7 Smart Ways to Add Protein to Pancakes

updated Jan 10, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Christine Buckley

Pancakes taste amazing — and having the smell wafting through your kitchen on Sunday is oh so pleasing. Yet traditional pancake recipes are practically nothing but carbs, which often leave you starving an hour or so later. It shouldn’t be surprising — pancakes have “cake” right in the name. Adding protein to your pancakes can do a lot. It keeps you full and helps stabilize your blood sugar, says Gabrielle McGrath, MS, RD, LDN

Luckily there are so many great ways to add protein via toppings and other ingredients! And they’ll only enhance the flavors in the pancake recipe as well. You can top with nuts and nut butter, McGrath says, or add in protein powder to the mix, Or you can also top with seeds, like hemp seeds or chia seeds. All of these supply good fats and protein.

Here are a couple of easy, tasty ways to pack in the protein to that delicious stack of pancakes. And with any of them, you can add in more protein with toppings, by adding almonds, seeds, pistachios, or a dollop of Greek yogurt or nut butter on top. And you can change the flour to one with more protein, like sorghum, amaranth, or whole-wheat flour.

1. Kefir Pancakes with Bananas Foster

Kefir is thick and has probiotics to boost gut health, and it also comes with protein. It makes for a great pancake topping to add a dose and get that tart, thick texture. You can also swap kefir for Greek yogurt, which is even richer in protein. “Plain Greek yogurt can be a great addition to pancake recipes to add protein and fluffiness to the final product. Look for the plain, unsweetened kind at the grocery,” she says. 

Get the recipe: Kefir Pancakes with Bananas Foster

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. 3-Ingredient Cottage Cheese Pancakes

“Similar to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese adds a high dose of protein to your pancake batch and can take the place of the liquid in certain pancake recipes,” McGrath says. The cottage cheese is a thick, creamy texture to hold the pancakes together, and you can then add in toppings like fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries. Plus, it takes just 10 to 15 minutes total. There are 15.3 grams of protein in one serving — all thanks to that cottage cheese!

Get the recipe: 3-Ingredient Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Savory Jalapeño, Lime, and Avocado Pancakes

Adding sliced avocado to these pancakes boosts the protein and healthy fat count, so you will fill up faster and get more nutrition in a stack. You can also top with an egg — a gooey, delicious one — that’ll increase protein even further! There are 10.4 grams of protein per serving. 

Get the recipe: Savory Jalapeño, Lime, and Avocado Pancakes

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. 2-Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes

Basically you cannot get any simpler — this recipe has just sweet potato and eggs, along with some spices, like cinnamon. And there’s some great protein, with 14.6 grams per serving to tide you over until lunchtime. Feel free to top with Greek yogurt and fruit for even more nutrition and flavor.

Get the recipe: 2-Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

5. Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

If you have some leftover mashed potatoes from the holidays, or you’re getting ready for Hanukkah with those tasty latkes, whip up some pancakes in the morning too. These have good protein from Parmesan cheese, egg, and potato, with 10.3 grams of protein a serving.

Get the recipe: Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

6. Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Ricotta has a creamy texture and it goes well with citrus and fruit for that naturally sweet stack that isn’t overwhelming with sugar. Plus, ricotta is a great source of protein! So, it adds in easy protein while boosting the flavor and thickness. 

Get the recipe: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

7. Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

Pumpkin pie pancakes are the perfect Christmas or New Year’s morning recipe, since it has the best holiday flavors and seasonings, like nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, ginger, and more! You can play around with any you like and drizzle with maple syrup or powdered sugar. This recipe has 9.3 grams of protein per serving!

Get the recipe: Pumpkin Pie Pancakes