by Olena

Healthy Pancakes

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Olena Osipov
5 from 25 votes

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Discover how to make a batch of fluffier-than-ever Healthy Pancakes with whole wheat (or spelt) flour, no refined sugar and no buttermilk. The easiest homemade pancakes with simple wholesome ingredients.

In our house, adults love this almond flour pancake recipe, kids love whole wheat and almond flour waffles and everyone loves these healthy banana pancakes!

a stack of healthy pancakes with butter and maple syrup on a plate

Healthy pancakes or whole wheat pancakes, the name doesn’t matter. Let me present you with the world’s fluffiest, easiest and most delicious pancakes even your kids can make for healthy breakfast and there is no need for buttermilk!

My Ukrainian family’s pancake recipe with all-purpose flour and buttermilk was the reason to wake up on Sundays. And now I have kicked my ‘no buttermilk’ excuse to the curb, as this healthy stack can be made with milk, buttermilk or leftover whey from Instant Pot yogurt production with same amazing results.

Why Make Whole Wheat Pancakes?

  • Kid friendly: Every kid loves pancakes and this stack is so easy to make that they can even put the batter together on their own!
  • Wholesome ingredients: Healthy homemade pancakes swaps processed white flour and sugar for healthy whole wheat flour and unrefined sugar.
  • Keeps you full longer: Normally pancakes will have 0 grams of fiber, but by making whole wheat pancakes, you get 4g of fiber per pancake! 
  • Versatile: Use any milk, including dairy free, swap oil for butter or coconut oil and use honey vs. maple syrup!
  • Freezer friendly: Make a big batch to always have some on hand for busy mornings! 
whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup

Ingredients to Make Healthy Homemade Pancakes

  • Milk + vinegar: Dairy milk + vinegar and it becomes homemade buttermilk.

Skip the vinegar if you use buttermilk or whey liquid and use the combined amount of the two which is 1 3/4 cups.

  • Eggs: Eggs help provide structure to pancakes and helps hold the air (bubbles) inside them to provide additional rise. The yolk also provides richness and flavor.
  • Oil: A little ‘fat’ helps adds moisture and results in a more flavorful pancake.
  • Maple syrup: A sweet flavor enhancer.
  • Whole wheat or spelt flour: I use both interchangeably. The protein in flour provides structure while using whole wheat provides fiber and whole grain goodness!
  • Baking staples: Baking powder + baking soda both are necessary leaveners in this whole wheat pancakes recipe. As with all baked goods, they are the reason for light and fluffy results!

Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on any add-ins and recipe variations!

spelt flour oil milk eggs maple syrup vinegar for homemade pancakes

How to Make Healthy Pancakes

  • Make homemade buttermilk: Combine milk and vinegar in a medium bowl. It will curdle somewhat within 10 minutes, while you are getting other ingredients ready. Kids love watching it happen!

Why does vinegar added to milk make ‘sour milk’? By adding an acidic ingredient to milk you will be essentially lowering the pH balance of milk and when this happens it causes the milk protein to unwind and unfold. As the proteins unfold they begin to bind together, which then leads to the lumpy appearance!

  • Make batter: Whisk “buttermilk”, oil, eggs, maple syrup, baking powder + soda and salt. Now add flour and stir gently with spatula, kind of folding while turning the bowl.

Batter consistency should be thin enough to spread but not like crepes. And not too thick so the spoon almost stands in it. That is the golden rule for pancake batter.

  • Fry when skillet and oil is hot: It is super important to preheat well. Once batter hits hot surface, it will set the shape, sizzle on edges and start cooking right away.

After a few batches, skillet will become hotter and pancakes will cook faster – turn the heat down.

From today, this will become your only pancake recipe forever! 🙂

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

  • Milk + vinegar options: For this recipe I used whole milk and white vinegar, I am sure any % fat milk, any light vinegar and even almond milk would work. Taste might differ slightly.
  • Egg Whites: Egg whites would work with these pancakes, sub 1/4 cup. I have not tried flax/chia eggs but if you do comment below!
  • All-purpose flour: If this is all you have on hand and you don’t want to make a grocery run, the general rule to follow is an extra tablespoon of all-purpose per every 1 cup of whole wheat. For this recipe that means you would need 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 1/2 T. I have not tested it this way so proceed with caution!
  • Other oils/fat: Grapeseed and organic canola is fine too. I also don’t mind olive oil here. You can use melted butter or coconut oil, just make sure other ingredients are room temp.
  • Minimal oil: I would not recommend omitting oil all together, but you could substitute 1/2 the oil with applesauce.
  • Sugar free: Use your favorite liquid sugar free replacement.
  • Other liquid sweeteners: Honey can be used just make sure to stir very well or warm it up a bit before adding. Agave syrup would also work!
  • Blueberry pancakes: Fold in 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries. If frozen, I would toss with a small amount of flour first so they don’t turn the batter blue. Or just place blueberries on pancake before you flip them.
  • Chocolate chip pancakes: Fold in 1/2 cup of mini or dark chocolate chips.
  • Nutty pancakes: Fold in 1/2 cup of unsalted chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Warm spices: Add 1/2 – 1 tsp of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, chai spice or nutmeg.
  • Coconut: For a tropical twist, fold in unsweetened coconut then top the pancakes with crushed, drained pineapple!
  • Zest: Add up to 1/2 tsp of lemon zest like I do in lemon zucchini bread or orange zest like I do in cranberry orange muffins.

Tips for Best Fluffy Pancake Recipe Results

  • Baking powder: If pancakes aren’t rising, make sure you added the baking powder and that your baking powder has not expired.
  • Measure flour correctly: Whole wheat flour has a reputation for being dense, but the combination of ‘buttermilk’, leavening agents and scooping your flour while measuring vs. packing it down in the cup will lead to fluffy pancake recipe!
  • Don’t over stir: Fold the flour in gently and stir until just combined. Over stirring leads to dense pancakes and you don’t want that. 
  • Cook correctly: Once bubbles appear on the surface side up of your pancakes, it’s time to flip! Your healthy pancake should feel light not heavy when you go to flip it. 
  • If using butter or coconut oil: You will want the rest of your ingredients to be at room temp, otherwise butter or coconut oil will ‘harden’ when they come into contact with cold eggs, milk etc.

Better pancakes than Martha’s? I think so! Two kids and two decades of marriage later, it was embarrassing my husband, Alex, used to make pancakes using Martha Stewart’s recipe. Meh, not the same and now not any longer! I will take these healthy homemade “buttermilk” pancakes any day, and my family agrees!

FAQs

Can I use a gluten free flour for healthy pancakes?

Unfortunately not but you can make almond flour pancakes which are naturally gluten free.

Are pancakes healthy?

When you make these healthy homemade pancakes with wheat flour they are! Most pancake recipes are made with white flour and sugar, which does not keep you filled up and has you reaching for more carbs later. Eating pancakes that are nutrient dense will keep you full longer!

Can I eat pancakes for dinner?

Sure can! I like to call that ‘brinner’ – breakfast at dinner! I often serve them with a green smoothie and breakfast potatoes or sweet potato and eggs.

Can I use white whole wheat flour for fluffy pancake recipe?

I have not tested pancakes with white whole wheat flour so I cannot say for sure, but I think it would work.

Can I use whole wheat pastry flour for whole wheat pancakes?

Unfortunately not. Whole wheat pastry flour is milled from white soft wheat and whole wheat flour is milled from red hard wheat. Because of this difference, the density of each flour is different and this recipe has been specifically created for whole wheat flour. I say it all the time, baking really is a science!

fluffy pancake recipe stack cut into showing texture

What Are Good Breakfast Pancake Toppings?

My children are “boring” and just want their pancakes drowned in maple syrup. 🙂

Here are my fave toppings influenced by my upbringing in Ukraine.

  • Maple syrup or honey
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream
  • Flavored Skyr or Greek yogurt 
  • Butter
  • Frozen fruit

How to Store, Freeze and Reheat Pancakes?

Store: Um, we never have pancake leftovers. 🙂 This recipe makes a good amount for 4 people and a few leftovers get covered with a towel in a dish and left on a counter. Gone by afternoon!

Freeze: You can meal prep and freeze pancakes in large resealable Ziploc or silicone bags, or airtight container. Make sure air is out as much as possible.

Reheat: Pop in a toaster from fresh or frozen. Genius, right?! 🙂

Enjoy, friends!

More Healthy Breakfast Recipes

whole wheat pancake stack with syrup being poured on them
Healthy Pancakes

Healthy Pancakes {Whole Wheat}

Discover how to make a batch of fluffier-than-ever Healthy Pancakes with whole wheat (or spelt) flour, no refined sugar and no buttermilk. The easiest homemade pancakes with simple wholesome ingredients.
5 from 25 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9 large pancakes
Calories: 233kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, add milk and vinegar. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes. It should curdle somewhat and be come “buttermilk”.
    Healthy Pancakes
  • In a large bowl, add “buttermilk”, eggs, oil, maple syrup, baking soda+powder and salt. Whisk very well until combined.
    Healthy Pancakes
  • Add flour and mix gently with spatula until combined and no lumps.
    Healthy Pancakes
  • Preheat ceramic non-stick griddle or large skillet on medium-high heat. Important for it to be hot, so oil sizzles when added. Swirl and spread a bit of oil to coat the surface. Using 1/3 cup measuring cup, spread batter in a circle shape. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until bubbles appear on top.
    Healthy Pancakes
  • Flip and cook another minute or so. You will have to reduce heat as skillet heats up during cooking. Watch carefully. Repeat until run out of batter.
    Healthy Pancakes
  • Serve hot with berries, maple syrup, yogurt, sour cream etc.
    Healthy Pancakes

Store: We never have pancakes past day 1 when we keep them in a dish covered with towel on a counter.

    Freeze: Place in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

      Reheat: Thaw on the counter overnight or pop in toaster from frozen.

        Video

        Notes

        • Milk substitute: Instead of milk+vinegar, you can use buttermilk or leftover whey from Instant Pot yogurt production, you will need 1 3/4 cup. 
        • Dairy free milk: Substitute with any dairy free unsweetened milk, taste may vary.
        • Oil substitute: I used avocado oil. Any mild tasting oil like grapeseed oil will work. You can use melted butter, just make sure other ingredients are room temperature as well so butter doesn’t solidify. Same with melted coconut oil.
        • Flour substitute: This recipe works best with whole wheat flour, you cannot substitute almond, coconut or gluten free. All-purpose may work you will need to add 1 Tblsp more for every cup of whole wheat flour. 
        • Mix in’s: Add up to 1/2 cup chocolate chips, berries (frozen or fresh), dried fruit, chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut flakes.
        • Warming spices: Can be added to pancake batter. Add up to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, chai spice or pumpkin pie spice.
        • Zest: Add 1/2 tsp of orange or lemon zest.
        See recipe post for more tips and FAQs!

        Nutrition

        Serving: 1pancake | Calories: 233kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 208mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 119IU | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 1mg
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        47 comments on “Healthy Pancakes

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        1. 5 stars
          Is there an alternative to using maple syrup/ honey to make the pancakes more diabetics friendly?

          1. You could probably substitute with whatever liquid sweetener you use – the taste might be different and we can’t guarantee results as we have only tested with honey and maple syrup.

        2. 5 stars
          Thank you so much, Olena, for this amazing recipe!! I have tried different pancake recipes, but this is by far the best (I used all-purpose flour only). They were so light and fluffy, and melted in my mouth. My husband loved them too. It’s true, I will not need any other pancake recipe from now on!

          One question — if I do have some buttermilk on hand, do I add 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (the amount of the milk and vinegar combined)?

        3. 5 stars
          Hi O, thanks so much for the recipe I’ll make it and I have no doubt that they will melt my in my eldest grandson before he swallows them.

        4. 5 stars
          Whole wheat fluffy pancakes? Because we have been so pleased with your recipes since I first ‘met’’ you I figured they just might be good. But my husband and I are actually talking about how tasty and fluffy they are! Who talks about pancakes? ?Thank you so much. We too have been buying pancake mixes. No more.
          Have a blessed Sunday Olena!

          1. 5 stars
            Really good, super filling. I subbed half the oil and half the maple syrup for unsweetened applesauce, and they still came out great.

        5. 5 stars
          Hello Olena,

          I made these pancakes with buttermilk (as I happened to have some) Spelt flour & Maple Syrup and they were delicious. My husband loved them. I have not made one of your recipes yet that we haven’t enjoyed.

          I love this site, and thank you for having it. I have also passed it on.

          Take care & stay healthy. ?
          Lorna

        6. 5 stars
          Ok the first time I made these they were flat. I’m going to guess that I stored them too much. They still tasted good and we ate them. There was a lot? The next time I Made these. I mixed the dry together first then added it to the liquid. That seemed to work. They are truly super fluffy. They also taste really good. I HAD a recipe for protein pancakes. That was my go to. Not any more. I will be using this one. Thank you

        7. 5 stars
          These are really good and I love that they use whole wheat flour but are not heavy. Very fluffy as the recipe says. I froze the extra pancakes and my son can just throw them in the toaster when he feels like one and I feel like he is eating something healthy.

        8. 5 stars
          A bit more work than a box mix, but worth the time. We won’t go back to a box. Delicious !

        9. 5 stars
          We loved this recipe made for Mother’s Day was great it’s a keeper thank you for this recipe 5 stars

        10. I can’t wait to make these. I only use WW flour and have never been able to find or perfect a delicious pancake recipe. I Will post again once I make them but had to say Thank You for the recipe. Happy Mother’s Day Olena!

        11. I strained store bought vanilla yogurt. Can I use the whey in baking things like pancakes, waffles or sweet breads?

        12. 5 stars
          These pancakes were delicious, lighter than expected, but kept us full for most of the day. Froze lots so we can enjoy them for a quick breakfast. Will do these every time I make yogurt and use up the whey.
          Thanks

          1. That’s a great idea to make a batch and freeze the extras Karen! Glad you liked these pancakes 🙂

        13. 5 stars
          I made these pancakes this morn and they were wonderful. I save some for tomorrow breakfast and put two bags into my freezer. I’d love more receipes using whey.
          Thank you. ~ Joyce

        14. 5 stars
          Pancakes are not my favorite food. But when my daughter and her family came to visit they wanted pancakes. She made them and I was delighted. They’re light and flavorful AND they are healthy for us, as well. Thank you for the recipe.

        15. 5 stars
          Oh my, there was nothing left from a ginormous batch of these healthy pancakes over the weekend. Thank you so much for this recipe!

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