Why Are My Pancakes Flat? (Explained)

Some pancakes are meant to be flat.  For example, English pancakes do not use a leavening agent in the batter resulting in a pancake that resembles a french crepe only a little smaller and slightly thicker.  But your American pancakes do have a leavening agent in the batter and fluff up when they cook. Or they are supposed to fluff up. If you are asking yourself “why are my pancakes flat? Read on.

Why Are My Pancakes Flat?

Buttermilk will produce fluffy pancakes. Another key ingredient in pancakes that make them fluff up is baking powder. Are you overmixing your batter? Not resting your batter after mixing? Is your batter too thin or thick?  Any of these can cause your pancakes to be flat. 

why are my pancakes flat?

Buttermilk

Using buttermilk will produce fluffier pancakes because of the acid in the buttermilk that aids the batter to rise. Now if you are like me and don’t have buttermilk on hand.  It’s great for cooking but my husband and I do not like to drink it. So it will usually go bad before I can’t get it all used. 

Not a problem.  In fact, the recipe I use for pancakes doesn’t have buttermilk in it. I add either lemon juice or white vinegar to my milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes before adding it to my batter.  

No, it’s not buttermilk but is a great substitution.  Why? Because of the acid in the lemon juice or vinegar.  It is also called sour milk. You can’t taste the vinegar in the pancakes. Honest!

Baking Powder/Baking Soda

Another key ingredient in getting those fluffy pancakes is baking powder and baking soda. Both are leavening agents that help with the rise in the batter. 

If you are using baking powder and not getting those fluffy pancakes, check the expiration date on your baking powder.  Also, keep it in a dark cool place away from heat sources. 

Using too much baking powder/baking soda will cause your pancakes to rise but then fall, thus becoming flat. The ideal measurement is 1-2 teaspoons of baking powder for every 1 cup of flour. Any less or more and your pancakes are gonna be flat. 

Overmixing

Do not overmix the batter. When adding the wet ingredients to the dry, whisk gently. Whisk just until the dry ingredients are moist.  There will be lumps and that is ok.  By overmixing, you are stirring the air right out of the batter. 

The first time I made pancakes I was determined to get those lumps out. I even used an electric hand mixer.  Well, you guessed it.  My pancakes were flat and unappealing. 

Eggs

Another great way to get fluffy pancakes is the way you add your eggs. Separate the whites from the yolk.  Add the yolk into the batter mix.  

Whip your egg whites and then gently fold them into the batter just before cooking.  The longer you beat the egg white the fluffier the pancakes will be. So even just a little whipping of the egg white will help with adding air to the batter.

Resting The Batter

After mixing your batter, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb the liquid and the gluten created with your stirring to relax.  Yes, even with gentle stirring, gluten will form. 

The batter will expand and fluff up during this resting period.

Batter Too Thin Or Thick

Your batter should drip off your spoon rather running off of it.  A batter that is too thin causes the bubbles to escape rather than rising.  On the other hand, if your batter is too thick the pancakes will not cook through and you will end up with a gooey center. Consistency is key.

Watch the video below


My Pancake Recipe

I have experimented with different pancake recipes and this one is the best one so far.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

Add the vinegar to the milk, stir gently, and let sit for 10-15 minutes

Meanwhile, whisk all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

 Add the vanilla, melted butter, egg, and milk mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist. 

Let batter rest for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle on medium heat.  Once heated add your oil, butter, or cooking spray.  Add 1/4 cup batter to the hot pan.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until edges is set.  Bubbles will form on top of the pancake and will start to burst.  I usually turn when about half of the bubbles have burst. Turn gently.  It is best to use a spatula about the same size as your pancakes for easier turning.  Cook on the other side for about a minute and a half.  

This recipe will make 7 pancakes in the size showed below.

Final Thoughts

To get those fluffy pancakes just make sure that baking powder/baking soda is in the recipe.  Buttermilk is also great for those fluffy pancakes but you can substitute sour milk if you don’t have any buttermilk on hand.

Don’t overmix your batter and remember lumps in the batter is ok. The consistency of your batter needs to be just right.  Not too thin or thick.  Your batter should drip from the spoon not run off of it.

Rest the batter for at least 10-15 minutes.  This allows the flour to absorb the liquid and will also relax the gluten that was created even with gently stirring.

And if you want really fluffy pancakes, whip egg whites and then gently fold them into the pancake batter right before cooking.

Are your pancakes flat?  Try these remedies and you will have fluffy pancakes!

Pancakes are not just for breakfast. I have made them for supper as well.  Add some scrambled eggs and sausage patties and you have a great meal anytime. If you like switching it up by having breakfast for supper you might also like this.

Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts.  I love hearing from you.

And As Always

Have A Wonderful Day!

2 thoughts on “Why Are My Pancakes Flat? (Explained)”

  1. Thanks so much for posting this. Pancakes have always been a favorite of mine until lately. I just can’t get them right. Looking forward to trying these tips!

    Reply

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