First Watch Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 

First Watch Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 

Lemon ricotta pancakes, made with ricotta cheese and fresh lemon are inspired by the lemon ricotta pancakes at First Watch.  These fluffy pancakes are layered with lemon curd and fresh strawberries!  They are a real treat for a weekend morning breakfast with the family when you want to mix up your pancake routine or even a Mother’s Day brunch!

I have a weakness for pancakes.  Like, these old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes.  And while I love a good brunch out every now and then, to me, there’s nothing better than a lazy Saturday morning at home with homemade pancakes and a cup of coffee for breakfast.  So, I just had to recreate the First Watch lemon ricotta pancakes at home.  Now you, too, can enjoy these amazing First Watch lemon ricotta pancakes any day of the week, from home!

We’re using a whole grain flour combo to match the multigrain batter at First Watch.  You won’t even know you’re eating whole grains though; they’re still just as moist and fluffy as the pancakes made with only all-purpose flour.  For the pancake batter, I modified my buttermilk pancake batter, adding creamy ricotta cheese for an extra delicate texture and delicious taste, plus the zest and juice of one lemon.  Topped with fresh strawberries and lemon curd they’re over-the-top good! 

5 TIPS FOR perfectly fluffy LEMON RICOTTA 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 GRIDDLE.

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.

INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES

ingredients you'll need to make First Watch lemon ricotta pancakes

For the pancakes

  • Flour – We’re mixing our own half whole wheat-half all purpose flour blend to match the multi-grain blend used at First Watch in their pancakes.
  • 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.  It makes fluffier pancakes than those made with milk. 
  • 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
  • Ricotta – Use whole milk ricotta in this recipe. 
  • Whole lemon – You’ll use both the zest and the juice in the pancake batter. 
  • Vanilla extract – Vanilla goes so beautifully with the lemon in these pancakes!
  • Butter – For cooking (or substitute more oil)

For Serving

  • Lemon curd – You can find lemon curd in the jams and jellies section of the grocery store. Trader Joe’s makes their own for a reasonable price.  Or, make your own!
  • Fresh strawberries – Slice the strawberries, or quarter them if they’re small. 
  • 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!
  • Whipped cream – Decadent addition that goes so well with the tang of the lemon curd. This is optional, of course!

HOW TO MAKE LEMON RICOTTA 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 large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. 

2. WHISK LIQUID INGREDIENTS

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs vigorously, followed by oil, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, fresh lemon juice & zest, as well as the vanilla extract. 

how to make lemon ricotta pancakes batter

3. MAKE PANCAKE LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKE BATTER

Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir gently with a whisk or rubber spatula, until almost fully mixed.  You want to error on the side of undermining.  Lumpy batter equals more tender pancakes!

stir together lemon ricotta 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 move avocado oil or a pat of 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 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, layering with lemon curd between each pancake. Top with fresh strawberries, a drizzle of maple syrup and whipped cream if you’d like!  The final First Watch topping is a dusting of their cinnamon sugar made with powdered sugar and a little cinnamon, so don’t hesitate to add a little of that as well!  We’re going all in for pancakes, right?

First Watch lemon ricotta pancakes

MIXING THINGS UP

  • For blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes, just swap out the strawberries for fresh blueberries!  Other fresh berries would be good as well.  Raspberries…blackberries!
  • For 100% whole grain lemon ricotta pancakes, substitute all whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.

CAN I PREPARE THE 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.

Have extra buttermilk you need to use? Try these recipes:

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes

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Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! I love hearing from you and hope these lemon ricotta pancakes become a favorite in your collection, too.

First Watch lemon ricotta pancakes
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

First Watch Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Fresh lemon + ricotta pancakes. Light & fluffy, and oh-so-good layered with lemon curd, fresh strawberries and whipped cream!
Prep Time12 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time32 minutes
Course: Breakfast, brunch
Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the Pancakes:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or "white" pastry flour or use regular whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese whole milk ricotta preferred
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp avocado oil or another neutral oil melted butter works, too!
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon 2-3 tbsp of juice and about 1 tbsp of zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For Serving:

  • lemon curd
  • fresh strawberries sliced
  • whipped cream
  • pure maple syrup

Instructions

  • STIR TOGETHER DRY INGREDIENTS – Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. 
  • WHISK LIQUID INGREDIENTS – In a medium bowl, whisk eggs vigorously, followed by oil, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, fresh lemon juice & zest, as well as the vanilla extract. 
  • MAKE PANCAKE LEMON RICOTTA 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 a pat of 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, layering with lemon curd between each pancake. Top with fresh strawberries, a drizzle of maple syrup and whipped cream if you’d like!  The final First Watch topping is a dusting of their cinnamon sugar made with powdered sugar and a little cinnamon, so don’t hesitate to add a little of that as well!  

Notes

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.  
  • For blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes, just swap out the strawberries for fresh blueberries!  Other fresh berries would be good as well.  Raspberries…blackberries!
  • For 100% whole grain lemon ricotta pancakes, substitute all whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.


2 thoughts on “First Watch Lemon Ricotta Pancakes ”

  • 5 stars
    So delicious. My family loves First Watch lemon ricotta pancakes… and these did not disappoint. They takes just like the restaurant’s and is now going to become a regular for Sunday breakfast. Thanks so much for such a tasty recipe.

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