With a million and one recipes out there, a pancake really has to be something special to make it stand out from the crowd. Friends, today I give you just such a pancake. A whole plate of them. The lightest, fluffiest pancakes any of us here at The Kitchn have ever had the pleasure of either making or eating. Every time I make them, I wonder why I ever bother making anything else.
Is that enough of a hook? I sure hope so because these pancakes deserve to be made far and wide. Here's how you, too, can have a piping hot plate of lofty buttermilk pancakes for your next breakfast.
The History of the Lofty Buttermilk Pancake
When Dana Velden first shared her favorite recipe for Lofty Buttermilk Pancakes here on The Kitchn in 2010, it immediately drew its fair share of both ardent supporters and dubious skeptics. What could possibly be so controversial? Two simple egg whites.
Rather than mixing the whole egg into the batter or even whipping the whites into lofty clouds before folding them in, Dana simply separates the egg, mixes the yolk into the batter, and then stirs in the egg whites — un-whipped — at the very end.
→ Get the Original Recipe: Lofty Buttermilk Pancakes
The Secret to the Loftiest Pancakes
It doesn't seem like mixing egg whites into the batter would make any difference to the texture of the pancakes, but it does. We all had to try these pancakes for ourselves, and we were so impressed and smitten that these pancakes eventually made their way into our Kitchn Cookbook. Batch after batch, these pancakes deliver. They are always perfectly light and tender, delicately custard-like on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside; they are never heavy or dense, never dry or floury.
Separating the eggs might feel needlessly fussy for simple Saturday pancakes, but I feel that it's a worthy compromise for consistency fluffy pancakes over the recipes that require dragging out the mixer and beating the whites into stiff peaks.
A Few Other Tricks for Great Pancakes
Letting the batter rest for a few minutes before cooking the pancakes is almost as important as mixing in the egg whites on their own. This gives the flour in the batter time to absorb some liquid, which gives the pancakes a better texture. The baking powder also gets to work making bubbles and lightening the batter even more.
The resting time also gives you time to warm up the pan. You want it warm enough so that your butter foams a little, but doesn't brown or start smoking. (Or if you're using oil, the oil should shimmer and glide over the surface of the pan.)
→ More Great Pancake Tips! 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making Pancakes
The trouble with calling anything "the best" is that not everyone will agree with you. I'm ok with that! Even if you don't place these pancakes on the top tier of awesomeness like I do, I'm still pretty confident you'll enjoy them topped with butter and maple syrup.
Have you made these pancakes? Tell us all about it!
How To Make the Lightest, Fluffiest Buttermilk Pancakes
What You Need
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
Measuring cups and spoons
Baking sheet, for keeping the pancakes warm in the oven
Wooden spoon or spatula
Cast-iron or nonstick skillet
1/4-cup measure, or a big soup spoon
- Melt and cool the butter: Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop, then set aside to cool slightly. It should be just warm to the touch when you add it to the batter.
- Warm the oven: Place the cooling rack inside the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and set the temperature to 225°F. This is for keeping the batches of pancakes warm until you're ready to serve.
- Separate the eggs: Place the yolks in one bowl and the whites in a separate bowl.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, and milk.
- Add the melted, cooled butter to the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl.
- Make the batter: Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture. Stir gently just until you no longer see any dry flour.
- Stir in the egg whites: Add the egg whites to the batter and stir until you no longer see any unmixed whites.
- Rest the batter: Set the bowl aside and rest the batter for at least 5 minutes, or up to an hour. After resting, the batter should look thick and slightly foamy.
- Warm the skillet: Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add a pat of butter or a teaspoon of cooking oil. Warm until the butter foams but doesn't brown, or until the oil shimmers and moves smoothly across the skillet.
- Begin cooking the pancakes: Using a 1/4-cup measure or a big soup spoon, drop the pancake batter into the skillet. The batter should spread to about 3 inches wide.
- Cook the first side until you see bubbles: Watch for bubbles to start forming on the surface of the pancake. When those bubbles burst and when the edge of the pancake looks set, flip the pancake. This should take about 2 1/2 minutes; adjust the heat as needed if it seems like the pancakes are cooking to quickly or slowly.
- Cook the second side until golden, about 2 1/2 minutes. Again, adjust the heat as needed if it seems like the pancakes are cooking to quickly or slowly.
- Transfer the cooked pancakes to the oven: Once cooked, transfer all of the pancakes to the oven to keep them warm until you're ready to serve. (Or serve the pancakes in batches!)
- Continue cooking the pancakes in batches: I always find that the first batch is a "sacrificial batch" for getting the pan to the right temperature and getting into the pancake-making groove. Subsequent batches go much more smoothly! Add more butter or oil to the pan as needed to keep the pancakes from sticking. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the pancakes cooking evenly.
- Serve pancakes right away! When all the pancakes are ready, serve with butter and maple syrup. Leftover pancakes will keep in the fridge for up to a week, or can be kept frozen for up to three months; reheat in the toaster until warmed through and crispy.
- No buttermilk? Try one of these buttermilk substitutes.