Supermarkets are full of conveniences that, on further inspection, don’t offer much convenience. And there’s a cost to convenience, whether real or imagined convenience. Here’s how you can replace one of the most useless: pancake mix. Making homemade pancakes from scratch is just as easy. I have a couple of easy homemade pancake syrup recipes, too.
By using ingredients you probably have on hand for other things, you probably save some money. After all, you are not paying for the factory’s labor costs, advertising, transportation, packaging, etc. And it won’t really take any more time to make them.
Your pancakes will taste better, and cooking from scratch is more sustainable. What’s not to love?
Inconvenience of pancake mixes
Grocery stores offer basically two kinds of pancake mixes. One has flour, some kind of leavening, powdered milk, powdered eggs, perhaps some sugar, and, most often, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Just add water. Easy enough, but is it really healthy? The most nutritious foods are the ones that have undergone the least processing.
For the other kind, you must add milk, oil, and an egg. What, then, does the mix need to contain? Only flour, leavening, and probably an assortment of preservatives. How hard is it to add baking powder and sugar to your own flour before adding the wet ingredients? That’s all it takes for homemade pancakes from scratch.
A basic pancake recipe
Both kinds of pancake mix are based on enriched white flour, the kind that has nearly all the nutrients refined out of it. Here is a basic pancake recipe using white flour, which makes about 14 4-inch pancakes:
Put 1 1/2 cups flour in a four-cup measuring cup and add
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
- 1 or 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil (the batter needs this oil to keep the pancakes from sticking to the griddle)
- 1 cup milk
If you like, add mashed very ripe banana, too.
Pour the batter from the cup onto a hot, oiled griddle to cook them. They’re ready do flip when the bubbles on top burst and leave little holes.
Even better for nutrition and taste
To add fiber, vitamins, and other important nutrients, use whole wheat flour instead. It is still no more work than making pancakes from a mix and is still less expensive, for all the same reasons.
For further enhancements to taste and nutritional value, substitute some combination of any of the following for up to three quarters of the flour:
- rolled oats
- corn meal
- rye flour
- buckwheat flour
- garbanzo bean flour
- (or lots of other possible flours)
- brewers yeast
- soy grits
- textured vegetable protein
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- sliced almonds or other chopped nuts
- chocolate chips
If you keep powdered milk around, add a third of a cup to the other dry ingredients. After you put in an egg and oil–just add water! Otherwise, add milk, egg, and oil.
I ordered a “short stack” of pancakes at a restaurant a while back: two pancakes as big as a dinner plate. So here’s what I have done the past few years:
- Put ¼ cup whole wheat flour in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup
- Add enough other stuff, including powdered milk and baking powder, to make not quite a cup of dry ingredients.
- Add some water and stir until everything is mixed—and maybe too thick for pancake batter.
- Then add an egg, some oil, and enough more water to make it the right consistency.
I have a ceramic skillet that I really like. It’s non-stick and requires no extra oil on it. The bottom of it is about the right size for two huge pancakes.
Two easy homemade pancake syrup recipes
What passes for pancake syrup at the grocery isn’t any better than pancake mixes. It’s just as convenient to use real maple syrup.
Here are two pancake syrups you can make yourself. Make just enough for the one meal. And, of course, that depends on how many people you’re feeding. If you want to store it, put it in an airtight container (an empty jar with its original lid works fine) and use it within a month.
First is an approximation of commercial pancake syrup that my dad whipped up once when we were out of pancake syrup:
- Put some brown sugar in a sauce pan
- Add enough water to make it the consistency you like
- Add some maple extract
- Bring it to a boil
Back before IHOP put so many of them out of business, you could find lots of pancake houses that offered a greater variety of better pancakes. And they didn’t have the same four syrups that seem to be the norm these days. My favorite was honey-cinnamon. I haven’t seen it in a pancake house for years.
- Put some honey in a sauce pan. Or, if you’re not making much, in a glass measuring cup.
- Add enough water to make a good consistency.
- Add some cinnamon.
- Bring it to a boil. In a measuring cup, nuke it for about 30 seconds—a bit longer if you’re feeding a crowd.
Shop related products
The Everything Whole Grain, High Fiber Cookbook: Delicious, heart-healthy snacks and meals the whole family will love / Lynette Rohrer Shirk
The Fabulous Fiber Cookbook: Great Recipes You Can’t Live Without / Sandra Woodruff
More With Less Cookbook / Doris Longacre
The Meat Free Monday
Cookbook / Paul McCartney