Best Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes {Recipe}

Best Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes {Recipe}

Want to know the secret to the best pancakes? It’s buttermilk! This is my family’s favorite buttermilk pancake recipe, made with real buttermilk, eggs and a few other pantry staples.  It’s an easy recipe and makes light & fluffy old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes, the best you’ve ever had! So, grab your favorite griddle and get flipping!

Every summer as a kid, my brother and I traveled to Cleveland to stay with my grandparents.  The joy of our time there was highlighted by extravagant breakfasts, served most often on their charming screened-in porch, complete with both orange juice and a glass of milk, as well as some kind of fresh fruit.  How spoiled we were!  Grandpa’s homemade buttermilk pancakes were my favorite in the rotation of their special breakfasts, and one of the things I looked forward to most during our time in Ohio.  As a kid, I didn’t quite understand what made them so unbelievably delicious. Now, I realize it was the taste of the real buttermilk, mixed into the homemade batter that made the pancakes unequivocally tastier than the ones I was accustomed to eating the rest of year.  The fresh Ohio maple syrup didn’t hurt, either.  At home, we used “syrup”.  At Grandma and Grandpa’s, it was always a pitcher of the real deal good stuff.

Fast forward to my life now, and I get to spoil my family with Grandpa’s incredible old-fashioned pancakes.  They know them as “Grandpa Norm’s pancakes”. I love sharing a piece of my childhood with them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!  

Looking for a 2-person buttermilk pancake recipe? See this post.

5 Tips for Perfectly Fluffy Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes

1. DO mix all the dry ingredients together with a whisk.

This will guarantee you don’t have any pockets of baking soda in your pancakes.  If the baking soda is evenly dispersed in the batter, it will rise beautifully and you won’t end up with any bitter baking soda-y bites.

2. DON’T over-mix the batter.

If you mix til the point of a perfectly smooth batter, you’ll overwork the gluten in the flour and they’ll be tough and chewy.  Mix just until most of the flour has been absorbed by the liquid ingredients but you should see some lumps.

3. DON’T let the pancake batter sit.

You want to use the batter as soon as it’s combined and take advantage of all those glorious CO2 bubbles from the buttermilk and baking soda reaction. If you’ve read the opposite before, it’s likely because the other pancake batter is made with baking powder, which takes more time to activate.

4. DO use a just right hot pan.

I can’t emphasize this one enough. Have you ever noticed the first few pancakes in your griddle are “flops” and just don’t look great? That’s because the pan isn’t hot enough! Don’t be afraid to fire up the heat to medium-high in the beginning. You will want to turn it back to medium after a few minutes. On my stove, I alternate between medium-high heat and medium-low heat, with the majority of the cooking time set to medium. When the pancakes are browning too quickly, turn it down. When they’re looking flat and pale in color, turn it up. You’ll get the hang of it!

5. DON’T flip more than once.

Resist the temptation to flip more than once and please, oh please, don’t smoosh or pat your pancakes with your spatula while they’re cooking.  You’ll know the pancakes are ready to flip when they’re covered in tiny bubbles and those bubbles begin to pop.  Use a thin but sturdy spatula for flipping precision.

Best Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients You’ll need to make Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes

  • Flour – All-purpose flour is great.
  • Baking soda – Make sure your baking soda is fresh.
  • Salt – Adds flavor
  • Sugar – Adds sweetness
  • Buttermilk – both low-fat and full fat buttermilk work for this recipe.  The buttermilk makes these pancakes. It gives them both their delicate, classic buttermilk flavor and their fluffy texture.
  • Oil – This adds richness and tenderness to the pancakes.  I like to use avocado oil, but any neutral-flavored oil will do, or you can substitute melted butter.
  • Eggs
  • Butter – For cooking (or substitute more oil), and for serving. I like salted butter.
  • Pure maple syrup – For serving. Warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds to take the chill off if it’s been stored in the refrigerator. You don’t want to pour cold syrup over your hot pancakes!
old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes recipe ingredients

How to make old-fashioned homemade buttermilk pancakes

This recipe makes about 16 four-inch pancakes. The batter is easy to whip up and it’s mixed by hand. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees if you want to keep them warm while you cook.  

1. STIR TOGETHER DRY INGREDIENTS

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine. 

2. WHISK LIQUID INGREDIENTS

In a small bowl, whisk eggs vigorously, followed by oil and buttermilk.

3. MAKE PANCAKE BATTER

Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir gently with a rubber spatula, until almost fully mixed.  You want to error on the side of undermining.  Small lumps are okay and lead to more tender pancakes!

whisk dry pancake ingredients together
whisk wet pancake ingredients together
stir together lumpy pancake batter

4. COOK THE PANCAKES

First, start by heating a large pancake nonstick griddle, cast-iron skillet or electric griddle over medium heat and wait until the griddle is nice and hot.  You should feel the heat coming from the pan when you place your hand a few inches above. 

Coat the bottom of the pan with a little more avocado oil or butter (about one teaspoon).  

Using a 1/4 cup measuring spoon and about a quarter cup of batter, scoop onto hot skillet, letting the batter fall into somewhat organized circles.  They will begin to bubble quite quickly if the pan is sufficiently heated.  Wait until the edges begin to set and little bubbles form and begin to pop on the surface of each pancake.  

When you suspect they’re ready to flip you can “peek” by lifting the corner of the pancake with your pancake spatula.  If it’s golden brown, you’re ready to flip. If it’s still light and blonde looking, give it another minute or two (you may want to turn up your heat to medium-high, temporarily).  Flip all pancakes and cook on the other side for another 1-2 minutes, until browned and cooked in the middle.  

Remove pancakes in batches as you go, and repeat with remaining batter.  I like to stack the cooked pancakes on an oven safe baking sheet and place in the oven (200 degrees Fahrenheit) as I go, to keep them hot and serve them all at once, but a plate works fine too.

heat hot pancake skillet
wait until pancakes begin to bubble and those bubbles pop
flip pancakes and cook on other side 1-2 minutes

5. SERVE PANCAKES

Serve pancakes in stacks, with butter and plenty of pure maple syrup.  Bacon and fresh fruit are also nice additions!  

serve old fashioned buttermilk pancakes with butter and maple syrup

MIXING THINGS UP

  • For blueberry pancakes, gently fold in 1 cup blueberries to the finished pancake batter.
  • For chocolate chip pancakes, gently fold in 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter.
  • For whole wheat buttermilk pancakes, substitute whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.

Buttermilk Alternatives & Substitutes

Nothing compares to the taste and texture of real buttermilk. If you can, make this recipe the first time with real buttermilk since it’s the gold standard. Sometimes buttermilk can be hard to find or you just don’t want to make the grocery store run. I admit, I turn to these easy alternatives in a pinch. Chances are you have everything you need to whip up a homemade substitute.

how to make your own buttermilk

Do you have plain yogurt and milk? Whisk 1 cup of milk into 1 cup plain yogurt. Use in recipe as written.

Do you have ave milk and vinegar or lemon juice?  – Stir 2 cups of milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. It will curdle slightly and thicken. Use in recipe as written. See this comphrehensive guide for more buttermilk substitutes & alternatives.

Can I prepare the buttermilk pancake batter in advance? 

No, unfortunately not. You can pre-mix the dry ingredients and pre-mix the liquid ingredients and store them in airtight containers overnight.  But, once you mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, it’s go time!

When the baking soda and the buttermilk are combined in the batter, the leavening agent in the baking soda is activated by the buttermilk to create carbon dioxide.  Bubbles of gas are caught in the batter as it cooks and this is what makes the pancake fluffy.  Letting the batter sit will result in dense, flat pancakes. Try this homemade buttermilk pancake mix for a time-saving alternative or to make buttermilk pancakes ahead of time.

How to Freeze & Store Leftover Pancakes

Inevitably, I end up with 2 or 3 leftover pancakes every time!  But, they are easy to freeze and reheat well for future weekday breakfasts or snacks on the go. 

To freeze, place in ziplock bag, separating each layer with parchment paper. These will keep up to 2 months.

To reheat, place frozen pancakes in toaster or microwave for 30 seconds on high heat.

Use up that leftover buttermilk in these recipes!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes
Favorite Oatmeal Pancakes (Without Eggs)

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BEST OLD-FASHIONED BUTTERMILK PANCAKES {RECIPE}

This is my family's pancake recipe! This easy recipe makes light & fluffy old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes, the best you've ever had!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp oil avocado oil or a neutral-flavored oil, or substitute melted butter.
  • butter for cooking pancakes (or use more oil)
  • pure maple syrup for serving

Instructions

  • STIR TOGETHER DRY INGREDIENTS – Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine. 
  • WHISK LIQUID INGREDIENTS – In a small bowl, whisk eggs vigorously, followed by oil and buttermilk.
  • MAKE PANCAKE BATTER – Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir gently with a rubber spatula, until almost fully mixed.  You want to error on the side of undermining.  Lumpy batter equals more tender pancakes!
  • COOK THE PANCAKES –
    First, start by heating a large pancake nonstick griddle, cast-iron skillet or electric griddle over medium heat and wait until the griddle is nice and hot.  You should feel the heat coming from the pan when you place your hand a few inches above. 
    Coat the bottom of the pan with a little move avocado oil or butter (about one teaspoon).  
    Using a 1/4 cup measuring spoon and about a quarter cup of batter, scoop onto hot skillet, letting the batter fall into somewhat organized circles.  They will begin to bubble quite quickly if the pan is sufficiently heated.  Wait until the edges begin to set and little bubbles form and begin to pop on the surface of each pancake.  
    When you suspect they’re ready to flip you can “peek” by lifting the corner of the pancake with your pancake spatula.  If it’s golden brown, you’re ready to flip. If it’s still light and blonde looking, give it another minute or two (you may want to turn up your heat to medium-high, temporarily).  Flip all pancakes and cook on the other side for another 1-2 minutes, until browned and cooked in the middle.  
    Remove pancakes in batches as you go, and repeat with remaining batter.  I like to stack the cooked pancakes on an oven safe baking sheet and place in the oven (200 degrees Fahrenheit) as I go, to keep them hot and serve them all at once, but a plate works fine too.
  • SERVE PANCAKES – Serve pancakes in stacks, with butter and plenty of pure maple syrup.  Bacon and fresh fruit are also nice additions!  


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