Chocolate Pancakes Recipe

These chocolate pancakes get their deep flavor from espresso powder. For a decadent breakfast, serve the pancakes with a luscious chocolate sauce.

A stack of chocolate pancake on a plate, drizzled with chocolate ganache.

Serious Eats / Yvonne Ruperti

Why This Recipe Works

  • Mixing the batter as little as possible limits gluten development, keeping the pancakes tender and moist.
  • Making chocolate ganache sauce with milk rather than cream keeps the pancakes from being too rich.

Chocolate for breakfast? Pancakes for dessert? I say: Why not! I've never subscribed to the notion of attaching specific foods to specific meals. I'll eat anything, any time of the day.

I used to completely appall my grandmother when she stayed at my house when I was growing up. She would stand there in shock as she watched me toss a few slices of cold and congealed, pepperoni pizza into the toaster oven for breakfast. Was I doing something wrong? These days, my husband will sort of smirk and roll his eyes if I say that I'm happy to just scramble up a few eggs for dinner. "So that's really what you're going to have for your main meal—eggs?" Yes.

Enter: chocolate pancakes with chocolate sauce.

This dish first caught my eye because it was chocolate, second because I couldn't make sense of it. It wouldn't fit into a neat little category like other "breakfast" or "dessert" dishes do. Even though we can heartily accept chocolate-stuffed croissants for breakfast, and Belgian waffles for dessert, some prim and proper eaters may think: When on earth are you supposed to eat a chocolate griddlecake?

Perhaps, my serious eaters, I don't have to tell you at all—the answer is whenever you want. If you whip up chocolate pancakes for your kids' breakfast, well, you'll be the hippest parent ever. Or serve them for dessert: Warm chocolate flapjacks are comforting, gooey, creative, and unexpected.

These chocolate pancakes stay nice and light because they're flavored with cocoa powder, not melted chocolate (which would have weighed them down). A bit more sugar than the usual pancake is used in this batter to balance the deep bitter taste of unsweetened cocoa.

When mixing, as with all pancake batters, go gentle. A lumpy, quick stir is what you want for a tender hotcake. For the sauce? Instead of a chocolate syrup (which I found too sweet), I stick with a chocolate ganache... but I lighten it up with milk. The result is intense chocolate flavor with good enough body to slick over the warm cakes, but without the obscene fatty richness of cream. That said, I still like to add a pat of butter (or two) in between the warm layers.

February 2012

This recipe was cross-tested in 2023 and lightly updated to guarantee best results. We increased the amount of milk from 3/4 cup to 1 cup and now recommend adding espresso powder to highlight the flavor of chocolate.

Recipe Details

Chocolate Pancakes Recipe

Prep 15 mins
Cook 29 mins
Active 30 mins
Total 44 mins
Serves 4 to 6
Makes 16 pancakes

These chocolate pancakes get their deep flavor from espresso powder. For a decadent breakfast, serve the pancakes with a luscious chocolate sauce.


For the Chocolate Pancakes:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (6 ounces; 170g)

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (1.25 ounces; 35g), see notes

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar (2.5 ounces; 70g)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (0.25 ounce; 6g)

  • 3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, for table salt, use half as much by volume

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk

  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (1.5 ounces; 43g), plus extra for greasing pan and buttering pancakes

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine instant espresso powder (optional)

For the Chocolate Sauce (see note):

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk

  • 5 ounces (142g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped)

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. For the Chocolate Pancakes: Using a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, melted butter, and espresso powder (if using) until well combined. Pour liquid ingredients into dry and gently mix until batter is just combined and moistened (there will still be lumps). Do not overmix the batter.

  2. Very lightly butter a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drop 2 heaping tablespoons batter in hot skillet and spread into a 3 to 3 1/2-inch disc. Space discs at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart. Cook until bottoms of pancakes are set, edges are just starting to set and some very small bubbles are just starting to form on tops, about 1 minute. Using a lightly greased silicone spatula, carefully flip pancakes and continue to cook until done, about 1 minute more. Adjust heat as needed to prevent excess browning; wipe skillet clean and butter as needed between batches. Keep pancakes warm (see notes).

  3. For the Chocolate Sauce: In a small saucepan, heat milk to just simmering over medium heat. Add chocolate; remove from heat and whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Serve immediately over pancakes.

Special Equipment

Fine-mesh sieve, whisk, large nonstick skillet, silicone spatula


Make sure to use regular cocoa powder in this recipe, not Dutch cocoa powder.

Maple syrup or raspberry preserves are good substitutes for the chocolate sauce.

To keep the pancakes warm, tent them in foil or place them in an oven preheated to 300ºF (150ºC) until ready to serve.

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
376 Calories
17g Fat
51g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 376
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 83mg 28%
Sodium 386mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 51g 18%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 29g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 159mg 12%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 216mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)