Making traditional English pancakes doesn't have to be daunting. It is in fact one of the easier cooking skills you can learn. Try my basic, easy and foolproof recipe for perfect pancakes and you will soon start making most delicate and light pancakes imaginable and not only on Pancake Day!
We do love pancakes in our house. Whether it's a traditional recipe for classic English pancakes or fluffy, American style ones, they are generally favourited by all.
It's also quite interesting to see that traditional pancake recipe is very much an international affair. I grew up eating these in Poland and have some very fond memories of my mum making them and not following any recipe at all. Forget the scales or measuring jugs, it was all done on "more or less" basis and the main aim was to achieve desired consistency of single cream. It always worked and they were (and still are) delicious. My perfect pancake recipe is based on my mum's method with little modification that I shall reveal below.
How to Make Perfect Pancakes?
I've done a bit of experimenting with pancakes to see whether there were any recipes that would beat this one but I always go back to this little classic as I genuinely find it the most foolproof and by far the tastiest.
Originally, my mum's method of making pancakes used half milk and half water which already gives you lighter pancakes than those made with milk only which I personally find more difficult to get nice and thin. I thought that mum's "half and half" recipe was IT, but then I read somewhere about using sparkling water, tried it and was converted.
Using sparkling water in your batter aerates it more and pancakes themselves come out lighter and more delicate, no chance of rubbery disaster. Perfect pancakes for sure!
- I like to add either oil or melted butter directly to my pancake batter instead of a frying pan. This way you avoid greasy pancakes and they still won't stick to the pan!
- Good, non-stick pan approx. 24-25cm will give you nice big pancakes. I really like this one from Kitchen Craft* and if you make pancakes regularly it is definitely worth investing in one although regular, large, non-stick frying pan will do the job too! Make sure you have your pan really, really hot before you start frying. Don't try to rush and get that batter on the pan before it reaches right temperature as your pancakes will fall apart and end up in the bin.
- I know that letting your pancake batter rest for 30 min might seem like a step not worth bothering with. I can assure you it's got to be done! This rest gives gluten a bit more time to chill which will affect the texture of your pancakes so in my eyes well worth waiting half an hour for. Unless you don't mind chewy pancakes?
And couple more tips!
- This one is related to personal preference but I find a simple, plastic or glass measuring jug* with pouring spout that bit easier to use for pouring my batter onto the pan. If you have one with the lid you can store your batter in the fridge until you are ready to use it. However, if you prefer good, old-fashion ladle, by no means use it. It's got to work for you!
- As you are on a roll frying away, keep piling your pancakes up on a plate and keep them covered with a clean tea towel to prevent them from drying. You don't need to separate them with baking paper, don't worry, they won't stick.
Is first pancake always bad?
Not necessarily! If you follow my tips above regarding temperature of the pan as well as letting your batter rest you should be ok. Having said that, if you are just starting your pancake journey it might happen that the first and sometimes the second pancake will be a bit hit and miss, funny shape, tearing etc. Don't give up as you will definitely get a hang of it!
Can I make my pancakes in advance?
Absolutely! Simply cover them tightly with cling film and/or aluminium foil and pop in the fridge for up to 2 days. I found that the best way of reheating them would be on a frying pan with a tiny bit of butter but you could also try a microwave (literally a few seconds and one at a time or they will turn rubbery).
You can also prepare your pancake batter in advance and if you like fresh pancakes every time, simply keep it covered in a fridge for up to 2 days! Your batter might need loosening up a bit with a drop of milk or water as the longer it sits the thicker it gets. Simply give it a good mix with a whisk or spoon to check consistency and add more liquid if required.
Do these pancakes freeze well?
They do! Simply pile them up separated with baking/greaseproof paper, wrap really well in aluminium foil and freeze for up to 2 months. I have previously frozen these pancakes without separating them at all and as long as you let them defrost fully in the fridge overnight or on the kitchen counter, you should have no issues with them sticking.
Perfect Pancakes Serving Suggestions!
Once you have your pancakes all piled up and ready, the hardest bit is to decide on the filling. Are you lemon and sugar, jam, Nutella person? Or perhaps you have some other preferences? For me pancakes wouldn't be the same without my Lemon Curd which is simply perfect for pancakes. Give it a go and just lemon and sugar will no longer quite cut it!
If citrus based preserves are your thing, try a dollop of my homemade Orange Marmalade with your pancakes. Soo good!
Our other favourites are my Strawberry Coulis, Easy Blackberry Jam & Plum Jam with Chocolate, you've got to try them!
If you enjoy stewed fruit you will love my stewed rhubarb and stewed pears with cinnamon and vanilla recipes.
For something a bit more controversial, how about topping your pancakes with some Cranberry Compote (Sauce) with Rosemary? You will be surprise how wonderful these two are together!
Pancakes are also perfect ingredients for creating some exciting desserts like these Pancakes (Crêpes) with Mascarpone Cream & Cranberry Compote. Simply divine! Dessert with wow factor that will definitely impress yet is so simple to make!
If pancakes are your guilty pleasure, try my American style Easy Healthier Pumpkin Pancakes which would be a delicious alternative to the traditional English ones!
For all of you with dairy and/or egg allergies or on plant based diet I've also got these perfect Vegan Crepes to try!
How to Make Perfect Pancakes - Step-By-Step Instructions
How to Make Perfect Pancakes
- 175 g plain flour
- 3 large eggs
- 200 ml milk
- 200 ml sparkling water or regular water
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoon oil or melted butter unsalted
Non-stick frying pan or pancake pan. I use 24cm/9.5inch one.
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, add pinch of salt and make a well in the middle. Instead of sifting you can simply give your flour a little whisk in the bowl instead.
- In a separate bowl or large jug mix together eggs, milk, water and oil.
- Pour the wet mixture onto the the centre of the flour well and start mixing using hand mixer, a whisk or balloon attachment of your standing mixer. Keep mixing until your batter is smooth, lump free and it should have a consistency of single cream.
- Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat up the frying pan until nice and hot. There is no need for oil or butter on the pan, pancakes won't stick!
- Using a ladle or pouring jug, pour small amount of batter onto a hot pan and swirl around until the pan is fully coated. You might need to "patch" little holes with tiny drops of batter.
- Fry on one side for approx 1 min until lightly browned. Flip it over with spatula and fry for another minute (see notes below).
- Transfer pancake to a plate and cover with clean tea towel while you fry remaining ones, adding the new ones on top.
- Enjoy with the filling of your choice!
- Nutritional information is approximate, per pancake and should be treated as a guideline only.
- Depending on the amount of batter used per pancake and whether you prefer thin or slightly thicker ones, the frying time might differ slightly. Minute per side is for slightly thicker pancakes. Make sure you watch them and adjust the time accordingly, difference won't be huge and you will soon know when to flip!
- If your batter has been standing for a while or you made it in advance and kept in the fridge you might need to add a splash of milk or water to loosen it up a bit. Give it a quick mix with a fork or spoon to check the consistency first.
- Keep your pancakes well covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Freezer friendly for up to 2 months.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on 31 January 2018, but was republished with new recipe card, step-by-step process photos, tips and other useful info in February 2019.
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They definitely stuck to my non stick pan and are so fragile. I probably won’t make again but it was fun trying!
Hi Jade, Sorry to hear that as I've never had any problems with them sticking.
These look wonderful! I can't wait to try them! 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
Amanda Wren-Grimwood says
These pancakes look perfect and great tips here.
Thanks Amanda! 🙂 Hope you'll find them helpful.
Thanks for all the great tips. You've made pancakes foolproof!
Thank you Katherine! 🙂
These pancakes look absolutely perfect! Love all the tips, will definitely try out the sparkling water tip, I don't know why I've never tried that before!
Thank you Michelle! Sparkling water makes these really light, works a treat.
Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says
I can't wait for Pancake Day! Such a fab guide for making perfect pancakes - will definitely be giving your method a go!
Thanks Bintu! 🙂 Pancake Day is a perfect excuse to make these although we tend to eat them regularly throughout the year.
Cat | Curly’s Cooking says
I’ve always struggled with crepes. They’ve never really worked out for me. Your fantastic photos made me want to give them another go, plus I was intrigued by the water! I’ve just made these and they were fantastic! My first one was a bit thick and then my second one was a bit dodgy but after that I got into the rhythm and they were all great. I added a bit of sugar to mine for extra sweetness. Thank you for such a great recipe and helping me successfully making crepes!
Oh wow Cat thank you so much for trying the recipe and I'm super happy it worked for you. When I first started making crepes, the very first pancake always used to be a failure, so called trial one as I was getting into the grove of frying. I always ended up scoffing it straight from the pan without any filling (cook's perks) lol. Happy Pancake Day! 🙂 x
Thanks for a delicious recipe and all the tips. Next time I will double the amount and freeze them for later!
Thanks Julia! 🙂 Having little batch of pancakes in the freezer for a quick brekkie or dessert is always a good thing especially as they freeze so well!
Kate Hackworthy says
Oooh sparkling water! I can't wait to try these with it.
Thank you Kate! 🙂
Helen of Fuss Free Flavours says
It is so nice to make your own pancakes, you really can't beat it. And so many ways to you can enjoy them, although I often think a simple drizzle of lemon juice and a little sugar is the best way. This is a brilliant guide and perfect even for the least confident of cooks.
Thank you so much Helen! I'm so with you on simple lemon and sugar, sometimes the simplest is the best! I'm glad you like the guide and I do hope it will help few newbies in the kitchen. 🙂
There's no way to beat a classic! I want to load up my Crêpes with Nutella and strawberries!
That sounds just the ticket Liz! 🙂
Absolutely amazing! What a brilliant recipe. Love the detailed photos... makes cooking so much easier. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
Thank you Angela! 🙂
Anna | Once Upon A Food Blog says
Sparkling water in pancakes - who'd have thought it! But it makes sense I suppose! Traditionally I make 2 batches of pancakes. I serve the first lot with ham and cheese - galette style minus the buckwheat, and the second lot with sweet toppings. They always disappear in a flash. I'll definitely try this recipe this year.
You are a woman after my own heart 🙂 We do usually go savoury and sweet and ham and cheese is usually a winner here as well! Definitely try using sparkling water, it will transform your pancakes!
Angela / Only Crumbs Remain says
What a great tip Jo! I've heard of sparkling water in other batters like tempura so thinking about it, it's only logical that it would woek the same way with a pancake batter. My Mum & Grandma used to make their Yorkshire pudding and pancake batter by feel too aiming for the right consistency - and that's how I was taught how to make them too. If somebody asked me for the quantities I'd have to make them and measure the ingredients!! And it's definitely lemon & sugar for me - will have to try your lemon curd topping though 🙂
Thanks Angela! 🙂 Yes, I've seen tempura recipes using sparkling water as well. Some good old fashioned recipes are so wonderfully intuitive aren't they especially when you grew up with them being made for you and then continued the same way 🙂 x
Midge @ Peachicks' Bakery says
Ooh love pancakes! The Peachicks are great pancake piggies too - we have to have them at least once a week although they prefer the fluffy american style ones with added extras we always have to have thin ones on pancake day! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks Midge! Pancakes are definitely crowd pleasers and kids pleasers in particular lol. We usually alternate between thin, classic ones and fluffy ones as boys love both equally. 🙂
Monika Dabrowski says
Who doesn't like pancakes? My kids would have them every day. Mine are similar to yours (we are talking 'nalesniki' here) except I've never added butter or oil into the batter itself. Must try that! Thank you for bringing your lovely recipe to #CookBlogShare:)
Thanks Monika! 🙂 That's a good question! lol 😉 I have a feeling we would probably find an odd soul or two but hey each to their own, I'll keep eating pancakes! 🙂 Adding oil or butter into the batter instead of the frying pan makes life so much easier and they really don't stick which is fantastic!
Jenny Paulin says
my OH would love you and your classic pancakes Jo. he much prefers the classic crepe style pancake to the fluffy American ones that I tend to make at home. mind you when it comes to pancakes, I will eat any type! yours look beautiful x
Lol, thanks Jenny! 🙂 I'm with you and generally any type of pancakes will do, I'm not fussy but I do have soft spot for these crepe style ones. Might be because I literally grew up on them 🙂 x
Corina Blum says
Your pancakes look brilliant Jo! I think I'd heard the tip about sparkling water somewhere before but haven't tried it myself yet. I'll have to try to remember to get some. I tend to have savoury pancakes more often as they're an easy lunch recipe and Master Spice likes them with veggies in the batter. My husband loves the traditional lemon and sugar ones and I think they'd be delicious with your homemade lemon curd. Thanks for sharing with #CookOnceEatTwice x
Thanks Corina! Sparkling water is a true game changer and improves pancakes immensely. We do love savoury pancakes in our house too. I tend to make a big batch and make some sweet and some with some sort of savoury filling. I like the sound of veggies in the batter though. x