The $2 Ingredient That Makes Buttermilk Pancakes *Much* Better

published Jan 27, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

There are lots of low-lift ways to make pancakes a little better. Some of our favorite suggestions include resting the batter, using a griddle, and even just cleaning the skillet between batches (you’d be surprised).

But making more a flavorful pancake requires some investment. Upgrading your ingredients can help. You can invest in (or make) some cultured butter. You can buy local buttermilk. One of our favorite recipes even calls for adding malt powder for deeper flavor — though at upwards of $12 a jar, it can be pricey.

However, I recently learned how to add a simple, inexpensive ingredient to my buttermilk pancakes that makes them more tender, extra buttery, and just tangy enough to stand up against a lava flow of maple syrup.

This $2 ingredient makes buttermilk pancakes better Every. Single. Time. Here’s what it is and how to use it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Sour Cream Makes Pancakes More Flavorful and More Tender

On the hunt for the perfect weekend pancake recipe, I was intrigued by Serious Eats’ Light and Fluffy Pancake recipe, which calls for sour cream. Of course, I had heard of sour cream pancakes, which are delicious and tangy but are definitely different from classic pancakes in flavor. I hadn’t considered adding sour cream alongside buttermilk and butter in a small dose. The results were surprisingly delicious.

Both buttermilk and sour cream add fat and acidity to pancakes. But sour cream adds more of each with less moisture — and a bit of protein, which adds body. All of this makes for pancakes that are taller, more tender, and buttery with just the slightest tang. That mild tangy flavor, it turned out, partners well with super sweet maple syrup to make pancakes that are out-of-this-world delicious.

How to Add Sour Cream to Any Pancake Recipe

The Serious Eats pancake recipe that made me fall in love with sour cream in pancakes calls for one cup of sour cream for each batch of pancakes. Since sour cream adds both moisture and acidity, you should use it to replace an equal amount of both buttermilk and other dairy in your favorite pancake recipe. For example, with our Lofty Buttermilk Pancake recipe, I’d omit the milk and reduce the buttermilk to 1 cup, then add 1 cup of sour cream.

The sour cream should get whisked in along with the eggs, buttermilk, and butter as part of the wet mixture and then whisked into the dry mix. Once added, you can treat sour cream-enhanced pancakes as you would any other batter: rest it, griddle it, and gild it with butter and maple syrup for serving.

Your turn: Have you ever tried sour cream in your pancakes? What was your experience? Tell us in the comments below.