Pancakes are really easy to make, but if you don’t have the right pan to cook them in, they can be quite intimidating. I’ve messed them up in every way possible over my 50 years in the kitchen. So let me tell you some things I’ve learned about making the perfect pancake.
The best pan for cooking pancakes will:
- Be thick.
- Have a flat bottom.
- Have a non-stick cooking surface.
- Be a good conductor of heat.
- Have low sides.
- Fit the burner.
For most folks, a flat griddle like this one found on Amazon will be your best bet for making pancakes. More advanced chefs might prefer a good cast iron skillet, like this really good one that I use.
Now let’s talk about why the perfect pancake pan must have these attributes.
Features of a Good Pancake Pan
1. Thick Pans Help With Heat Management
In order to cook the perfect pancake, it must be cooked rather slowly over medium heat so that by the time the bottom of the pancake has browned, it will be very close to being done all the way through. With a thin pan, it is going to be very difficult to adjust the heat properly so that it will not burn before it is done and ready to be turned.
I’m not suggesting that the pan has to be heavy and hard to handle. It should be light enough that you can lift it to flip the pancake, that is, if you are a pancake flipper. I have never learned that skill, and my pancake turning is always done with a spatula. But, the pan should be thick enough that it conducts heat well and will not have hot spots.
2. Flat Bottomed Pans Allow Consistent Pancake Thickness
If you have ever cooked pancakes in a skillet that has sloping sides, then you know that all the pancakes except the one in the center of the pan are going to be thicker on one side than the other. To make pancakes that are the same thickness throughout, the pan should have a flat bottom.
3. Non-stick Cooking Surfaces Are Key
The best pan for cooking pancakes has to have a surface that allows the food to cook without sticking. I’m not suggesting that it has to be a pan with a non-stick coating. But no matter what kind of material the skillet is made from, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, cast iron, coated aluminum, coated cast iron, any will do as long as the pancakes don’t stick to the cooking surface.
A cast iron skillet or griddle with a good polymerized coating will work perfectly. But, if food starts sticking in that cast iron pan, it will need to be reseasoned so that you can cook that perfect pancake.
4. Avoid Hot Spots With Good Heat Conducting Pans
A good pan for cooking pancakes must be a good conductor of heat so that the entire surface cooks at the same temperature and doesn’t have hot spots, so the entire pancake and all pancakes in the pan should be cooking at the same temperature.
5. Low Sides Allow Easier Access for Flipping
A griddle or a skillet with relatively low sides is better for making pancakes and allows better access to turn the pancakes. Higher sides on the pan make it more difficult to flip or turn the pancakes without tearing them up.
6. Fitting the Burner Is an Often Overlooked Key Feature
This next topic is a factor no matter what you are cooking, but the skillet or griddle size should match the burner size when you are making pancakes. If you are trying to cook pancakes in a 10” skillet over a 6” burner, even if the skillet is a good conductor of heat, it will not cook all the pancakes at the same rate. The pancakes around the sides of the pan will not be cooking as fast as the ones in the center of the pan.
And, if you are making pancakes in a small pan but are cooking over one of the larger stove top burners, the chance of burning the pancakes greatly increases, and a lot of energy is being wasted at the same time.
Here are some pans that work great for pancakes
A Cast Iron Griddle
Number one on my list is this 10” cast iron griddle. Cast iron is thick and is an excellent conductor of heat, and this particular griddle has a flat bottom and low sides. If seasoned well, it has a non-stick surface. This griddle comes pre-seasoned and should be perfect for making pancakes.
Should the seasoning on a cast iron pan become damaged and food begins sticking to it, it is a simple 3-step process to re-season the pan to make it perfect for anything you are cooking. This article explains the re-seasoning process in more detail.
A Cast Iron Skillet
My second choice is a Zakarian 9.5” cast iron skillet. I suppose you see a trend here and have discovered that I am quite partial to cast iron cookware, but they really do cook well. This particular skillet has a flat bottom and sides that are less than 2” deep for ease in turning the pancakes.
And, as we’ve mentioned before, cast iron is thick and is one of the best kinds of cookware at holding and distributing heat evenly once it has reached the desired temperature.
A Square Griddle
This Cuisinart 630-20 Chef’s Classic 11” square griddle has a hard anodized exterior and a quantanium non-stick cooking surface that has “unsurpassed heat distribution,” which will make cooking pancakes as easy as can be. This pan is thick, has a flat bottom, and allows easy access for turning the pancakes. Plus, it has a lifetime warranty and makes cleaning up a breeze.
A Cast Iron Crepe Pan
To round out the list of my favorite pancake pans, here is a Le Cruiset 10.75” coated cast iron crepe pan that is not something I own, but it is definitely on my wish list.
I do have a couple of coated cast iron Dutch ovens that are fabulous to cook with. It is ready to use and doesn’t need seasoning, is easy to clean, and is the lightest weight cast iron on the market. It can be used on any cooktop, including induction, and is oven safe up to 500℉. It is the right size and delivers excellent heat distribution.
Tips For Making Better Pancakes
Here are some tips that are really important when making pancakes:
- When making pancake batter, mix the batter just until the ingredients are combined. Overbeating will make pancakes tough and chewy.
- When cooking pancakes in any pan, preheat the skillet before pouring the batter so that the skillet is evenly heated.
- Cook pancakes over medium heat, never high.
- Pancakes should be cooked in oil with a high smoke point like canola or pure vegetable oil, Crisco shortening, or ghee.
- Refrain from cooking pancakes in butter because it is difficult to cook them properly without the butter burning before the pancake is done because of butter’s low smoke point.
- Cook pancakes on one side until bubbles form over the entire surface of the pancake, and then the bubbles burst or open up, forming little holes or craters. When the top of the pancake is covered with little holes or craters, flip or turn the pancakes over and cook for only a short time longer. Once the pancakes are ready to be turned over, they are almost completely done and only need a short time to brown on the 2nd side.
- Only turn or flip pancakes one time. Turning them more than once can overcook them and make them tough.
- Wipe out the skillet between batches.
- When you are cooking pancakes and have extra batter, it is a good idea to go ahead and cook the extra batter and freeze the pancakes to use at a later time. Pancakes freeze well and can be heated in the toaster or microwave.
My Homemade Pancake Recipe
We’ve talked about the best pan for cooking pancakes and tips on how to mix up and cook pancakes, so how about a good pancake recipe. This is the recipe I’ve always used, and it only contains 3 ingredients. I prefer using self-rising flour and don’t add sugar because most pancake toppings are very sweet, and I prefer not to add sugar to the pancakes themselves.
Anne’s 3-Ingredient Pancakes
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 egg
- ¾ to 1 cup milk
- Combine all ingredients, stirring only until blended.
- The amount of milk used in the recipe depends on how thick or thin you prefer your pancakes to be.
- Do not overbeat.
- Preheat the pancake pan over medium heat, add oil, and pour in the pancake batter.
- Cook batter until bubbles form over the surface of the batter and then burst to form small holes or craters.
- Flip or turn the pancakes and cook only until browned on the 2nd side.
- Remove the pancake from the pan and top with a pat of butter.
- Do not turn the pancake a second time.
Yield: 4 6-inch pancakes.
This recipe can be halved, doubled, or tripled.
Extra Pancake Batter Can Be Refrigerated Or Frozen
Here are 3 different options for saving leftover pancake batter, so there is no waste:
Go ahead and cook the extra pancake batter and freeze those pancakes to be eaten later. They can be thawed and heated either in the microwave or a toaster.
Pour the leftover batter into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator if you think it will be used within 2 days.
To cook the refrigerated batter, simply stir well before cooking.
If the pancake batter will not be used within 2 days, pour the leftover batter into an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To use the frozen batter, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, give it a good stir, and cook.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
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