The Secret to the Fluffiest Pancakes Ever (Just In Time for Mother’s Day!)

published May 6, 2024
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someone is drizzling syrup on. pancakes  on a plate next to fruit
Credit: Meghan Splawn

As a semi-professional pancake flipper (read: I have two pancake-loving kids), I’m constantly chasing fluffy diner-style pancakes. A few years ago, I even tested eight popular recipes to find a favorite. Still, my unquenchable thirst for better pancakes means I’m drawn to every new recipe or technique I see. That’s why I saved an Instagram post from Martha Stewart awhile back and have been thinking about it ever since.

Martha’s Instagram caption promised a perfect breakfast of fluffy blueberry pancakes served with lots of butter and syrup. I finally got to try these pancakes for myself and they include one of my new favorite tricks for lofty, fluffy pancakes. Here’s how to do it.

How to Make Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Pancakes

Because I was already familiar with Martha’s Basic Pancake recipe, this Instagram recipe was easy enough for me to follow without detailed instructions. I began by whisking together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then, I whisked together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla, plus the secret ingredient: soda water. I didn’t have any plain bubbly water on hand, so I grabbed a Raspberry-Lime Spindrift and hoped it wouldn’t turn the batter pink. I then whisked the dry and wet ingredients together.

Martha recommends an electric skillet for cooking these pancakes, but I used my trusty cast iron. For research purposes (aka my kids’ delight) I made half the batch with blueberries and half without — adding the fresh berries on top right before flipping. The pancakes puffed beautifully in the skillet.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

My Honest Review of Martha’s Fluffy Pancakes

This isn’t my first time making pancakes with seltzer — I tested Epicurious’ Diner-Style Pancakes, which are also made with 1/2 cup seltzer, for the showdown last year. Revisiting this tip gave me new appreciation for the ease of using bubbly water to give height to buttermilk pancakes. It works because anytime you incorporate air into batter, such as by adding something bubbly like seltzer, you create pockets of air. Those pockets give the chemical reaction between the buttermilk and the baking soda a place to go. The air bubbles then expand when heated, so more air bubbles = more rise. The result is extra-fluffy pancakes without any extra effort — no whipping of egg whites or coaxing more rise from a special mixing method.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

If you’re wondering whether the flavored seltzer affected the taste of the final pancakes, it did not — a huge bonus if you want to try this recipe without running to the grocery store or investing in a soda stream. While I might not stick with Martha’s recipe as written, I’m excited to try out the technique with my current favorite recipe as I continue my quest for the most perfect pancake of all time. And just imagine how much better pancakes made from a boxed mix will be with this tip, too.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

If You’re Making Martha’s Fluffy Pancakes, Here Are 2 Tips

Martha’s simple technique is one I think anyone can borrow to upgrade their basic pancakes, but a few tips will make it even more worthwhile.

  1. Make sure the seltzer is cold. Many years ago, while testing tempura recipes, I learned cold seltzer has finer bubbles. This helps evenly distribute the bubbly lift of seltzer or soda water throughout the batter.
  2. Don’t over-mix the batter. After the initial mixing of the dry and wet ingredients together, particularly while you’re waiting for the pan to preheat, the baking soda and buttermilk will be growing bubbles within the batter from the bubbly water. If you mix the batter again, you’ll knock down those bubbles and your pancakes won’t get quite the rise. Fight the temptation to do more than dip into the bowl to scoop out batter.

This post was originally published on The Kitchn. Read it there: Martha Stewart Just Taught Me the Secret to the Best Pancakes Ever