These pancakes, though thick, are light, airy, and so tender that they melt in your mouth. The trick? Use real buttermilk and don’t whisk the lumps out of the batter. Prefer thin pancakes? Simply add more buttermilk.
Melt-in-Your-Mouth Buttermilk Pancakes by Martha Stewart
(makes nine 6-inch pancakes)
Don’t forget to check out my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.
And if you’re interested in making regular use of this recipe even easier on yourself, check out my Homemade Buttermilk Pancake Mix.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Optional: 1/2 tsp unsalted, melted butter, for coating the griddle or pan
Preheat the Griddle and Make the Batter…
- Heat an electric griddle to between 350 and 375 degrees or a heavy skillet until very hot.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.
- Add the buttermilk, 4 tbsp melted butter, and eggs; whisk, only to combine and wet the dry ingredients, so that the batter is still full of small to medium lumps.
Cook the Pancakes…
- Test your griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water onto it; if it bounces and spatters away, the griddle is hot enough.
- If desired, brush the remaining 1/2 tsp melted butter onto the griddle (you can also melt it directly onto the griddle, as I do) and wipe the excess off with a paper towel.
- Pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle.
- If you want to use a filling, such as chocolate chips or fruit, place them on top of the batter immediately after pouring it.
- If you add them to the batter before pouring, they won’t distribute evenly and will thin out the batter.
- You can flip the pancakes when the surface is covered in bubbles, the center ones just beginning to break, and the edges of the pancakes are beginning to look dry; it should take about 2 1/2 minutes.
- Cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minute.
To Keep Warm…
I like to fill a pancake warmer or a casserole dish with a lid, which I bring along to the table so that B. and I can pull them out of the dish as we want them. You may also have your oven set to 175 degrees, keeping the pancakes on a heat-proof plate.
Pile the pancakes as high as you can handle, slicing the layers into perfect little triangles and drizzling warm syrup over the top and down the sides 🙂
Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions
Buttermilk: This has a big impact on the texture of the pancakes and really is the best to use. If you don’t have any on hand, try heavy cream or a combination of milk and plain yogurt. If you’re dairy-free, perhaps an alternative milk combined with an alternative yogurt. The biggest issue with replacing buttermilk with a thinner liquid is that the batter will become thinner and thinner as you get to the bottom of the bowl and the lumps won’t be suspended evenly throughout the batter.
If you want thinner pancakes, don’t substitute buttermilk with a thinner liquid, just add more of it.
If you don’t use buttermilk often, buy a smaller jug of it. And remember, buttermilk lasts for several months in the refrigerator, long past its recommended expiration date. These dates are just a guideline using the most extreme caution. Because of the cultures in buttermilk, it has a very long refrigerated shelf life, much like yogurt. It’s bad when it separates into chunks that can’t be shaken back together.
Butter: I replace this with safflower oil because we make pancakes weekly and would prefer to save my buttery indulgences for times when I can actually taste it, like on toast and muffins or in white sauces. Feel free to replace with any tasteless vegetable oil.
Heating the Griddle: I find that when I heat mine to 375, the first batch of pancakes burn. So, I start at 350, which cooks them perfectly. After that batch, I increase my heat, as necessary. You just need to know the tendency of your cookware and you’ll be fine.
Mixing Wet Ingredients: Save yourself a little extra cleaning by measuring your wet ingredients in a large liquid measuring cup. First pour in buttermilk until the 3-cup mark. Second, pour in the melted butter (or oil) until the liquid hits the 3 1/4-cup line. Lastly, crack in the eggs and whisk to combine. Now it’s ready to pour into the dry ingredients! No extra measuring spoons or mixing bowls necessary 🙂
Mixing the Batter: You want a lumpy batter because this creates the lovely air pockets that yield meltingly tender pancakes. Overmixing the batter until smooth will result in tougher pancakes. And why make that extra effort when you can lazily mix everything together until it’s all just wet? 🙂
Pancake Size: This shouldn’t even need to be said, but make the pancakes whatever size you like!
Incorporating Fillings: When you fill a pancake, you should always add it after putting the batter on the griddle. Nut and granola toppings will lose their crunch while resting in the batter and chunkier toppings won’t be evenly distributed, while fruit juices will bleed into the batter, thinning it out and dying it with their color (especially blueberries!).
Optional Additions: Martha recommends…chocolate chunks; dried cherries or raisins plumped in fruit juice; chopped toasted nuts; granola; sliced bananas; sliced peaches or pears and ground cardamom; apples and cinnamon; fresh raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries; poppy seeds and lemon zest…whatever you can think of!
Like so many friends, I grew up eating Jiffy Mix pancakes. Every Sunday, my dad would get up early (which he did in the first place, anyway) and, as my brother and I were waking up, he’d have the batter mixed and ready to pour onto the griddle. For those unfamiliar, Jiffy Mix is an all-purpose baking mix in which all the dry ingredients are combined, leaving your only “work” as adding liquid and fat (eggs, oil, etc); it’s really just another version of box mix cake. From my own personal experience, it seems most people, nowadays, use these types of ready-mixes for pancakes (just as they do for cake), rather than making the batter fully from scratch. I do have to say, my dad’s pancakes were always satisfying!
I think, after getting used to eating my dad’s pancakes so often, I became a bit picky about them. They’re thin and tender, like the perfect marriage between a crepe and a pancake, and they’re probably shorter, in diameter, than the full length of my hand. Restaurants, though, tend to serve thick, plate-sized masses that I wouldn’t necessarily consider tender, despite appearing fluffy. They’re the complete opposite of what I’ve always been used to, so I’ve only ordered them under the most desperate of circumstances! Yes, there are desperate, pancake-necessitating circumstances…
When I moved out of my parents’ house, nearly two years ago, I had to get my dad’s recipe so that B. and I could carry on the weekend pancake tradition. One morning, though…what I thought was one very sad morning…we found ourselves with an empty box of Jiffy Mix. There was no way I was going to let us go without pancakes and I felt terrible making B. go to the store, so I decided I’d bite the bullet and make them from scratch using a recipe I’d seen in Martha Stewart’s Favorite Comfort Food. They at least looked beautiful and I trust Martha’s expertise…so I was willing to try something different for one weekend!
Let me tell you, after making that first batch from scratch…I will never…never…make another pancake using a box mix. I am now even less willing to order a plate of giant, tough, brown restaurant pancakes because, well…why settle for anything less? These pancakes are fluffy and so incredibly tender, they melt in your mouth. B. and I usually end up with a few left over and, they’re so delicious, I just roll them up, hours later, and eat them plain. Leftover pancakes are not generally tasty, especially the texture, but these sure are! I wish I had a plate right now…I’m sitting here smelling the hopefully delicious pulled pork in garlic-lime marinade that’s been roasting in my oven for the past two hours and all I can think about is having a big plate of Martha’s buttermilk pancakes.
I know I’m overly against food in which any part is pre-made, but here it really does make a difference. I will admit that a box mix cake has the same texture as a homemade oil-based cake…but you cannot get these pancakes from a box and you especially can’t get them from a jug of pre-made batter! You can’t get those beautiful little holes of tenderness out of a box…you need to add the flour, baking soda, powder, and sugar yourself. In all seriousness, measuring out a few dry ingredients is not hard work. This isn’t the difference between throwing a frozen dinner in the microwave or putting together something from scratch. This is about measuring maybe four extra items into a bowl rather than measuring one pre-mixed item plus all the extras you have to add and mix by hand anyway! The extra “effort” is beyond…beyond well worth it. If I could just show up to the homes of everyone I know and make these to get the word out, I would, without a doubt!
And for a little extra incentive…check out how to turn this recipe into your own Homemade Buttermilk Pancake Mix 🙂