When it’s a beautiful morning, and you’re craving a pancake, you want it to be nice and fluffy. Boxed mixes might get the job done, but most of the time, they turn out bland and too flat. Plus, it’s really easy to make them from scratch, with results that are many times better. But one of our test cooks discovered the key to perfect pancakes is lumpy batter.
You may have heard that overmixing pancake batter can cause gluten to develop, which in turn gives you a dense pancake. But this isn’t the real reason that your pancakes come out tough. What really matters is the batter’s texture and hydration.
Throughout the development of her recipe for Easy Pancakes, Cook's Illustrated Senior Editor Lan Lam realized that keeping the lumps in the batter was what makes pancakes tall and fluffy. She also made some other important discoveries regarding the ingredients to use in your homemade pancake batter. (Start a free trial to check out the recipe. Your breakfast-loving self won’t regret it!)
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By keeping the lumps, you increase the batter’s viscosity. It should be thick enough that it will fall from your spoon in clumps, not thin, runny streams. The lumps help keep water from flowing and causing the mixture to spread out too much when cooking. This is one key to keeping the pancakes tall.
Lumpy batter also holds on to air pockets as the pancakes cook. This air helps make the pancakes fluffy and also contributes to height.
But before you start cooking, it is also important to let the batter rest for about 10 minutes. This rest helps those lumpy pockets in the batter hydrate, because no one wants a mouthful of dry flour.
All in all, don’t overthink your pancake making. Follow these two simple rules:
1. Keep the batter lumpy: thick enough that it will fall from a spoon in clumps.
2. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes before cooking.
The result? Tall and fluffy pancakes that rival your favorite diner's.