How to Make Pancakes from Scratch

Say goodbye to boxed mix and hello to homemade.

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Ina Garten's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes, as seen on Barefoot Contessa Family Style.

Photo by: Kate Mathis

Kate Mathis

Few things scream weekend mornings more than pancake breakfasts, when Mom whips up a mountain of fluffy flapjacks, all from scratch. Some people add bananas, blueberries, chocolate chips or pecans to the batter. Others lean on toppings, like powdered sugar, butter and syrup. Some people go so far as taking “cake” literally, adding whipped cream and ice cream to their breakfast.

As convenient as boxed pancake mix can be, it’s just as easy to make them from scratch, and the taste and satisfaction levels make the experience that much better (no need to check us on that one; it’s an actual fact from the Society of Yummy Ridiculously Underappreciated Pancakes, or SYRUP).

There are a few things to know before embarking on a homemade pancake expedition, though. Making pancakes is a science because, after all, it is a type of baking. Because of this, different kinds of ingredients yield different types of pancakes and the most important factors that play into the taste and texture of pancakes is the amount of gluten, fat and leavening ingredient in the batter.

Gluten is formed through the combination of flour and liquid and, the more this mixture is mixed together, the more gluten develops. Gluten gives necessary structure to certain baked goods like bread, but for pancakes, the less gluten there is, the better. Pancakes instead gain their structure from eggs, which provide a richer flavor and an airier body. To avoid too much gluten production, combine your liquid and flour ever so slightly, mixing as little as possible. No worries if there are still lumps in your batter; that’s a good thing!

When it comes to fat, you need just the right amount to add flavor, rise and crispness to your pancakes. Too much fat will inhibit the formation of larger bubbles within the batter, leading to flat pancakes. Too little fat, on the other hand, will yield extremely dry and crispy pancakes. Finding the right balance is key!

Finally, leavening ingredients. These typically take form in baking powder and baking soda. Baking powder is a double action leavening agent, meaning it works to rise the batter two times: once when it makes contact with liquid, once when it makes contact with heat. Baking soda, on the other hand, only rises when exposed to an acid of some sort. This is where your buttermilk, Greek yogurt or sour cream comes into play. Baking soda also helps in the browning of pancakes, with the proper amount producing a beautifully golden brown cake.

Now that you’re a pancake expert, it’s time to heat up a cast iron griddle or heavy skillet to medium heat and cook away! If you’re in need of further inspiration, be sure to explore the new world of pancake possibilities with these recipes, from the best Homemade Pancake Mix to keep on hand for pancakes in a pinch, to the ultimate Cinnamon Bun Pancakes for a morning when you just can’t decide between breakfast pastries.

Food Network Kitchen’s Year Of Pancakes, Pancake Mix

Photo by: Kate Mathis ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Kate Mathis, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Making nine cups of mix, this recipe will yield you about four batches of pancakes. That means that, if you’re hosting one pancake party a month like me, you’re covered for four months. AND this also means that you only have to make your homemade pancake mix just three times a year (talk about ease and convenience!), so there’s no excuse to opt for that uninspired boxed stuff!



Photo by: Tara Donne ©Food Network: 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Tara Donne, Food Network: 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Kicking it with the classics is always a good idea, especially with this go-to pancake recipe. It’s perfect for plain pancakes and a great base if you want to add any other toppings into the mix. Are you a fan of the classic cake, but sometimes yearn for the banana-walnut combo? Use this recipe as a starting point and jazz it up to accompany whatever kind of pancake mood you’re in.

Food Network Kitchen’s Fluffy Japanese Pancakes for One-Off Recipes, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

If you often struggle to make airy pancakes, then this Fluffy Japanese Pancakes recipe is the knowledge you need to ease your concerns. Incorporating beaten egg whites and cream of tartar, this recipe ensures the lightest, most delicate pancakes ever. Your final result will yield a souffle-like texture with a custardy interior and a crisp, golden exterior.



Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

I have one rule when it comes to chocolate chip pancakes: The chocolate chips must be baked into the cakes. I’m not in the business of the one-size-fits-all cake that gets a couple slices of banana or a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips on the top right before service. No, thank you. I’m here for the all-or-nothing, full commitment kind of pancakes, like this recipe. The chocolate chips are mixed into the batter for maximum chocolate coverage and that’s something I can thoroughly support.

Food Network Kitchen’s Cinnamon Bun Pancakes.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Deciding between breakfast pastries is among the most difficult decisions to make each day. On the one hand, cinnamon buns are the perfect indulgence. They’re a treat that comes along only ever so often and, when they do arrive, it’s magical. On the other hand, pancakes. They’re great for the whole family, easy to make in large quantities and are sometimes even better leftover. But the thought of combining the two? Genius. If you’re plagued by the thought of choosing one, be sure to check out these Cinnamon Bun Pancakes and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Marshall Troy, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Rachael's pancakes pull out all of the stops. Full of cinnamon, banana, raisins, oats, walnuts and a bit of sour cream for a texture boost, these fully loaded pancakes will transport you from breakfast with the family to those late-night cookies you sneak after everyone goes to bed. They give you that little bit of much needed “you time” right before you start a busy day, so be sure to treat yourself and don’t forget the syrup.

Ina's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes have the texture and flavor to lure even the staunchest savory-breakfast people. Make them and you’ll know.



Food Network Kitchen’s Four-Flavor Sheet Pan Pancakes

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Making a pancake breakfast is really fun, but not always for the cook, who often gets stuck at the stove during the entirety of the meal, flipping and serving, serving and flipping. Not with this recipe. These Four-Flavor Sheet Pan Pancakes make pancakes for a crowd in no time, moving the cook from the stove to the table. Load up your sheet pan with pancake batter, add any toppings you want and put it in the oven for pancakes in no time.



Food Stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver ,Food Stylist: Jamie KimmProp Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver

Photo by: Charles Masters

Charles Masters

It's all happening with these Almost-Famous Cheesecake Pancakes. You get some acidity from the strawberries that balance with the sweetness of the cheesecake pieces that are integrated into the batter. That’s right, actual pieces of cheesecake. Combine these elements with a tender, buttermilk infused batter and you’ve got yourself pancakes that aren’t too sweet for rock and roll.

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