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If pancakes are your thing, a regular part of your weekend habit, or even if they are just an occasional indulgence when the mood strikes, there is likely a recipe that is your tried and true. The one passed down, or discovered through research, or recommended by a friend. The one that is your go-to, that makes you feel extra competent. Maybe your family even refers to them as your "famous" pancakes. And if this is true, then there is something important you really need to know.
You are missing an ingredient.
I know, you are thinking back to your recipe. What could be missing? Flour, check. Egg, check. Leavening like baking powder or baking soda or both? Check. Buttermilk or milk, melted butter or oil, check and check. A pinch of salt, a little sugar, something extra special like nutmeg or cinnamon or vanilla, they are all in there. Your personal add-ins from oatmeal to fruits, what could be missing?
Cheese is the secret to next-level pancakes, and the best part is that you do not need to alter your current recipe to accommodate it.
Still with me?
Why you need to begin adding cheese to your pancakes
Cheeses of all sorts are a major upgrade for your pancakes. They bring protein to the party, which is always a good thing with such a carb bomb, making them a more complete food and helping to offset the eventual sugar crash. They provide a welcome balancing bit of tang and salt in a sweet dish. And they can fundamentally change how extra-delicious those pancakes are. If you like contrast, you can go for punchy cheeses, if you prefer a gentler flavor, you can go subtle. Want just a little back note? Add a little. Want to really embrace the cheese? Add a lot.
The right cheeses to add to your pancakes
Do you love cheesecake? Stir in some cottage cheese for pancakes that have little pockets of cheesecakey flavor and are wonderful with fruit syrups. A fan of cannoli? Add some ricotta to your mix for extra loft and subtle creaminess, a great addition to chocolate chip pancakes (add some orange zest as well for even more pop). If you are a lover of cheddar on your apple pie, grate some sharp cheddar into your batter and top with sauteed apples. Heck, you can even go all-in on pizza pancakes with mini balls of mozzarella baked right in.
And keep in mind that adding cheese won't make your pancakes savory. They'll still be sweet, just more interesting.
How much cheese to add to your pancake batter
It's simple: For every cup of flour in your batter recipe, add ¼ to ½ cup of cheese, either in dollops, shredded, or even diced. If you want to use a hard intensely flavored cheese like parmesan for an umami bump, add 1-2 tablespoons of grated or shredded per cup of flour. In either case, start with the lesser amount and cook a one-bite test cake to see how you like it. You can always add more.
Cheese and add-in combinations to try in pancakes
Cheese is wonderful in plain old pancakes; I almost always add some cottage cheese to mine because I always have it around and I love the gentle flavor it brings without making the pancakes about the cheese. But there are some other terrific combinations to try. Here are some to play with!
Ricotta, lemon zest, and blueberries
Cottage cheese, banana, and walnuts
Cheddar and sliced toasted almonds
Gruyere and bacon bits
Smoked gouda and pear
Goat cheese crumbles and dried cherries