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.

How to make pancakes healthy - Stacked pancakes topped with blackberries, almonds

Protein

  • 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.

How to make pancakes healthy - Stacked pancakes topped with yoghurt and strawberries

Fat

  • 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.

How to make pancakes healthy - stacked pancakes topped with chocolate sauce

Carbohydrates

  • 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.
  • Blueberries
  • 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.
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries
    • 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.

    How to make pancakes healthy - Stacked pancakes topped with mixed berries

    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.

    How to make pancakes healthy - Pancakes topped with peanut butter, apple cubes and cinnamon

    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.

      Summary

      • 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.

      How to make pancakes healthy - Pancakes stacked with avocado and bacon

      Sources

      Donnelly, K., 2017. 6 Ways To Make Pancakes Healthier. [online] Food & Wine. Available at: [Accessed 18 July 2020].

      Tesco.ie. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.tesco.ie [Accessed 17 July 2020].

      Categories: Blogs

      20 Comments

    • Partha · 21/07/2020 at 9:38 PM

      Hi Sharon,

      I do love a pancake, but as you say, they are typically not the most healthiest option.

      However, I can’t stick to just eating them once a year on Shrove Tuesday.

      You’ve actually outlined a number of great options here and I will definitely be trying a few of these recipes.

      I’d like to add one more to the list if I may, potentially the healthiest pancakes ever, and realistically they only require two ingredients (although I tend to add more).

      Simply mash up a banana, add a couple of eggs and mix, and forms your basic “batter”. Then just fry them off, I usually use either coconut or walnut oil.

      I do like to jazz them up a little and will usually add a sprinkle of protein powder or milled flaxseed and nuts to the “batter” mix before frying. Once cooked I smear them with some peanut butter, add some blueberries and strawberies on top, and a drizzle of honey. Lovely.

      Anyway, you given me plenty of ideas here, so thank you for that.

      Partha

        Sharon · 22/07/2020 at 8:20 PM

        Hi Partha,

        Fortunately you won’t have to if you learn how to make pancakes healthy! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the suggestions. Yes, that’s a great recipe. I did mention using banana as a batter but thank you for elaborating more on it. I have tried it and they do taste very nice, considering they’re so simple to make.

        The seeds and nuts in the batter sounds divine. You’ve so many suggestions, you could nearly write your own blog!

        Thanks for sharing those great tips and suggestions,
        Sharon

      Justin · 22/07/2020 at 3:26 AM

      I really like how you provided all the alternative types of pancakes and the options for toppings along with their nutritional value. When I think of pancakes I usually think of carbohydrates and fat but it doesn’t have to be this way. This post has made me hungry, time to go try one of these pancakes. Thanks for sharing!

        Sharon · 22/07/2020 at 8:22 PM

        Hi Justin,

        That’s great feedback to hear, thanks! Sometimes you can forget that there’s so much variety in terms of how pancakes can be made and even the toppings to be added. Fortunately, there’s plenty of tasty healthy toppings to use too.

        I’d love to hear how you get on with the toppings.

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

      Annette · 23/07/2020 at 3:00 AM

      Pancakes, probably one of my favorite breakfast meals. You have given us so many options to make them a little healthier, and for that you are appreciated.
      I personally love my pancakes with fresh organic blueberries and honey. They are the best! I will certainly have to try out some of your suggestions as well.
      I have also used a Paleo pancake mix that is on the market, and it is very good.

        Sharon · 24/07/2020 at 2:17 PM

        Hi Annette,

        Welcome to the page and thank you, I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed the post.

        Blueberries and honey are delicious with pancakes. Please do, I’d love to hear how you get on with them. Thanks for sharing that, paleo diets have a huge following, so I’m sure it would sell well with those.

        Thanks for your feedback,
        Sharon

      Dana · 23/07/2020 at 6:27 AM

      We love pancakes in my household. Unfortunately we opt for the fast to whip up store bought pancake mixes. My kids love to add chocolate pieces to the batter. I prefer plain ones. My new fave has been the Trader Joe’s ube/taro pancake mix. Have you tried it? I’ve tried to make batter w/ just mashed bananas but unfortunately my kids didn’t like it. Will try your healthier option recipes. Thank you so much!

        Sharon · 24/07/2020 at 2:21 PM

        Hi Dana,

        I hope the article was of use to you and you found some options to try. I’ll admit, the pancake mixes are often easier than cooking from scratch, so I don’t think anyone can blame you there. I haven’t tried that, it sounds delicious.

        If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, don’t hesitate to reach out!

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

      Catherine · 23/07/2020 at 1:08 PM

      Hi Sharon,

      Love that you wrote this post about pancakes! I actually baked some today for myself 🙂
      I have to try out your recipes, because I think their much healthier and more nutritious than the classic ones 😉 Thanks for sharing this!

        Sharon · 24/07/2020 at 2:22 PM

        Hi Catherine,

        Hi there,

        Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions I provided in the post. I hope the tips on how to make pancakes healthy work for you.

        If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, please let me know

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

      C.N. · 23/07/2020 at 5:43 PM

      Thank you so much for this delicious article, Sharon! I love pancakes (I just had pancakes from IHOP this morning. Haha), but I definitely want a healthier pancake option as to not set myself up for health problems later on. I absolutely love cinnamon, chocolate, peanut butter, and blueberry toppings on my pancakes, so seeing healthier ways to make them/incorporate them into my pancakes just brought the biggest smile to my face. You have officially convinced me to try the Skinny Sauce-it sounds too delectable to pass up! Great read! God bless you!

        Sharon · 24/07/2020 at 2:27 PM

        Hi there,

        Good to hear, I’m glad we agree on something! I love pancakes from Wildberries, delicious! Also, thank you for sharing your own opinion; I love those toppings too, especially chocolate and blueberries. Please let me know how you get on with the Skinny Sauces, I can’t live without them!

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

      Matt · 24/07/2020 at 2:47 PM

      Hi Sharon,

      I love to have pancakes with honey and butter although I know they are not very healthy for my body.

      I like the way you list out all the ingredients for us to make healthy pancakes, especially the sugar-free & fat-free syrups. I never try them in the past, will they taste a bit different than the normal ones we can get from the supermarket? If no, I LOVE to buy some for my whole family to better control our health.

      Thanks for sharing,
      Matt

        Sharon · 25/07/2020 at 2:26 PM

        Hi Matt,

        I know, it’s often the less healthy options that we desire! Fortunately you can swap honey for a multitude of other healthy toppings. The Skinny Sauces, for example, have no sugar and virtually no calories either, so an ideal solution to curb the sugar. They can taste slightly different due to the different ingredients, but after a day of using them (less even), you won’t even notice the difference! Definitely worth a go, what have you got to lose?

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

      Jason · 24/07/2020 at 3:47 PM

      That’s a really useful Post Sharon and far more beneficial than I would have thought.

      My 11 year old daughter is pancake crazy so great so see that there are some genuine alternatives to the more obvious ‘naughty’ options that we would typically go for. She makes them herself now on the weekend but we use gluten free products due to her allergies. Does the same logic apply if going down a gluten free path or are there other suggestions that you think make sense?

      Many thanks – Jason.

        Sharon · 25/07/2020 at 2:29 PM

        Hi Jason,

        Thank you so much comment. I hope the article was of interest and use to you and you found some tips and ingredients to try to make pancakes healthy. The same logic would apply, essentially you would be selecting gluten-free ingredients. There’s a wider selection of such products available nowadays thankfully.

        If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, or you need more specific information,don’t hesitate to reach out!

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

      Glenn · 24/07/2020 at 8:28 PM

      Hi Sharon,

      I don’t think I ever met a pancake I didn’t like. Next week I’m starting a workout and diet plan called “Shortcut to Shred”. It’s high protein and fairly high fat with low carbs. It’s not so low that it’s Keto, but it’s pretty low. Just for fun, I’m going to play with your ingredients to see if I can come up with a pancake with the ratio of macros I need. This might turn out well. Yum:). Thanks for the tips!

      Glenn

        Sharon · 25/07/2020 at 2:32 PM

        Hi Glenn,

        That sounds interesting, the keto diet can be difficult to obey, so perhaps this plan you’re following will be a bit easier on you. You can certainly use the protein and fat sections so. Perhaps the banana would be an optimal base for your pancake or even almond flour.

        If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, don’t hesitate to reach out!

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

      Minaher · 25/07/2020 at 4:33 PM

      When we were kids, our Mom made us pancakes as a quick dessert after a meal. We simply sprinkled them with a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar, which then melted an gave it a very chocolaty taste. We adored them.
      Since then, I have learnt they are not that healthy, plus I tried to avoid white flour, so I experimented with wholemeal flour, rye flour, buckwheat flour. I tend to omit the milk, as well and replace it with plain water. They need a bit more skill to turn out thin enough, but I found it possible, so we never went back to the classic ones. I fill them with variety of spreads, like hummus, with some rocket, or a thin spread of coconut cream mixed with a bit of Stevia and sprinkled by shredded coconut, or some fat free yogurt with a few pieces of any fruit I happen to have at home and so on. The variety from my childhood goes very well with the same dark cocoa, unsweatened, which I then sweeten with Stevia. But now-you gave me new ideas, so I think I’m off to the kitchen-guess what for…?
      Thank you for these ideas!

        Sharon · 27/07/2020 at 8:41 PM

        Hi there,

        Well done to you for taking the initiative to learn how to make pancakes healthy. It sounds like a savoury pancake, that I’ll admit, I’m kind of curious to try. I’m glad you found some inspiration. That is, after all, one of my key goals with these posts.

        Thanks for the feedback.

        Best wishes,
        Sharon

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