bisquick also good, but jfood like Aunt Jemima, sorta a kid-throwback thing
                - mix slowly with a fork, not a whick and BE GENTLE. You just want to combine, not mix.
                - MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Walk away from the batter and no one gets hurt. Set a timer for 5 minutes and read the paper
                - heat a non-stick griddle
                - others may advise butter or shortening but jfood does the pan naked.
                - use a measuring cup with a lip and slowly pour some batter into the heated griddle.
                - take a breath and let the batter cook until the first side is the correct color, and little bubbles break on the top side.
                - flip carefully and cook the second side.
                - repeat. Usually numbers 2+ come out with better success than batch 1 for some reason

                place real maple syrup and butter on top and eat and smile.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jfood

                  Krusteaz Pancake Mix from Costco makes wonderful pancakes and I find it lighter when I add water rather than milk.

                  For extra pizzazz, add some mini chocolate and peanut butter chips (or chop up the big ones). There's a candy bar that's made in Australia that, when crushed and added to the pancakes, makes an outstanding breakfast treat.

                  Yes to the getting the griddle hot enough, buttering the griddle and rebuttering it if necessary, keeping the stove fan on throughtout the process, not leaving them at any time so they don't burn, checking often, flipping them just before the bubbles break, making the pancakes small enough so you can flip easily, and of course, use real maple syrup.

                  And if you're wary of fruit sticking to the griddle in making blueberry pancakes, cook the fruit - blueberries, strawberries, whatever - in a small pot to which some more real maple syrup has been added.

                  Pour over the pancakes, which of course have been slathered with butter.

                  The mix don't matter, water is fine, it's what you do with the mix that is important.

                2. And once you get the basics right, you can even add some colour to your pancakes for your 4 yo, by adding in some blueberries to the batter. If you use the frozen ones (thawed), they would make the pancakes an interesting shade of blue.

                  Maybe that counts as "terrific" too?