The Secret to Better Pancakes? Rest the Batter.

updated Jan 2, 2020
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I’ve recently been on a Saturday morning pancake kick. My young kids love them and it’s an easy, fun way to kick off the weekend as a family. But it’s also put me on the hunt for a better recipe. I use this everyday pancake recipe a lot, but I wanted more of that lofty, tender style that you get at diners. There are plenty of different ways to make fluffier pancakes, but many of them are hit or miss. So I was surprised to find there’s a single hands-off step that that improves practically any pancake: resting the batter.

It will make anything from easy weekday pancakes to secret-trick fancy flapjacks to out-of-the-box mix pancakes rise a little higher and taste a little better. Here’s why.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Why Resting Results in Better Pancakes

Plenty of baked good recipes call for resting batter (chocolate chip cookie dough, for instance, is often chilled), but as pancakes aren’t typically baked, you might not have ever considered trying this. You should. Resting pancake batter for at least 10 minutes (or even overnight) does two key things, both of which help the batter rise better and cook to a more tender finish in the pan.

The first thing a good rest does is allow time for the flour to hydrate. Since you want to avoid overmixing your pancake batter — this is key to preventing chewy pancakes — you might stop mixing when a few small lumps of flour remain. Resting the batter gives the milk (or water, or buttermilk) time to soften the flour and dissolve any remaining lumps. While the batter is resting, the liquid helps release some of the starches and proteins in the flour that will give the pancakes lift without making them tough.

While the flour is hydrating, another important thing is happening: The leavening has time to evenly distribute throughout the batter. Whether your recipe calls for baking powder or whipped egg whites to give it lift, bubbles of air are ultimately responsible for puffing the pancakes as they cook. The even distribution of those bubbles results in pancakes that rise more evenly (no humps) with a tender crumb.

The next time you make pancakes, mix up your batter first, then let it rest for at least 10 minutes while you get your griddle hot, get out the butter, and find that one good spatula. You’ll have better pancakes for it.

Need a recipe to try it on? How To Make Easy Homemade Pancakes