Pancakes are a favourite food of the nation, so much so that we even have a whole day dedicated to pancakes! But because of the excess calories and poor nutrition often associated with them, many people shun them from their diet. Healthy pancakes can be a challenge to find, unless you make them yourself. By learning how to make pancakes healthy, you can eliminate as much of the excess sugar, salt and fat that you want. However, knowing how to make healthy pancakes without compromising on flavour does require some skill and thought.
Fortunately for you, we have you covered, regardless of your goals. Whether you’re looking for pancakes that are vegan-friendly, low in fat, high in protein, low in sugar or salt, there’s something to cater to everyone. Below, we break down the ingredients based on macronutrients, ensuring that you can incorporate as much protein, fat or carbohydrates as you desire to meet your nutritional goals.
Read on to discover the ingredients to include and ones to avoid for the ultimate healthy pancake. So the next time you fancy pancakes for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or even dessert, opt for these healthy pancake ingredients below and you won’t need to sacrifice them in the name of health.
- Bacon: Opt for grilled lean pieces and add some pieces in between each pancake.
- Cottage cheese: Can be used in the batter or as a healthy topping. Low-fat versions of cottage cheese can be beneficial for those looking to reduce fat or calorie content.
- Eggs: Not only do eggs add to the enhanced structure of the finished pancake, they also provide a healthy source of protein and healthy fats. Some people even poach an egg and place it on top of their pancakes.
- Egg whites: A great way to add protein and make pancakes fluffy and light.
- Greek yoghurt: Whether it’s in the batter or as a topping, it’s an excellent source of protein.
- Protein powder: Chocolate, vanilla and peanut flavoured protein powders are popular choices that add to the taste and the aesthetics of the pancake.
- Protein pancake mix: Often, all you have to add is simply milk or water. I personally use the Myprotein Protein Pancake Mix as it is an extremely lean mix that is low in calories, fat, sugar and salt. What’s not to like?
- Milk: Opt for low-fat, skimmed dairy milk or alternative milks for a low-sugar and low-fat milk option. Almond unsweetened milk has the lowest in calories and low-fat or semi-skimmed milk is naturally the highest in protein.
Tip: Mix the greek yoghurt with mixed berries for a tasty healthy pancake topping.
- Butter: A tasty but fat-dense ingredient. Opt for low-fat butter or spreads to reduce fat content.
- Cocoa powder: Add it to the batter or sprinkle it over the top of the pancakes.
- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content has lower sugar than milk chocolate. Sprinkle chocolate chips or chocolate shavings over the top of pancakes or drizzle it over them with a healthy chocolate sauce.
- Nuts: Crushed almonds, brazil nuts or cashew nuts not only add texture, they also provide a healthy source of fat.
- Seeds: Such as chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Include them in the batter or add them as a topping for a bit of crunch, either way works.
Tip: If you’re looking for a vegan alternative to eggs, you could always try flax eggs. For each egg that you want to substitute, soak 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in 3 tablespoons of water.
- Almond flour: A suitable flour substitute for those following a ketogenic food plan.
- Apple: It goes well when it’s diced and sprinkled in cinnamon.
- Applesauce: Can be a lower fat alternative to butter. It’s also a good butter substitute for vegans and adds a sweet taste.
- Banana: Delicious whether you use it as a topping or as the main constituent in the pancake batter. A great choice if you’re looking to avoid flour or add sweetness to your pancakes.
- Chickpea flour: A gluten-free alternative for those who are coeliac or avoiding gluten.
- Carrot: Cooked grated carrot added to the batter is a crafty way to add 1 of your 5 a day into your pancakes.
- Peanut butter: Melt the peanut butter and smoother it over stacked pancakes for a delicious nutty taste.
- Powdered peanut butter: A lower calories and lower fat version of peanut butter.
- Raisins: Whisk them into the batter for a little added sweetness.
- Oats: Mix them into the batter as they are or blend the porridge oats with your other ingredients for a smoother consistency.
- Quinoa: Another gluten-free alternative to flour. Substitute some or all of your flour for quinoa to add some texture and protein.
- Wholemeal flour (or whole wheat flour if you’re in America) is a superior choice to white flour or all-purpose flour.
Tip: Adding baking powder to your batter makes the pancakes more light and fluffy. About 1 teaspoon is often enough, depending on the recipe.
Sauces and flavourings
- Butter: Tastiest when it melts on hot pancakes for a savoury flavour.
- Chocolate: Chocolate chips are also a topping as well as an option to include in the batter.
- Cinnamon: Add a sprinkle over the top for a mild spicy flavour.
- Flavour drops: Add these to the batter or even mix them in with your toppings, e.g. greek yoghurt, for an extra hit of flavour. Some popular flavour drops include toffee, vanilla and white chocolate.
- Frozen yoghurt: A scoop of flavoured frozen yoghurt melting into your warm pancakes or on the side is divine.
- Honey: Goes well with all pancakes, including banana and berries. Just be conscious of the sugar content.
- Jam: Opt for reduced-sugar versions of jam to minimise sugar intake.
- Lemon juice: Can be sprinkled over the top of pancakes or included in the batter.
- Mixed berries: A tasty and decorative topping to your pancakes. Whether you prefer them frozen or thawed is up to you.
- Mixed berry jam: Skip the regular sugary jam and cook the mixed berries on a low heat until it forms a consistency similar to jam. You’ll have a low-calorie jam alternative that also counts as 1 of your 5 a day!
- Stevia: A natural alternative to sugar, there’s no need to compromise on sweetness if you have a sweet tooth. Stevia can also be sprinkled over pancakes to enhance the appearance of the food.
- Vanilla extract: Add a teaspoon to the batter or mix it with your greek yoghurt topping.
If you have read my previous posts, you’ll know I’m slightly obsessed with Skinny Sauce – Virtually Zero® Calorie, sugar free, fat free syrups. I’ve tried these numerous times with pancakes and crepes, and they really are the cherry on top. You can even make a simple plain pancake (skip on the extra sugar, fat and salt) and use these sauces and syrups to give a delicious taste to the meal. I’ve been using maple syrup sugar free syrup as an alternative to regular maple syrup, which is high in sugar and calories. Remember not to sabotage all your effort in making healthy pancakes by smothering them in sugary, fatty sauces.
- Pancakes purchased in shops or in restaurants are generally high in sugar, fat and salt.
- Healthy protein sources can be incorporated either into the batter, as the dressing to the pancakes, or both.
- Take caution if purchasing a pancake mix, as some of them have poor nutritional values.
- The function of eggs in pancakes is threefold: source of protein and fat, and also improves the structural composition of pancakes.
- Many sauces and flavourings can be high in sugar, opting for low-fat or reduced-sugar sauces and flavourings can ensure the meal stays healthy.
If you don’t fancy making your own pancakes, you could always opt for a pancake mix. Be warned that many pancake mixes can be high in fat, salt and sugar, especially if you opt for American style pancake mixes. The same applies to ready-made pancakes that you just need to heat up, and don’t get me started on the pancakes that contain the likes of breaded pancakes, shredded duck, ham and mozarella.
If you’re looking for a protein pancake mix that requires minimal effort, then the MyProtein high protein low carb pancakes review may be just what you need in your life. I use them as a pre-workout and post-workout protein meal. The blueberry pancake is next on my list to try! What are you waiting for? Go check out the review now!
What are your favourite type of pancake toppings? Do you enjoy sweet or savoury pancakes? Have you tried pancake mixes before? Have they lived up to your expectations or were they poor taste or quality? Please share your comments and feedback below.
Donnelly, K., 2017. 6 Ways To Make Pancakes Healthier. [online] Food & Wine. Available at:
Tesco.ie. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.tesco.ie [Accessed 17 July 2020].