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


  • 28 ounces all-purpose flour (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ounce sugar


  • 10 ounces semi-instant pancake mix (above)
  • 2 large eggs (separated and at room temperature)
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk at room temperature (plus another ounce to adjust consistency of final batter)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (melted in a small saucepan and cooled)
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter (shortening or non-stick spray for the pan)
  • 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.

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.
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

    Matt, the yellow lumps happened to me the first time too. I think I didn’t let the melted butter get to room temp enough, and the heat of the butter cooked the egg yolks slightly, causing those yellow flecks. Also the eggs have to be room temp. Warmer butter plus cooler egg yolks is probably going lead to the clumping. This time, I let the butter sit for a very long time after melting, and kept the eggs next to the burner. In general, this recipe went much, much better when I let the mixed batter sit for about 10 minutes before it hit the griddle.

  2. 2

    I use a 1950 Betty Crocker pancake recipe but use whole wheat flower, and 1% milk instead of buttermilk. I finish the flour and milk by eye, aiming for a fairly thin batter. I set my front gas burner to 3-1/2 on a 1-10 scale. I use a 2 oz ladle, from which the batter spreads out to a 7 inch pancake a little more than1/8th inch thick. I cook the pancake until bubbles leave firm holes and no liquid batter left, then flip and cook for a further 45 seconds. This produces a pancake not unlike the English style, but with holes in it. I butter each pancake (usually two per person) and then annoint each pancake with maple syrup. The holes in the pancake catch the butter and syrup. My objective in cooking is to maximize the number of holes. I enjoy pancakes made this way and I have never received any complaints from those I cook for but looking at pancake images online I can’t any that look like mine. Thoughts, anyone ?

  3. 5

    I’ve tried this recipe on 3 separate occasions following the instructions to a T, and every time I make them, the instant I try to combine the butter and yolk mixture with the buttermilk and egg white mixture, something coagulates and I get yellow lumps all in the liquid, and the pancakes turn out mediocre. Are the lumps normal?

  4. 7

    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!

  5. 8
    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.

  6. 9
    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.

  7. 10

    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?

    • 11
      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?

    • 12

      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.

  8. 13
    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.

  9. 14

    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?

    • 16

      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.

    • 18

      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.

  10. 19

    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.

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