Pancakes are personal. When you envision a tall, warm stack of pancakes coming from the kitchen, you know exactly what they look like. Maybe they’re thick and fluffy, almost cake-like with a tender crumb. Perhaps they’re flat, buttery, and moist. Or maybe they’re somewhere in between, like those you’d find at a diner.
Our first lesson is for lovers of tall and cakey pancakes: We’re going to teach you how to make fluffy pancakes that are fork-tender and perfect for soaking up syrup.
Ready to dive in? Grab your forks!
The best pancake recipe
Pancakes are made up of only a small handful of pantry staples. With so few ingredients, it's important to get the ratios just right. Otherwise, you might end up with pancakes that spread too much, or maybe they don't have that quintessential pancake flavor.
For best results, use a vetted recipe that calls for a precise balance of ingredients. Our Buttermilk Pancakes is just that: a tried and tested recipe that's guaranteed to deliver perfect results.
These Buttermilk Pancakes are subtly sweet, slightly puffed, and tender from the buttermilk: all-around classic pancakes. And with some extra love, you can make your pancakes super tall and impressively fluffy. All it takes are just a few tweaks to the Buttermilk Pancakes recipe.
We didn't forget: pancakes are personal. So if you have a favorite recipe from childhood or one that’s your weekend go-to, use it! Our tips for how to make fluffy pancakes will transform any ordinary pancakes into fluffy dreams.
Adjust the batter
First, make sure you're using the best flour for the fluffy pancake task at hand: King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Its 11.7% protein content gives your pancakes just enough structure to rise high while still being tender.
If you or someone in your family is gluten-free, don't fret! Our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour can stand in for the all-purpose flour in the recipe. Just make a simple 1:1 swap.
Once you've settled on your flour, make sure your recipe uses about two times as much liquid as flour (if you measure your ingredients by weight). If you use volume, it’s easy: the flour and liquid should be about equal. Note that if you're using another brand of flour with a lower protein content, you may need to add additional flour to make the batter the right consistency.
Our Buttermilk Pancakes recipe is perfectly formulated when made with King Arthur All-Purpose Flour — it calls for 2 cups of flour (241g) and 2 cups of buttermilk (454g).
If you’re using a different recipe, adjust the batter by adding more flour or milk (or buttermilk) until you have the right amount (two times as much liquid as flour).
Making pancake batter with just the right balance of liquid to flour ensures the batter will spread nicely and rise well as it cooks. The final pancakes will be tall and fluffy with just a few more tweaks.
Increase the number of eggs
The secret to many light and fluffy baked goods is eggs. They’re a miraculous ingredient when beaten. They can transform heavy batter into an ethereal cloud with just a bit of mixing and heat.
You'll want to make sure your recipe has the right amount of eggs for fluffy pancakes. Use about 1 egg per cup of flour and round up for any measurement over a half cup. (For example, if your recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of flour, use 3 eggs.)
Our Buttermilk Pancakes recipe as written calls for 2 cups of flour but only 1 egg, so we’re going to add a second egg.
Follow your recipe, mixing together the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients using two separate bowls, leaving out the egg whites. (Add the yolks to the liquid ingredients.)
Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until there are just a few lumps remaining. (Remember not to stir too much — don’t make this pancake mistake!)
Whip the whites
Let your batter rest while you whip the egg whites. My fellow blogger, Annabelle, reminds you in this meringue post that your egg whites will whip up much faster if you use room temperature eggs. Otherwise, prepare yourself for five minutes or more of mixing.
Use a clean, grease-free bowl and whip the whites to medium peaks. (Use a stand mixer or hand mixer for best results.) The whites will transform from a viscous liquid to a white froth and finally to beautiful, pillow-like meringue!
The egg whites are ready when you lift the whisk attachment (or beaters) from the bowl, and the egg whites come to a peak. The tip of the peak may remain stiff or droop just slightly.
Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter in one addition using a spatula. Cut through the middle of the batter and then run your spatula around the sides of the bowl, folding the batter over the top. This motion will incorporate the whites and capture more air, making your pancakes fluffier than ever!
Prepare the pan
Ready to cook your fluffy pancakes?
Preheat your griddle to 325°F to 350°F, or if you're using a skillet, preheat over medium-high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. (If you really want to master how to make fluffy pancakes, consider investing in an electric griddle. It ensures your pancakes cook evenly and gives you ultimate control over just how hot the surface gets.)
Once the pan is nice and hot, lightly grease it with a bit of non-stick spray. You can also use vegetable oil or butter if you prefer. (The fat you choose won’t have a drastic effect on the texture of the pancakes if you use just a few teaspoons to grease the pan.)
Since we’re focused on how to make fluffy pancakes, feel free to use whatever’s stocked in your pantry.
How to cook perfectly fluffy pancakes
Portion the batter onto the preheated, greased pan in about 1/4-cup portions. (A scoop is particularly helpful here.)
Turn the heat down to medium-low (about 275°F to 300°F if you're using a griddle) as soon as the batter hits the pan.
Once you start to see bubbles on the surface of a pancake, peek at the underside to see if it’s golden brown. This might take a few minutes since you’re cooking over medium-low heat. Be patient; it’ll pay off.
Flip your pancakes with a swift motion once the underside is golden brown. When flipping the pancakes onto the raw batter-side, place them down gently, if possible. You don’t want to deflate all the air you’ve worked so hard to incorporate. The air trapped inside the batter is what’s going to make your pancakes extra-fluffy.
Be sure your pancakes are cooked all the way through before removing them from the heat. The pancakes should look golden and spring back when pressed with your fingers.
If they’re properly cooked, the crumb will be nice and cake-like through to the center.
The beauty of pancakes? You can cut one open and check it out without compromising the full batch! Dive in with your fork and do some quality control. Consider it the baker’s treat.
Repurpose your rings
If you're someone who likes to take things over the top, then we have one final tip for you to try: Use English muffin rings as pancake molds.
That's right — these almost 4"-wide, 1"-tall rings can do more than just make perfectly shaped English muffins. They can also make your pancakes super tall and fluffy.
When you're ready to cook your pancakes, place the rings on the griddle (or in a skillet) with a few inches of space between each ring. Turn the heat to medium and let both the pan and rings preheat.
After about a minute of cooking, turn the heat down to low and then be patient — really patient. We're talking 4 to 5 minutes of patience while the pancakes cook through. These pancakes are very thick, and you want the batter to set as much as possible before attempting to flip them.
Once the bottom is a deep golden brown and the top starts to bubble and dome, do your best to flip the fluffy pancakes and rings over in one motion, batter-side down.
This can be a tricky maneuver if the batter on top of the pancakes is still quite raw. The key to success? Let the pancakes cook more than you normally would on one side before flipping, and then use a quick, confident motion. You've got this!
Some of the batter may run out from under the sides of the rings when you flip the pancakes — that's OK. Once the pancakes are fully cooked, trim off any stray edges with a knife to make your fluffy pancakes look impressively round and utterly perfect.
I promise you'll make the tallest pancakes ever if you repurpose your English muffin rings as fluffy pancake molds. You'll look like a kitchen wizard!
The final fluffy results
Whether you use English muffin rings or cook your pancakes the traditional way, serve your pancakes warm, as soon as you can. If you’d like to make the full batch at once and serve after they're all cooked, you can certainly do that — just be sure to keep the pancakes warm while you prepare the rest of the batter. Otherwise, the pancakes will cool and may deflate slightly while resting.
If you're not going to serve the pancakes right away, turn your oven to the lowest setting (usually around 200°F) before you start flipping your pancakes. Put a baking sheet on the middle rack. Place the pancakes on the baking sheet as they finish cooking, spreading them out in a single layer, if possible.
When you're ready to feast, take out the baking sheet and serve your still-warm, fluffy pancakes with a smile!
Why it works
Why do these tips ensure you’re going to make the fluffiest pancakes ever? Science!
Fluffiness is the result of a careful combination of batter with just the right hydration, plus the rising action of the leavener (baking powder and baking soda) and the structure of the whipped egg whites.
The whipped egg whites might just be the most important factor in mastering how to make fluffy pancakes. When you whip egg whites, you unravel the proteins and allow them to take on air. The whites grow in volume as bonds form between water in the whites and the air.
The result of all this whipping? Lots of bubbles! When the whipped egg whites are folded in, you’re adding both structure and air to your batter. (If you want to take a deep dive into the science of whipped egg whites, read our post on meringue rules.)
Air expands when it gets warm. So those little bubbles of air in the egg whites? They expand into big air pockets when the batter is heated on the pan. The heat also sets the structure of the pancakes by cooking the flour, liquid, and eggs to a high enough temperature, capturing those air pockets within each pancake.
Ring molds, if you decide to use them, give the liquid batter extra support while it sets over the heat. The rings prevent the batter from spreading outward and make your pancakes thick (but still fluffy). The result is a tall pancake that's filled with lots of little air bubbles.
Air might not sound delicious, but when it’s incorporated into your pancakes it makes them light, fluffy, cakey, and tender — all the things you just might love most about pancakes.
Essential tips for how to make fluffy pancakes
If fluffy pancakes reminiscent of fantastic sponge cake are your kind of breakfast dish, then these are the tips you need to know:
- Start with flour that has the right protein content: King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (or Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour if you're baking gluten-free)
- Make sure your pancake batter uses an equal amount of flour and liquid by volume, or two times as much liquid as flour by weight
- Use 1 egg per cup of flour in your recipe; round up for measurements above 1/2 cup
- Whip the egg whites separately and fold them into the batter
- Start cooking over high heat, then turn to medium-low to finish
- For extra tall and fluffy pancakes, try using English muffin rings as molds
Use our Buttermilk Pancakes recipe for tried and tested results, or give these adjustments a whirl using your favorite pancake recipe. You’re bound to make light and fluffy pancakes in no time!
And if fluffy, cakey pancakes aren't your style, don't worry. We’ll have more lessons coming so stay tuned! We’ll be sharing other techniques for personalizing your pancakes in more delicious ways soon.
Thanks to Anne Mientka for taking the photographs for this post.