Simply perfect pancakes: guaranteed to please

simply perfect pancakes

The perfect pancake.

Fact, or fiction?

For such a simple dish – flour, milk, salt, butter, eggs, and leavening – there are certainly a plethora of recipes out there. And not just variations (read: blueberry, chocolate chip); but hundreds and hundreds of recipes for just… plain… pancakes.

And it seems no one is content with the recipe they have. It’s a big game of musical chairs out there: Let’s go round and round and round on Google, and when the music stops – grab a recipe, any new recipe!

Maybe that’s why our guaranteed Simply Perfect Pancakes is one of the top recipe landing pages on our online recipe site.

To mark today’s launch of our newly redesigned site, I decided to determine the recipe with the most customer “hits” that hadn’t yet been blogged.

And this is it: pancakes.

Simple, everyday pancakes.

Maybe we never blogged it because we figure everyone knows how to make pancakes, and already has a favorite recipe. But given the number of people searching this site for “pancake recipe” – well, we must have figured wrong.

So here it is: yet another pancake recipe. But this one is for “perfect pancakes” – Simply Perfect Pancakes.

And what’s the secret to these particular pancakes?

The perfect balance of ingredients: King Arthur Flour for body, baking powder for rise, eggs for structure, butter for richness, and milk to bring it all together.

Plus a certain “secret ingredient” –

Malted milk powder, a richly flavored sweetener that gives these cakes a certain diner-style je ne sais quoi.

Still hunting for the ultimate pancake recipe? Well, the music has stopped; grab a chair, and give this recipe a try. Your long search may finally be over.

Put the following in a mixing bowl:

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk*

*Start with just 1 cup milk if you’re baking under hot, humid conditions, or if you’re going to let the batter rest longer than 15 minutes. Use up to 1 1/4 cups milk in cold, dry conditions.

What’s the difference? Depending on the amount of milk used the pancake batter will be thicker/thinner, and thus the cakes will be thicker/thinner.

In summer, or when it’s stored in hot, humid conditions, flour acts like a sponge, soaking up moisture from the atmosphere. Thus you’ll usually use less liquid in your recipes in summer, more in winter.

And how about resting the batter? The longer it rests, the more it thickens, as the flour gradually absorbs the liquid.

Bottom line: If you prefer thicker pancakes, go easy with the milk. You can always thin the batter with more milk – but it’s hard to use less milk once you’ve already added it!

Beat the eggs and milk until light and foamy, about 3 minutes at high speed of a stand or hand mixer.

Whisk together the following:

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar OR 1/4 cup malted milk powder

Stir into the milk/egg. Don’t beat; some lumps are OK.

Add 3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil. Stir it in.

Note: If you read our online recipe for these pancakes, it tells you to add the melted butter/oil to the milk/egg, prior to adding the dry ingredients. I use melted butter (rather than oil), and when I add warm butter to cold milk/egg, it coagulates into little globules that, in my opinion, don’t blend into the batter very nicely. Thus I add the melted butter at the end, when the room-temperature flour has warmed the batter up a bit.

Notice how this batter drips off the spatula in a narrow stream; it’s pretty thin. I’m going to let it rest for at least 15 minutes, while my griddle is heating; it’ll thicken slightly.

Even after a rest, though, the batter will be fairly thin, and the pancakes I make will be on the thin side – which is the way I like them.

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat, or set an electric griddle to 375°F. Lightly grease the frying pan or griddle. The pan or griddle is ready if a drop of water skitters across the surface, evaporating immediately.

Drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the lightly greased griddle.

Cook on one side until bubbles begin to form and break, about 2 minutes.

Then turn the pancakes and cook the other side until brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Turn over only once; lots of flipping will yield tough pancakes.

Serve immediately. First comes the butter…

…then the maple syrup. I prefer Grade B maple syrup, for the best, most assertive flavor.

Look at that lovely interior! Nice and light.

Anticipation…

Can’t you just taste these warm, buttery pancakes, with their drizzle of sweet maple syrup?

The weekend’s here – bookmark this recipe on our new site, and give it a try.

Then add your review – we’d love to hear what you think.

Want a hard copy right now? Print the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Pristine

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe! Didn’t know that malted milk powder played such an amazing thing to pancakes! However, I’m used to using buttermilk for my pancakes and there’s some in the fridge now as I’m typing this – so can I swap the milk here for buttermilk? Will there be any changes to the taste and texture of my pancakes?

    Thank you and have a nice day ahead:)
    You may certainly use buttermilk instead of regular milk and no, you shouldn’t need to make any changes to experience good results for this recipe. I hope you have a nice day also! ~Amy

    Reply
    1. Spooky

      I used buttermilk, the store bought, thickened variety, and it needed some water to thin it out. Maybe a quarter cup? I don’t know if if was necessary, but I also added a pinch of baking soda to make sure it would rise.

  2. AnneInWA

    PJ, I make these all of the time! My family loves them, and I use the same recipe without any changes in my waffle iron with rave reviews! I usually warm up some grade B Vermont maple syrup with a cinnamon stick in it and pour it over top. I have also added pumpkin pie spice to the batter and they turn out wonderful! One question though, my kids want chocolate chip waffles and when I make them, the chocolate ends up burning. Is there a way to help prevent burnt chocolate?
    The best way to prevent any burning, be it blueberries, raspberries or chocolate, is to pour some batter in the iron, then sprinkle in fruit or chocolate, then drizzle the rest of the batter over the top so they are buried in the batter and protected from the iron. I hope this helps. ~Amy

    Reply
  3. Brenda

    Never made these particular pancakes, but will have to try them some day soon with separated eggs (yolks with wet ingredients and whites beaten and folded in), that’s what makes pancakes good! Crisp on the outside, fluffy and tender on the inside.

    Reply
  4. martibeth

    The new recipe section looks just great, PJ. Great job! As for the pancakes, I’ve always thought the recipe in the Baker’s Companion could not be beat. Even my husband who is not much of a pancake eater loves them. I know this recipe is very similar. Hope I have some malted milk powder around here somewhere. I am so hungry just looking at these photos.

    Reply
  5. smilemore

    PJ, you always know how to make me drool at your creations! I was planning on making burgers tonight for dinner when our friends come over, but I am now wanting to make breakfast for dinner! I guess my husband and 16 month old daughter will get some yummy pancakes in the morning :)

    You can’t go wrong with pancakes – breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  6. czkershner

    I’ve been making these every Saturday morning for years. My family loves them, my guests love them and I can almost do them in my sleep! The 15 minute rest time for the batter is just perfect for me to hop in the shower! Mine weren’t browning quite as nicely as these, so I add a 1/2 tsp. baking soda which seemed to do the trick.
    Haven’t had a bad one yet!
    Glad to hear it’s been a favorite, and as always, happy baking! ~Jessica

    Reply
  7. dmeaux1000

    While my pancakes never end up looking like yours, they do taste great. Sometimes I add some fig preserves to the batter and top with a streusel topping. The topping is to die for. Think I’ll go make some right now.

    Reply
  8. Andra

    Hi, Have you experiemented or had good results with milk alternatives? I’d like to find a recipe I could use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Do you think these will hold up well to taste and texture?
    Hi there,
    We haven’t tried coconut milk, but I know Mary, one of our bakers, has had good luck using rice milk or soy milk in the pancake recipes. If you do try the coconut, we’d love to hear how it goes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. BluebonnetBaker

    PJ, you just made my mouth water. I can’t possibly make these today when there’s no one home to eat them with me.. but oh man. This is happening at the weekend.

    And you’re right about always searching for the perfect recipe. I have yet to find it. Maybe this is the one.

    Rainy Monday here – I could use some nice, buttery pancakes right about now! Glad I’ve tempted you… :) PJH

    Reply
  10. kd8ejt

    I have a recipe very similar to this from a Joy of Cooking recipe book I grew up with. When the new one came out they replace the recipe so I called my mother to get it.

    It’s so easy to make and more often then not we don’t even bother adding the oil or butter. It tastes as good. Though now I’m going to have to get the malted milk powder to try.

    I also find topping them with a smear of apple butter is divine.

    Reply
  11. Mary

    I make a very similar pancake recipe and we usually have it for lunch or dinner rather than breakfast. One thing that we have added that really makes them delicious are a handful or two of your cinnamon chips. As my 7 year old says, “sooo yummy”!

    Reply
  12. Aaron Frank

    I love this recipe although I have to admit, I have doctored it a bit based on my family’s tastes.

    I use buttermilk and I think it makes the pancakes a little softer than regular milk. I switched to buttermilk powder because it has a little less of the tang of buttermilk and my family doesn’t like that.

    I also vary the thickness depending on what I am doing. If I am making plain, round pancakes then I use the given amount of liquid but sometimes I make them in Star Wars character molds and they are too stiff so I started using a little more liquid. It’s really hard to get the batter into Yoda’s ears otherwise.

    I also make extra as these freeze and thaw nicely. I usually thaw them in the toaster and from one batch I can have three breakfasts for my kids.

    Finally, I’ve seen some people talking about using a pastry bag or even a regular plastic bag to put batter in shapes or into the above mentioned Star Wars molds but I’ve yet to try it. Has anyone else done that?

    Thanks
    The star wars molds sound like lots of fun. May the force be with you always. ~Amy

    Reply
    1. Miller

      Sadly, I must agree with cmorris – Dry, bland, heavy… I was just not impressed at all. My compliments to the photographer, but it’s back to my original recipe.

      (And Kathy, just so that you’ll know.. cmorris never even hinted at ‘not trying another KA recipe’… would be interesting to know how you arrived at that.)

  13. Kathy

    Back to the Bisquick? Really? You won’t even try another KA recipe, nor any others? And you won’t try changing your ingredients slightly, as in seeking out farm-fresh eggs rather than using mass-laid storebought? Baffling.

    Anyhow, wanted to let you lovely KA bakers know that we made these very pancakes two weeks ago for my sweetheart’s family, and everyone was quite pleased and complimentary. As I normally make pancakes for the two of us with whole grains, it had been a long time since I’d made such tall, fluffy cakes. So good. Thanks!

    Reply
  14. guajillo

    Those are lovely pancakes, and I’m sure they’re delicious, but I prefer my cakes with a very crispy, almost deep-fried-looking edge. I haven’t had much achieving that texture at home.

    Any ideas how to tweak a recipe or the method to achieve this?

    The almost deep-fried edge is achieved by the frying process! Use more fat (butter, oil, or your choice of grease) on the griddle to get the look and texture you seek. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  15. maviris

    This is my go-to pancake recipe, I use it at least three times a month. I’ve swapped in plain yogurt, buttermilk, sugar instead of malted milk. It is wonderful and simple; I can never go back to mix – Thanks KAF!

    Reply
  16. pennyw5

    Our secret here in the “ham” area (Birmingham) is one I learned from Southern Living magazine years ago-it’s a can of cultured buttermilk powder (Saco Foods). When you need buttermilk in a recipe but don’t have it in the house…this is one can I keep constantly in the pantry. When opened, I keep it in the refrig and add it to my biscuit, pancakes & waffles and of course cake recipes. I buy it at Publix for about $4.00 It’s a staple at our home & our daughter’s as well.It’s a low fat & low cholesterol item too! Homemade is best according to our family!!

    Reply
  17. gingerc99

    @Aaron Frank, I have the same star wars pancake molds. And I also had to adjust my batter. I haven’t tried a pastry bag to put the batter into the shapes, but it sounds like it would work well. But I did get something called a “pancake pen”. It’s esentially a very large squeeze bottle, with a wider opening, that you could even make the batter in the pen. It works amazingly!!! I would highly reccomend it. Some other specialty cookware sites sell it, specifically the one I got the star wars molds from. But I bought mine from amazon and it was much cheaper. I would give it a shot, it makes the batter distribution into the corners of those molds, SO much easier!

    Reply
  18. mikest

    I’ll have to give these a try. My from scratch pancakes (doesn’t matter what the recipe is) NEVER come out. There is always some problem and I keep falling back to Bisquick (yuck)… The only good thing I can say about them is that they do hold the maple syrup well… ;-)

    Mike, do give these a try. I think they’ll beat Bisquick, anyway! :) PJH

    Reply
  19. "freidlyb@etown.edu"

    Can I substitute my KA non-diastatic malt for the malted milk powder, or would the flavor suffer? If it is okay, how much should I use?
    The non-diastatic malt powder is just not the same! You will not be as pleased as when using malted milk powder. They are not interchangeable. Elisabeth

    Actually, I disagree with Elisabeth; I’d try substituting 2 tablespoons non-diastatic malt powder for the 1/4 cup malted milk powder. ND malt is much sweeter than malted milk powder, but the slightly caramelized flavor is similar. Good luck – let us know how it goes- PJH

    Reply
  20. rodneybuxton

    The name says it all, these are simply put some of the best pancakes I’ve ever made. I made them with my kids this weekend and they loved them. They were so light and fluffy they were incredible.

    We used sugar this time, but I think we will try the malted milk powder next time. Although I can’t imagine they could be any better.

    Thanks again, Rodney – loved seeing your comment about these on our Facebook wall. PJH

    Reply
  21. bzeagler

    I’m not much of a ‘cake and cookie’ groupie, but if I had to choose my last meal, it would likely be the pancakes served at Little Swiss Cafe in Carmel, CA. They are thin and moist with just enough crumb texture to qualify as a western-style pancake (not a crepe). Has anyone else enjoyed this rare culinary treasure? And if so, can anyone take a guess at their ingredients?

    Not familiar with the café and they don’t have a Web site so I can’t research, but I’d imagine they have more eggs and butter than most pancakes… PJH

    Reply
  22. Jessica

    This recipe looks great! Looking forward to trying it for my family. Can the batter be made the night before and kept in the refrigerator or is it best to make just ahead?

    This batter should be fine to make the night before!-Jon

    Reply
  23. JLD

    These were terrible. I’m highly suspicious of the pancakes that were photographed here? I pinned this on Pinterest, and was excited to try this “perfect” pancake recipe. They were eggy, thin, and dense. Disappointing. After breakfast, went straight to my Pinterest board to delete it. Blech. :/

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      We are so sorry to hear of your difficulty with the recipe. It is correct as written and has been on our site for many years with a 4+ star rating. Our bakers on the hotline would be happy to help troubleshoot, just drop them a line. ~ MJ

  24. pwpyle60

    I made these pancakes this morning after being dissatisfied with mixes. These were absolutely wonderful…simply perfect! I followed the recipe exactly using just the sugar, no malt. They were light, fluffy and cooked wonderfully on the electric griddle. I have had mixes where the batter hardly bubbles at all…these were bubbly all over :-)

    This recipe is now my go to for pancakes and waffles!!

    I have a question for the experts: when adding a flavor, like vanilla, when is the best time to add it to this recipe?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      So glad you liked them. When adding any flavor, add it along with the other liquid ingredients. Enjoy – PJH

  25. Karen Covert

    Well where do I start. First of all thank you for a wonderfull site to get recipts. At 56 I’m new to cooking/baking and found the blogs very very helpful. The first thing I cooked was the simple pancakes using organic sugar cane. I burnt half of them (like a said I’m new) but the other half was good. Even the cook of the family, my 70 year old sister, who doesn’t like any other persons cooking, liked them. I know I made a mistake I thought it said cook within 15 minutes instead of rest for 15 minutes. I do have a question can I use only one table spoon of sugar? they where too sweet for me.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Karen, I am glad you found our site. You may certainly cut the sugar back.~Jaydl@KAF

  26. Karen Covert

    Well where do I start. First of all thank you for a wonderfull site to get recipts. At 56 I’m new to cooking/baking and found the blogs very very helpful. The first thing I cooked was the simple pancakes using organic sugar cane. I burnt half of them (like I said I’m new) but the other half was good. Even the cook of the family, my 70 year old sister, who doesn’t like any other persons cooking, liked them. I know I made a mistake I thought it said cook within 15 minutes instead of rest for 15 minutes. I do have a question can I use only one table spoon of sugar? they where too sweet for me.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good for you Karen! You picked a great recipe to start with. Yes, you may reduce the sugar. Elisabeth@KAF

  27. Bob

    Simply a great recipe! We toss in berries and they’re even tastier. Thanks for posting such great recipes!

    Reply
  28. doofusgeo

    When did adding sugar to pancake batter become de rigeur? I grew up in the 1950′s, and my mom never added sugar. I like the contrast between the salty/buttery pancakes and the sweet maple syrup. Is adding sugar part of the modern movement that has been adding more and more sugar to everything, even to vinaigrettes? (The French do not add sugar to vinaigrettes.) Or is this a regional thing like biscuits, where Northern folk add sugar to biscuit dough a la shortcake and Southerners generally do not? I grew up in St Louis, a “half Southern” city. Biscuits were a common breakfast offering at restaurants, unlike Chicago, and only rarely were they sweetened. I never sweeten my cornbread either, but restaurants usually did. I love learning about regional differences in food: both what food is eaten and how it is prepared and seasoned. The national fast food chains and people moving to new areas are gradually “nationalizing” tastes. I hate seeing that happen.

    Reply
  29. Trish

    I love this recipe! I added oats and almond extract, my family devoured them! Thank you, thank you for such an amazingly simple recipe.

    Reply

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