Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
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stack of pan cakes
The lightest, tenderest pancakes! With maple syrup, of course.

Oh my, we can’t believe that we haven’t posted this buttermilk pancake recipe before now. These are the very best buttermilk pancakes you will have. They are tender, light and fluffy, with just a very slight crispiness around the edges. While we have sourdough pancakes a lot (mainly to use up the excess starter that we have each week, we save these for when we want a special breakfast treat.

This recipe comes directly from our go-to cookbook: The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. As we’ve mentioned before, if you have only one cookbook in your kitchen, this should be it. But, from what we’ve read, you’ll want the 1975 edition. With that in mind, start hitting those used book stores. Of course, before you go, have a hearty breakfast of the Best Buttermilk Pancakes (the authors are apparently too modest to call them the best, but they are).

Makes 10 4-inch cakes

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Best Buttermilk Pancakes


  • 1 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Abbreviated Instructions

Sift and measure flour. Sift together dry ingredients. Then re-sift.

In a large bowl, whisk egg until light. Whisk in buttermilk. Whisk in melted butter.

With a few quick strokes, stir in the flour mixture until just barely mixed. It should be lumpy.

Heat griddle over medium-low for at least 10 minutes.

Spoon on batter and cook until bubbles form, and the edges look slightly dry. Flip and cook the same amount of time on the other side.

Serve immediately.

Ingredient discussion:

farm fresh egg
Here’s a farm-fresh egg. The bright orange yolk stands proud of the whites.

Do you need cake flour? No, these pancakes will taste great using all-purpose (we’ve often used it). We wouldn’t buy cake flour just to make these pancakes, but, if you have some in the cupboard, it’s worth using for a super-tender pancake. Besides, they’re called pancakes, right? For the eggs, use the best you  can find. Maybe a neighbor is raising hens, and you can get truly superior eggs, or your farmers’ market might have really fresh eggs; you never know, and it’s definitely worth seeking them out. Butter, always use unsalted. Why? Think of it this way, would you let someone come into your house, and sprinkle the amount of salt he or she likes on your food? That’s, in essence, what you’re doing! Finally, if you use buttermilk a lot, get into the habit of making your own. It takes less than a minute, and it won’t have seaweed extract in it (carrageenan; look it up).

Procedure in detail:

dry ingredients
In a small bowl, measure out the dry ingredients. This is what goes into that boxed pancake mix.

Measure dry ingredients. Measure out the dry ingredients into a small bowl. We actually weighed our flour; that way, we didn’t have to sift it before measuring. If we don’t weigh the flour, we normally use a scant cup, figuring that the sifting would have fluffed up the flour a bit.



If you bought a sifter, you might as well use it. So sift away!

Sift. Yes, break out that sifter that’s been sitting in the cupboard and sift all the dry ingredients into a larger bowl (you’ll use this larger bowl for the liquid ingredients later). Then transfer back to the small bowl, and repeat. If you already have the sifter out, you might as well do it twice. It can’t hurt. If you don’t have a sifter, use a whisk and try to get the dry ingredients mixed very well and fluffy.



whisked eggs
Whisk that egg until nice and fluffy. That bright orange-yellow color is because these hens ate bugs.

Whisk egg. In the large bowl (don’t worry if there is a dusting of leftover flour in there), whisk the egg thoroughly. Very thoroughly. Until it is light and frothy and about doubled in volume. It’ll take about a minute of vigorous whisking.



adding buttermilk
Whisk in the buttermilk, all the time trying to keep the liquids as light and fluffy as possible.

Add buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk into the egg and whisk these together. Really give your arm a work out so the liquids stay frothy and light.



eggs, butter, and buttermilk
Nice and light now will make light pancakes.

Add butter. We normally put the butter in the measuring cup that held the buttermilk and pop it in the microwave to melt quickly. We use 15- second intervals, heating until just completely melted. Once melted, pour it into the egg and buttermilk mixture, while continuing to whisk.



add dry ingredients
Spread the flour mixture over the top of the liquids, and quickly mix in.

Add dry ingredients. Switch to a spoon, and sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the liquid ones. Then, with about 10-15 strokes (or fewer, even) quickly mix the dry ingredients into the liquid. Mix just long enough so that the flour is coated and mostly mixed in. Do not over-mix, unless you happen to like tough pancakes. If there are lumps of flour, that’s okay, provided they are about the size of a pea.

pancake batter
It’s best if the pancake batter is lumpy. If you get rid of the lumps, you’ll have tough, chewy pancakes.


Heat griddle. Place your griddle on medium-low heat and let it heat until, well, heated. For ours, this takes about 10 minutes. Experience with your griddle and stove is the best guide.

Cook the same amount of time on the other side. Yeah, they do look tasty.

Griddle. Wipe the hot griddle with a thin layer of shortening, spoon on batter by the tablespoonful (we prefer smaller, but more pancakes), and let them cook until bubbles have formed all over the surface and the edges look just slightly dry. Flip and cook the same amount of time on the other side.



stack of pan cakes
The lightest, tenderest pancakes! With maple syrup, of course. And we had a couple of freshly picked strawberries, too.

Serve immediately. With 100% maple syrup, of course.

As we said above, these are the best buttermilk pancakes. They are tender, light, and really tasty with the slightest tang from the buttermilk. And, even though it might not seem like it, they are no more difficult to put together than, dare we say it, a box mix. (Does anyone really buy pre-made pancake mix? It’s just the dry ingredients on the list above, you know.) With all our gushing, you already know how many stars, so we won’t bother to say it…

Uh, five. Sorry, we just had to.

Worth the trouble?

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