Whether making a hearty breakfast for your whole family or hosting a weekend brunch for your best friends, pancakes and waffles are the ultimate indulgence. You can even eat them for lunch, dinner, dessert, or snack – there are no rules! You can put maple syrup on them, slather on butter, and enjoy. But you can also put all kinds of yummy toppings like bananas, chocolate, blueberries, and more. But the secret to making amazing pancakes and waffles lies in the batter you use.
Learn the difference between the two and how to make perfect pancakes and waffles through this guide.
Pancake Batter and Waffle Batter – Are They Different?
Pancake and waffle batter contain the same ingredients: flour, eggs, sugar, milk, and butter. You may think that they are interchangeable, but they are not. They seem to be the same things in different forms, but they are different.
You can use pancake mix to make waffles and vice versa, but if you don’t make adjustments to the proportions, things will not turn out the way you expect them to.
Pancake batter is the base for making pancakes (a.k.a. hotcakes, flapjacks, and griddle cakes). Basically, a pancake batter is made up of flour, sugar, milk, and baking powder. You can also add eggs, vanilla, and other dry ingredients to add a unique flavor.
Meanwhile, waffle batter comprises flour, sugar, milk, eggs, butter, and a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda.
Both mixes contain the same essential ingredients, but there are critical differences when it comes to these things:
1. Ratios of the ingredients
A critical difference between pancake batter and waffle batter is that waffles come with more sugar, butter, and eggs than pancake batter. This helps waffles become richer because they have a higher fat content. The extra fat makes a crispier outer layer, and it’s also added so that the waffle won’t stick to the waffle iron. Meanwhile, the excess sugar gives it a crispy, golden-brown exterior when it caramelizes. Belgian waffles use pearl sugar for a crispier outside.
On the other hand, pancakes have a higher amount of milk and a lower amount of sugar.
Waffles are often crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Thanks to the extra fat and sugar, the exterior becomes golden brown and crispy. While pancakes are also browned, the lower amount of sugar and higher amount of milk in the batter makes a cake-like consistency, resulting in a soft and floppy finished product. When you hold waffles upright with your hand, it stays up, while pancakes drop down because they are softer.
Because of the ingredient ratios, waffle batter is thicker than pancake batter. The thick consistency of the waffle batter allows it to stay in the waffle maker plates without running out to the sides. Compared to that, pancake batter is loose and runny, making them easily pourable onto the griddle to form a flat, rounded shape.
4. Leavening agent
Unlike pancakes, most waffle batters contain baking powder or baking soda as leavening agents to achieve a fluffy consistency. Some pancakes also have leavening agents, but not all pancake recipes call for it.
How to Make the Perfect Pancakes
Take out a large mixing bowl and put all ingredients inside. The number of ingredients and their measurements depend on your preference and serving size, but basically, you will need flour, sugar, milk, baking powder, egg, and butter or oil.
Using a whisk, mix together all the dry ingredients, then make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add in the wet ingredients like the egg, milk, oil, or butter. Whisk from the center and slowly incorporate the flour. Keep whisking until there are no lumps left.
If you are using a ready-made pancake mix, follow the instructions in the packet or box. You only need to add water, milk, and sometimes eggs.
Once the batter is smooth, rest it for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Swirl a portion of butter in the skillet (use oil if you’re using a griddle) and pour in some batter.
Flip the pancakes and slightly reduce the heat when bubbles rise to the surface. Cook until the bottoms are golden, which is about one minute.
It’s best to serve them fresh out of the skillet. Top it with butter and maple syrup or whatever toppings you prefer.
Tips for Making Perfect Waffles
There are a few things that you can do to make sure you get perfect waffles every time. Whatever recipe you may be following, remember these tips:
1. Know your waffle maker
Not all waffle makers function the same. Always make sure you’re following the instruction manual for its proper use. Some waffle makers are designed to cook longer, while others can cook waffles instantly. Older waffle makers may even require you to use a cooking spray.
2. Separate egg whites from the yolks
Separate the egg whites from the yolks to make your waffles even fluffier. Add the beaten yolks to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl. Then, separately beat the egg whites until it forms stiff peaks. Slowly fold the egg whites into the mixed batter using a spatula.
3. Mix the batter gently
To avoid making the batter too thin, you have to mix it gently. Your goal is to have a smooth, free-flowing batter that can move quickly through the waffle plate but is not too runny. To do that, use a rubber spatula to mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones. Move slowly and continue mixing with a gentle motion until the batter has a smooth consistency. Mix it for at least five minutes, but be careful not to over-mix.
4. Use lots of oil or butter
If you notice that your waffles are sticking to the waffle iron, you may need to add more butter or oil. Increasing the fat can also help your waffles taste richer.
5. Be patient
One of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking waffles is rushing the process. Generally, you must always wait until the waffle iron indicates that it’s ok to lift the lid. If you lift it too early, the interior part of the waffles may not get a fluffy texture.
Also, lifting the lid prematurely can cause the waffle to fall apart. One side will end up sticking to the top, while the other half will stick to the bottom.
If your waffle iron doesn’t have an indicator when the waffles are done, look for steam. When steam comes out of the sides of the waffle maker, it means you can lift the lid and enjoy your crispy and fluffy waffles.
Using a Pancake Mix to Make Waffles
What can you do if you want waffles but only have a pancake mix in your pantry? All you have to do is add a few more things to the pancake mix, so you can make the crispy waffles you’re craving. Here’s what you can do:
1. Double down the fat
Adding more fat is a key part of turning a pancake mix into a waffle mix. Whatever the quantity of butter or oil the pancake recipe calls for, it’s a good idea to double it. But if you’re dealing with a pancake mix, it will even be easier. Here’s the formula: for every cup of dry pancake mix, add two extra tablespoons of oil. Also, use a neutral-tasting oil like vegetable oil or canola oil.
2. Substitute water for whole milk
Classic pancake mixes only require adding water. But instead of water, you can use whole milk to make your waffles extra rich. A couple of large eggs can also make your waffles a little fluffier on the inside. Then, you can add the extra oil that your waffles need to be crispy.
Using a Waffle Mix to Make Pancakes
If you’re craving for pancakes and what you have is a box of waffle mix, a trip to the grocery store isn’t necessary. All you need to do is to make some tweaks to make it a bit more runny and less greasy.
1. Reduce oil
To make your waffle mix taste a bit more like pancake batter, you must reduce the amount of oil. If the waffle mix requires adding more fat, don’t do it since you’ll be making pancakes. The grease is what makes the shell crispy on waffles, which is not so great with pancakes. The more you reduce the fat, the better.
When you’re about to cook pancakes using a waffle mix, reduce the amount of oil in the skillet. Lightly spray it with oil instead of coating it with butter to ensure that the pancakes are fluffy and airy rather than crunchy.
2. Do not add sugar
It’s also a good idea not to add any sugar to the waffle mix, even if the recipe in the packet asks for it. Waffle mixes already have enough sugar, and adding some more will only increase the crunchiness that the pancakes will have. Not adding additional sugar will help your pancake stay soft and fluffy.
3. Add more water
Waffle mixes also ask for water, but if you want to make a pancake, add a little bit more until the batter becomes less thick and as runny as a pancake batter. Adding water will also dilute the sugar content in the waffle mix.