Light and Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes

Saturday morning, after I told Frank that I needed to make these exact pancakes, the recipe for which my Dad had just sent me, he just smiled and nodded and said, “Of course. Breakfasts are a big deal in your family.”

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Although I never really thought about how much we like a good breakfast ritual, he’s absolutely right. My grandparents, for example. For as long as I can remember, they walked to the same local breakfast spot for coffee and a morning meal. It was the type of place where they ordered “the usual” and every server knew what they meant. They were there with such consistency that the rest of us would stop by unannounced to join them.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Even at home, my parents made breakfast into something of an event. My Dad would put an international spin on Saturday morning breakfast, building a tower of sugar-dusted beignets that we would work our way through, legs swinging from kitchen counter stools. During brutally cold winter weeks, my Mom would bake enough streusel-topped banana muffins to last us for days. She would re-heat them and place them in our mittened hands where they would keep us warm all the way to school.

So, yes. I’d say breakfast is a big deal.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Considering all that, when my Dad wrote to me last week and said he’d found the recipe for “the best pancakes” he’d ever had, I was immediately intrigued. Turns out, I’ve had these pancakes as well, although I needed a reminder. In my hometown in Kansas, my parents and their friends would round up their kids and bring us all together for big weekend breakfasts at The Paradise Café (sadly, now closed). The place was always packed, and we’d noisily crowd around a table over plates of hot breakfast. These whole wheat pancakes were a favorite at The Paradise Café. My Dad found them in a cookbook from the café’s sister restaurant, the Black Jack Inn.

 

Whole Wheat Pancakes

As the cookbook asserts, despite using entirely whole wheat flour, these cook up to be some of the lightest, fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever had. Their flavor is complex and nutty with a hint of tang from the buttermilk. I didn’t change a thing, except to reduce the recipe to an apartment-friendly versus restaurant-friendly size. Otherwise, these need no adaptation to make it into the competitive ranks of family breakfast.

Light and Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Don't let the fact that these pancakes are made entirely from whole wheat flour fool you - they bake up as light and fluffy as any I've had.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups (475 mL) buttermilk (see note)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Beat eggs and brown sugar in a mixing bowl with a wire whisk. Beat in canola oil and buttermilk until evenly combined. Add dry ingredients all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  2. Ladle batter onto a hot, oiled griddle or skillet until bubbles form on the surface. Flip to the other side and cook until both sides are golden brown. Serve immediately, with butter and syrup.
Notes
Recipe adapted from "Black Jack Flapjacks" by the Black Jack Inn and the Paradise Cafe in Lawrence, Kansas. Don't have buttermilk? I rarely do either, so I replace the 2 cups buttermilk with 1.5 cups skim milk + 1 Tablespoon white vinegar + ½ cup plain yogurt. (The yogurt and the vinegar give the milk substance and mimic the sour flavor of the buttermilk - it works great!)
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 3-4 pancakes (depending on their size) Calories: 313 Total Fat: 12g Saturated fat: 2g Carbohydrates: 44g Sugar: 10g Fiber: 1g Protein: 9g Cholesterol: 58mg

Need more pancakes in your breakfast rotation?  Check out these beauties:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes by Minimalist Baker
Tim’s Famous Overnight Pancakes by Food Loves Writing
Orange Pancakes with Berry-Orange Sauce by Iowa Girl Eats
Yeasted Buckwheat Pancakes by Not Without Salt
Honey Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread by Ambitious Kitchen (okay, so that one’s not a pancake recipe, but it’s so fantastic-looking that it was worth bringing to your attention – you can thank me later, preferably by sending me a slice)

Or find a whole world of ideas for creative breakfasts, turned into dinners in this great new cookbook which I’ve totally fallen for – Breakfast for Dinner: Recipes for Frittata Florentine, Huevos Rancheros, Sunny-Side-Up Burgers, and More!

Whole Wheat Pancakes

 

Comments

  1. Sarah says

    Jessica! I love this post! I had to comment to tell you that Grandma and Grandpa’s restaurant place has closed and even been torn down. There is now just a big open place where Waid’s once stood. Excited to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Sarah – I think my mom mentioned that to me when I was home, and I couldn’t believe it. It’s part of our history – so sad. Hope you’re doing well – wedding planning and all!

    • says

      Sally – we got on a pancake kick a few months ago and now there’s hardly a Saturday that goes by where we don’t make them. I’m hooked! These really might be my favorite, although I went through a serious pumpkin pancake phase in October. I’m so surprised you haven’t made pancakes recently – might I convince you to create a funfetti pancake recipe? ;)

  2. says

    I want to know who ate that huge stack of pancakes w/syrup?! lol I wish I could eat them…pure carbs=sugar=syrup= no no for diabetics. :-( They look delicious though. When we were in Tobago, my dad made everyone pancakes….like he used too. It was nice. I even ate a mini silver dollar one and man- it might as well been pringles…because it took all the will power I had to stop. :-) Family breakfasts our a Melke tradition.

    xoxo from Trinidad
    Corey @ Learning Patience recently posted..Hard Work Pays Off – WIAWMy Profile

    • says

      Aw, Corey – I’m learning so much from you (not that I ever would have thought these would be diabetic-friendly). I totally ate those pancakes – you know me! Although, the photo sort of hides that this giant stack of pancakes weren’t much bigger than silver dollar pancakes. They’re on a teeny dessert plate! I took an online whole foods cooking class with Heather from beautythatmoves.typepad.com a couple months ago and she had us make these amazing pancakes that were made from whole rolled oats pulsed in the food processor. They were delicious – and would maybe work for you? Here’s a similar version – http://cookieandkate.com/2012/blueberry-lemon-yogurt-pancakes/.

  3. says

    Yes. These look amazing. Fluffy, light and perfect for our leisurely weekend breakfasts. I rarely make the same pancake twice so I ‘m very excited to try this one and add it to our mix. Also, thanks for the link.
    Ashley recently posted..Salted Caramel Date LoafMy Profile

    • says

      Me too, Ashley – I rarely make the same pancakes twice (or anything for that matter – I like variety!), although I must say that these may be the ones that I come back to again and again. I love your site!

  4. MM says

    Looks like I better get that Huckleberry Syrup to you PRONTO! You are spoiling F4 too much. I had him brainwashed that pancakes were for dinner ;) 00000s

  5. charlotte says

    Info for you and your readers: If you have time, separate your eggs and whip the egg whites. Stir them in when you mix the wet and dry ingredients and viola! – fluffy ww pancakes!

  6. says

    Mmmm, those look so good! I love the melty butter syrup combo. My husband doesn’t like pancakes (I don’t understand him at all) so I don’t make them so often, but this weekend my sister is visiting which is the perfect excuse to make breakfast. These look right up my alley, I’ll have to try them out! Thanks for the recipe!
    Katie (The Muffin Myth) recently posted..tomato spinach lentil soupMy Profile

    • says

      I could hardly believe it, Averie – I never would have thought that these would come out so light with all whole wheat flour – it’s cooking magic! (Okay, actually, I think it’s just baking powder “magic”.)

  7. says

    Jess – Did your dad ever steer you wrong when it came to food? Well, maybe a couple of times. The entire Paradise Cookbook is still available from The Raven Bookstore in Lawwrence, Kansas for anyone interested. I’m sure you can Google it. And for anyone who remembers it, there a Facebook for us old nostalgic Paradise Fans.

  8. Caitlin says

    I didn’t have buttermilk or yogurt on hand but I always use 1 tbsp of vinegar in the measuring cup then fill the rest with skim milk to substitute for buttermilk. Just made these and mixed in fresh blackberries. Absolutely delicious!!

    • says

      So glad to hear it, Tina! That combination has definitely saved me many times…I never seem to have buttermilk when I want to bake with it!

  9. says

    A recent physical showed a blood sugar problem and I am off white flour/rice/pasta and most sweets. I made pancakes every Sunday with white flour, lots of sugar and plenty of syrup. After the test results, I went looking for a whole wheat pancake recipe and came across this. I made it with less sugar (works out to very little per pancake) and served mine with fresh topping and a tiny bit of syrup. They were absolutely perfect in both flavor and texture. If the doctor told me tomorrow that I could eat all the things I can’t eat now, I would still make these every day. Terrific recipe.

    • says

      Spike – thanks so much for letting me know. I’m so glad to hear that these worked within your dietary restrictions. I too make pancakes nearly every weekend, and it would be a hard thing to give up.

      • says

        BTW, I meant “fresh fruit topping” above. It’s kind of amazing how good these taste with almost no syrup. I used it mostly to get some maple flavoring in them.

  10. Heather says

    Thank you so, so much for this recipe! I am not a cook, but a mom of 4 children that likes to eat healthy and these whole wheat pancakes are amazing – the best I’ve ever had! These are so good I can eat them without butter or syrup. I’ve made them twice and every time there is not a pancake left :) Also, loved your sweet story that went with the recipe!

    • says

      Thanks, Heather!!!! I’m so glad that you stopped by to let me know. I have to say that these have become such a favorite of mine that they’re the only type of pancake I make now.

  11. KA says

    Hello Jess,
    I made these for breakfast today and they are the best pancakes our family has ever eaten! We had them with honey. I halved the recipe and it worked great.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I will be making a lot of these pancakes now :)

    • says

      KA – I’m so glad to hear it! We absolutely love these as well. I should try them with honey drizzled on top – what a great idea!

  12. Emily says

    This has become our new go-to pancake recipe. We also love to add 1/4 -1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin to the mix. Either way, it’s always delicious. Thank you!

  13. Mickella says

    I was so skeptical. I had tried making whole wheat pancakes before and they turned out tough and chewy. Giving an evil smirk at this recipe, I decided to just watch it fail and go yet another morning pancake-less . (You can tell I am a morning person right)? I was so wrong. Wrong. They are the best pancakes I myself have ever made. It takes real talent to make whole wheat pancakes turn out delicious. Thank you so much for making my morning a pleasant one!

    • says

      Haha – you are MOST welcome Mickella! I’m so glad these did not fall into the same category as the whole wheat pancakes you have had in the past!

  14. Rauni says

    Jess,
    Thank you for sharing the recipe!! Pancakes are a must have in my home when fixing breakfast, however, I like to mix things up a bit and fix breakfast for Supper
    So that’s what we’ll be having tonight!!

    Thanks again, can’t wait to try them out!!

  15. Scarlett says

    I was looking for a whole wheat pancake recipe to serve for a Mother’s Day brunch I am hosting for my grandmother and aunt this Sunday. I read through a ton online before I found this one that felt it had the perfect balance of what I wanted. I just made it (halving your recipe to test – just for my boyfriend and I) and it turned out fantastic! They whipped up really fast and were incredibly tasty and fluffy as advertised. I had bought all the ingredients at the store with it in my mind that I had the light brown sugar at home, turns out my boyfriend had used it all up in his protein smoothies without letting me know, so after me having a bit of a huffy moment I decided to just go ahead and make them with white sugar. They were still really yummy, so if you don’t have the brown on hand it’s not a big deal. I will however be picking up some light brown sugar before Sunday so I can make them just right for the special brunch. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. I’m sure I will use it again and again!

    • says

      Scarlett – thank you so much for letting me know. It’s great to hear that you had success with what has become an absolute staple in my house – we make these almost every weekend. I have yet to try them with white sugar, but it’s great to hear that it will work in a pinch. Good luck with the Mother’s Day celebration this weekend!

  16. says

    This sounds so good, i am making them for lunch for me and the little tot today:)Would you be willing to share with the resteraunt sized portions, though? I have six kids, and four boys, and pancakes for 6 or 8 barely makes a dent in their early morning feeding frenzy!

    • says

      You are a busy woman, Desi! Here are the measurements from the original:
      4 eggs
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      1 quart buttermilk
      4 cups whole wheat flour
      4 Tbsp. baking powder
      1 tsp. salt

      The batter refrigerates pretty well – I’ve made it 24 hours in advance and cooked the pancakes the next day, with great results, so if you do end up with any leftover, you could always refrigerate it. Enjoy!

      • says

        Thank you so much, Jess! I made this for breakfast this morning! Would you believe that I didn’t have any leftover?? :-) If it’s alright with you, I’m going to add a link on a post on my blog back to this recipe… considering my children said ,”These are AWESOME, Mom!” (Which has never happened for any other whole wheat pancakes I’ve made!)
        Desi recently posted..Days Like This…My Profile

  17. Gwench says

    These are the BEST pancakes I have ever made. I use 2% milk and malt vinegar instead of buttermilk. I have been searching for 10 years for the perfect pancakes and have made these 5 times in a row. Perfect every time and everyone loves them! I have substituted agave for brown sugar and maple syrup for brown sugar, added chocolate chips and added blueberries. It works every time. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Lily says

    thank you very much for the recipe! My family loved the taste though I did make one substitution-rice milk for buttermilk and added cinnamon, overall delicious!

  19. Deb says

    I found this recipe in a google search. I halved it and used my 10 grain flour, almond milk with lemon juice, and coconut crystals instead of brown sugar. Then on a whim I added a little more milk and a quarter cup of coconut flour.
    DELISH! Thanks so much for a fantastic base recipe that was entirely forgiving to my quirky changes :)

  20. says

    Great recipe! I have tried many other whole wheat recipes and yes this is by far the best I have come across. Others are flat and soggy, but these are perfect light and fluffy! I didn’t have any buttermilk (I never do), so I did 2 cups of almond milk and 4 tbsp of fresh lemon juice to make a substitute. They turned out delicious! Thank you for such a great recipe! ;)
    Talmesha Keonna recently posted..Snaking AroundMy Profile

  21. Rana says

    Hello! I’m about to try this recipe as i couldn’t help myself after seeing the pictures. But i was wondering if it would work if i used oat flour instead of the whole wheat flour.

    • says

      Hi Rana – I just saw your note, and I have to say that I’m not sure if it will work or not. The recipe is pretty flexible, so it certainly seems worth a shot. Let me know how it goes!

  22. Ayesha says

    These were DELICIOUS! I didn’t have a lot of milk, so I subbed half sour cream and added a wee bit of apple cider vinegar to make it into a thick and luscious buttermilk substitution.
    These are so good and fluffy and ommmggg! I’m putting blackberry jam on mine, thanks for making my breakfast today! <3

  23. Jo says

    These pancakes are freaking amazing! Who know whole wheat anything could be so light?! I ate 4 in one sitting. I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used vanilla almond milk + vinegar. Usually I hate it when people review recipes and then mention all the changes they made. ‘Cause maybe it was the alterations that made it good or bad and not the actual recipe, you know? Now here I am doing it. But dang! Just glad no one was here to see me stuffing my face.

    • says

      Jo – I’m so glad you sent a comment! This is one of those rare recipes that seems to work so well with adaptations, so I’m thrilled to hear about another success. (Nothing better than a pancake feast, in my humble opinion!)

  24. Denise says

    Yum … Just tried these in NZ without buttermilk but put in the milk and vinegar. Whole family loved them, and they were really filling. Thanks for sharing :-)

  25. Bubble says

    You are an angel Jess, as these pancakes are clearly god-sent; thank you so much for sharing!! I am in the maintenance phase of a lower-carb diet and very deprived of the good, comforting foods like this!!! Ohhhhh I made them (with some alterations to suit my still lower-carb, sugar-free eating rules) and ohhhhh they tasted like heaven….
    Alterations:
    -Granular Splenda instead of brown sugar;
    -Coconut Oil (as I did not have Canola);
    -Low-carb “mock” buttermilk – made of Unsweetened Almond Milk, White Vinegar and Sour Cream;
    -2 tsp ground Cinnamon (only because I have a soft spot for cinnamon).

    They were so unbelievably fluffy and yummy and aromatic, I actually happily had 2 of them them plain, while they were hot, with my coffee!! Okay, and then I tried an extra one with homemade low-carb chocolate spread (no words to describe how satisfied I was – anyone that has been on a low-carb diet would know what I mean and that I am not exaggerating at all when I say that my taste-buds felt RE-BORN!!)

    Next time I will experiment with turning the recipe completely wheat-free by replacing wholewheat flour (with, perhaps, a mix of almond/coconut flour or almond flour/vanilla-whey protein??)

    Millions of thanks again!!
    Bubble
    xx

    • says

      Bubble – thanks so much for letting me know, AND for your adaptation! It’s always so nice to know what other variations will work!

  26. says

    I generally don’t write comments, but these pancakes are nice and fluffy. I had a bag of whole wheat flour and wanted to use it. I am so glad for the buttermilk alt recipe because I didn’t want to go out and it worked perfectly. One thing I would do differently next time, is to use less sugar, or use a plain yogurt.

    Thank you so very much for this recipe. Love it.

  27. Marri says

    I love this recipe! It’s easy!
    I made these today and they were lighter than regular pancakes I usually make!
    Thank you for sharing, my grand babies have another food to brag about! Lol

  28. Kesha says

    Oh emmm gee! I made a half batch of these and it was perfect! Yum! I actually used soy milk and vinegar to make a vegan buttermilk and it was great. Next time I’ll try to replace the egg with a “flax egg” to see if I can make this recipe completely vegan. Sooo excited!

    • Kesha says

      So update.. A flax see I great, but to retain the fluffiness add a small amount of baking powder. For every cup of flour, use a 1/4 teaspoon. But! This will only work if you use buttermilk (or a buttermilk substitute, like milk and vinegar). The baking soda needs that acid to have a reaction.

  29. Tiffany says

    I had to let you know my husband and I loved these pancakes. Since we switched to grinding whole wheat berries we have been on the look out for good whole wheat recipes, and I can now say we found the perfect pancake recipe for our family.

    • says

      Tiffany – thanks so much for letting me know! Glad you liked the pancakes, and i’m so impressed that you’re grinding your own wheat berries – that’s definitely something I’d like to try in the future!

  30. r3s says

    I made these today and they turned out very bitter. Any idea what might have contributed to the bitterness? I thought it may be the charring of the sugar so I tasted the batter and that in itself was bitter :(

    • says

      Hi there – you are the first person to tell me they had this problem, and I’ve never experienced it myself in many years of making this recipe. You’re right though – something must be off because these pancakes certainly shouldn’t have any amount of bitterness to them. I would definitely recommend trouble shooting your ingredients – perhaps the buttermilk was bad, the flour old, or the baking powder expired?

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