Kitchn Love Letters

I’ve Made Dozens of Pancake Recipes, but This Is THE Best One (by Far!)

published Jan 25, 2024
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pancakes on a plate with butter and syrup
Credit: Photo: Ryan Leibe; Food Styling Ben Weiner

Do a quick search for a pancake recipe online and the results will be overwhelming. I have always found it interesting that pancakes — the simple, iconic breakfast food — have so many recipes to comb through, yet finding a good one can be elusive. 

When testing six popular recipes for our pancake showdown, I was super excited to see Alison Roman’s recipe in the mix. The ingredient list is short and classic — using all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, leavening, eggs, and buttermilk — with a straightforward method to match. The simplicity was appealing, and I was looking forward to seeing if the results would be as good as I hoped.  

Get the recipe: Alison Roman’s Perfect Crispy Pancakes

How to Make Alison Roman’s Perfect Crispy Pancakes

To get started, melt some butter and set it aside to cool slightly. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and eggs in a medium bowl then pour into the flour mixture, whisking gently to combine. There will be some lumps at this point, but no need to work them all out. 

The last step is to gently whisk the melted butter into the batter. This will smooth out the batter a bit more, but there will still be some small lumps, which is fine. You can refrigerate the batter for up to two hours or go ahead and start making pancakes. Make sure you have a warm oven ready for the finished pancakes and a wire rack set into a rimmed baking sheet to hold them.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot, then add some oil. Turn the heat down and add the batter using 1/4 or 1/3 cup per pancake. Once the bottoms have browned and the tops have a few bubbles, flip and cook for a few minutes on the second side. Keep warm in the oven while making more pancakes.

My Honest Review of Alison Roman’s Perfect Crispy Pancakes

Sometimes, you just know when you start a recipe that it’s going to turn out well, and that was this recipe. There were no surprises when mixing the batter. Everything looked and smelled exactly right! 

The batter spread enough in the skillet to create circles on their own, puffed beautifully, and flipped like a dream. The aroma as the pancakes cooked and turned a rich brown, a few shades darker than golden, was spot-on and instantly identifiable as pancake. They are thick enough to stack to a respectable height on your plate, but not so thick that they don’t cook through properly.

They were tender and fluffy on the inside but not wet, with a hint of chew. Neither the egg nor the buttermilk was the primary flavor, but the combination created ideal breakfast harmony. The amount of sugar balances the salt and buttermilk without making them overtly sweet, and they pair just as well with a slather of nut butter as a heavy dousing of butter and syrup. These are the pancakes you will make over and over again when the craving hits. 

If You’re Making Alison Roman’s Perfect Crispy Pancakes, a Few Tips

  • Lower the heat under your skillet before you pour the batter. Getting the heat just right for cooking pancakes can be tricky. It needs to be hot enough so the pancakes don’t spread too much but not so hot that they burn on the outside and stay raw on the inside. By heating the pan for a few minutes before starting, you create an evenly and thoroughly heated cooking surface. Lowering it for cooking keeps the heat more moderate, ensuring the pancakes have the proper amount of time to cook through. Don’t be afraid to continue to adjust as you cook. 
  • A few lumps in the batter are OK. Some lumps in pancake batter are inevitable due to the large volume of wet and dry ingredients that need to be gently whisked together. But the batter still needs to be thoroughly blended so it’s not watery, or you end up with an undissolved bit of baking powder in your pancake. If you can see any big pockets of dry flour, gently stir a little bit more.
  • Rest the batter if you have time. Pancake batter does not need to be cooked as soon as it is mixed. Letting the batter sit allows the flour to hydrate, the batter to thicken, and the leaveners to start reacting. The recipe notes you can refrigerate it for 1 to 2 hours before cooking. If you don’t have that long, even a shorter 10 to 30 minute rest at room temperature is beneficial. 
  • Don’t rush the flip. This recipe has a two-minute time range for cooking the first side of the pancakes. The visual cues for when it is time to flip the pancakes are more important than time alone. The recipe tells you to look for a few bubbles rising to the surface and a nicely browned bottom and states that flipping before they are ready can cause them to deflate. Take your time!
  • Have a warm oven ready. It’s going to take some time to cook through the entire batch of pancake batter. The recipe says it serves 4, and I won’t judge how many pancakes you can eat, but it does make quite a few (around 20 for me using 1/4 cup). Unless you are flipping them right onto someone’s plate, keep them warm in the oven so they are still fresh and hot when it is time to eat. 
  • No buttermilk? You can still make these. Although buttermilk lasts a long time in the refrigerator, there are always times you want pancakes and find yourself without any. There are many ways to make your own buttermilk replacement (we tested 8 methods to find the best!), although sometimes the liquid will be thinner, causing a more runny batter. For pancakes, where the viscosity of the batter matters, I prefer thinned Greek yogurt as the best substitute.