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How to Make the Perfect Pancake

There's nothing more satisfying on a lazy weekend than a stack of fluffy, golden pancakes, preferably eaten while still in your PJs. This breakfast staple (and, well, lunch and dinner favorite, too) has become a classic comfort food. How much so? Better Homes & Gardens editors have been digging through the archive in conjunction with the magazine's 100th anniversary in 2022, and, no surprise, they found an impressive pancake presence that includes more than 170 recipes and hundreds of mentions of "griddle" over the years. We're following up those flapjack stats from the January/February 2022 issue with tips for making the perfect pancake. Heat up the griddle and start flipping away so you can master a yummy stack by National Pancake Day on March 1.

Make a Better Batter

It's tempting to head straight to the boxed mix, but do yourself a favor and at least try a made-from-scratch version. It's easy, and a few basic ingredients are all that's needed. Start with this favorite recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens® Test Kitchen—and take note of the tips, even if you decide to stick with a mix.

Classic Buttermilk Pancakes

•Step 1: In a large bowl stir together 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Tip: For the ultimate fluffy pancakes, use both baking soda (for leavening) and baking powder (for bubbles and height) and sift the dry ingredients to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Also, ensure your baking soda and baking powder are fresh for optimal leavening power.

•Step 2: In another bowl use a fork to slightly beat 1 egg. Stir in 1½ cups buttermilk and 3 tablespoons cooking oil.

Tip: For a buttermilk substitute, place 4 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to equal 1½ cups total liquid. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes before using.

•Step 3: Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Whisk just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).

Tip: Minimal mixing is key! Stop stirring when a few lumps remain; they'll disappear when the batter hits the heat. Over-mixing makes pancakes tough.

Heat Up the Griddle

The right temperature contributes to a golden brown color that rivals restaurant pancakes. Lightly grease the griddle (or skillet, preferably a heavy one) over medium heat. Then test the temperature by flicking a few drops of water across the surface. If the drops "dance" and sputter a bit, it's the right temperature. If the water evaporates, it's too hot.

When the griddle is good to go, use a measuring cup or an ice cream scoop to pour the batter onto it. For mini (dollar-size) pancakes, use a tablespoon as the measure. Start by trying one pancake. You can adjust the griddle temperature after your trial run.

Tip: Let the batter sit for about 15 minutes before cooking. This allows a bit of time to leaven and adds to the nice puff.

Time the Flip

Depending on the batter and size of the pancake, plan on cooking about 1 to 3 minutes for each side. Instead of trying to lift a pancake to peek at the side being cooked, keep your eyes on the side facing you. When you see a bubbly surface and the edges are slightly dry, the pancake is ready to turn. Resist the temptation to press the pancake with the spatula after you've flipped it. You'll just squish away the fluffiness.

Tip: If you're cooking consecutive batches to serve all at once, keep pancakes warm by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven.

Freeze and Reheat

What can you do with pancakes that didn't get eaten? Freeze them! Layer cooked and cooled pancakes between waxed paper in a freezer bag. Freeze up to 3 months. To reheat, place a pancake between paper towels; microwave 45 to 60 seconds, flipping once. You can also reheat in a toaster. To reheat a large batch, place the pancakes on a baking sheet and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Whichever heating method you choose, there's no need to defrost the pancakes first.

Tip: You can freeze pancakes that have add-ins, such as blueberries and chocolate chips. Just don't freeze ones you've already topped with butter or syrup.

Flapjack Flashback

Pancakes may have been a longtime favorite on the pages of Better Homes & Gardens over its 100-year history, but they didn't star on the cover until recent times. Their sidekick, waffles, had their turn on the January 1966 cover. Pancakes didn't get the prime spot until the January 2018 issue when a mouthwatering and syrupy stack tempted readers to get out their griddles. (Wondering what else has been in the spotlight since the magazine's launch in 1922? Look for time-tested tips and throwback tidbits in each issue as Better Homes & Gardens marks its milestone anniversary in 2022.)

See Our Archive for 100 Years of Recipes and More