If you’ve ever made a batch of pancakes that turned out gummy, too thin, without flavor, or they simply didn’t turn out how you expected… you’re at the right place.
In this post, I will share the top reasons your pancakes fail to turn out the way you expected them to… even when you “followed the recipe to a T.”
With 5 published cookbooks and thousands of recipes under my arsenal, many of which are pancakes, I’ve experienced many failed pancake batters. Some can be fixed while others… I’ve had to throw out the batter.
I hope this post helps you troubleshoot some of your pancake woes. You’ll also find my tried-and-true fluffy pancake recipe at the end and skip future headaches.
Table of contents
What is Wrong with My Pancakes?
With thousands of pancake recipes on the web, it can be hard to tell if the issue is the recipe, a bad ingredient, or something that happened during the process of making the pancakes.
This post is for pancakes made with traditional, all-purpose flour made from wheat. If you’re using cassava flour go to this post.
Before you toss that pancake batter out and give up, keep reading or click on one of the links below to take you to the section to troubleshoot your current issue.
Why pancakes are rubbery:
A rubbery texture can happen when the pancake batter is overmixed, and the gluten in your flour activates, and once cooked, they develop a rubbery texture. This is a common issue when young kids “help” make pancakes and play with the batter bowl. #beenthere
How to fix it:
Unfortunately, this is one of the few things that can’t be fixed. However, you can salvage the batter by adding ¼ cup of additional liquid (usually milk) and turning your pancakes into waffles.
Why Pancakes are salty:
Most “fluffy” pancake recipes call for a higher level of baking powder so keep the following in mind. If it calls for salt in addition to baking powder, this combination can raise the sodium and taste of the recipe, even more, if it calls for butter and you use salted butter.
How to fix it:
If you’ve made the batter and when testing the pancakes tasted salty, add a tablespoon or two of granulated sugar, honey, or maple syrup to the batter bowl. Mix really well, wait 5 minutes, then test one more pancake.
If you haven’t made the batter yet, check the expiration date of your baking powder. If it’s been opened for more than a year, get a new one. If your butter is salted, either skip the salt added to the recipe or skip the salted butter. Both are too much.
Gooey in the Middle
Why pancakes are gooey:
Pancakes that are gooey in the middle mean that they were not cooked long enough, flipped over too soon, or the heat source was too low. This often happens with the first batch.
How to fix gooey pancakes:
Check the heat source and make sure it’s medium-high on an electric or gas stove (+/- a 7 in a numbered dial) or 350-375F on an electric griddle with temperatures.
Make sure the pan or griddle is hot before you grease it and before you pour the batter. You should feel the heat coming off the surface without touching it.
Wait to flip your pancakes until you see that the edges are defined (looking solid) and bubbles form. Watch this quick video to learn everything you need to know about flipping pancakes
Overmixed Pancake Batter
What makes pancakes overmixed:
When you overmix the batter to “make sure there are no lumps left” you are activating the gluten (a protein found in flour). While you won’t notice it in batter form, overmixed pancake batter will yield a gummy or rubbery pancake texture.
How to fix it:
If you made your first batch and the pancakes are rubbery, gummy, or flat, you can either toss the batter or turn them into waffles by adding 3 tablespoons of milk (up to ¼ cup) to the batter bowl to thin it out and make waffles.
Why pancakes are flat:
Flat pancakes are nearly always because of expired baking powder, too little baking powder for the recipe size, or too thin of a batter.
How to fix flat pancakes:
First, test your baking powder by adding a teaspoon of baking powder in a glass and adding a tablespoon of water or two. When the water makes contact, it should fizzle immediately. If it doesn’t and your baking powder has been opened longer than 9 months, you need a new one.
If you test the baking powder and it’s active, add ½ teaspoon more baking powder to the batter bowl, mix just enough to combine, and test it by cooking one more pancake.
If your batter is too thin, read the next section on how to fix runny batter.
Runny Pancake Batter
Why the pancake batter is runny:
More than likely, you under-measured your flour or there’s too much liquid.
How to fix runny pancake batter:
Assuming you only made 1 or 2 pancakes and have most of the batter left, begin by adding 3 tablespoons of flour to the bowl and ¼ teaspoon of baking powder. Mix just enough to combine the flour into the batter, wait 5 minutes, and test one pancake.
Still too runny? You can add one additional tablespoon and mix to thicken the batter. Note: adding more than ¼ cup of additional flour to any recipe is not recommended.
Lumpy Pancake Batter
Why the batter is lumpy:
Usually, lumps in pancake batter can be the result of improper storage of flour, where moisture has gotten into the flour and the flour sticks to itself. Or, you didn’t mix it enough.
How to fix lumpy batter:
Before you keep mixing, use a fork to break up the lumps in the batter against the sides of the bowl. Once they’ve been broken up, for the most part, mix the batter by going around the bowl once. Don’t overmix or you’ll have gummy pancakes (that’s another section above).
Always store your opened flour bag inside a zip bag or make sure it’s transferred into an airtight canister. White or wheat flour should never be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
Why your pancakes burnt:
Burt pancakes happen because the heat source was too high, and by the time the middles were mostly cooked and it was time to flip, the bottom is burnt. Another reason pancakes look burnt is because the oil or butter was burnt onto the pan before you poured the batter and “stained” the pancake crust vs. burnt it.
How to fix burnt pancakes:
Before you make another batch, you’ll need to cool down your pan. To do that, you’ll need to grab the pan and carefully, run it under cold water until no more steam comes out.
Once your pan is cool, reduce your heat source to medium-high (about a 7 in a numbered scale, ¾ of the way on any knob, 350-375F on an electric griddle), and heat the pan just enough where you feel the heat coming off the pan but you wouldn’t burn your hand.
With a heated pan, now grease it, and immediately pour your batter. You do not have to wait for the grease/butter/oil to heat up!
Why your pancakes are floury/white:
The reason your pancakes are cooked through on both sides but look floury or white is becasue your heat source was too low and it did not get hot enough before you poured the batter.
How to fix:
Turn up the heat to medium-high on a stove or 350-375F on an electric griddle. Once the pan is hot where you can feel the heat but wouldn’t burn your hand, grease it, and immediately pour the pancake batter. Wait, until the edges are defined and bubbles have formed throughout, to flip, and cook the pancakes for an additional minute on the other side.
Why pancakes turn out too thick:
Dense pancakes, this is different than thick and fluffy, happen because the flour was improperly measured and the batter has too much flour. When the pancake batter is too thick without enough baking powder to help it “lift” you will have dense, thick pancakes as the outcome.
How to fix too thick pancakes:
You can add a few tablespoons of additional liquid to the bowl until you achieve a good pancake batter consistency (more on this below). If you add 2 to 3 tablespoons of additional liquid, make sure to add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder as well. Mix the batter just enough to combine, and test it with a pancake or two more.
Watch this quick video to see how to measure flour correctly for pancakes.
Taste-less or Bland Pancakes
Why the pancakes are bland:
If you omitted the milk and used water in a recipe, or used a milk aternative that is too thin/watery with little flavor (like rice milk) your pancakes can turn out bland. If you skipped on the flavoring or butter that might be called for in the recipes, you could also have tasteless pancakes. Bland pancakes often mean you can taste the flour and nothing else.
How to fix bland or tasteless pancakes:
Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your batter and a tablespoon of melted butter to your pancake batter bowl. Give the batter one mix around the bowl, and test the new batter by making a single pancake.
How to Make Perfect Pancakes
If you’re tired of pancakes not turning out time after time, you’re in luck! The recipe below has been tested hundreds of times and has always achieved great results.
Given that your baking powder is active, you’ve stored your flour in an airtight container in a dry place (not the fridge) and measured the flour correctly… the recipe below will become your new go-to recipe.
Pancake Fails and How to Fix Them
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk, egg, and butter. Mix with a whisk or fork until smooth.
- Heat a non-stick griddle or large pan over medium-high heat, I set my griddle at 300-350 F.
- Pour or scoop ¼ cup of batter for each pancake. Wait until bubbles form to flip. Continue cooking for an additional minute to cook through, and brown on the other side. Remove from the pan or griddle and serve.