Lemon pancakes offer a zesty twist to a classic breakfast, merging the subtle sweetness of a fluffy pancake with the bright, citrusy notes of fresh lemon flavor. Starting with a basic pancake mix simplifies the process, making this treat accessible even on a busy morning. Incorporating the zest and juice elevates the flavor, creating a dish that feels both comforting and refreshing.
When making these pancakes, I love the ease of using pancake mix as a base—it takes out the guesswork of getting the right proportions of flour, leavening agents, and salt. It’s as simple as adding milk, eggs, and a hint of vanilla to bring together a smooth batter. The secret to that vibrant lemony taste lies in the lively kick of two whole lemons.
Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or just want to add a bit of sunshine to your meal, these lemon pancakes make it easy to brighten up your day.
Serving suggestion: Top with fresh raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar
Here’s exactly what you’ll need, broken down into categories for convenience.
Pancake Mix Base
- 2 cups pancake or baking mix
- 1 cup milk (adjust if you’d like a thinner or thicker batter)
- 2 large eggs
- Zest of 2 fresh lemons
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar (sweetness to taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for a hint of warmth
- Optional: Butter or oil for greasing the pan
- Optional: Powdered sugar for dusting
- Optional:Fresh berries for serving
Required Tools and Equipment
When I make lemon pancakes using pancake mix, I like to have the right tools and equipment ready before I start mixing. In the past, I would leave this part out of my articles but the more that I cook, the more I find it is crucial to gather all of my tools before you get started. So hopefully this checklist helps you as much as it helps me.
No zester in the house? Try our easy zesting tip with a cheese grater.
Here’s what I gather before starting:
- Mixing bowls: I use two bowls—one for wet ingredients and one for dry.
- Whisk: Handy for beating the eggs and ensuring the wet ingredients are well mixed.
- Measuring cups and spoons: Essential for accurate measurement of ingredients like pancake mix, milk, and sugar.
- Grater or zester: For getting that fresh lemon zest without the bitter pith.
- Juicer or reamer: To juice the lemons with ease.
- Non-stick skillet or griddle: A must-have for cooking pancakes to golden perfection without sticking.
- Spatula: A flat one works best to flip the pancakes smoothly.
- Ladle or 1/4 cup measure: For scooping the perfect amount of batter onto the pan.
I also make sure my stovetop is in good working condition (clean and clear of clutter) and I have an available power outlet if I’m using an electric griddle. Finally, I grab butter or oil to grease the skillet and powdered sugar for dusting (if I’m feeling fancy). Preparing all of these beforehand makes the process a breeze, and that way, I can focus on the joy of cooking and eating!
Adding the Lemon Flavor
To infuse your pancakes with that delicious tart flavor, the key lies in using freshly grated zest and squeezing the juice from real lemons.
Zesting the Lemon
Grating the peel of two lemons—being careful to only take the outer, colorful layer and avoid the bitter white pith underneath—will provide you with the most fragrant zest. This zest is packed with essential oils that carry the lemon’s puckery pop.
Incorporating Lemon Juice
Next, measure out three tablespoons of lemon juice; freshly squeezed ensures the best zing and quality. Adding this juice into the wet ingredients will disperse the sunny lemon flavor throughout the pancake batter.
Cooking the Pancakes
When I make lemon pancakes using pancake mix, I pay special attention to the cooking process to ensure they come out golden and fluffy. It’s all about managing the heat and knowing when to flip for that perfect finish.
Heating the Pan
I usually start by setting my pan over medium heat and waiting for it to be just hot enough. Preheating the pan helps to ensure every pancake comes out evenly golden.
To test the temperature, I’ll often add a drop of water; if it sizzles and evaporates, the pan is ready. As a note, if the water instantly vaporizes, it means that your pan is too hot.
While it’s optional, using a pastry brush to oil before and after each pancake will help each one turn easily and come out an even golden brown.
Pouring the Batter
Once the pan is heated, I use a 1/4 cup measure to pour the batter for consistently sized pancakes. This also helps ensure they cook evenly. I’ll gently pour the batter into the center of the pan, watching it naturally spread into a round shape.
For thinner pancakes, add more milk a tablespoon at a time to the mix to get the right consistency. This is really a judgment call on your part but I recommend cooking a test pancake before you adjust all of the batter.
Flipping the Pancakes
Patience is key when waiting for the right moment to flip. I look for bubbles to form on the top and the edges to appear set, which typically takes about 1 to 2 minutes. Then, with a swift motion of the spatula, I carefully flip the pancake over.
For years, I wouldn’t even make pancakes because the whole flipping process worried me. I just couldn’t get comfortable with it but then I realized that the whole “bubbles” tip really does help.
The other side usually needs less time to cook, just until it’s lightly browned and the pancake is cooked through. I find that the second side rarely takes more than a minute.
Note: Adjust the heat as needed to keep pancakes from burning or cooking too slowly. And remember, the first pancake is sometimes a test run to find the perfect pan temperature. I call that the snack for the cook.
After making these zesty lemon pancakes using a convenient pancake mix, I love exploring different ways to serve them up. The right toppings and presentation can truly make them a delightful treat for any occasion, especially a leisurely weekend brunch or a special breakfast.
I know that everyone is different but I have to be careful with the syrup because if not, it becomes way too sweet. However, I personally love powdered sugar and fruit. My wife loves whipped cream.
- Fresh Fruit: Sliced strawberries, whole blueberries, or a medley of fresh berries complement the lemon flavor perfectly. Blackberries and lemon go together nicely too.
- Syrups: Traditional maple syrup is always a hit, but for something different, try blueberry syrup or a light drizzle of honey. Honey is nice and a bit unexpected.
- Whipped Cream: A dollop of whipped cream can add a creamy contrast.
- Powdered Sugar: A light dusting of powdered sugar not only adds sweetness but also makes for an elegant finish.
- Stacking: I recommend stacking the pancakes for height and layering them with a sprinkle of powdered sugar between each pancake for a sweet surprise.
- Garnish: Garnish with a sprinkle of lemon zest or a twist of lemon peel to hint at the flavor inside.
- Plate Choice: Serve on a white plate to make the colors of your toppings pop, or go rustic with a wooden platter for a cozy, homey vibe.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Here’s how to keep leftovers fresh and how to bring back that just-cooked taste when you’re ready for more.
- Let the pancakes cool to room temperature to avoid condensation which can make them soggy.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper between each pancake to prevent them from sticking together. This is optional but does help prevent them from sticking to each other.
- Transfer the pancakes to an airtight container or a resealable freezer bag. A container keeps them from getting smashed or broken.
- Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
To Reheat in the Microwave:
- Place a slightly damp paper towel or microwave-safe lid over one or two pancakes to add moisture.
- Heat on high for 15 to 30 seconds or until they are warm throughout.
Can you make lemon pancakes for just one person, and how?
Yes, you can easily adjust lemon pancake recipes for one person. Just reduce the amounts proportionally, and remember—1/4 cup of batter is usually perfect for one pancake, so you can make as few or as many as you need. Note, that it’s best to cook all of the pancake batter and then refrigerate or freeze the leftover pancakes since the raw batter will not keep.
What are some tips for avoiding common mistakes when mixing pancake batter?
Don’t beat the batter for too long. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just incorporated; overmixing can lead to tough pancakes.
Milk or water: which is the better choice for adding to lemon pancake mix?
Milk is generally the better choice for adding to lemon pancake mix. It adds a creamy richness that water cannot provide, resulting in a tender texture.
The bottom line
Lemon pancakes are fairly easy to make, especially if you use a pancake mix as the base. They are rich with flavor and offer a tangy, unique breakfast.
- 2 c pancake mix or baking mix
- 1 c milk (adjust for desired consistency)
- 2 large eggs
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 3 T fresh lemon juice
- 2 T sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1 t vanilla extract
- Butter or oil for greasing the pan
- Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Fresh berries for serving (optional)
- Prep the lemon: Wash and dry, then zest the lemons. Cut each zested lemon width-wise and juice them, removing the seeds from the juice.
- Mix wet ingredients: Whisk together milk, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
- Combine wet ingredients with dry: Stir in pancake mix until just combined.
- Add lemon zest and sugar: Fold in lemon zest and sugar.
- Cook the pancakes: On a greased, heated pan, pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook until bubbles form and edges set, then flip. Note: If you flip too often, the pancakes can become tough.
- Serve: Enjoy warm with powdered sugar and fresh berries.