Light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes make the perfect weekend breakfast. Made from scratch, these pancakes come together in minutes and can be topped with your favorite maple syrup, fresh fruit, or jam.
This recipe for classic buttermilk pancakes is totally from scratch and uses simple pantry ingredients you may already have on hand. You'll have fluffy, lightly sweetened pancakes on the table in no time!
Buttermilk is a must for this recipe. The acidity works with the other ingredients to make your pancakes extra fluffy and light. If you don't have any on hand, I've included a buttermilk substitute below (although buttermilk will give you the best results!).
Ingredients and substitutions
Making pancakes on the stove top is just like baking. Baking is an exact science, which means that using exact ingredients and measurements are necessary for good results.
I do not recommend substituting any ingredients other than what I mention below. If you do not have the listed ingredients on hand, I suggest searching for a recipe that includes the ingredients you do have on hand.
All-purpose flour - I have only tested this recipe with all-purpose flour. I do not recommend using self rising flour (this recipe already includes leavening agents) or whole wheat flour (which would require more liquid ingredients and would change the acidity of the recipe).
Granulated sugar - Just enough sugar is added to this recipe to add a hint of sweetness. Less sweet pancakes are perfectly paired with a sweet topping like maple syrup or fruit compote.
Leavening agents - You'll need baking soda and baking powder for this recipe. One cannot be substituted with the other - you'll need both to make these pancakes light and fluffy.
Salt - Just a bit of salt enhances the flavor of your pancakes. They won't taste salty.
Buttermilk - Buttermilk is a must for this recipe. It cannot be substituted with regular milk. This recipe is written with exact measurements of buttermilk and leavening agents to work together to make your pancakes light and fluffy. Don't have buttermilk on hand? See my section below on how to make a buttermilk substitute.
Large egg -Egg adds structure and moisture to your batter - I do not recommend substituting the egg in this recipe.
Vanilla extract - Adds vanilla flavor to your pancakes. Vanilla can be omitted - you'll just be making a plain pancake without vanilla flavor.
Buttermilk is a must for this recipe. In combination with the leavening agents (baking soda and baking powder), buttermilk creates the right amount of chemical reaction in your batter to produce fluffy pancakes. Substituting buttermilk with regular milk will leave your batter on the thin side without enough acidity.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, don't worry! Here’s an easy substitute:
- In your liquid measuring cup, first add one tablespoon of white vinegar (or fresh lemon juice). Then, fill your measuring cup with whole milk to the 1-cup line. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes.
Keep in mind, buttermilk is thicker than milk. Using a buttermilk substitute will cause your pancakes to turn out slightly thinner as a result.
Freezing and reheating pancakes
Homemade pancakes freeze and reheat beautifully. Try doubling or tripling this recipe to make extra pancakes weeks in advance!
To freeze: Allow your pancakes to cool completely to room temperature. Layer your pancakes between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper. Store in a freezer safe plastic bag or other container and seal tightly. Pancakes will keep for 2-3 months in the freezer.
Reheat in the oven: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place frozen pancakes in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for up to 10 minutes, or until warmed through.
Reheat in the microwave: Place up to two frozen pancakes on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for up to 1 minute, or until warmed throughout.
Tips and tricks for perfect pancakes
Flat/dense pancakes? Your batter may have been mixed too thoroughly. Overworking the batter can cause your pancakes to turn out tough, dense, or rubbery. Stir your batter until just combined - no more.
Leavening agents and buttermilk help make your pancakes light and fluffy. Substituting these ingredients (or expired ingredients) can cause your pancakes to turn out flat. Check expiration dates before beginning.
Pancakes not cooked through/burned on the outside? It sounds like your heat is set too high. Medium-low heat works best. Thick pancakes are best cooked over medium-low heat to allow enough time for the inside to cook through without burning the outside. Higher heat will cause the outside to brown before the center has had a chance to cook through.
Lumpy batter? A few lumps or streaks of flour in your batter is okay - smooth batter is not the goal. You don't want to overmix your batter trying to remove every last lump (this can cause tough/flat pancakes). One tip to prevent overly lumpy batter is to whisk your dry ingredients together before adding your wet ingredients.
Pancakes sticking to the pan? I highly recommend using a non-stick skillet or griddle, with a small pat of butter for each pancake. This prevents any potential sticking and butters your pancakes all in one step.
When are my pancakes ready to flip? Pancakes are ready to flip when the edges look dry and bubbles begin to burst across the top of your pancake. Be patient and commit to being at the skillet for up to 20 minutes (depending on how many pancakes you're cooking at once). Pancakes can take a bit of patience, requiring a minute or two per side to cook through.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to remove clumps.
- Add egg, buttermilk, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir until JUST combined (overmixing can cause your pancakes to turn out tough). There will be a few lumps in the batter - this is normal. Let the finished batter sit for 5 minutes.
- Heat up a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-low heat.
- Melt a small pat of butter into the pan (and continue before each pancake). As needed, wipe out the pan to prevent leftover butter from burning around the edges.
- Measure about ⅓ cup of batter into your skillet. Pancakes are ready to flip when the edges look dry and bubbles begin to burst across the top of your pancake. Be patient - this can take up to two minutes per side, depending on the heat of your skillet and thickness of your pancakes. Cook the second side until lightly browned and pancake is cooked through in the center. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Serve pancakes with your favorite maple syrup.
- Pancakes not cooked through/burned on the outside? Your heat is set too high. Medium-low heat works best. Thick pancakes are best cooked over medium-low heat to allow enough time for the inside to cook through without burning the outside. Higher heat will cause the outside to brown before the center has had a chance to cook through.
- Buttermilk substitute - Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) to a liquid measuring cup. Fill to the 1-cup line with whole milk. Allow to set for 5 minutes. Keep in mind, buttermilk substitute will make your pancakes thinner (buttermilk is thicker and will give a better end result).
- Frezing leftovers - Allow to cool completely. Layer pancakes between wax paper or parchment. Store in a freezer safe container/bag for up to 2 months.