Think of your favorite pancake recipe as the little black dress of breakfast. It's fabulous all by itself, but it's also a foundation for endless accessorizing. Every batch of pancakes is an opportunity to mix things up, express yourself, cook with the seasons, and enjoy plenty of variety in flavors, textures, and presentations. Heed one of the below ideas, and breakfast boredom will be a thing of the past.
Build on the Basics
Once you're familiar with the basics of perfect pancakes, you're ready to riff. Doing so is simple: When you want to add mix-ins or fillings to a batch, you don't even need to look for a new recipe. Use your favorite pancake recipe and the correct technique, and it's easy to create a short stack spin-off.
Add New Ingredients in the Right Order
Pancakes are different from muffins or cookies; you shouldn't always mix all your ingredients into the batter. It's best to place fresh fruit, nuts, or bacon on top of each individual pancake only after you pour the batter into the hot pan. This technique prevents fruit juice from watering down the batter —and ensures that your pancakes stay fluffy and evenly browned and that your additions are evenly distributed in each bite.
Our Favorite Pancake Additions
Here are some favorite ingredients to add to pancakes while they cook:
Whole fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
Pitted and halved cherries
Thinly sliced, fresh or roasted apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, or pineapple
Sliced bananas, strawberries, or figs
Bacon (crumbled or whole pieces)
Toasted or candied pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, or macadamias
These suggestions are just the beginning: It's fun to cook with the seasons, using whatever fruit is fresh from the harvest. Or, take it to the next level by pairing up unique ingredients. How about roasted apple pecan, pineapple coconut macadamia, apricot pistachio, or fig bacon pancakes?
Consider Stuffing Your Pancakes
If you want to get really fancy, skip the toppings and try stuffing your pancakes, instead. We developed a clever technique for making stuffed pancakes with a hidden filling; the secret is to form the filling into small disks and freeze it on parchment paper ahead of time so you can transfer the tidy layers onto the surface of your pancake—and then cover it up with a little more batter. Make our recipe for Peanut Butter-Stuffed Pancakes to test this method.
Try Unique Pancake Toppings and Sauces
Yes, you can wait until serving time to mix up your pancake routine. We truly love maple syrup, but there are so many kinds of fruit compotes (think of it like pie filling!), sweet sauces, flavored and infused syrups, and compound butters to try. Here are some mouthwatering options.
Roasted Rhubarb-and-Sour-Cherry Compote
Sure, you can try a classic Mixed Berry Compote, but why not go for a more unexpected fruit topping for your pancakes? We love this roasted rhubarb and sour cherry topping; another option you might not have considered is a Persimmon Compote.
Best Lemon Curd
Maybe you already love lemon curd. Even so, you probably didn't think about using it on your pancakes. Fruit curds are most often used as fillings for tartlets or cakes, but they also make sublime toppings for a stack of pancakes. And don't stop at lemon: Try our Passion-Fruit Curd and Cranberry Curd, too.
Toasted Walnuts in Spiced Syrup
For a quick topping, use maple syrup as the base for a nutty, spiced syrup. Alternatively, make a Spiced Orange Syrup with brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, and vanilla.