How to make fluffy pancakes

Learn the secrets to making perfect fluffy pancakes, including the ingredients and techniques you need to make bubbles in the batter. Plus, try our best ever fluffy pancakes recipe. 

stack of fluffy pancakes with cherries, bacon & syrup

To make the fluffiest pancakes possible, you need to make bubbles in the batter. You can make bubbles by using a raising agent, such as baking powder, and by making and cooking your batter quickly. 

The most common fluffy pancakes are American pancakes or hotcakes, though the fattest and thickest are fluffy Japanese pancakes (but these need to be cooked in rings so they don’t collapse as they cook).

Fluffy pancakes technique

There are only three rules here: 

  1. Don’t over mix your batter – it's fine if you have a few lumps. The more you mix, the more the gluten will develop, which will create tougher pancakes.
  2. Don’t let the batter hang around for too long. It's best to use it before bubbles start to form in the mixture, as the pancakes may not rise fully when cooking. 
  3. Make sure your pan is hot enough to cook the batter quickly. 

Ingredients for fluffy pancakes

Adding baking powder is the easiest way to make fluffy pancakes 

There’s more than one way to make the bubbles that make a pancake fluffy, but the easiest way is by adding a raising agent such as baking powder.

Most baking powder is double action – it starts to activate and make bubbles of carbon dioxide when the wet ingredients are added to the dry, and then is activated again to make more bubbles when the pancakes are cooked.

Don’t be tempted to add more than the recipe suggests, as too much baking powder will make pancakes taste soapy. 

stack of fluffy pancakes with peanut butter & jam

Alternatively, you could use self-raising flour, which will add to the amount of raising agent in the recipe and potentially make your pancakes fluffier.

Because gluten-free flours don’t work in the same way, it’s harder to make fluffy pancakes with them, but whisking the egg white and folding it into the mixture will help. Healthy pancakes that have lower amounts of raising agents to keep the salt levels down will also come out flatter. 

Some pancakes such as blinis use yeast to make their bubbles, while others rely on whisked egg whites. 

Use bicarbonate of soda for buttermilk pancakes 

If you have a recipe for buttermilk pancakes, then you may notice that you need bicarbonate of soda instead of baking powder. This is because buttermilk is acidic and will react with the alkaline bicarbonate of soda to give the same effect. Baking powder is nothing more than bicarbonate of soda with an added powdered acid. If you swap buttermilk with milk in a recipe, you will also need to make sure your raising agent is baking powder. Bicarbonate of soda also helps the pancake to brown.

Add buttermilk or yogurt for a thicker batter

A thicker liquid will make a thicker batter, and you need a thick batter for a fluffy pancake – thin batter makes a crêpe-like pancake. Buttermilk and yogurt are often used in fluffy pancake batters to add thickness, as adding more flour to a thin batter will make a stodgy, thick pancake. Don’t be tempted to add cream though, because fat affects gluten and gives a crumblier, less fluffy texture.

The best fluffy pancakes recipe

Makes about 14 pancakes

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • oil and butter, for cooking
  1. Tip the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl with a small pinch of salt. Crack the eggs into a bowl with the buttermilk and milk, then whisk together. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture while whisking – don’t worry about the odd lump.
  2. Heat a splash of oil and a small knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan until sizzling. Add spoonfuls of batter to make pancakes the size you like.
  3. Cook until bubbles start to form on the surface, then flip carefully and cook on the other side. Cover loosely and keep warm in a low oven while you cook another batch.

Pancake topping ideas

stack of chocolate filled pancakes with caramelised banana

What you put on top is up to you but some common combinations for fluffy pancakes are:

  • Maple syrup, sometimes with bacon
  • Blueberries
  • Fruit compotes
  • Lemon curd

Get more ideas for both sweet and savoury toppings

More fluffy pancake recipes

Easy American pancakes 
Chocolate chip pancakes 
Red velvet pancakes 
American pancakes with blueberries
Chocolate-filled pancakes
Fluffy pancakes with pancetta  
Healthy pancakes
Fluffy pancakes with cherry-berry syrup 
Vegan American pancakes  
Banana pancakes with bacon

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