While I'm all for indulging in an occasional Pancake Sunday ritual to feed the soul, when it comes to day to day healthy eating, I generally steer my nutrition clients away from sweet carb-centric breakfasts like pancakes. The reason? We tend to burn through those simple carbs in white flour super-quick and wind up sleepy and magically still-hungry, not long after eating despite having just devoured a mountain of flour, syrup, and butter. The extra calories in said butter and syrup also have a sneaky way of adding up without actually helping you feel satisfied.
If you're really jonesing for some pancakes that will satisfy your taste buds while also fueling your body and supporting your goals, whip up some protein pancakes. The protein will help buffer the breakdown of those carbs so you experience more stable blood sugar and sustained energy. But if you've been disappointed by protein pancakes before (hard, chewy, makes you miss the classic), I'm here to help. To save you the trial and error, I tried out a whole bunch of recipes and am sharing three that were clear winners (it's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it). For an added protein boost, upgrade from the typical syrup routine and try a topping like nuts or nut butter, ricotta, or yogurt. If you're into savory pancakes, an egg is also delicious.
Best All-Around: Whole-Wheat Yogurt Pancakes
Makes: 16 pancakes
1 serving = 4 pancakes
Just the right balance of fluff and substance with a mild flavor that will go with any topping your heart desires. This recipe makes 4 servings, so if you don't want to share, feel free to freeze the leftovers—these are great for reheating.
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup 2% milk (or other milk of choice)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Dash of salt
Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Whisk dry ingredients into wet until well combined.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, grease a skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the heated skillet, using the back of the spoon to smooth out the top. Cook until the pancakes surfaces start to bubble and then flip. Allow to cook another minute or two and then transfer to a plate. Cover with another plate to keep warm.
Use more oil between batches as needed.
Nutrition information per serving (4 pancakes, before toppings): 184 calories, 11g protein, 29g carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 7g total sugar (3g added sugar), 3g fat
Best Protein-Centric: Egg & Oat Protein Pancakes
Chewy and filling, these little pancakes are perfect for a post-workout meal when your priority is protein, stat. These also are a good source of complex carbs thanks to the oats. If you're not doing grains, try something like almond meal or coconut flour, but keep in mind that cooking time may vary and you may need to add some liquid like milk to make it work.
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 2 eggs or 1/3 cup egg whites
- 1 scoop protein powder (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grind oats in a small food processor until they resemble flour.
Add eggs, protein powder, and vanilla. Pulse until well mixed.
Grease a skillet with oil, butter, or cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Drop batter in, using 2 to 3 tablespoons for each cake.
Heat until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate.
Variations: If desired, add blueberries to batter. Or you can top the pancakes with your favorite jam or some warmed-up berries.
Nutrition information per serving (recipe analyzed using 2 whole eggs and whey protein): 418 calories, 38g protein, 34g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 3g total sugar (0g added sugar), 14g fat
Best 3-Ingredient: Sweet Potato Pancake
Looking for a grain-free, gluten-free option that comes together in a flash? These three-ingredient sweet potato pancakes are for you. (All for you!) It's also a great way to sneak some veggies into your morning first thing.
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 egg or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Prick the potato with a fork a few times and steam it in the microwave for 5 or 6 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool until you can safely handle it. Scoop the potato flesh into a food processor.
Pulse the potato with the egg and cinnamon until it forms a batter.
Grease a skillet with oil, butter, or spray and turn the heat on medium. When the skillet is hot, pour the batter into the skillet. (You can make a couple bigger pancakes or several tiny ones.) Smooth out with the back of a spoon to make a pancake shape.
Cook until set, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, flipping halfway. Cooking time will depend on pancake size—smaller cakes will take less time.
Transfer to a plate.
Top with desired toppings and enjoy.
Variations: For a savory twist, omit the cinnamon and top with avocado, goat cheese, or an egg.
Nutrition information (using 1 large egg, before toppings): 175 calories, 8g protein, 26g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 6g total sugar (0g added sugar), 4g fat
(Recipe Analysis via USDA SuperTracker. Nutrition analysis is for one serving of pancakes without toppings and not including oil/butter/cooking spray used to grease the skillet.)