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Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday – an annual opportunity to get your flip on and indulge in a giant pile of glistening pancakes. While we fully endorse eating far more of the golden wonders all year around, this yearly occasion is a good opportunity to gather up troops. But if your cousin is on a special diet, or your best friend will only abide savoury flavours, some lateral thinking is called for.
We've tried to cover a few bases to help you along with 15 fabulous recipes that make the most of alternative ingredients and innovative flavour twists.
1. Dairy-free pancakes
There are plenty of great milk-replacement products out there for the dairy and lactose intolerant, or for those just wanting to cut down on the white stuff. Our food editor, Caroline uses hemp milk in her specially-tailored pancake recipe. It's nutritious and has a slightly sweet flavour, so works better with fillings like syrup, sugar and fruit.
2. Banana oat pancakes
These healthier pancakes use rolled oats and bananas to provide fibre and natural sweetness. They're also low in calories, making them our go-to feel-good breakfast or brunch, served with a dollop of yogurt and fresh berries.
3. Egg-free pancakes
Entering the world of egg replacements can feel like stepping into a confusing maze, so Caroline narrowed her choice down to Orgran No Egg. It comes in powdered form, but don't be put off – mixed with water it makes a perfectly passable substitute for eggs. It's also lower in cholesterol and has no lactose, so has wider health benefits too.
4. Gluten-free pancakes
Beat the bloat and use a specialist flour in your pancakes. That way, coeliacs and the gluten-intolerant can get involved, and the rest of the gaggle will barely be able to tell the difference. Treat as a normal batter, but be careful when selecting fillings – some off-the-shelf products may contain hidden gluten.
Find more gluten-free pancake recipes.
5. Coconut flour pancakes
Coconut flour is another great substitute for flour, as well as being low-carb and high in fibre. Make these fluffy mini-pancakes using just 5 ingredients for a delicious free-from brunch, topped with tart mixed berries and maple syrup.
6. Spinach protein pancakes
These gluten-free buckwheat pancakes are high in protein and folate, and packed with flavour from buttermilk, spinach and a pinch of paprika. We love ours topped with a perfectly poached egg, so that the oozy yolk can act as a savoury sauce as it drips over the stack. Delicious.
Get more savoury pancake recipes.
7. Buckwheat pancakes
Buckwheat is another gluten-free alternative, and confusingly doesn't contain any wheat. It has an earthy, grainy flavour, and is often used in blinis and Eastern European cooking. These brunch-friendly pancakes are thick and fluffy thanks to added bicarbonate of soda. Serve with fruit and some maple syrup.
8. Egg, dairy and gluten-free pancakes
Making dramatic cuts to your diet needn't mean cutting out certain pleasures. This easy vegan crêpe recipe uses clever ingredient substitutions such as hemp or coconut milk, egg replacer and gluten-free flour, and the end result is a perfectly delicious replacement.
Read more about how to make pancakes without eggs, flour or milk
9. Vegan tofu pancakes
You'd better believe it – these pancakes are egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free, they're a vegan dream! The secret's in the silken tofu, which enriches the batter without requiring your usual ingredients. Stack 'em high and serve with sliced fresh fruit, chopped nuts and your syrup of choice.
Discover more delicious vegan pancake recipes
10. American-style vegan pancakes
For a lot of us, Pancake Day immediately conjures up images of Yorkshire pudding-style batter thinly applied to a sizzling hot pan. But the American way is to ramp up the volume, adding baking powder to create griddlecakes with a fluffy light lift. This delightfully light vegan pancakes are super-easy and can be made using a plant-based milk of your choice, such as oat, almond or soya. Stack them high with vegan choc chips, banana slices, blueberries, maple syrup and anything else you wish!
Find more fully-loaded American pancake recipes.
11. Savoury vegan pancakes
Sticking to a meat and dairy-free diet must feel like a challenge at times, but all it takes is some simple swaps to alleviate the hassle. These thin and crispy crêpes use soya milk, and the creamy mushroom topping contains soya cream. They're versatile enough to be served as sweet treats too, so try banana and pecan as a vegan-safe topping.
12. Fruity vegan protein pancakes
These gluten-free, vegan pancakes pack an impressive protein punch, with 29g per serving. The batter is made with ground flaxseed, ground almonds, soya milk and quinoa flour. We've added layers of homemade blueberry chia jam and coconut yogurt, and scattered with nuts, seeds and berries for a picture-perfect finish.
Alternative ingredient fillings:
13. Potato pancakes
Make the most of your leftover mash with these hearty yet healthy spud-filled scones. Flavour with spring onions and top with fresh chard and a runny poached egg for ultimate savoury satisfaction.
14. Ricotta pancakes
Italian cheese adds a rich creaminess to your standard pancake, so these are quite an indulgent version. The end result tastes a little like cheesecake, and the texture goes a bit soufflé-like. These are great served with sweet toppings, like compote or ice cream.
15. Cornmeal pancakes
Pancakes, but not as you know them, these thin and soft wraps are almost tortilla-like. They lend themselves well to Mexican fillings, like pulled pork, chicken with peppers, or some black beans. Our recipe serves them warm with a spoonful of homemade salsa. They do contain a little plain flour though, so they're not completely wheat-free.
Pancake topping ideas
Lemon and sugar, hazelnut spread and golden syrup all occupy a special place in our hearts, but getting adventurous with fillings makes things a bit more interesting. Here are some of our favourites:
Suzette: This retro citrus treat may seem a bit Fawlty Towers, but who doesn't love a flambé?
Salted caramel: The sauce of the moment – this trend shows no sign of stopping. Will its popularity ever screech to a halt? Who knows, but it's delicious and easy to rustle up yourself.
Salted caramel sauce
A pancake cake: Sound intense? Be warned, it is! This dessert is served in wedges with a cream, brandy and dark chocolate sauce - one for special occasions.
Chocolate praline pancake cake
Roast duck & hoisin sauce: Don't forget this Chinese takeaway classic is fit for the pancake treatment.
Chinese roast duck with pancakes
Find plenty more alternative Pancake inspiration...
5 best vegan pancake recipes
How to make vegan banana pancakes
5 gluten-free pancake recipes
The best healthy pancake recipes
Unusual pancake fillings and flavours
Top 10 savoury pancake recipes
All our pancake recipes
What kind of pancakes does everyone like in your house? Leave a comment below...