We swoon to these ethereally light, slightly sweet, burnished brown hotcakes for many reasons. Among the aforementioned adjectives that make this recipe quite memorable, if you, like us, tend toward a little a.m. laziness, there’s another reason you’re going to want to keep this recipe handy. And it has everything to do with buttermilk–or rather, the lack thereof, which means there’s no need to run to three stores to try to find it. Reserve your energy instead for sizzling up some bacon.–Renee Schettler Rossi

A blue plate topped with three light and fluffy pancakes, maple syrup, and cooked bacon.

Light and Fluffy Pancakes

5 / 6 votes
The secret to these light and fluffy pancakes from Clinton Street Bakery are whipped egg whites–plus plenty of melted butter–folded into the batter. These pancakes, along with our maple espresso bacon, are your breakfast dream team.
David Leite
Servings20 (3-inch) pancakes
Calories229 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time35 minutes


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, unmelted for the griddle and lots more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup, for serving


  • Measure the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla until combined. Slowly whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture just until combined. The resulting should be slightly lumpy yet still combined.
  • Whip the egg whites by hand with a whisk or in the bowl of an electric mixer until they reach medium peaks. You can whip them by hand with a whisk or place them in the bowl of an electric mixer. (Peaks are “soft” when you put your finger in the whites and they fall over. Peaks are “medium” when you put your finger in and they drip over a bit and stand up. “Stiff” peaks develop when you whip the whites longer and they stay up.) You don’t want to overwhip the egg whites.
  • Gently fold half of the whipped whites into the batter with a large rubber spatula. Then gently fold the remaining whites into the batter. Remember, this batter should be slightly lumpy and have large parts of egg whites not fully incorporated and should look like whitecaps in the ocean with foam on top. (The batter will last a few hours in the fridge without deflating too much.)
  • Heat a griddle — either an electric griddle, a stovetop griddle, or a big flat skillet — over medium to medium-low heat. Grease the hot surface with a teaspoon or so of the remaining butter. (A common mistake many cooks make is they don’t heat the griddle enough, which is why the first pancake is usually a dud. Make sure the griddle is very hot, then put the butter on. Use just enough so that the pancake doesn’t stick. Either a teaspoon or a tablespoon is fine.) Drop 1/4 cup of pancake batter on the griddle. Now let it set. When you see bubbles start to form on top, lift the pancake halfway up to see if it’s golden brown and crisp at the edges. If it is, flip the pancake and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a plate with a spatula.
  • Repeat with the remaining batter and filling, adding more butter to the griddle as needed and cooking several pancakes at a time. Serve immediately with ample butter and maple syrup.


Light And Fluffy Pancakes Variation

If desired, you can sprinkle 1 tablespoon fresh or frozen blueberries or a couple slices banana and 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts onto the pancakes before turning them. Never add the fruit to the batter; always add the fruit to the pancakes once they’re on the griddle. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar for the blueberry pancakes, cinnamon sugar for the banana-walnut.
Clinton St Baking Company Cookbook

Adapted From

Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 pancakeCalories: 229 kcalCarbohydrates: 29 gProtein: 6 gFat: 10 gSaturated Fat: 6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 79 mgSodium: 155 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 9 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 DeDe Lahman. Photo © 2010 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These fluffy pancakes have a very light texture—almost like a regular cake. They’re soft, slightly sweet, and seem to rise a bit more than the common pancake. I didn’t try either of the optional fillings, instead using maple syrup and fresh butter. It was still quite nice! I got closer to thirty 3-inch pancakes, instead of twenty. I’m not sure why only 2 teaspoons butter are called for in the cooking part of the process, as all of the butter disappeared after the first few pancakes. But my griddle itself was seasoned, so sticking wasn’t a problem.

I don’t know if it’s the 1 tablespoon baking powder or the whipped egg whites (or both), but these are the lightest and fluffiest pancakes I’ve had in a long time. They’re also full of flavor and have a good chew. This is more butter than I typically add to my pancake batter, but as a trade-off, I didn’t need to butter the finished pancakes. I made plain and banana-walnut pancakes, and both were great. I usually keep finished pancakes in the oven to keep them warm until we’re ready to eat, but these are best when eaten right off the griddle. If you can time them this way, I highly recommend it.

These pancakes were so light and fluffy, and they didn’t deflate upon hitting the plate. Whipping the whites and adding them to the batter made these pancakes so delicious and not at all heavy. All of the whipping and heating tips were descriptive and helpful. I did add more butter to my griddle, however, when cooking the pancakes—about 1 tablespoon for each batch. We served them with just warm butter and maple syrup. It was a delicious breakfast—a reason to get up in the morning!

These fluffy pancakes are sweet, flavorful, and as light as air. If you’re so inclined, you can eat them without syrup; just a dusting of sugar and fresh fruit. Yep, they’re that good! When cooking, I’d go with however you usually cook pancakes rather than following the instructions. Having no griddle, I tried 3 different skillets and got 3 different results. My smoke alarm went off during the first batch, as the butter immediately started smoking at that high temperature. I changed pans, lowered the heat, and made them the way I usually do, and they were perfect. I halved the recipe and, using a 1/4 cup scoop, I got 14 pancakes of perfect 4-inch diameter size.

Whoa! Where have these incredibly light and fluffy pancakes been all my life? I grew up on Bisquick pancakes that are a far cry from what I just made here. These have the most delicious texture—soft, dense, moist, crisp, and simply mouthwatering! My son will be growing up on these. I halved this recipe, and it worked perfectly. Also, I used a Circulon pan, so there was no need to butter the pan. I figured with all the butter in the recipe, it wouldn’t be missed, and it wasn’t.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. My mother always made pancakes this way, as do I, which is why I rarely order pancakes if eating out for breakfast or brunch. Sometimes I switch out some of the flour for cornmeal, and the pancakes are just as delicious. I’m getting hungry….

  2. 5 stars
    My husband has made me promise that I will never try another pancake recipe after making this one. For me it wasn’t just the pancakes but the maple butter (recipe is in same book from Clinton St.) that was the clincher. I can’t remember the last time I shamelessly licked my plate clean, but that maple butter was heaven! =)

    1. Love to hear that, Nicholle C.! It’s a swell cookbook, is it not?! And we can understand your husband’s request, we feel exactly the same.