The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes

~ After extensive testing (you know we’re not kidding!) … here’s our recipe (plus oodles of secrets and tips) for making fluffy, delicious, kid-approved, 100% whole grain pancakes. So yummy … so jam-crammed with nutrition! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian  

The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe {}

I know I’ve been saying for the past couple of weeks that I can’t believe how fast this summer has come and gone.

And now … summer’s really, truly, officially gone …

It’s back-to-school!

The new clothes have been bought. (And well, they fit now … but you and I both know those jeans won’t fit by the end of the year! Crazy how fast these kids grow!)

The school supplies have all been labeled. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who labels each crayon. Please? My label maker is my friend.)

The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe {}

I’ll miss those sweet faces all day … we had a really nice summer, and I’m not ready for it to be over! I would love another month or two … there are so many fun things I still want to do! More pool days, more picnics, more putt-putt! Alas, our carefree days of sleeping in and staying up late are over. So long, Summer 2014!

For back-to-school, I wanted to do something really special for my kids.

First of all, I always want to make sure those little bellies stay totally full.

While donuts with sprinkles look somuchfun, they aren’t going to do a bit of good when the teachers start writing math equations on the board. And those donuts can’t hold their own against a lesson in American History. Nope. Nope. Nope.

We need fuel!

We need whole grains!

And if we aren’t making waffles, then my kids are asking for pancakes!

The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe {}

Friends. I’m looking you straight in the eye when I tell you that I made nearly 20 batches of pancakes trying to perfect exactly the right recipe. They needed to be healthy (loaded with keep-’em-full whole grains!). They needed to be fluffy. Oh, who are we kidding … they really needed to taste good!

Believe me – I tried pretty much every gimmick, trick and healthy ingredient you can dream of.

Greek yogurt? Great idea, right? Ummmm … no. Guuummmmmmy! Blech!

Applesauce instead of that tiny bit of oil? Brilliant … if you like DENSE pancakes. (I sure don’t!) In this recipe, it’s worth a bit of canola to have fluffy-as-a-down-comforter pancakes!

I even tried mixing in some white flour. But I wanted 100% whole grain … and I just knew it could work! (Picture me obstinately stamping my foot.)

I went back to the drawing board again and again … 20 batches … I kid you not.

But I emerged victorious!

The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe {}

I finally (finally!) have the recipe … and the secrets … for 100% perfect, 100% whole grain, 100% kid-approved, 100% fluffy-pillowy-delicious pancakes.

Whew … I have a lot to tell you!

I’ve gotta share some of my newfound knowledge. I figure I’m not the only person in the world who’s had trouble making the perfect pancake, especially when it comes to whole wheat pancakes! So, here goes:

Tips for Perfect (100% Whole Grain!) Pancakes

  • Fire up the griddle to medium-high and let it fully preheat. It needs to be good ’n hot. A great way to check, if you’re not sure, is to sprinkle a couple drops of water on your griddle – if the drops dance a bit, the griddle’s hot enough.
  • Mix the dry ingredients first. Mix em up really well. I recommend using a whisk to thoroughly incorporate everything together. (Although sugar is often considered a “wet ingredient” in some recipes, for this particular recipe, it works well to whisk the brown sugar thoroughly into the dry ingredients before the wet ingredients are added.)

The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe {}

  • Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Seems like a minor thing, but this makes a big difference in how your ingredients come together. It helps to create a more uniform, less lumpy batter with less mixing (since we want to avoid over-mixing). If you’re looking for perfect pancakes, don’t skip this step.
  • Beat the egg …
  • Then mix it with the milk, canola and vanilla after it’s beaten.
  • Carefully pour the wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients and combine them by pulling the dry ingredients from the outside of the well into the wet center. But don’t over-stir. The batter should be fairly smooth, but it’s ok to have a few lumps.
  • Some recipes recommend letting your batter rest for a while. But really, friends … who has time for that? Do you have a moment to nap before breakfast? ’Cause I sure don’t! Besides that, I find that too much of the bubbly action of the baking powder is spent by the time I wait around a while. (Double-acting baking powder leavens in two phases, and for these whole-grains pancakes, we want to make use of all the light-and-fluffy-bubbly power it’s got to offer). I suggest you get right to work.

The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe {}

  • After the batter is poured onto the griddle, wait until you’ve got bubbles in the center of the pancake. The outside edges of the pancake will appear just a tad dry. (If you need to check, use a slim spatula to peek and make sure the pancake is golden brown underneath.) It’s time to flip!
  • Only flip the pancake once.
  • The second side of the pancake takes about half the time to cook as the first side.
  • Oooooh! I’ve even got make-ahead tips! (You knew I would!) You can mix the dry ingredients in this recipe together the night before, to make busy mornings easier. And after you’ve made these pancakes, they refrigerate and freeze great – cook up a double batch on the weekend and you’re good to go for days!

Ok. So now you know how to make the perfect pancake! High-five!

But …

Want to make those 100% perfectly perfect pancakes even MORE perfect?

Sure you do!

Want to make those pancakes really special for your beautiful kids as they head back to school? Or have a birthday? Or celebrate Valentine’s Day … or learn their letters and shapes … or well, whatever …

Ta-da …

The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe {}

Once you taste these impressively delicious, fluffy-as-fleece (yet amazingly nutritious!) whole grain pancakes, you’re gonna want take the next step to pancake nirvana. You’re gonna want to wow your kids with your artistry as you craft pancakes in every letter, numeral and shape. You’re gonna want to read all about our Easy Tricks for Making Pancake Shapes and Numbers.

Wow … with yummy, super-fun pancakes like these, you just might find your kiddos are anxiously awaiting back-to-school mornings. Hey – if anything can make that happen, it’s definitely pancakes!

We’d Love to Hear From You!

As in, we’d love to hear all about how back-to-school went at your house, and learn your fave pancake secrets!

Plus, we really value your feedback and love to answer your questions and hear how our recipes worked for you! Just head on down to the comment box located at the very bottom of this post. E-mail addresses are never published, and last names are optional. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Want More Great (Healthy!) Breakfast Ideas? Gotta Try:

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Preparation 7 min. 2017-07-22T00:07:00+00:00 Cook Time varies 2017-07-22T00:00:00+00:00
Serves About 2 cups of batter     adjust servings


  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat and follow the manufacturer's directions regarding adding oils or cooking sprays to prepare the cooking surface. (Alternatively, you can use a large, nonstick skillet, cooking the pancakes in smaller batches.)
  2. Begin by combining flour, flaxseed meal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl, stirring thoroughly with a whisk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine egg, milk, oil, and vanilla, stirring to thoroughly combine.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the center of the dry ingredients. Mix by pulling the dry ingredients into the wet center. Stir until just combined, being careful not to over-mix (there may still be a few small lumps in the batter).
  5. Pour the pancakes onto your griddle in the desired sizes or shapes. The pancakes should be ready to flip when they have bubbles at the center and are beginning to look a little dry at the outer edges. At that point, they should be perfectly golden brown underneath. Exactly how long this takes will vary depending on how hot your particular griddle runs and how large you choose to make your pancakes.
  6. After you flip the pancakes, the second side should cook in about half the time as the first side.
  7. Serve warm.


Recipe Notes

Make-ahead tips for the night before: You can mix the dry ingredients together the night before you make these pancakes, so they're almost ready to cook right away in the morning. However, the brown sugar will dry out and harden overnight if left in a clump. To prevent this, either wait to add the brown sugar in the morning, or make sure to whisk all the dry ingredients together really well the night before, so the brown sugar is already thoroughly incorporated. Cover the ingredients overnight.

Making pancakes further in advance: You can make these pancakes days or even weeks ahead (you may want to make a double batch). They refrigerate and freeze really well – and are a snap to reheat gently in a low oven, microwave, or toaster oven.

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The Secrets to Perfect Whole Wheat Pancakes — 32 Comments

  1. I just made some we pancakes tonight for my son tomorrow morning. I thought I was saving time and being so savvy…I failed,,miserably. I made a whole batch of disgusting, dense, bland (even though I put chic chips and cinnamon in them) awful pancakes. I really wish I found your blog before I made these atrocious cakes. Tomorrow I’m starting from scratch again and making them the right way!

    • Oh, Kiki! What a coincidence to be reading your message this morning – I actually just made these pancakes today for my own kiddos, too! Amy and Ty are turning 15 today (big day at our house! 😀 ), and even though they’re not so little anymore, I still had to do the mommy ritual of making them pancakes in the shape of “15”s (seriously so much easier now that I use our squeeze bottle technique!). I think they secretly love that I do that – or at least it makes me happy! But anyway, as Ty munched along, he exclaimed all over again, “These are so, SOOOO good!” I really hope your son loved our recipe as much as my two always do, and that it turned out so much better than the first whole wheat pancake recipe you’d tried. Enjoy! ~Shelley

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  5. Hi just stopped by to let you know you’ve been featured today over at Carole’s Chatter. Cheers

  6. I love my label maker. I label everything that goes to school with my kids. Although my high schooler isn’t nearly as fond of the labels as I am. Wonder why? 😀
    I just love these pancakes and that you added some flax into the mix. Great nutrients 😀

    • Label-maker users unite! 😀 I loooooove mine! I’m sure I’ll still be labeling when my kids are in high school as well!

      Hope you try these, Cindy – they are so yummy and soooo healthy! Perfect for those busy days – they’ll keep ya full so you can stay focused on your day! ~Gretchen

  7. Yayyyyy I love all those tricks! I’m a huge pancake aficionado and I’m always looking for new ideas to try! It’s so great that these aren’t only fluffy and soft but healthy as well! Perrfect for school mornings!
    Enjoy your Sunday! xxxx

    • Yes!! YAY for pancakes!! 🙂 These are totally perfect for school days – they will keep you (or younger siblings!) full of super healthy and keep-you-focused grains and flax! Hope you make these – and that you love ’em! Have a great week, Consuelo! 🙂 ~G&S

  8. Thank you for this, Gretchen! After your 20 trials to get these just perfect, I would feel totally confident about following this recipe next time I feel like pancakes … but not a heavy, unhealthy version.

    • I hope you love these as much as we do, Helen! We were all really happy with them – we love that it’s totally healthy and we can feel good about having an extra one! 🙂 Our favorite part – all the whole grains will keep you full to get through busy mornings! Super healthy … super yummy! 🙂 ~Gretchen

    • Yay!! Pancakes for everyone! 🙂 You’d be surprised what you learn when you make 20 batches of pancakes! Lol! Just thought everyone else may have questions, too! Hope you try this yummy recipe – let us know what you think! ~G&S

  9. All the tips to one of the most loved breakfast dishes are great! Working with whole grains can be difficult sometimes and you saved us all so much time and $$! Great to throw in some flaxseed, too, for omega 3s, lignans and fiber! Gotta love that first thing in the morning!

    • Haha! Yes, I sure did go thought lots of ingredients! But it was all things that I had on hand, so it wasn’t too bad! Well … I did have to make a quick trip for eggs one morning! Lol!
      I’m so happy to have a winning recipe that I feel really good about – these pancakes are healthy and they taste good! That’s a win-win in my book! 🙂 ~Gretchen

    • Oh Kristi … this was the ‘summer of the pancake’ – and I’ve still got a good supply! 🙂 Yes, 20 batches … but we all are really happy with this recipe – and I love that it’s so healthy AND delicious!! 😀 ~Gretchen

  10. I love the idea of whole wheat in pancakes…and I love the picture of the “bubbles” yes, just looking at the bubbles I can tell the the texture of these pancakes will be amazing…and I was right!
    Hope you are having a fabulous week Gretchen 😀

  11. I LOVE that these are healthy and whole grain (and contain flax!!). I had similar results as you when making pancakes with yogurt (super gummy!!). I remember when i was growing up my mom used to make a whole bunch of pancakes and then the ones we didn’t eat she would freeze and then heat by popping them in the toaster the next day! 😀 Thanks for the wonderful pancake tips!! Happy Back to School to your kiddies!

    • Hi Ceara! I SO wanted the Greek yogurt pancakes to work (such a great idea!) but the texture was all.wrong. Blech!

      Yeah … I’ve got enough pancakes in my house to keep us going through most of the school year! LOL! Thankfully my kids love pancakes – I love sending them off for the day totally full and energized! 🙂 ~Gretchen

  12. Love 100% whole wheat pancakes. I have been making them for years. The only thing I don’t do is add any oil and I use buttermilk instead. I have made half whole wheat and half spelt a couple times too. YUMMY!!! I also put stevia in mine. I have never heard of using brown sugar.

    They look yummy!!! Think I will go make me some spelt and wheat ones. (-:

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