How to Make Healthy Pancakes
Pancakes can be part of a nutritious breakfast if you use just a few healthy tricks. From choosing a fiber-packed flour to adding fruits or nuts for more flavor, there are plenty of ways to make homemade pancakes more nutritious and delicious. Read on to get a basic pancake recipe, then use it to create other flavor variations, like banana-chocolate chip and blueberry. Plus, get tips for making healthy pancakes with ease.
How to Make Healthy Pancakes from Scratch
Start with This Basic Recipe: Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancakes
Our Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancake recipe (pictured above) uses 100% whole-wheat flour, heart-healthy canola oil and just a tablespoon of sugar. Compared to most store-bought mixes or a classic recipe, ours saves about 30 calories, 3 grams saturated fat and 4 grams total sugar per serving, plus you'll dish up 2 extra grams of fiber. To get started, make a batch of our Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancakes, then use that master recipe with other add-ins or toppings. They'll still be delicious and will be much healthier for you than a traditional stack of white-flour cakes smothered in syrup.
Step 1. Prep Your Dry Ingredients
Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl. If desired, replace up to 1/2 cup flour with another whole grain (cornmeal, oats or buckwheat flour).
Step 2. Don't Overmix
Whisk wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined. Resist overmixing-it will make the pancakes tough.
Step 3. Rest the Batter
Let the batter sit, without stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes. As the batter rests, the baking powder forms bubbles that create fluffy pancakes and the gluten in the flour relaxes to make the cakes more tender.
Step 4. Flip When You See Bubbles
Coat a large nonstick skillet (or griddle) with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Without stirring the batter, measure out three 1/4-cup pancakes, pouring the batter into the pan. Cook until the edges are dry and you see bubbles on the surface, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 2 to 4 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining batter, coating the pan with cooking spray and reducing the heat as needed.
5 Tips for Making the Best Healthy Pancakes
1. Boost Fiber
Most traditional pancake recipes call for white flour, which has a neutral flavor but doesn't offer much in the way of nutrition. To make healthy pancakes, use whole-wheat or another whole-grain (cornmeal, oats or buckwheat) flour instead. Whole-wheat flour has 16 grams of fiber per cup compared to 3 grams of fiber in white flour. For milder flavor, you can use white whole-wheat flour, which is most similar to white flour with a slightly nutty flavor, but regular whole-wheat flour will also work. If you're hesitant to make 100% whole-wheat pancakes, start by replacing half the white flour with whole-wheat flour in your recipe to get used to the difference. For extra fiber and omega-3s, add up to 3 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds or chia seeds.
2. Don't Pat Your Pancakes
Love a fluffy flapjack? Don't pat them with the spatula after flipping. It compresses the air inside and makes them dense.
3. Add Fruit or Nuts for More Flavor
Pancake batter is a pretty forgiving blank canvas-you can enjoy plain pancakes or you can add flavorful ingredients to it without compromising the final pancakes. You can add 1 cup of flavoring ingredients for every 1 1/2 cups of flour in your recipe. Add blueberries for some added sweetness and cancer-fighting anthocyanins or raspberries for a healthy dose of fiber and vitamin C. Chopped toasted nuts, which add healthy fats, are also a great addition, as are other fiber-boosting foods like oats and wheat germ.
4. Make Them Ahead
No time for mixing and measuring in the morning? Prep your pancakes ahead of time for an easy mid-week breakfast. The mixture of dry ingredients can be stored airtight for up to 1 month; the batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 day; cooked pancakes can be frozen, airtight in a single layer, for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or oven.
5. Mind Your Toppings
Don't deprive yourself-one of the reasons we all love pancakes is because of a little butter and maple syrup on top. Just keep in mind that a little goes a long way. A teaspoon of butter coupled with a few tablespoons of syrup is all you'll need. Or try pairing your pancakes with a side of fruit or berries for added natural sweetness.
How to Customize Your Pancakes
Start with the basic Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancake recipe and then create your favorite flavor variation like banana-chocolate chip, blueberry, gingerbread and more.
6 Easy Add-Ins to Try
In Step 1: Add 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips.
In Step 2: Add 1 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3 medium).
In Step 2: Add 1 cup blueberries and 2 tsp. orange zest.
Lemon-Poppy Seed Pancakes
In Step 1: Add 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds.
In Step 2: Add 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese plus 1 Tbsp. lemon zest.
In Step 1: Add ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
In Step 2: Add 1 cup pumpkin puree plus ¼ cup toasted chopped pecans.
In Step 1: Add 1 tsp. ground cinnamon.
In Step 2: Add 1 cup grated apple (about 1 medium).
In Step 1: Add 1 tsp. ground ginger and 11/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
In Step 2: Add ½ cup unsweetened applesauce and 2 Tbsp. molasses.
3 Tasty Toppings to Try
Toss 3 cups frozen mixed berries, 3 Tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp. cornstarch in a large microwave-safe bowl until well combined. Microwave on High for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave on High until slightly thickened and steaming, 2½ to 3½ minutes more. Serves 8: ¼ cup each
Bring 1 cup apple cider and ¼ cup packed brown sugar to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3 large (peeled and thinly sliced) apples, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the apples are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Combine 2 Tbsp. cider and 2 tsp. cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir into the apples and cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in ½ tsp. vanilla extract. Serves 10: 1/4 cup each
Honey-Yogurt Pancake Sauce
Whisk 1/2 cup honey into 2 cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt. Serves 10: 1/4 cup each