6 Ways to Make Your Pancake Breakfast Healthier

Reduce sugar and fat and pump up the fiber to make pancakes more satisfying and healthier, without skimping on flavor.

Buckwheat pancakes with berry fruit and honey.Selective focus

Updated on November 3, 2023.

If you've been avoiding the pleasure of pancake breakfasts for health and weight management reasons, there's good news: You can whip up a batch of high-fiber, low-sugar, low-fat pancakes with a few simple tweaks to your usual recipe. The first step is to get creative with your ingredients.

"Pancake batters are like cookie mixtures: They aren't an exact science. You can throw all kinds of stuff into them and they'll still come out just fine," says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of The Food and Mood Cookbook. Here's how to spruce up your favorite flapjack recipe:

Cut the calories

  • Use half the oil, margarine, shortening, or butter called for in the recipe.
  • Use nonfat milk or nonfat condensed milk—or low-fat buttermilk or soymilk—instead of whole milk.
  • Use cooking spray to prepare the griddle.
  • Keep serving size to two 4-inch pancakes.

Pump up the fiber

  • Replace some of the white or unbleached flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. (It's lighter than regular whole-wheat flour.) Start with 3/4 cup white and 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour for every cup of flour the recipe calls for. Increase the whole-wheat flour every time you cook until you find the proportion you like best.
  • Toss in a handful of rolled oats to up the protein and fiber. (You may need to add a little extra milk, too.)
  • To make gluten-free pancakes, use buckwheat flour instead of wheat flour.

Skim off the cholesterol

  • Replace the whole eggs with an egg substitute or use two whites per yolk.
  • For fluffier pancakes, whip the whites separately then fold them into the batter.

Tune down the sugar

  • Replace half the sugar in your recipe with with a non-caloric sweetener like stevia.
  • Or try adding sweet-tasting flavorings, such as vanilla, nutmeg, and/or cinnamon, while leaving leave out some of the sugar.

Rev up the antioxidants

  • Mix a spoonful of canned pumpkin, grated apple, or whole blueberries into the batter.
  • Add some toasted wheat germ or ground flaxseeds, too.

Swap out the syrup

  • Heap on fresh or thawed berries of any kind.
  • Top with a tablespoon of all-fruit apricot jam and a sliced banana.
  • Spoon on fat-free sour cream, nonfat Greek yogurt, or ricotta cheese mixed with mango chunks or mandarin oranges.

Trading pale, wimpy pancakes soaked in butter and syrup for hearty, healthier ones rich in flavor, fruit, fiber, and nutrients will not only improve a breakfast favorite and boost your energy for the day. You'll also get a jump on training your taste buds to enjoy foods that are lower in fat and sugar. 

Making a batch of pancakes can take time, but if you are in a crunch try these other ideas for quick, high-energy breakfasts.

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