The 7 Mistakes To Avoid When You're Making Pancakes

Say goodbye to burnt, doughy pancake stacks.

Frying pans at the ready! It’s time to make the most of the flipping marvellous Shrove Tuesday by perfecting your own pancakes.

Do you struggle with test-batch burnt pancakes destined for the bin – or end up with dense hockey pucks? There may be a few common mistakes you’re making, so here are some foolproof tips from the pancake pros to ensure your homemade pancakes stack up with the best of them.

1. Not having the right gear

You need to have the gear to perfect your pancake stack. It might be obvious, but cooking with the wrong equipment results in bad pancakes. An overused, warped, or scratched pan or skillet will cause your pancakes to cook unevenly, as the batter may stick to the pan or be too thick in some parts. Make sure you have a non-stick frying pan or a crepe pan to ensure even heat distribution.

Then, you need to prep the pan. “Our pan prep involves spraying it with a small amount of oil,” Philip Inzani, owner of 24-hour Polo Bar in east London, tells HuffPost UK. “Vegetable oil works best with our pancakes.”

2. Cooking them at the wrong temperature

If your pan gets too hot, your pancakes will end up burnt on the outside with a doughy, raw centre. If the pan isn’t hot enough, you’ll be waiting until next year’s Pancake Day for them to finish cooking. Just like Goldilocks, you need to find a temperature that’s just right.

“Never add pancakes to a cold pan,” Chris O’Neill, executive chef at cult all-day breakfast café chain, The Breakfast Club, explains. “Preheat the pan over medium heat for approximately three minutes [before adding the mixture].”

3. Over-whisking the batter

“Use an electric whisk for the lightest pancakes,” O’Neill advises. “Our secret ingredient is a big glug of sparkling water – try it!” The aerated bubbles in sparkling water help create a tender, fluffy light pancake.

Don’t over-whisk. Vigorously stirring your batter might break up some of the lumps, but it can also deflate air bubbles. “Go gently on mixing everything,” Patricia Trijbits, founder of London-based specialist pancake house, Where the Pancakes Are, suggests. “Stop before the mixture becomes gluey.”

Where the Pancakes Are
Milly Fletcher
Where the Pancakes Are

4. Mixing wet and dry ingredients

Prepare all your dry and wet ingredients separately, then combine and whisk until thick smooth batter forms. By separating the two it’ll be easier to work with and will help you yield a smooth thick paste with no lumps or bumps.

5. Not leaving the batter to sit

It’s understandable you want to get cooking as soon as the mix settles, but in this case, it doesn’t pay to work quickly. “For perfect pancakes, ideally, leave your batter to settle overnight,” O’Neill suggests.

Resting pancake batter for at least 10 minutes (or even overnight) helps batter rise better and you’ll have better pancakes for it.

6. Flipping them too much

“This may be controversial, but we don’t flip,” Inzani confesses. “We wait until the pancake mix starts to bubble. We get a spatula and carefully turn the pancake.”

But one flip is okay. Once you add the batter to the pan, leave to cook until you see small holes appear in the surface of your pancake. “It’s vital to wait until you see these small pinpricks, as that’s when you’ll know it’s time to flip,” O’Neill adds. “To flip use a wide smooth spatula or fish slice spatula. This helps slide under and flip over in one movement.”

7. Only using lemon and sugar for toppings

There’s a whole pancake world out there and your stack is a blank canvas. “Serve with maple syrup and buy the best quality syrup you can,” says O’Neill. “Look for a Grade A amber syrup, for a full flavour and the right level of sweetness.

“Try pairing cream with fresh fruits such as seasonal berries to provide a sharp contrast to the sweetness of the pancakes and cream. Or, add an element of crunch to your toppings: roasted nuts, broken biscuits, or honeycomb.”

Or, you can always go that one step further and go all out this Pancake Day. Trijbits suggests: “Make it a meal, not a snack: baked beans, a fried egg, some bacon or a roasted portobello mushroom.”

Where the Pancakes Are Pancake Day box
Milly Fletcher
Where the Pancakes Are Pancake Day box

If you’ve had enough of cooking and would prefer someone to do the hard work for you, opt for a meal kit or takeaway, instead – try Polo 24-Hour Bar, The Breakfast Club, or Where the Pancakes Are.

If you are doing it yourself, here’s one recipe to get the inspiration flowing.

Apple crumble and custard pancakes

Serves: 4 | Prep time: 10-20 minutes | Cooking time: 5 mins

Apple pie and custard pancakes
Philip Inzani, Polo Bar
Apple pie and custard pancakes


For the pancakes:

500g plain flour

5x eggs

236ml or 1 cup milk

100g caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

25g melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

A big glug of sparkling water

For the toppings:

1x slice of apple pie (ours is homemade using sweet and juicy Pink Lady apples)

500ml fresh whipping cream (optional: add a dash of vanilla extract and glug of Cointreau)

700ml custard

Nutella (however much you want)


1. Make the batter by sifting the flour and baking powder. Add a pinch of salt.

2. Whisk the eggs and mix into the batter lightly (careful not to overbeat) with the milk, melted butter, sparkling water, sugar and vanilla extract. The batter should be thick and smooth with no lumps.

3. Heat a non-stick frying pan. Fill a small ladle with the batter mix and place into the pan. Cook for a few minutes until you see bubbles. Each pancake should be 4-5inch wide.

4. Top with your whipped cream, custard (hot or cold), your slice of apple pie and drizzle with Nutella.