7 Ways You Might Be Messing Up Your Pancakes

The secret to diner-perfect pancakes may be more science than art. Here’s how to tweak your batter, your frying pan, and your flipping technique to ensure fluffier, tastier pancakes.

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Man pouring oil directly into pan
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Mistake: You pour oil directly in the pan

Even with the most diligent of swirling, it’s nearly impossible to get the pan evenly covered in oil. To prevent pooling, which can make for unevenly cooked pancakes, Stephanie Le of iamafoodblog.com suggests brushing a thin layer of oil or melted butter on the pan with a pastry brush. This prevents uneven spreading, which will give you golden-brown pancakes with no gooey pockets. If you don’t have a brush, a folded paper towel will also do the trick (make sure the pan is not hot).

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Pancake batter
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Mistake: You over-stir the batter

Lumps aren’t the enemy! As long as the dry and wet ingredients are completely mixed together (that means no flour streaks) there’s no need to get out every single lump. Over-stirring the batter can make pancakes chewy and gummy instead of light and fluffy, according to Bon Appetit.

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Banana pancakes
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Mistake: You load up on fillings

It’s fun to play around with pancake flavours, but too many berries or chocolate chips can weigh down the batter, which prevents the pancake from cooking properly or can cause the fillings to burn. Neil Kelinberg, Clinton Street Baking Company chef and owner, told the Village Voice that a few spoonfuls of blueberries per batch or a few banana slices per pancake is the perfect amount. He also suggests lighter ingredients, like shredded coconut. “Shredded coconut goes inside the pancake to give it texture. It’s tropical and fun,” he says.

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Oat pancakes cooking on barbecue
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Mistake: You flip too soon (or too late)

If you flip the pancake soon, you’ll probably have to turn it again to finish cooking the other side, which causes it to deflate. If you flip too late, your pancake burns. The key to the perfect flip: “Look for bubbles that start to appear on the edge of the pancake. Once they start to pop and form holes, you know it’s time to flip,” says Le.

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Pancakes with strawberry toppings
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Mistake: You make the batter ahead of time

It might seem like a good idea to prep batter the night before for a more relaxing morning. But leavening agents like baking soda work as soon as they hit the wet ingredients, so the longer the batter sits, the less effective those agents will be and the flatter your pancakes will become, according to Bon Appetit. Keeping ingredients at the right temp is also critical to achieving a fluffy flapjack. “Cold liquids and eggs produce soggy pancakes,” says Thomas Joseph of Kitchen Conundrum in Martha Stewart Living. “Bring your wet ingredients to room temperature before adding them. He also suggests folding in a few whipped egg whites for an even fluffier pancake.

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Pancake batter being poured into pan
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Mistake: You pour directly from the bowl to the pan

This makes it challenging to create uniform pancakes, so it’s harder to cook them all evenly. “Use a small measuring cup, like 1/4, to ensure evenly sized pancakes,” says Le. “This lets you be more consistent, instead of just pouring out random amounts.”

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Canola oil brushed onto pan
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Mistake: Your pan is too hot (or cold)

Pan temperature is really everything: too hot and you’ve got scorched cakes; too cool and they can turn out flat and tough. The surefire way to a perfect pancake is to use an electric griddle set to 375 degrees, according to The Great American Pancake Company. If you use a regular frying pan, keep the heat at medium to medium-low, says Le, and test a small amount of batter first to see how it cooks.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest