Kitchn Love Letters

The $6 Pancake Mix That Rivals My Mom’s Famous Fluffy Stacks

published May 14, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

I was never a fan of pancakes when I was growing up — except for my mom’s. As a busy home cook with three kids, she often turned to a boxed mix for Saturday morning stacks. But on three special days a year, she’d pour her souped-up batter (freehand!) into the shape of a number to commemorate the birthday kid’s life. 

Any age with a three, five, or eight was tough, but she’d put any misshapen ones to the side for the rest of the family until she had a perfect set of numbers for the breakfast guest of honor. I tend to use family-owned Vicky Cakes mix these days, but any short stack covered in syrup still reminds me of home.

Credit: Vicky Cakes

What’s So Great About Vicky Cakes?

What I love most about Vicky Cakes is the brand’s origin story. As the name suggests, this pancake mix is the same recipe Vicky, a single mom of four, has been whipping up for 40 years. It was a family secret until Vicky’s youngest daughter, Christian, decided to turn the cakes into a company. No one in the family had even considered selling them until Christian’s husband, Cortney, had them for the first time and immediately knew they were something special.

“He had this lightbulb go off where he’s like, ‘these are some of the best pancakes,’” Christian said. “He was like, ‘these should be called Vicky Cakes’ because they’re so light and they’re so fluffy.”

Cortney was right about that. It’s surprising how easily Vicky Cakes mix transforms into light, lump-free batter in the bowl, then rises into fluffy pancakes on the stove. It’s no wonder that fans of Vicky Cakes remix it to create fried Oreos, corn dogs, funnel cake, and breakfast casseroles. It puffs up perfectly whether you cook it in a pan, air fryer, or baking dish.

It took years of her husband’s nudging, but Christian finally launched Vicky Cakes on Mother’s Day in 2019. “Who would’ve known that less than a year later, a pandemic would hit and everybody would be at home with their families at the table eating meals?”

Credit: Danielle Deavens

What’s the Best Way to Make Vicky Cakes?

As Christian and I realized during our conversation, our moms cooked pancakes the same way — and so do we. “I’d never had a pancake off the griddle until I started [Vicky Cakes],” she told me. Neither of our families even owned one. A large skillet plus oil hot enough to fry the batter when it hits the pan results in crispy, crunchy, golden-brown edges with a fluffy center. 

Christian grew up eating her cakes the Vicky way: made to order with sausage links and a cold glass of milk. No extra toppings or mix-ins — just a simple-but-delicious breakfast at the table with her mom and siblings. My mom, on the other hand, is known to go all out for breakfast. We rarely had toppings other than syrup, although now I love to use Vicky Cakes’ chocolate chip or blueberry mix. Alongside her freehand numbers, my mom would serve hash browns, bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit.

For us, pancakes were usually a weekend treat, but everyone got a stack when there was a birthday in the house — even on a school day. It was my mom’s way of kicking off what was sure to be a special celebration, whether it was a milestone year or not. 

Over the years, I’ve tasted a wide variety of pancakes, but when I whip them up at home, I stick to a familiar method: Vicky Cakes mix plus a squeeze of lemon, a splash of vanilla, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, cooked with crispy edges, just like mom used to make.

Buy: Vicky Cakes Original Short Stacks Mix, $5.99 for 8 ounces at Vicky Cakes

Do you have a favorite pancake mix? Tell us about it in the comments below.