Nothing can ruin breakfast more than not being able to flip those pancakes over. Having them fall apart is a common problem and one that is usually easy to fix. I’ve been making pancakes from scratch for over 50 years and decided to share my thoughts on avoiding and fixing crumbly pancakes.
Pancakes usually fall apart because a key ingredient is missing or the ingredient ratios of a recipe are off. Often, the culprit is either not enough egg or no egg at all being added. Also, make sure you make exact measurements when adding ingredients.
The rest of the article will go into greater detail on making perfect pancakes. I’ll even give you tips on making them fluffier!
How to Keep Pancakes From Falling Apart
Even though they don’t come out of an oven, pancakes are still a “baked” good. This meant that you have to follow exact measurements. Your troubles may be over once you throw away the measuring cups and start using the scales.
When you’re using measuring cups, you can easily end up with an ounce more or less of flour each time you scoop. And if you’re adding an ounce more than you should, you’ll offset the ratio enough for things to start to crumble.
If the switch to scales doesn’t fix it, it’s time to dig a bit deeper.
The first step is to check our recipe, especially if there are any adjustments for your dietary needs.
You will have to see what’s up with certain ingredients first, then check what you’re doing wrong at the stove. And if that fails, get ready to scrap that particular recipe and try something new.
What Ingredient Keeps Pancakes From Falling Apart?
The number one place goes to eggs, with gluten from flour not being too far behind.
Eggs have a multitude of uses, but this time we’re looking at their binding power. First, do you have enough of them? Did you pick the correct size? Pancakes still follow the same rules as baked goods even though they are not, well, baked. Accurate ratios are essential, so make sure that you have the correct size and amount of eggs.
Pro Tip: Try having your eggs at room temp before using them in the recipe. Fridge-cold eggs don’t mix in well with the batter and are far more likely to curdle when exposed to heat.
Binding Pancakes in Egg-Free Recipes
Things get somewhat stickier in egg-free recipes. Most vegan creations skip eggs altogether, but it may be a good idea to “break” a flax egg or use some silken tofu. Start with the traditional recipe and add the egg substitute instead of trying to make a random eggless recipe work.
If you have been using cake flour for your pancakes until now, switch to all-purpose. It may seem like a logical option, but it doesn’t have enough protein and gluten for making a “cake” without a mold. And though we need some gluten for structure, avoid overmixing and using bread flour. Both of those will turn your pancakes rubbery.
You May Need to Lower Your Expectations
Going gluten-free is definitely going to lead to crumbly pancakes. Double that statement if you’re taking out the eggs as well. In that case, try replacing each egg with 2 ounces of cream cheese. It will affect the flavor, but it also has xantham gum that will serve as a binder. Or add some xanthan gum or guar gum into the mix yourself.
Adding a Binder
You can pick xantham gum up at most grocery stores or order it online. Here is the brand that I recommend, found on Amazon. (Click the link to see listing)
You could also add a little bit of mayo to the mixture. It may sound crazy, but mayo can boost the binding powers of other ingredients as well as give baked goods better texture and make them moister.
But you’ll have to use the store-bought stuff since all those added emulsifiers are the ones that are performing the magic. Use about half a teaspoon per portion.
How Does My Cooking Method Make Pancakes Fall Apart?
In short, you are probably overcooking them.
You know how when you’re making scrambled eggs, they start clumping? That’s what’s happening to the pancakes as well when they spend too much time cooking. They might begin to taste “eggy” as well when they get overcooked.
To check if your cooking surface (griddle or pan) is at the perfect temperature, spread a few drops of water over it. If they are doing nothing, your pan is too cold, and if they are jumping a lot, the pan is too hot. You want to see them dancing over the surface, like mini-hovercrafts.
And learn how to flip them in time. This will include a bit of trial and error, but it’s important not to keep them on one side for too long to prevent overcooking.
Rethinking Your Recipe
Most pancake recipes have too many ingredients, while the truth is that you only need three to make great pancakes. A cool exercise is to throw all that complicated stuff out and turn to the simple ratio: 1 part egg, 1 part flour, and 1 part milk or buttermilk. Part means each ingredient is the same weight.
Here’s how you make that work :
- You’ll need 1 egg per portion. Crack it into the bowl and measure its weight. That’s how much you’ll need for both flour and milk. Switch your scale to grams to ensure max precision.
This will work every single time because it eliminates errors that come from picking eggs that are the wrong size or not knowing how much flour you’ve scooped out. And outside of a pinch of salt and baking powder, pancakes don’t really need anything more than that.
A few tips, though.
- After measuring, remove the yolk and whip the egg white to soft peaks. Then mix the yolk and the milk (or buttermilk), stir the flour in, and fold the egg white. This will ensure fluffy pancakes.
- Use baking soda if you’re going with the buttermilk, but still, be ready for them to be a bit denser than the milk version.
- Finally, if you want to add sugar, only 10% of the egg’s weight will do the trick (i.e., if the egg weighs 2 ounces, you’ll need only 0.2 ounces of sugar). Treat the sugar as a dry ingredient and stir it through the flour.
Bonus Tip: As a quick bonus, if you want to make chocolate pancakes, substitute up to a quarter of flour for unsweetened cocoa powder.
By the way, you can use this same ratio to make vegan, gluten-free, paleo, keto, and other types of pancakes.
Why Are My Pancakes Not Fluffy?
Short answer: they don’t have enough air bubbles.
However, you don’t fix this problem by adding more baking powder – this will only make the pancakes taste like soap. Depending on what’s causing the problem, there are several ways to fix this.
- Whip some eggs- If your recipe is not already telling you to do so, separate the eggs and whip the egg whites before adding them back into the mixture. If you’re going egg-free, you can get the same effect by whipping up some aquafaba (aka chickpea water).
- Check your flour- All-purpose flour is best for making pancakes, but if it weighs them down, replace some or all of it with cake flour. If you’re gluten-free, skip high-fat nut types of flour (i.e., almond or coconut) and opt for something lighter like oat or rice flour.
- Cut the fat- Pancakes really don’t need butter to be yummy, so you can remove it from the mixture – add it back to the recipe by melting some into the pan or when serving. And switch to low-fat or fat-free milk or buttermilk.
I hope this article has helped you create that perfect recipe for “flippable” and fluffy pancakes. Try not to get frustrated if it takes a few attempts to get it right. Making great pancakes is part science, part art.
Hang in there. You can do it!
Thanks for stoppin’ by.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.