Pancakes were a treat in my household. Not an everyday meal option, a special occasions item. I’m not sure why this was, maybe my mother didn’t have a non-stick frying pan. Maybe she had only been exposed to the sweet dessert option. Either way, pancakes (with a heavy emphasis on the cake part) were not our daily bread. But when you look at the different ways of making them, it seems that there are some healthy options. And it is so quick and cheap to throw a batch together, it seems a shame to wait until the weekend to enjoy delicious pancakes!

Here are three pancake recipes that will warm your heart.

Equipment you will need:

  • A whisk
  • A measuring jug
  • Weight scales
  • A mixing bowl
  • A spatula
  • A non-stick frying pan
  • Paper towels or a pastry brush for oil/butter spreading

These recipes should make about 4-6 pancakes, enough for two people. But it depends on the thickness of each pour, and size of your pan. Recipes can be doubled or halved, but go easy on the egg in the sweeter ones or it will end up like a doughy omelette.

American Pancakes

American Pancakes

These are the fluffy, springy option that many restaurants or cafes serve up for breakfast. But they’re equally good as a dessert. The addition of baking powder is what gives these their spongy, cake-like texture. Leave out the caster sugar for a savoury version – it won’t hurt the taste unless you’re a sugar junky!


  • 150g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 25g melted butter, plus extra for frying
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sweet option

  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


Sift the flour and baking powder into mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar, if using. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. In the meantime, melt the 25 grams of butter in a small saucepan. Don’t let it brown but just get to the point of starting to foam a little, then take it off the heat. Use a measuring jug to pour in milk and crack the eggs right in, (if you’re an experienced egg cracker, or use a separate glass to check for shell fragments if you’re not). Whisk the milk and egg together. If you’re trying the sweet option, add vanilla essence to this mix. Pour the melted butter, and the milky egg mix into the dry ingredients and stir until it is smooth. There may be a few tiny specks or lumps but don’t fret too much, they won’t affect the finished product.

Heat a smear of the extra butter in a frying pan and when it is melted and hot, swipe it around with a pastry brush or some padded up paper towels (take care to protect the fingers). Pour in small pools of the batter, a couple of inches in diameter and quite thick. Don’t move the pan too much until they are beginning to set. Let them fry until golden underneath. Tiny bubbles should be just starting to appear in the surface. This is when you can flip them with a spatula to do the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

For the breakfast option, serve in a stack with golden syrup and crispy grilled streaky bacon. Or, add blueberries and crème fraiche for a divine dessert.

Ham and cheese Pancakes

Pancakes with ham

These savoury pancakes are much thinner than the recipe above. The mix is waterier, and the lack of baking powder shows that they are not meant to rise as much. They are more like crepes than their American cousins. For a cheat version when you’re in a hurry, use a packet or jar of cheese sauce of your choosing but it won’t taste as good as homemade!


For the pancake batter

  • 100g plain flour
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil or a small amount of butter for frying

For the cheese sauce

  • 25g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • 50g grated cheese (Emmental or Cheddar)


  • About 8 medium sized slices of ham, cut into small strips.

To serve

  • Salad leaves and tomato


Make the batter first. As with the American pancakes, sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well. Mix the egg and milk in a jug and then pour into the well, whisking as you add a little at a time.

In the meantime, make the cheese sauce. Add the butter to a small saucepan and melt over a gentle heat. Then add in the flour until it mixes together into a smooth paste, and cook for a minute or two. This is called a “roux”. You are cooking out the floury taste but be careful it doesn’t burn. Add the milk gradually and stir it continuously. You might need a fork or whisk to get out any lumps. When it is fully combined and any lumps are out, let it simmer (without boiling) for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. It should start to thicken up. When it is the desired consistency, add the grated cheese and stir until it has melted through, then remove from the heat.

Heat up the pan for the pancakes and carefully wipe some olive oil on it with a paper towel. Or melt a smear of butter and do the same. Keep the towel to one side in case an extra wipe is needed. When the pan is at a medium heat, pour in a little batter and tilt and swirl the pan to spread it out fully over the base. It should be fairly thin but without gaps in coverage. When the mix starts to bubble up and lift, check the bottom of the pancake. If it has gone golden, flip it over. Straight away, while it is cooking the other side, add a little cheese sauce and ham pieces in a line in the centre. The other side will be done fairly quickly, so just check it has a golden glow, and use a spatula to roll the pancake up into a tube and slide onto a plate. Repeat with the rest of the batter until it is used up.

Serve with salad leaves and tomato wedges.

Sweet dessert English-style pancakes

Lemon pancake

The basic batter making process will by now be familiar! These pancakes are similar in thickness to the ham and cheese savouries, but are a classic sweet dish for after a meal.


  • 100g plain flour
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g melted butter, plus extra for frying
  • Pinch of salt
  • Lemon juice and caster sugar to sprinkle on top


Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and form a well. Mix the egg and milk in a jug and then pour into the well, whisking as you add a little at a time. When the batter is smooth, heat the 25g of butter in a pan and add it to the mix.

Prepare the frying pan by putting it over a medium heat with a smear of butter. When this has melted, tip and swirl the pan to spread it, then do the same with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the base. When the pancake starts to bubble, check the bottom side is golden and when it is, flip and do the other side. When both are just starting to brown, slide onto a plate and do the next. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Serve the pancakes with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of caster sugar. Cut some fresh lemon wedges to put on the side for those who like it extra tart.

Do’s and don’ts

Here are a few tips to help you make the perfect batch of pancakes.

  • Don’t use too much butter / oil in the frying stage as it will interfere with the mixture’s consistency and make an oily mess.
  • Don’t stress about lumps
  • Do make sure your pan is hot enough before pouring. A knowledge of how fast your cooker heats things up is essential.
  • Do make them just before serving for best effect.
  • Do keep the extractor fan on in case the pan starts smoking. Remove pans from heat if they start acting up.
  • Don’t leave the batter to rest – unless you want to. It used to be considered necessary, but it doesn’t really affect the end result either way.
  • Do experiment by adding or subtracting ingredients.

Health food?

Pancakes can be unhealthy, it’s true. If you add butter and sugar into the batter, it will make it more of a treat than a daily option. But as seen in the do’s and don’ts, most ingredients are optional, so try varying up the mix to suit your diet and needs.

The basic requirements are flour, milk and egg. All others are optional, so if you feel like your pan is super non-stick and you’re on a diet, leave out all butter or oils. Adding salt is a taste thing, not a chemical reaction ingredient, so feel free to omit it. Try soy milk if you’re lactose intolerant. Vegans can experiment by leaving out the egg, but this might make the batter less smooth, so some kind of replacement might be needed.

I hope that, like me, pancakes are no longer associated in your mind with unhealthy food habits, and their potential to be a superfood that is super fast to make has you itching to get out the frying pan!

Check out some more interesting pancake ideas below!

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