Best Buttermilk Pancakes

My quest for a fabulous pancake recipe has followed a very similar path as my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Until I found “the one“, I searched high and low. Every recipe claiming to be the best I tried. And I kept trying until that fateful day when it was clear that I never had to try another chocolate chip recipe again. And so it has been for pancakes. I’m not going to lie – I love the Aunt Jemima mix. They come out perfect every time. But I just had to find a pancake recipe that I could make from scratch that was worth the little bit of extra effort. These came close, but I was still searching. I am officially ending the search here and now. And what better time? Valentine’s Day weekend is the perfect excuse for maybe some breakfast in bed, or something a little more fancy than a soggy bowl of cereal!

While the ingredient list is almost identical to the buttermilk pancakes I made previously with the exception of the sour cream in these (maybe that’s the secret ingredient!), these specific ingredients, these quantities, and this method just work. Perfectly. The pancakes cook up light and fluffy in the middle, full of flavor, yet not tasting at all heavy. They are definitely the best pancakes I have ever made. After a huge flop a couple of months ago with a different recipe, I was almost tempted to give up my quest for “the one” when it came to pancakes. I’m glad I didn’t, because it only took one more stop for me to finally find my go-to recipe!

Three years ago: Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Yield: Sixteen 4-inch pancakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
2 eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 to 2 teaspoon vegetable oil, for greasing the pan


1. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, eggs and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; gently stir until just combined (batter should remain lumpy with a few streaks of flour). Do not overmix. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes before cooking.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using a paper towel, carefully wipe out oil, leaving a thin film of oil on the bottom of the pan. Using ¼ cup measure, portion batter into pan in 4 places. Cook until edges are set, first side is golden brown, and bubbles on surface are just beginning to break, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Serve pancakes immediately. Repeat with remaining batter, using remaining oil as needed.

*Note 1: This recipe was formulated using lower-protein flour such as Pillsbury and Gold Medal. If you use flour with a little higher protein content like King Arthur, you will need to add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of buttermilk. I forgot about this at first, and when I mixed the batter I saw how thick it was. I added 1½ more tablespoons of buttermilk and the batter was perfect.

*Note 2: If you make these on an electric griddle, preheat it to 350 degrees F.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)


109 Responses to “Best Buttermilk Pancakes”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Babou on February 11, 2011 at 4:56 am

    These look soooo good
    I’d love to make these over a weedend brunch with friends

    I have a question tough: I live in France and here buttermilk is not available, neither is sour cream; can you provide an alternative ? I know there are many “recipes” for these products on the net but I trust you more than than some random people

    You blog is screen-licking-liscious ! Love it. You must be adorable as adorable food is made by adorable people


    • Michelle on February 14th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      You can make buttermilk by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the 1-cup line. Double if necessary. For the sour cream, you can sub creme fraiche.


      • Babou on February 16th, 2011 at 9:14 am

        Thank you !
        Great breakfast waiting to happen


  2. Lisa (Dishes of Mrs. Fish) on February 11, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Delicious! This might just make my pancake hating husband love pancakes.

    I know!! Who hates pancakes.

    Not anymore!


  3. Penny Wolf on February 11, 2011 at 6:57 am

    This link to King Arthur may spark you for yet another attempt. Malted milk powder is subtle and might be the special something you search for. I am always trying to recreate Howard Johnson’s pancakes.They were different and I have no idea how. (Just like ELBY’S chocolate milk shakes are different from everyone.)I am going to increase the malted powder the next time I give them a whirl.


  4. Eliana on February 11, 2011 at 7:26 am

    These look like THE perfect pancakes Michelle. Super super delish.


  5. Darla @ Bakingdom on February 11, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I love a really good pancake recipe, but they really are surprisingly hard to find. I’m pretty happy with the one I use now, but I’m not in love with it. I’ll definitely have to try these…they may just bump my current recipe from the box! :)


  6. Katrina on February 11, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Finding “the best” of something is always a great day! I’ll try these out!


  7. Blog is the New Black on February 11, 2011 at 7:47 am

    These do look fabulous! I don’t eat pancakes enough to have the perfect recipe, but these sound like they might be it! 😉


  8. TheBaker on February 11, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I’ll have to give these a try. My kids LOVE pancakes. Like you, I’ve been on the quest for the perfect pancake for years. Recently, I had narrowed it down to two recipes. One morning, we decided to have a “throw down” and name the ultimate winner. I made both recipes and served them to the kids. They had no idea which pancake was which (other than #1 or #2) and each child voted anonymously. Wouldn’t you guess, 50% of the family preferred #1 and 50% preferred #2! :) Looks like we’ll be having another throw down! With three contenders, we won’t have to worry about a tie!


  9. The Food Hound on February 11, 2011 at 7:58 am

    These look nearly identical to my “best” buttermilk pancakes from Fine Cooking except for the sour cream- I bet that adds a LOT! I love a good pancake with REAL maple syrup!!


  10. Caroline on February 11, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I’m the same way with everything I cook. My poor hubby is asked so many questions during something as simple as a pancake breakfast like this “what do you think of them?” “is there anything at all you’d change?” “if I make them again, what should I do differently?” I was a little underwhelmed with my last scratch pancakce attempt, so maybe I should give these a go. They look so fluffy and amazing!


  11. jen @ the baked life on February 11, 2011 at 9:30 am

    yum! I love pancakes and make them all the time. My recipe is similar but with no sour cream. Thanks for the recipe, heart shaped pancakes maybe this weekend?


  12. Sherry on February 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I need to use this recipe. I’m a failure at pancakes!


  13. Maria on February 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Eating cereal and wishing I had pancakes!


  14. Jenny Flake on February 11, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Ok, these do look like the best pancakes ever! Yummy!


  15. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite on February 11, 2011 at 10:43 am

    There is really nothing like a great pancake! My favorite breakfast food!


  16. karen d on February 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I agree with Penny, malted milk powder in pancakes is great. Look for the recipe from either America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Country for their “best pancakes”. It also has malt powder.


  17. doughmesstic on February 11, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I am always on the quest for a new pancake recipe…love the addition of sour cream!


  18. Tracy on February 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Mmm, I love the idea of sour cream in pancakes! I think I might add in a little honey, too. Yum!


  19. Fuji Mama on February 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I love that you have done all of the hard work for us in finding the perfect pancake recipe! I cannot wait to try this tomorrow morning! :)


  20. RavieNomNoms on February 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Those look awesome!


  21. Felice on February 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    There is nothing quite like the perfect pancake. I am looking forward to trying these.


  22. Lori @ RecipeGirl on February 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I was totally craving pancakes this morning. Gonna have to make these over the weekend!


  23. Belinda @zomppa on February 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Looks like you found the one! What a Valentine’s Day! =)


  24. Cheryl and Adam @ on February 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Nice touch with the sour cream. These look absolutely delicious… I am so HUNGRY now!


  25. Kathleen @ Kat's Health Corner on February 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    LOVING THESE!!! They sound SO fluffy and decadent, I can’t wait to try them! :)


  26. Steve Z on February 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    These are almost identical to my recipe, but yours are 2/3 smaller. The only difference between ours is you invite sour cream to the party, and mine have vanilla. I am definitely going to add a bit of sour cream next time (but I will keep the vanilla).
    Not overmixing is very important. Lumpy makes fluffy.


  27. Cara on February 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    This is the recipe I use, too, and it is definitely the best pancake recipe I’ve ever tried. LOVE homemade pancakes. They also freeze well!


  28. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking on February 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Ooh, what a great recipe! I’ll have to make these for my hunny this weekend. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!


  29. bridget {bake at 350} on February 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    These are some BEAUTIFUL pancakes! :)


  30. Christina on February 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    They look good. Real good. Yum!


  31. dr.fine on February 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks so much for posting these, now I know what I’m serving for Valentine Day’s breakfast!


  32. Jessica on February 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Pancakes make frequent appearances in our household! So excited to try this recipe! In fact I just might try them tonight!


  33. Brilynn on February 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Now I want pancakes for dinner! Those sound great!


  34. Sandra on February 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I’ve been on a quest for the perfect “scratch” recipe for pancakes also. I will surely try this one and let you know how it turns out. Yours look so fluffy!


  35. ashley on February 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    yum. i loveeeee pancakes. probably one of my all time favorite meals. i’ll have to try this recipe!


  36. Dawn on February 12, 2011 at 8:08 am

    This morning, my husband asked if he could make me pancakes for once, normally I make them but he really wanted to do something for me (nice!) and this recipe came in handy. It was really really good and probably the best thing was that I could sit directly down at the table and enjoy them! They were fluffy and tasty – just perfect! Thank you so much for the recipe!
    To the reader in France who can’t find buttermilk or sour cream: On our last vacation in France, we used a lebanese fermented milk in stead, lait fermente or something similar, and sour cream is called creme fraiche acidulee and you should be able to find that almost everywhere. Hope this helps!


  37. Sharlene on February 12, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Big, fluffy pancakes have been a request from my boyfriend for awhile now. I’ve tried multiple recipes and while some have been good, very good even, none have been perfect. I am putting my money on this one!


  38. Robyn on February 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    perfect for pancake tuesday coming up in march!


  39. Maggie Ha on February 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Mmmm perfect brunch food!


  40. Rupa Lakshminarayan on February 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm


    If i wish to make this into a Banana Pancake (trying to include fruit into my daughter’s breakfast)… i need to change the proportion of any other ingredient in your recipe (would this reduce the amount of buttermilk or eggs or anything)
    Your reply will be very helpful.
    Thanks so much for sharing your recipes with us. It means a lot.

    – Rupa


    • Michelle on February 14th, 2011 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Rupa, You can leave the recipe as is and fold chopped or sliced banana into the batter. Enjoy!


  41. Jamie H on February 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Mmmmmm, these look delish. I went out and got buttermilk today so I can make them tomorrow, I cant wait!


  42. Laura on February 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    these look awesome. I’m a bit pancake-challenged, but love eating them, so I’ll have to give this recipe a try – maybe it’s the solution I’ve been waiting for!


  43. The Cilantropist on February 13, 2011 at 2:20 am

    I have been craving some homemade pancakes myself lately, and though I was looking for a recipe with yogurt, I LOVE how thick and fluffy yours look! Glad your quest was successful. :)


  44. Kristina on February 13, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Oh my goodness! These were delicious. And an added benefit – I have found a pancake that holds up to my WilliamsSonoma Star Wars molds. My plan was to save the extras to see how they freeze and toast up. However, there were no extras to be had!


  45. Taylor on February 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I made these this morning for Valentine’s breakfast…they were SO good!!! Thanks for the recipe :)


  46. Elise on February 13, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Just made these for breakfast, and they really hit the spot! I swapped a 1/2 cup of the flour for whole wheat flour for a little more oomph, and it turned out really well.


  47. Fran {The Flavorful Fork} on February 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I too have been searching for the perfect pancake recipe and have been unsuccessful in getting the light, fluffy consistency I crave. I will definitely try this recipe. It looks great!


  48. Shari on February 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    The other day I was in a hurry and made some ‘Shake’n’Make’ pancakes by Betty Croker. I thought that I would add buttermilk instead of regular milk – I poured it in and shook the bottle for 2 minutes as directed. I placed the bottle down and oiled the frying pan. When I removed the lid the pancake mix exploded all over me and my clean kitchen! Not so simple and quick pancakes :(

    Shari from


  49. Karen Martinez on February 13, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    The “best” pancake recipe has got to be the one from Fine Cooking magazine from the Dec 09/Jan10 issue! You must try it!


  50. Jennifer on February 13, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    These look perfect – so golden and fluffy!


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