Pittsburgh's Finest Diner Pancakes

Recipe by PJ Hamel

Pamela's Diner, with six outposts in and around Pittsburgh, is justly famous for its oversized pancakes. Light and buttery, thinner than regular pancakes but thicker than crêpes, people rave about their crisp edges and wonderful texture. Our version of these cakes, based on some "hints" Pamela's has dropped about their secret recipe, produces pancakes we feel are close to the original; but since we've never been to Pamela's Diner, we can't know for certain. Attention, Pamela's fans: try these pancakes, and let us know how they stack up — pun intended!

15 mins
11 hrs 38 mins
4 large pancakes
Pittsburgh's Finest Diner Pancakes


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together everything except the egg, stirring until fairly smooth; a few small lumps can remain.

  2. Tent the bowl lightly with plastic, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 3 hours; it'll start to bubble just a bit.

  3. Refrigerate the batter overnight.

  4. Just before cooking the pancakes, stir in the beaten egg.

  5. Heat a 9" or 10" skillet over medium heat; or heat a 9" or 10" electric skillet to 300°F; or heat a griddle that's at least 9" to 10" wide, and easy to pick up and handle.

  6. Place 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon butter into the skillet, swirling them around until the butter melts. Yes, use 1 teaspoon each; this is what will give the pancakes their signature crisp edges.

  7. Pour a scant 1/2 cup batter into the pan, tilting the pan until the batter forms a circle about 9" in diameter. It's important that you do this quickly, before the pancake has a chance to set; the thin edges that result from tilting the pan to distribute the batter become wonderfully crispy.

  8. Cook the pancake for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until its underside is golden brown. Flip it over, and cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more, until golden.

  9. Transfer to a plate (or lightly greased baking sheet, if you want to keep the pancake warm in the oven while you cook the remainder). Repeat with the remaining batter.

  10. Serve the pancakes with butter and syrup. Or spread sour cream (or whipped cream, or yogurt), layer strawberries down the center, and roll like a blintz.

Tips from our Bakers

  • The "authentic" way to serve these pancakes is spread with sour cream, sprinkled with brown sugar, topped with sliced strawberries, and rolled — think blintz. We love them that way (and substituting yogurt for the sour cream won't noticeably diminish their wonderful flavor); or simply as is (not rolled), topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Want to double this recipe to make 8 pancakes? Not a problem. Double everything except the yeast, which can remain at 1/2 teaspoon.