How to Make Perfect Pancakes

How can I make exceptional pancakes at home?

Whether you’re at K-Days in Edmonton or Stampede in Calgary, Albertans know and love a good pancake breakfast. Sadly, free pancake season is limited in both cities, so if you want pancakes outside of the regular pancake season, you’re going to have to learn how to make them at home.

ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen chef instructor J.P. has flipped more than a few pancakes in his time, and has learned plenty of tricks to making great pancakes. Here are some of his pointers to help you up your game when batter meets hot griddle.

Make them from scratch: Using a mix is easy, but it’s not much harder to make pancakes from scratch. If you’ve got the kitchen basics – flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs, butter, and maybe a few other things – you should have what you need to make pancakes. And they really do taste better when you put in the minimal extra effort.

Let it sit: Baking powder needs time to work. Give the batter a good 5 – 10 minutes to sit and expand before you put any in the pan. The delay also gives the pan time to heat up.

Butter: Non-stick pan or not, it doesn’t hurt the taste to throw a little bit of butter in the pan before you pour in some batter. It gives a nice golden brown colour to the pancake, and helps keep things from sticking.

Find the right heat: Medium-low is usually ideal, though stoves and pans are all slightly different. As the pan heats and retains the warmth, the pancakes will become more consistent. Don’t expect the first couple pancakes to look photo-shoot beautiful.

Know when they’re ready to flip: As pancakes cook, little bubbles will pop through the uncooked batter’s surface. Once these little bubbles leave a small hole all the way through the pancake, it’s ready for flipping. There’s some trial and error involved, but this is a good starting point.

Syrup: While the syrup at free pancake breakfasts is almost always maple-flavoured “pancake syrup,” feeding a smaller crowd at home means using real maple syrup is more of an option, cost-wise. Stock up when it’s on sale, but be sure to use it before the expiry date.

Beyond syrup: The default serving option for pancakes is syrup, but the summer bounty of berries is upon us, so why not whip up a more fruity topping? Fruit compotes sound fancy but are surprisingly easy to make. We have many recipes on our website, from Mixed Berry Compote to Rosy Rhubarb Compote to Summer Berry and Peach Compote. Some sweet sauces, like our Nectarine Sauce, are also great on pancakes.

Bacon and pancakes: There are some great options here. First off, if you’re going to be cooking bacon with your pancake breakfast, cook it in the pan before you cook the pancakes. It oils up the pan so the pancakes won’t stick as readily, and it adds some lovely smoky bacon flavour to the pancakes. Your second option is to cook the bacon right into your pancakes. Start by cooking two or three strips of bacon in the frying pan until it’s just about done, then pour some pancake batter on top of the bacon. Cook the pancakes as you normally would. For a lower-fat option, cook the bacon crisp and crumble it, wipe out the pan, pour in pancake batter and sprinkle bacon on top.

Barbecue cooking: If you’re cooking pancakes for a crowd, you can’t beat cooking them on the barbecue. There are flat-tops designed for use on your gas grill, and they’re great for making a whole lot of pancakes at once. Cooking pancakes one-at-a-time is fine for feeding one or two people, but not for feeding a crowd.