This Common Mistake Makes Your Pancakes and Waffles Less Fluffy

Here’s why they might be turning out flat. Er flatter than usual.

Stack of homemade pancakes with strawberries, banana and blackberries on a pink plate


Stack of homemade pancakes with strawberries, banana and blackberries on a pink plate

Photo by: Ana Silva / EyeEm / Getty Images

Ana Silva / EyeEm / Getty Images

It’s Sunday morning. Maybe you’re running around the kitchen trying to make coffee and slice up some fruit and make pancakes to feed a gaggle of ravenous humans. Whatever the case, make-ahead components like pre-sliced fruit and pre-mixed pancake batter are a godsend, right? Not so fast. Well, with regards to the pre-mixed batter part at least.

Making pancake and waffle batter ahead of time is a huge no-no and will lead to flat, dense results every time. Even letting your batter hang out for just a few minutes after you’ve mixed it before you start ladling it onto the griddle will lead to less fluffy results. As soon as you mix your wet ingredients together with your dry ingredients, it’s go time, baby. You should start cooking that batter. Here’s why.

Pancakes and waffles typically both contain baking soda, which causes them to rise. As soon as the baking soda is combined with the wet ingredients (which contain an acidic ingredient, like often buttermilk), it starts producing carbon dioxide gas bubbles that cause the batter to rise. You want to get the batter onto the stove or into the waffle iron while those little air pockets are still trapped in the batter. Air pockets equal fluffiness. Wait too long, and they’ll all escape out of the batter.

On the other hand, pancakes and waffles also usually contain baking powder, another type of leavener that activates twice: once when it’s mixed with a liquid, and once when it’s exposed to heat. Baking powder acts like a safety net. So if you, say, mix up your pancake batter and then get distracted for five minutes by your cat that just started shredding up your living room chair (this has never happened before), there’s no need to stress too much. Leavener part two will kick in once you drop them in the pan.

Now, for some good news. You can mix all of your dry ingredients together ahead of time. Yep, sift together your flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, etc the night before — or even a few months before, and stash the mixture in a cute airtight container. Rise and shine.

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