Semi-Instant Pancakes

Semi-Instant Pancakes

When I was growing up, pancakes were a culinary rite of passage. I remember well my first batch. I got up early on Mother’s Day and decided to surprise my mom with breakfast in bed. I had watched her prepare them often enough, always turning to the same, stained page in the three-ring bound Betty Crocker Cookbook so I figured, how hard can it be?

Pancakes are typically assembled via the “muffin method”; that is, the dry and wet ingredients are mixed together separately (with the sugar typically included as “wet”), then the two are quickly brought together immediately before cooking. My approach is to make up a big batch of the dry ingredients as a kind of almost-instant mix, which you can always have on hand.

When it comes to cooking, it’s tough to beat a nonstick electric griddle. There’s plenty of surface area and low sides so you don’t have to fight to get your turner under the cooking cake. If you don’t want to go that route, try a thick, square, non-stick aluminum, griddle for the stovetop. And remember, the first few cakes that come off tend to be uglier than the later ones.  So feed the mother-in-law first.

Semi-Instant Pancakes
Yields 12
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  1. 28 ounces all-purpose flour (see note)
  2. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  4. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  5. 1 ounce sugar
  1. 10 ounces semi-instant pancake mix (above)
  2. 2 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  3. 2 cups low-fat buttermilk at room temperature (plus another ounce to adjust consistency of final batter)
  4. 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted in a small saucepan and cooled
  5. 1 ounce unsalted butter, shortening or non-stick spray for the pan
  6. 8 ounces fresh fruit such as blueberries (optional)
  1. Sift all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 3 months. Shake vigorously before each use.
  1. Heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees F or set a heavy skillet or griddle over medium heat.
  2. Heat the oven to the lowest possible temperate (not more than 200 degrees F).
  3. Place the pancake mix in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk the egg whites and the buttermilk in a second bowl.
  5. Whisk the egg yolks into the cooled melted butter (right in the pan in fine).
  6. Whisk the butter mixture completely into the buttermilk mixture.
  7. Dump the wet team onto the dry team and quickly bring together with a large whisk. I allow myself only 12 stirs, then I just walk away. Yes, there will be some lumps in the batter and that's fine.
  8. Check on the griddle. When a drop of water skittles across the surface like a little hovercraft, it's ready. If you're surface is truly non-stick, no butter or non-stick spray will be needed.
  9. Ladle 1 ounce (by volume) of batter onto the griddle. (How will you know how much batter is 1 ounce? Because you're going to use either a #20 disher or a 1-ounce ladle.) As soon as the batter hits the pan use the underside of the ladle or disher to gently coax the batter out to a disk about 4 inches in diameter. Cook for 3 minutes, or until bubbles around the upside edge set. If you wish to integrate the fruit into the pancake itself, add it after the batter has been on the griddle for about :30 seconds.
  10. Carefully flip with a wide spatula and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom.
  11. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven by placing cakes on a half sheet pan and covering them with a tea towel for up to 20 minutes.
  1. To freeze cooked pancakes, cool completely, then place them in zip-top freezer bags. Seal the bags, removing as much air as possible. The frozen pancakes can easily be heated up in a toaster or toaster oven.
  2. Flour note: I've made these in several different locals and have found that when I've been up north and faced with Gold Medal flour, I often have to loosen the final batter by stirring in another ounce of buttermilk.
Alton Brown's Instant Pancake Mix Alton Brown's Pancake Recipe


Add yours
  1. 1

    I’ve found that the “Mother-in-law” pancakes can be mostly avoided by adding a 5-minute rest time between mixing the wet and dry ingredients together and when the batter actually hits the skillet. I’m not sure what’s happening to the dough during that time, but it browns up much nicer.

    Also, I’ve finally found a place for those cans of tiny Maine blueberries!

  2. 2
    Carolyn Pendley

    Really great pancakes – I’ve made the mix quite a few times, but this time used about 6 oz AP flour, 11 oz each sweet rice flour and sorghum flour (cause I need to use it up). Added 1 vanilla bean. I also whipped the whites and folded them in for a bit of extra fluffiness.

  3. 3
    Cathy Oliver

    As the mother-in-law of a guy who is a huge fan of yours, and makes these pancakes most weekends, I resent you saying ‘feed the mother-in-law first’. LOL Just Kidding. Love these.

  4. 4

    Love the recipe and follow it to the ‘t’. But the brief separation of the eggs only to reunite them after some brief stirring seems a bit silly. What am I missing? Does anyone simply whisk all the wet ingredients together bypassing the separation and does it make a difference?

    • 5
      Don S

      It looks like he’s mixing fats (yolks and butter) separately from things that are mostly not fats (whites and buttermilk), then mixing those together before adding to the dry. Maybe that makes it easier to incorporate quickly without too much stirring?

    • 6

      The yolk is able to bring together fats with liquids like the buttermilk and egg white. If you don’t put the yolk in the melted butter first then the butter will just solidify and not mix with the other wet ingredients. So combining the fats of the melted butter with the yolk allows a proper mixing of all the wet ingredients. It really does make a big difference.

  5. 7
    Geoffrey J

    AB says to only stire 12 times, lumps are ok. He is sucessfull because cooking involves a lot of science, and he really is a masterful food scientist. If you ever watched him make this recipe, he explains why. If you mix it too much you loose your lift. All those bubbles on top are from the gas created by the chemixal reaction of the baking powder. if you continue to mix, you let all that gas escape and your cake will turn out thin and dense, not ligjt and fluffy.

  6. 8

    Looking at the dry mix, it strikes me that it is self-rising flour with a bit of sugar in it. Why not just use self-rising flour?

    • 10

      I made oat pancakes this morning. I used self-rising flour – 1 cup flour, 1 cup COOKED steel cut oats, 2 eggs, 1 cup milk – tossed some sugar in and some sunflower oil. I added fresh cranberries when in the butter greased skillet. I thought it was good.

    • 12

      I’ve swapped up to 1/2 of the flour with 100% white wheat without sacrificing any flavor or texture. Just this morning I did 100% white wheat – it’s a bit denser and has a nutty flavor – but I enjoyed it. Otherwise I kept the recipe 100% the same.

  7. 13

    In the orginal recipe AB says to only mix the better ten times with a whisk. I always found lumps of uncooked flour using that method. So instead I use a rubber spatula to lightly fold the batter to mix it prior to beating it with a whisk. It works every time.

  8. 14

    Wow, I’m recently having to give up dairy and am seriously bumming, because this recipe sounds yummy. Wish Alton did dairy free options, but that’s a whole different set of cooking rules. Regardless, still love watching him cook. Enjoy the recipe, folks.

    • 15

      I do not do dairy and have done dairy free versions of this pancake actually just finished eating them a couple minutes ago. Subbing buttermilk isn’t hard I would look it up on google but basically I us almond milk and lemon juice (and yes it will look funny). One Table spoon lemon juice and then put that into your measuring cup then fill the rest with a non dairy milk of your choosing. There are plenty of non dairy butters out there too. I found that going dairy free is not that hard at all.

    • 16

      I use unsweetened, unflavored almond milk and add about 1 TBS of Apple Cider Vinegar. The taste\texture difference is almost negligible.

  9. 17

    I’ve been using the original Good Eats version of this recipe for years; where the ingredients are all measured out volumetrically. However this time I decided to try out the weighed version, and although the flavor and texture was great in the final product, there were several, large, uncooked lumps of pancake powder scattered throughout my pancakes. I understand that the batter is supposed to have lumps before they hit the pan, but aren’t they suppose to cook out? This is my first bad experience with an AB recipe in the years I’ve been a fan.

  10. 18

    The timing on this recipe is perfect as I was starting to cast around for a make-ahead mix to take camping. That being said, I’m hoping to sub in buttermilk powder for buttermilk – can I get some help converting that into the dry mix?

    • 19

      It looks like you end up with about 30 oz dry mix and then use 10 oz per batch. So figure out how much buttermilk powder is required for 2 Cups liquid equivalent (this is on the label of the container – will depend on brand) and weigh that. Now add 6 Cups equivalent powder to the dry mix.
      Then when you are ready to cook a batch, just know that you have to measure out 10 oz + powder weight, and then add the water required. If thinning is needed, extra plain water is all that you would need.

  11. 20

    Dare I try these instead of the tried and true Joe Byrtus pancakes, acknowledged family wide as the best pancakes ever? Of course sourdough pancakes can be so very interesting.

  12. 21
    Elise Anderson

    Looks like a great recipe! I’ll try it soon, but I want to know the rest of the story of you making pancakes when you were small- a disaster or an early success? Give us the rest of the story!

    • 26
      Don S

      In “I’m Just Here for More Food” (ISBN 1-58479-341-4), AB’s Buttermilk Pancake and Luft-Waffle batters differ in exactly two respects:
      * Waffles get 3 eggs instead of 2
      * Pancakes have sugar in the “dry” instead of the “wet”
      (I presume the pancake recipe puts sugar in the dry because it came from this “semi-instant” recipe. Normally, of course, sugar would be a wet ingredient.)

      So, if you want waffles, follow the pancake recipe here but use 3 eggs instead of 2.

  13. 27

    These were fantastic. I didn’t have enough flour to make an entire batch, so I cut the dry goods by 50% (which made 14.7 oz) and increased the the wet works by 50% to cover the whole shebang. They came out great. THANKS ALTON!

  14. 28

    Sugar, butter, and pancake mix amounts are given in “ounces” are these volumetric ounces (1oz = 2 Tablespoons?) or weight/mass ounces (1 oz = 28 grams)? The 2 are close only with mostly water substances. Sorry about the geek-out here.

    • 30
      George Shute

      Alton always sues weight, even for things that don’t matter, like salt. Flour should be done in weight as the settling can alter the weight to volume ratio. This isn’t a big issue when you’re dealing with smaller amounts, but it can be very problematic when making large batches of baked goods.

  15. 31

    With all due respect to the word “semi” shouldn’t these be called “Much More Work Makes a Much Better Pancake” Pancakes? I think when your separating eggs, melting butter, and bringing buttermilk to room temperature you’ve done more work at that point than most people looking to make quick pancakes. Unless the “semi instant” ones are the ones that you take it of the freezer, cause that is about right. Love the recipe though!

    • 33

      My definition of “bring to room temperature” is set the cold ingredients on the counter when getting everything else out and ready. In the intervening five minutes until they are used they have warmed sufficiently 😉 and the outcome is still fantastic.

  16. 34

    Growing up, my dad made pancakes every Sunday. It was his thing. He usually cheated with a boxed buttermilk mix (or Bisquick), but it was ALWAYS served Russian style, with sour cream. (No syrup for us!) To this day, this is how I love my pancakes. However, even better than buttermilk pancakes are *sourdough* pancakes. Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve never tried to make them (need sourdough starter), but I’ve run into them occasionally in my travels. The best ones I’ve had (so far) are from Smitty’s in Idaho Falls, ID and Flap Jack in Lansing, MI.

  17. 35

    When making pancakes, I wait until all the ingredients are all mixed together before I turn on the griddle. This gives the batter time to rest (kind of like bread rising) it really only takes about as long as heating the griddle. All of your pancakes turn out fluffy and even your mother-in-law can have pretty pancakes.

  18. 36

    I use the same recipe you used AB for your mother, but follow your method to the “t”. Even the mixing of the egg and fat. amazing results. Thanks!

  19. 39

    I will admit I use Bisquick for my pancakes…..But I do not like think pan cakes. So I add an extra cup of milk. They come out really thin like a crepe. I love them this way because the butter and syrup go straight through them and yum they are just so good that way. So that said. Is there a way to safely thin this mix without ruining them?

    • 40
      Chris N.

      Absolutely. I’ve been making this recipe for years (thanks, Alton!), and I often have to add some extra buttermilk to get it to the right consistency. I would think you could add more to get that thin pancake you want, although maybe look up his crepe recipe. Even easier that this one, to be honest.

  20. 41

    Wow, I have a somewhat different recipe. 1 egg, veg oil instead of butter, cinnamon and nutmeg, mix the wet first, add the dry gradually, and then I mix it until I get bubbles in the mix rather than your brief whisking. I’m curious as to why you mix less rather than more and why the second egg. Also, I turn ’em when the bubbles start popping on the edges, then pull ’em when the poofy part of the top springs back when gently pressed and abruptly released.

    • 43
      Sue L

      The recipe is on page 57 of my “Red Pie” Betty Crocker cookbook. We alternate between the pancakes and the buttermilk waffles (on page 59) every weekend.

  21. 44

    It really does make a huge difference to separate the eggs per the instructions. Makes for the best pancakes, hands down. As far as other grains, I’ve added whole wheat (up to about 1/3 of the total flour weight) and oat flour (old-fashioned dried oats, spun in a food processor into flour). You may need to increase the liquid a bit.

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