New York Times recipe: A few simple tricks yield the most tender pancakes

Genevieve Ko
The New York Times
4 Min Read
Lemon ricotta pancakes in New York, Jan. 11, 2022. Genevieve Ko whips ricotta into the batter and skips the stiff egg whites for a recipe thats as effortless as it is comforting. Food styled by Susie Theodorou. Props styled by Paige Hicks. (Jenny Huang/The New York Times)
Lemon ricotta pancakes in New York, Jan. 11, 2022. Genevieve Ko whips ricotta into the batter and skips the stiff egg whites for a recipe thats as effortless as it is comforting. Food styled by Susie Theodorou. Props styled by Paige Hicks. (Jenny Huang/The New York Times) Credit: NYT

In my Northeastern life, pancakes are for frigid winter mornings, the snow stacking on pine trees outside, my windows fogging from coffee steam. Hot off the griddle, they’re warming against the chill. During the same season in Los Angeles, my hometown, the skies are atypically clear so the sun feels close and soft. Eating a pile of pancakes outside under that glow is as magical as the scent of orange blossoms in the air.

No matter the setting, pancakes taste like comfort — especially if they’re made well. There are many different styles of breakfast pancake, but the one thing they should always be is tender. The simplest way to ensure that? Ricotta.

Even though the addition of ricotta to pancake batter isn’t a new concept — by now, it’s a beloved one — it’s often accompanied by folding in egg whites that have been beaten to stiff peaks. You can skip that fussiness and, instead, simply beat whole eggs and use baking powder in the batter. With that combination, you won’t get cloud-like souffled pancakes that come from whipped egg whites, but you do end up with a fluffiness that also manages to feel creamy. And keeping the proportion of flour low and stirring it in gently until it’s just incorporated prevents a tough, rubbery texture.

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To achieve airiness while developing a golden-brown crust, it’s important to start with a griddle or pan that’s the right temperature. Too cool and the batter will flatten before it rises. Too hot and the outsides will burn before the insides cook through. They’ll sink off the heat and be inedible because of the raw centres.

Start heating a griddle or pan over medium-low when you begin mixing the batter and it will be evenly hot at the correct temperature when you’re ready to cook. To see if the surface is ready, scatter a little water over it: The droplets should steadily hop. Once they evaporate, run a thick pat of butter all over the flat top and spoon circles of batter in its foamy wake.

Once the rounds turn golden brown on their bottoms and their tops bubble, it’s important to flip them as gently as possible to avoid popping those air bubbles. Slide a spatula under a pancake and lift it just high enough to set an opposite edge down, then ease the rest of the pancake off the spatula.

Texture is crucial to good pancakes, but taste matters, too. Lemon pairs well with ricotta, so to highlight the fruit’s floral flavour, its zest is gently rubbed into sugar, then whisked with fragrant vanilla. Butter highlights the milkiness of ricotta, and buttermilk introduces a faint tanginess.

All together, the ingredients griddle into a breakfast with enough creamy sweetness to eat on its own. A gloss of blueberry syrup is welcome, but these delicate pancakes may be at their most comforting when eaten hot, by hand, standing next to the stove, anywhere in the world.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Recipe Genevieve Ko


¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp fine salt

¼ cup sugar

1 lemon

1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs

¾ cup whole-milk ricotta

¼ cup buttermilk, preferably full cream milk

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for cooking and serving

Blueberry syrup or other toppings, for serving (optional)


Step 1 Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Heat a griddle or large nonstick pan or well-seasoned cast-iron pan over medium-low.

Step 2 Add the sugar to a large bowl, then finely grate the zest of the lemon directly over the sugar. Using your fingers, gently rub the zest into the sugar. Add the vanilla and whisk to evenly moisten. Add the eggs and whisk until foamy on top, then add the ricotta, buttermilk and butter, and whisk until well blended. Add the flour mixture and gently stir until no traces of flour remain.

Step 3 Generously butter the griddle, then drop a scant ¼ cup batter onto it. Repeat, spacing the rounds at least an inch apart. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the tops are bubbling, 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with more butter and the remaining batter. Serve warm, slathered with butter and blueberry syrup or other toppings if you’d like.

Makes 12 to 14 small pancakes

Total time: 20 minutes

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2022 The New York Times Company

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