RECIPE: Quick and easy, better-than-boxed-mix buttermilk pancakes


I feel like Martha Stewart is just not someone you mess with, and as an extension, is not someone whose recipes you adjust, either.  After my friend, Kirsten, introduced me to Martha’s Easy Basic Pancakes on a weekend trip in Carmel several years ago, I became a convert to the recipe and didn’t stray one millimeter from the instructions, because Martha knows best.  

Except that, after finishing pastry school, I revisited these pancakes and, while still good, they lacked depth and acidity.  Enter buttermilk. I know, not a revolutionary discovery that buttermilk works splendidly in pancakes, but with a bit of confidence, I started tweaking Martha’s previously untouchable recipe without fear of repercussions.

I cut down on the sugar ever so slightly, switched from milk to buttermilk, added baking soda, and upped the salt level a bit.  The pancakes went from decent to delightful - all while taking less than 10 minutes to assemble and then another 10-15 minutes to cook off.  If you have a griddle (I do not), then you could cook these off even faster than I do.



Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Easy Basic Pancakes

Yield: ~8-10, 4” pancakes (feeds two hungry adults in this household or 3-4 more civilized people)



Wet ingredients

  • 250g buttermilk

  • 28g (2T) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 large egg (~50g)

Dry ingredients

  • 135g all purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon + 1-2 pinches kosher salt

  • 2 ½ teaspoons sugar

For cooking

  • Neutral oil like canola, for greasing the pan

Special equipment



  • On the stove over medium heat or in the microwave (for 30 seconds), melt the butter. Set aside.

  • Preheat a large skillet, frying pan or griddle to medium heat.

  • Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar) in a mixing bowl and mix together with a fork or your clean hands.

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, egg, and buttermilk.  Whisk until combined.

  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently mix with the whisk just until you don’t see any flour patches in your mix.  Lumps are okay and encouraged!

  • Dab some neutral oil on a paper towel and use that oiled-up towel to lightly coat your pan/griddle until there’s a thin layer across your entire cooking surface.  Note: You’ll want to re-apply oil every few batches of pancakes to prevent sticking, and I’ve found the amount of oil needed varies by pan.

  • Using a soup ladle or mostly-filled ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop batter into your pan.  I can usually fit 3 pancakes per batch in my large skillet. While many recipes talk about bubbles forming/popping, I’ve found this not to be the best gauge of doneness.  Instead, I periodically peek at the underside of the pancake and flip based on color; as a rough guideline, start checking after 2-3 minutes. Flip pancakes, and cook for additional 1-2 minutes, or until desired color is achieved.

  • Add any fun toppings (see recommendations below), and eat your creation!



  • If you don’t have buttermilk, sub in regular milk and remove the baking soda.

  • Mix-ins and/or toppings!  While I’m somewhat of a pancake purist (I don’t messing with fillings but am game for fun toppings), some things to try out either in or on your pancakes: cocoa nibs, fresh fruit, jam, lemon zest, candied ginger.

  • Flour substitutions. You’ll find this recommendation in many of my recipes, but it holds true here, too: sub in 10-15% of the called-for flour with another type (whole wheat, rye, buckwheat) to give it a different flavor profile.


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Kathleen Hayes