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These wonderfully fluffy, crowd-pleasing, old-fashioned pancakes are just perfect dressed down with butter and pure maple syrup. They’re also very flexible and accommodate pretty much any toppings or mix-ins your heart desires.

a stack of old fashioned pancakes on a plate with a fork
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Why we love this recipe

I feel pretty strongly that a person ought to be able to wake up on a weekend morning, leaf through a cookbook or two while sipping a cup of coffee, and proceed to produce a tasty and reasonably healthy batch of pancakes for breakfast in half an hour or so, with a few common ingredients.

On the one hand, a box of Bisquick should not be required. On the other hand, neither should powdered buttermilk, sweet potatoes, ricotta cheese, or macadamia nuts. Save those for brunch parties and houseguests. Yes?

These old-fashioned pancakes have long been our go-to recipe. Our youngest family member makes them for us at least twice a month. They’re:

  • Light and fluffy
  • Delicately flavored
  • Quick and easy
  • Crowd-pleasing
  • An absolute classic

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Good old all-purpose flour makes these pancakes easy and accessible so you can whip up a batch whenever the mood strikes. You don’t need anything fancy.
  • Whole milk creates just the right level of richness and the perfect texture. We also love using soy milk in these pancakes. The strong protein structure helps create extra-thick, fluffy pancakes.
  • Use a high-quality pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
  • Here and basically everywhere, I like to use a really good cultured butter from grass-fed cows. It sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is widely available in U.S. grocery stores for a reasonable price.
  • You’ll need a little bit of oil for the skillet. Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.

How to make them

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a dreamy batch of old fashioned pancakes. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl (or glass measuring cup), whisk together room temperature milk, egg, and vanilla. Melt butter and let it cool slightly, then mix it into the wet ingredients.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together gently, leaving some lumps in the batter. Let the batter rest for at least five minutes.
  4. Set a griddle over medium heat and coat it lightly with safflower or other high-heat vegetable oil. Scoop batter by the 1/4-cup onto the hot skillet, leaving plenty of room between pancakes. Cook the pancakes until the edges of the underside are browned and the top is covered with bubbles that have begun to burst and stay hollow. Flip the pancakes and cook until the underside is browned. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Old-fashioned pancakes have so few ingredients and so few techniques that it really pays to pay attention. (This is true for cooking in general, for sure. But the simpler the dish, the more each small step can make a big improvement.) Here’s what to do to get the best results.

Have ingredients at room temperature

You’ve seen this instruction in recipe ingredients so often that you might be tempted to glaze over it from time to time. Don’t do that with pancakes. Room-temperature eggs and milk will make much fluffier pancakes, and milk that’s not ice-cold will also help the melted butter distribute better throughout the batter rather than clumping up.

Don’t tell anyone I told you, but in a lot of climates it’s toooootally fine to leave the egg and milk out on the counter when you go to bed at night and use them in the morning. Or pour the milk into a glass measuring cup, crack the egg right into it, and microwave on half power just until room temperature. 

Use fresh baking powder

…and really, all your ingredients should be fresh, good quality ones. Baking powder tends to sit around in pantries for a long time, but it doesn’t last forever, so make sure to buy a new container a couple of times a year. Your cakes will thank you, too.

Let melted butter cool slightly before mixing into wet ingredients

This way you’ll be 100% sure not to end up with unwanted scrambled eggs. Save those to eat alongside your pancakes!

Don’t over-mix the batter

Pancake batter should be a bit lumpy. Smooth batter is an indication you’ve mixed too much, which develops too much gluten in the flour and yields tougher pancakes. Just be lazy. It’s the best.

Give the batter a short rest before cooking

Baking powder starts to work the minute it gets wet, so you don’t want to make pancake batter ahead. But a few minutes — five, let’s say — resting on the counter before cooking gives the flour a chance to soak up the liquids and the gluten a chance to relax a bit. 

Use just a little bit of oil on the skillet

A neutral-tasting vegetable oil with a high smoke point is your best bet for achieving a nice brown pancake but not a black one. We tend to use safflower oil.

You can also use clarified butter if you like. But the milk solids in regular butter burn at a low enough temperature that it makes cooking the best pancakes a little too finicky. It’s not impossible to make perfect pancakes with butter on the skillet, but it’s harder, especially in later batches.

Don’t sweat the first batch

Treat your first few pancakes like a test batch. They’ll be perfectly edible, but they won’t be perfect.

Flip pancakes when you see these two indicators

  1. A nice, brown edge on the underside of the pancake (lift up a bit with a spatula to take a peek) is the indication from the bottom of your pancake that it’s ready to be flipped.
  2. Bubbles that burst and stay hollow are the indication from the top of your pancake that it’s ready to be flipped.

Your task is to regulate the heat of your skillet so that both of these things happen right around the same time. I swear it’s a little different every time, so just pay attention and experiment a little until you get it right.

Can I add mix-ins?

For sure. These pancakes have an accommodating flavor and texture that works well with sweet additions. Blueberries, banana slices, and chocolate chips make frequent appearances in our own kitchen — and the sky’s the limit in yours.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Old-fashioned pancakes are at their best as they come off the griddle, so I don’t recommend going out of your way to make this recipe in advance. If you’d like to keep the first pancakes warm while you cook the rest of the batch, you can place them on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven.

That said, leftovers are oddly delightful in their own right. They’ll keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week of in the freezer for three months. Freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet before transferring to a zip-top freezer bag or other container with parchment between stacked pancakes.

More favorite breakfast classics

a stack of old fashioned pancakes on a plate with a fork

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Basic Pancake Recipe and Tips for the Best Pancakes 780 | Umami Girl
4.83 from 91 votes

Old Fashioned Pancakes

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This is such an easy, fantastic old-fashioned pancakes recipe. Follow the tips above and the directions here and you'll have a great, simple batch of pancakes in under half an hour. Keep them simple with a little butter and pure maple syrup, or go nuts with the toppings. Their classic flavor works either way. Makes about 8 pancakes. Can be doubled.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 pancakes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • 3 ½ teaspoons (14 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ¼ cup (296 ml) whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • Safflower oil, for the skillet

Instructions 

  • Have egg and milk at room temperature for optimum pancake fluffiness.
  • Into a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. Then whisk in the butter.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir together just until combined. Some lumps are fine. Don't overmix.
  • Let batter rest for five minutes before proceeding.
  • Set a griddle or heavy, nonstick pan over medium heat. Coat lightly with safflower oil.
  • When griddle is hot, scoop batter by the approximate 1/4-cupful onto the skillet, leaving plenty of room between pancakes. Cook until the edges of the underside are browned and the top is covered with bubbles that have begun to burst and stay hollow. Flip and cook until the underside is browned. Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Pancakes are best served right as they come off the griddle, though you can keep them warm in a 200°F oven while you cook the rest if you insist.

Notes

  1. Whole milk creates just the right level of richness and the perfect texture. We also love using soy milk in these pancakes. The strong protein structure helps create extra-thick, fluffy pancakes.
  2. Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  3. These pancakes have an accommodating flavor and texture that works well with sweet additions. Blueberries, banana slices, and chocolate chips make frequent appearances in our own kitchen — and the sky's the limit in yours.
  4. Pancakes are at their best as they come off the griddle, so I don't recommend going out of your way to make this recipe in advance. If you'd like to keep the first pancakes warm while you cook the rest of the batch, you can place them on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven.
  5. That said, leftovers are oddly delightful in their own right. They'll keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week of in the freezer for three months. Freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet before transferring to a zip-top freezer bag or other container with parchment between stacked pancakes.
Adapted from allrecipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 369kcal, Carbohydrates: 51.8g, Protein: 11.5g, Fat: 12.8g, Fiber: 1.4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Breakfast and Brunch
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.83 from 91 votes (91 ratings without comment)

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19 Comments

  1. Awesome recipe! The first time I made it, they came out a bit flat and chewy, with a slightly soapy flavor. So I made them again this week but decreased milk by a 1/4 cup, used fine salt instead of coarse salt, decreased the baking powder by 1/2 tsp and made sure the eggs and milk were room temp by microwaving them.
    This time, very fluffy, no soapy flavor, and my new go to recipe!

  2. Todd, MomVee is always good for a new word. I’ve had Clabber Girl baking soda as part of my kitchen for months but had never really thought of it as part of my vocabulary. Now I want to clabber everything in sight. I couldn’t be more flattered that you like the photo – thank you!

    Brooke, one of these days you may just see that crazy gorgeous rainbow cake of yours gracing this site. With three girls in the family, it’s all we can do to wait until tomorrow to start baking it!

  3. I happen to think we may be sisters, separated since birth. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a Saturday morning and…yes! Fluffy pancakes. And, yes! Flipping through cookbooks. If only everyday was Saturday.

    THANKS for your comment on my blog, which led me to yours. Will check in oft. It’s a BEAUTIFUL site. So excited to see what you’re up to in your kitchen…

  4. Clabbering! New word of the day for me! I love it. I was lucky to find an old breads of the world cookbook that my grandma had. She gave their pancake mix an “xxxx.” Her top mark. It’s been my pancake staple since. We do use Martha’s biscuit recipes, though. Damn good. Just like your photo. Todd.

  5. MomVee, there should be awards for best blog comments, and you should win them. All. I’m going to try clabbering soon!