Recipe Spotlight

Want Better Pancakes? Add Ricotta to the Batter.

It's the secret ingredient for pancakes that are both fluffier and more flavorful.

Published Sept. 8, 2021.

Pancakes are good—even great. But is there a way to elevate them beyond your traditional flapjack? You can add mix-ins such as chocolate chips and blueberries, of course, but there’s one addition that makes the final product even lighter and more tender.

That secret ingredient? Ricotta. When treated correctly, ricotta can transform a pancake from meh to magical.

The ricotta breaks up the breadiness that usually accompanies pancakes, and it adds an extra dimension to the flavor profile that’s both sweet and cheesy. Not to mention, ricotta pancakes are insanely light, almost cloudlike.

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However, it’s not as easy as just throwing a scoop of ricotta into a bowl of regular pancake batter. You have to ensure the perfect ratio of cheese to dry ingredients. If you don’t have enough cheese, they’re simply not ricotta pancakes. But if there’s too much, they’ll be wet and heavy. In her Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes recipe, Cook’s Illustrated’s Andrea Geary found that 1 cup of ricotta was the perfect quantity. 

Andrea also landed on a few other ingredients and techniques that help prevent the ricotta from weighing down the pancakes and keep them fluffy.

  • Whipping egg whites: Using a similar technique as when making a soufflé, Andrea’s Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes recipe has you whip four egg whites. This egg foam lightens the batter and contributes to the cloudlike texture.
  • Using less flour: Just ⅔ cup of flour adds enough starch to give the egg foam some structure while also keeping the pancakes from becoming too bready.
  • Including lemon juice: Lemon juice adds a nice balance to the cheese and provides some tanginess. But it also reacts with the baking soda in the batter to produce carbon dioxide, which inflates the egg foam and provides height and fluffiness.

For a breakfast that tastes like a special occasion, ricotta is the pancake mix-in that is always worth adding. 

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