Want Evenly Brown, Picture-Perfect Pancakes? Skimp on the Oil.

Too much oil in the pan is the culprit behind pancakes that are splotchy brown rather than evenly golden from edge to edge.

hero image

We’ve all experienced the annoying phenomenon of having the first batch of pancakes turn out splotched with brown spots, while subsequent batches come out evenly golden.

Why Pancakes Turn Out Splotchy Brown

Here’s why: When fresh oil hits a hot pan, the surface tension of the oil causes it to bead together into little droplets, leaving some of the pan bottom without a coating. Since bare metal conducts heat better than oil, when you ladle your batter into the pan, the spots directly in contact with uncoated metal will cook faster than those touching oil. By the time you get to your second batch of pancakes, the oil has undergone chemical changes that make the molecules less prone to clustering. What’s more, the first batch of pancakes has absorbed much of the oil, leaving only a thin film that’s more likely to be evenly distributed across the pan.

How to Make Pancakes That Are Evenly Golden Brown

For spot-free pancakes from the get-go, start by applying oil to an unheated pan or griddle. Allow the oil to heat up over medium heat for at least 1 minute and then use a paper towel to wipe away all but a thin, barely visible layer to prevent sticking. The pancakes should cook up golden brown from the first batch to the last.

Our Easy Pancakes call for adding a smidge of oil to the skillet, heating the pan, and then wiping out the oil until there is just a bare sheen remaining.

Recommended Reading