How to Make Perfect Pancakes

So, why is a personal finance and investing site writing about making pancakes? Because, before you can invest and become financially independent, you need to find money to invest. Cooking at home is one of the easiest ways to save money, especially if your idea of a weekend breakfast is going to a place like Starbucks for their insanely priced pastries and even more insanely priced coffee. You can whip up a batch of pancakes and coffee at home in under 30 minutes from start to finish, all at a cost of under a dollar per person. Add bacon and you might be up to $2 per person.

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The basic pancake recipe

Your first thought when thinking of making pancakes might be to grab a box of mix, But we are talking about perfect pancakes, which start from scratch with fresh ingredients, not powdered milk and eggs in a box that has been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. It is also cheaper to cook from scratch, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make pancake batter. You’ll be glad to save the extra cost that box of mix will cost you.

Remember with pancakes, it’s all about 1’s, where you have one of everything. This recipe will make what was traditionally known as a full stack of three, plate-sized pancakes, which is enough to feed two people with today’s diet. If you have 2 big eaters or a family of four, double this recipe and put in two of everything. As you add more people, just keep increasing the ingredients.

Start off with a medium to large mixing bowl. Add:

1 cup of all purpose flour (preferably unbleached)

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder (powder, not soda!)

1 pinch of salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)

Mix this all together using a fork or a whisk. Note: If you buy a box of regular pancake mix, this is what you are getting.

In a different, smaller bowl, beat 1 egg with a whisk or fork until fluffy. (Secret #1 for fluffy pancakes is to make the eggs fluffy. Don’t scrimp here, beat them until you get a little volume.)

To the beaten egg, whisk in:

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 cup of milk (for thicker pancakes, reduce this to 3/4 cups)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (you can skip this if desired)

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Pour the contents of your liquids bowl into the dry ingredient bowl. Then (Very important, Secret #2 for fluffy pancakes), put your whisk away a grab a large spoon or rubber spatula. Very gently, reach under the flour mixture layer and turn it over the liquid layer. This is called “folding.” Do this over and over, getting a little more of the dry flour mixture wet by the milk and eggs with each fold, until virtually all of the flour mixture is wet. It is normal to have a few lumps of flour at this point. Just gently break them up with your spoon or spatula and let the batter sit for a few minutes to let the liquids penetrate.

The little bubbles you see are your baking powder reacting with your milk and releasing carbon dioxide. This is what causes your pancakes to rise and get light and fluffy. There will be some gas released when the baking powder gets wet, then more will be released when the batter is heated.(This is what is meant by “double acting baking soda.”) Your goal is to keep as much as this gas in the batter as possible, which is why you mix as gently as possible.

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Cooking those tasty cakes

The best pan for pancakes is cast iron. Second best is a non-stick skillet, as heavy as you have. Set your stove to medium heat or just a little above. Grab a timer. If you’re afraid that the pancakes may stick (for example, if you’re using a stainless steel pan), rub a little bit of butter on the pan. Avoid putting down too much grease and oil, however. They’ll come out best if the pan is almost dry.

Set your timer for 1 minute and add your first pancake. Leave it alone until it is ready to flip. The pancake is ready to flip when little bubbles appear and pop over most of the pancake and the edges look a little dry. Adjust the heat up or down until this takes about 1 minute per side. After that, use the timer to avoid turning them too soon or too late.

Pancakes are best to eat when they’re hot, so you might want to serve each person as their pancakes are done. If you want to make a whole big stack and eat together, put a plate in the oven and turn it to 200 degrees. Remember to use a pot holder to grab the plate later when you’re ready to serve because it will be really hot.

And there you have it, perfect pancakes from scratch. Have them with syrup or, for a change, put some strawberry jam on them. Make breakfast at home several days each week and you’ll have some extra money to invest or save up and pay cash for things instead of running up the credit cards.

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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.


  1. I always end up with pancakes that are burnt on the outside and not thoroughly cooked on the inside! Practice makes perfect!

    • Sounds like your stove is a little too hot. You need to find the setting where heat has time to make it inside before the outside burns. Cast iron pans are also great because they retain their temperature when you plop a spoon of cold batter on them. I’ve found that you can get it where it takes 1 minute per side and get them cooked through. Once you’ve done that, you can use a kitchen timer so you can do other things around the kitchen yet still get the color perfect every time.

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