Watch the Food Lab Video Series Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

They may be golden brown, crisp on the edges, and light and fluffy in the center, but when you get right down to it, classic American pancakes are not all that different from any leavened bread. Knowing the science of how a pancake gets its golden brown color and light texture can help you get not just the breakfast you want, but the breakfast you deserve.

These pancakes are extra light and fluffy with a classic buttery flavor and golden brown, crisp tops and bottoms.

Classic light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes.
Why This Recipe Works
  • Frothing the egg whites before adding the remaining wet ingredients gives the pancakes extra lift.
  • A balance of just the right amount of baking powder and baking soda gives the pancakes light texture and golden brown color.
Pancake dry mix can be scaled up as many times as you'd like. Each batch of pancakes takes 11 ounces of dry mix to make (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons). The sour cream can be replaced with more buttermilk.

Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

About This Recipe

Yield:16 pancakes
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:30 minutes
This recipe appears in: The Food Lab: How to Make the Best Light and Fluffy Pancakes Ask The Food Lab: What's the Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda?


  • Basic Dry Pancake Mix:
  • 10 ounces (about 2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • For Each Batch of Pancakes
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 12 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1 cup (about 8 ounces) sour cream (see note above)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for serving
  • Warm maple syrup


  1. 1

    For the Dry Pancake Mix: Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until homogenous.Transfer to an airtight container.The mix will stay good for 3 months. (See note above.)

  2. 2

    For each Batch of Pancakes: Place one batch of dry mix in a large bowl. In a medium clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, buttermilk, and sour cream until homogenous. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter while whisking. Carefully fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula until just combined. Pour the mixture over the dry mix and fold until just combined (there should still be plenty of lumps).

  3. 3

    Heat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes (or use an electric griddle). Add a small amount of butter or oil to the griddle and spread with a paper towel until no visible butter or oil remains. Use a 1⁄4-cup dry measure to place 4 pancakes in the skillet and cook until bubbles start to appear on top and the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook on the second side until golden brown and completely set, about 2 minutes longer. Serve the pancakes immediately, or keep warm on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet in a warm oven while you cook the remaining 3 batches. Serve with warm maple syrup and butter.

Watch the Food Lab Video Series

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