Keys to a Successful Pancake Breakfast — or Dinner

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pancakes and syrup

As we “eat-from-the-pantry” this month, I anticipate some creative cooking and menu planning. However, one regular feature on our menu that also makes good use of pantry staples is one that my kids will gladly embrace: Pancakes! My husband is usually the pancake chef around here, creating all sorts of cool designs.

Whether you serve pancakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner, they are sure to be a hit with everyone in the family. Here are some tips to make your next pancake breakfast (or dinner) a success.

Start with a great recipe.

If you don’t have a favorite, try our favorite pancake recipe.

Give it a boost.

To boost the batter’s nutritional content, consider using any of these ingredients as substitutions:

  • Replace an equal amount of flour with 1/4 to 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup quick oats, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 2 Tablespoons flax seed meal.
  • Replace some of the milk with buttermilk or plain yogurt.
  • The consistency of the batter will very depending on your substitutions, so make adjustments accordingly. If too thin, add a little more flour. If too thick, add more milk. With some experimenting, you’ll find the perfect combination for your family.

Use a large electric griddle to speed up your cooking time.

A good one can be purchased new for about $20 or found in a thrift store for less. Since pancake baking is definitely an assembly-line activity, the more you can make at one time, the better. Otherwise, the line of kids at your side will never end. Trust me.

Vary the toppings.

While real maple syrup is absolutely delicious, it can also be expensive. You can make some quick, frugal toppings with just a few pantry staples.
  • Warm 1 cup fruit jam or jelly until it thins to a syrup consistency.
  • Make your own maple-flavored pancake topping by combining 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup boiling water and 1/4 teaspoon maple extract. Bring to a boil and serve.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar, brown sugar, or colored sprinkles.
  • Top with whipped cream and sliced fruit, such as bananas, strawberries, or peaches.
  • Sprinkle pancake batter with blueberries or chocolate chips just prior to flipping.

Make pancakes ahead of time.

Cooked pancakes freeze very well for a make ahead breakfast. They can be reheated in the microwave or toaster oven. Or, you can measure out several batches of the dry ingredients and place each batch in a ziploc bag. Make sure to label the bags with the name of the recipe and what wet ingredients need to be added. With homemade mixes in the pantry, you’ll be ready for fresh pancakes anytime.

Serve them with some protein.

Scrambled eggs or sausage make great accompaniments. They also offset some of the sugar intake.

Let the kids help.

Breakfast is a great meal to work together in the kitchen. With assistance, young ones can help you prepare the batter by measuring ingredients and stirring the mixture. Older children might be able to mix the batter all by themselves while you handle some other tasks. Not only will you be teaching them valuable kitchen skills, but you’ll make some fun memories in the process.

Pancakes made from scratch definitely work for me!

Got a pancake trick? I’d love to hear it!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. when the kids were at home , I would use the left overs for snacks.They would either put jam or peanut butter or both on them and eat them as sandwiches ( two pancakes or rolled up)Sausage links rolled up in them went pretty fast also.

  2. I love the new website. It looks so clean and fresh.

  3. We love our pancake Sundays:-)

  4. We love pancakes, in fact I think I’ll make breakfast for dinner tonight because that sounds so good! One of my favorite topping options is a combo of apple and pecan with apple cider syrup. Recipe here: we use it for waffles too.

  5. Nancy says

    Peanut butter is a favorite pancake topping at our house. I tried a new to me from scratch recipe last week. Not impressed. Family wasn’t either. Still trying to find the favorite from scratch recipe; may have to try yours.

  6. We love pancakes over here, too!

    We even planned an entire birthday party around eating pancakes… you’ll have to swing by to check it out.
    And, to change things up, sometimes I add pureed blueberries to the mix for purple pancakes.

    After reading this, and hearing so many others agree, I really think I need to make that investment of an electric griddle. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Yum, those sure do look good! And what a cutie pie, your little boy is. 😉 I know for sure my fiance would LOVE if I made pancakes for dinner one night, so I think I’ll surprise him this Friday night. I think I’ll set things out like blue berries, chocolate chips, some whip topping and I’ll make your two syrup recipes. I am really excited to try the Jam recipe for myself and the maple for him and my daughter.
    I know they aren’t going to know what’s going on when I pop up and say we’re having pan cakes tonight. ha ha He LOVES them! Everytime I-hop comes on TV I have to hold him down from running out the door. ha ha
    One thing I wanted to ask you though, I don’t have a griddle and I really don’t want to go buy one since I am trying so hard not to spend money this month. I do have a large frying pan I use, but everytime I make pancakes, my first one looks like YUCK! It never ever comes out right, is it just me or is this something that happens to a lot of people? Or if you know what I can do to stop messing them up, please help. 🙁 Thank you!
    I love following your blogs to.
    Much happiness,

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I think the “first-one-turns-yuck” is a common thing. I think it has to do with getting the pan the right temp and all. As long as it isn’t the whole batch, I wouldn’t worry about it. Be patient on the griddle. It’s WONDERFUL, but you don’t have to have it.

      • Kimberly Rhoades says

        You’re so right—on “America’s Test Kitchen,” they called it “the sacrifical pancake!”

  8. emily says

    I love this! In fact, last night I made a double batch of pancakes from scratch and froze them for breakfasts. My son loves French toast and pancakes. He probably has one or the other a few times/week.

    My sister has a recipe with orange juice instead of milk for those with dairy allergies if you need it. I’ve got it in my stash!

    I love the eat from the pantry challenge. It rocks!

  9. carisa says

    Compote is my favorite topping. Just throw frozen berries into a pot with a little sugar and cook down. Absolutely delicious and it sounds and looks (and tastes) so fancy.

  10. Ellen says

    Hey! Another thing I’ve done with pancakes and waffles is use unsweetened applesauce instead of syrup. It makes the meal a lot healthier, and after you get used to it, syrup will begin to taste too sweet. =)

  11. We love us some pancakes at our house too. I do have one question about syrup though – where do you find maple extract? I’ve been searching grocery stores for over a year and not finding it. Any suggestions?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      The only place I’ve regularly found it is at Walmart. It’s the Mapleine brand.

  12. We got a Wolfgang Puck reversible grill/griddle a couple of years ago and it has been a wonderful addition to our kitchen. I really don’t know what I would do without it.

    And I LOVE the new site!! I’m just so thrilled that I can comment now too! 🙂 Joy is INCREDIBLE!

  13. I like to go in totally the opposite direction from sweet. A meat gravy like for openfaced sandwiches is wonderful on pancakes. I have to second the applesauce on the pancakes as a topping.

  14. Thanks for this post! I never seem to think about topping for pancakes/waffles until early morning when I’m staring at the plates thinking…they really need something other than maple syrup.

    I had an epiphany this past week (thanks to the pantry challenge for making me get creative), and put some chopped walnuts and sliced bananas on the waffles. It went so well with the blueberries already in the batter! The crunch was nice. 🙂 Thanks for giving me more ideas. I can use all the help I can get in the mornings!

  15. emily says

    You can get maple extract from and a few places online. I’ve never seen it at our WalMart. But I do have Maple Syrup! lol

  16. Going in a totally opposite direction from sweet, we like to use pancakes as a base for meat and gravy as for open faced sandwiches. I second the idea as applesauce as a topping. Yum. In addition, you could add savory seasonings, vegetables, and meat to the batter, making an Asian inspired pancake.

  17. Jennifer says

    When ever we have bananas going bad I make up pancake batter adding them to it.

  18. I love pancakes, so does my family. I always make pancakes with whole wheat flour, added wheat bran and germ and use yogurt. They turn out light, fluffy and moist.

    Usually, I make a berry syrup, too. I take frozen berries, with a splash of water and some agave nectar, splenda or honey and let it cook and reduce until thick. YUMMY!

    My kids will eat them cold all throughout the day, just as a snack.

    On my blog, I wrote about my kids and pancakes. It is one of the first entries. Love cooking with my kiddos!


  19. Kate says

    I’d skip the sugar toppings (including maple-flavored homemade syrup) if you’re trying to go healthier this year. Go for the real maple syrup or some real butter instead. Or, you can use sugar-free jams, jellies, or butters (like apple butter), but make sure they don’t have any Splenda or any other fake sugar in them.

    Be aware that ground flax seed is a substitute for eggs, and could make the pancake batter tough or chewy. You can also use spelt flour or all whole wheat flour if you have it finely ground. I recently posted a gluten-free recipe to my blog, too, if anyone needs that.

  20. Julie Krukemeyer says

    We love pancakes for dinner! An idea I stole from the Jon & Kate show is to use a pizza cutter to cut the pancakes. With five kids this really helps. We use white whole wheat flour with oatmeal and cinnamon in our batter, the entire family loves them.

  21. nanajan says

    I have been making oatmeal pancakes for years and years! soak 1 cup of oatmeal in 2 cups of milk and add eggs and flour etc as you would usually do. We top them off with yogurt and a bit of maple syrup. The combination of Oats and Milk creates a protein enriched pancake. Read the Classic book Diet for a Small Planet for more info on protein combinations. love your website!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Nanajan, thanks for the tip and the compliment. 😉

  22. Tina says

    I am so excited about trying to make some pancakes ahead of time and freezing them. My kids love pancakes, especially chocolate chip pancakes. I have a couple questions for you:
    1. I have dehydrated banana chips (leftover from Christmas), can or should I rehydrate them before putting them in the pancakes? I know fresh is way better, but I’m trying to use them.

    2. Do chocolate chip pancakes freeze as well as regular pancakes?

    Thanks for your help.


    • Jessica Fisher says

      Tina, I don’t usually freeze pancakes, only leftovers. And there are rarely leftovers. 😉

  23. Cas says

    Pancakes are a huge craving for me this pregnancy…and crispy bacon….I havent mastered them yet….but yours look picture perfect. Guess what I am craving now….lol.

  24. Barb says

    We love having breakfast for dinner. We call it “breakner”!! There are days where we just feel like having pancakes. I will have to try putting flax seed in them, I never would of thought. Can you tell if they are in there? Blessings!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I only use flax seed meal so that you don’t know that they’re there.

  25. I really agree that the key to a successful pancake meal is the right recipe. I’ve tried quite a few different homemade versions, but none have come close to the expensive boxed version I like. I’ll be trying out your recipe and see how they come out. Your pancakes in the pics are too fluffy to resist!

  26. Elaine says

    We often use applesauce as a topping, as well.

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