How to Make Light and Fluffy Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes With Aquafaba

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Chickpea liquid is the key to light, fluffy vegan oatmeal pancakes. [Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Like many kids in Asian households in the US, I grew up playing classical music, and I'm constantly surprised by just how similar learning music is to learning how to cook. Take, for instance, your typical progression. In music, you start out learning to play a few songs, focusing on those that will teach you the basic mechanics of finger and arm movements, just as you may focus your early cooking on simple recipes that emphasize knife skills or a technique like sautéing. From there, you might move on to learning individual songs—or recipes—practicing each one until you master it. But it's only when you start focusing on technique and theory that you really start to learn. Practicing a song will teach you one new song, but practicing a new scale or a common chord progression will unlock a whole catalog of music.

I feel the same way every time I learn a new cooking technique. What can I do with this one?

A couple of months back was the first time that I whipped aquafaba, the goopy liquid inside a can of chickpeas, into a light, foamy, vegan meringue, and it blew my mind. I'm serious about this: A mixer with a whisk attachment and the drained liquid from a can of chickpeas is all you need. I went into a flurry of recipe testing, and you'll be seeing some of the results of that testing in the coming months.

In the grand scheme of things, oatmeal pancakes are not really that different a song from regular pancakes, but you can consider them a remix.

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Using aquafaba for vegan oatmeal pancakes is especially successful because oatmeal pancakes tend to be a little denser than, say, buttermilk pancakes to begin with, and aquafaba doesn't have quite the lifting power and structure that eggs do. For these pancakes, I start by toasting oats in a skillet until they're nutty and fragrant, then I grind them up in a food processor and combine them with some standard dry pancake ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Next, I whip up the aquafaba into a dense, stable meringue sweetened with just a touch of sugar. Nut milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and a little vinegar (to help with rise) make up the liquid ingredients.

I fold everything together, then ladle it onto a moderately hot griddle to bake.

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They bake up light, nutty, and flavorful. Perfect for soaking up warm maple syrup, and that's a tune we can all sing along to, whether we're vegan or not.