Pancakes were so successful as a breakfast food that they made the leap to brunch and even breakfast-for-dinner, just to give people an excuse to eat more of them more often. Light and fluffy, they’re more cake-like than boring bread but less dessert-like than actual cake.
Pancakes can be one of the easiest meals to make if you know what you’re doing and you have the right basic ingredients. Flour, in particular, can dramatically change the outcome of your pancakes.
So, what is the best flour for pancakes? The best flour for pancakes is All-Purpose Flour (APV), our favorites coming from King Arther or Bob’s Red Mill. You can even get gluten-free from either brand that works wonders in a pancake batter.
In this article, we’ll elaborate on exactly why APV is the best flour for your pancakes, but we’ll also give you some advice for using a few of the most popular alternatives as well.
Why All-Purpose Flour is Best for Pancakes
You can use almost any type of flour and make some form of a pancake. The type of flour you use will dramatically alter the consistency, so understanding how flour works will help you choose the best flour for your personal preference of pancakes.
Cake flour or pastry flour has the lowest percentage of protein, or gluten, which is perfect for true cakes because it helps them become light and airy, but for pancakes, it can leave them a bit too fragile.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have hard flours like bread flour or rye flour. These flours are higher in gluten which makes them heavier and much denser.
In the middle, you have All-Purpose Flour (APF), which is essentially a combination of hard and soft flour. If you use APF for your pancakes, you’ll enjoy consistently filling and satisfying yet still fluffy pancakes.
The Best All-Purpose Flour for Pancakes
Two brands stand head and shoulders above their competitors when it comes to manufacturing quality, reliable flour: King Arther and Bob’s Red Mill.
King Arthur Flour 100% Organic All-Purpose Flour
King Arthur knows pancakes.
Their website features 82 different recipes for this breakfast delight, including their Simply Perfect Pancake recipe that calls for All-Purpose Flour.
If the King of flour decrees it the best, who are we to argue?
The organic flour is never bleached or bromated
This line is grown, harvested and milled in the US according to strict USDA standards, meaning there is never any pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals anywhere near your flour
The organic line is non-enriched, so you know all you’re getting in your flour is flour
Biggest Drawback: The flour uses a blend of red wheat and malted barley wheat, which for most is unnoticeable, but professional bakers can add a touch of unexpected flavor.
If you need a gluten-free flour, you can try King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour.
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour
The bag calls attention to the fact that if you’re making pancakes, this is the flour to use.
It’s highly versatile so you can also use it for cookies, pastries, and even light bread, but what really matters is that it will create light and fluffy pancakes, every time.
If the presence of malted barley wheat made you wonder if King Arther was the right choice, Bob’s Red Mill won’t disappoint.
The only ingredient is organic hard red wheat.
Never enriched, bleached or bromated
Milled using an old-fashioned quartz millstone which produces remarkably consistent results while still retaining the most nutrition possible
Their gluten-free option is manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility and is also vegan, Kosher and guaranteed to be free from corn, soy and oat ingredients
Biggest Drawback: The price. Unfortunately, there’s no sugar-coating this drawback, all we can say is that you get what you pay for, and when it comes to this flour, you’re paying for the best of the best.
For a gluten-free version, try Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Flour
Alternative Flours for Pancakes
There are many reasons you may want to use an alternative flour for your pancakes. Perhaps you already have a different flour on hand, or maybe you’re avoiding wheat products.
You should still enjoy every opportunity to make pancakes. You’ll simply need to know a few tricks to make sure the recipe turns out a success.
Testing pancake recipes is not a horrible job, but it should be noted that no matter how many batches were made in the writing of this article, none of the recipes using alternative flours were as perfectly pancake-like as those make with All-Purpose.
Every bite was delicious, nonetheless.
So what were the flours we used as alternatives to all-purpose flour? You can choose from whole wheat, almond flour, or coconut flour.
There is a handy conversion chart for these flours later on in the article as well.
Whole Wheat Pancakes
Many people prefer the taste of whole wheat flour or opt for the benefits of a less processed product. Either way, it’s possible to make pancakes with whole wheat flour but you have to be careful they don’t turn out incredibly dense and heavy.
Our Favorite Whole Wheat Flour: Bob’s Red Mill 100% Whole Wheat Flour
If you’re happy with a middle ground, you can replace half your APF for whole wheat without changing anything else about your recipe.
If you want to use only whole wheat flour, you will need to add 5 teaspoons of water for every cup of flour you use.
The secret to fluffy pancakes made with any kind of flour is never to overmix your batter and this rule is even more important when it comes to using whole wheat.
If you mix too much, you will end up with flat, dense, and sticky pancakes. With enough syrup or fruit puree and they’ll still be delicious though!
Almond Flour Pancakes
Almond flour is lower in carbs than All-Purpose Flour and, not being made from wheat, it’s also naturally gluten-free. This is great news for diabetics, those following a low-carb or Keto diet and the gluten-intolerant as well.
Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest flour to cook or bake with if you’re used to wheat and there is no one-solution-fits-all conversion.
Our Favorite Almond Flour: Nature’s Eats Blanched Almond Flour
Almond flour is heavier and absorbs liquid differently from its wheat flour cousin, so you either have to use less flour, more liquid, or more leavener.
It can be different with every recipe, so unless you don’t mind trial and error, it’s a good idea to seek out bakers who have already done the experimentation for each unique recipe you create with almond flour.
For pancakes, every recipe you find is slightly different which makes substituting almond flour even more tricky.
The easiest, more simple recipe we tested using only 3 ingredients:
1 ½ cups of almond flour
1 ripe banana
Coconut Flour Pancakes
Coconut flour is another low-carb, gluten-free flour options, but this one is higher in protein and fiber, making it more similar to All-Purpose Flour than Almond flour. Or so the internet says.
Our Favorite Coconut Flour: Nutiva’s Coconut Flour
In reality, coconut flour absorbs an astonishing amount of liquid which completely alters the consistency of anything you’re cooking or baking.
Once again, you’ll have the best success in avoiding mistakes by searching out the experience of others.
You will probably need to use less flour, more liquid, and more eggs. It works best with eggs, which can make it difficult to convert to a vegan recipe.
The simplest recipe for coconut flour pancakes we tested used:
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ripe banana
¼ cup milk or milk alternative
Want to learn more about coconut flour? Read this article: The Best Coconut Flour Substitutes
Flour Conversion Chart|
1 Cup + 5 teaspoons water|
1.5 cups + added leavening agent|
Sourdough Starter Pancakes
A while back, we wrote an article talking about the importance of flour for sourdough starters. Thanks to the research done then, it was easy to test how well the starter works to make pancakes.
The result was undeniably golden but doesn’t strictly fall into the ‘alternative flour’ category because you still need to use All-Purpose or Whole Wheat flour to make the pancakes. You just make them with the sourdough starter as well to achieve the tangy bite that we know and love.
They cook up very similar to standard pancakes, but they bring an element of inconsistency to your recipe. Sometimes you need to add more milk, sometimes you have too much.
If you have a practiced pancake batter eye, you’ll have no trouble finding your way to the right consistency but, once again, avoid over mixing in your experimentation.
The other major drawback is that they take more ingredients and are more work to make, especially if you factor in the process of building a sourdough starter in the first place.
There are many recipes on the internet and too many ingredients to imply making these pancakes are simple or easy, so if you’re up for a challenge, search out a well-practiced pro-recipe developer.
Can you make homemade pancakes without baking powder?
Baking powder is how your pancakes get light and fluffy and, without it, you risk flat, doughy pancakes.
There are multiple, simple substitutions, however, so you can still have your pancakes!
For pancakes, our favorite substitution is to mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in with your dry ingredients and ½ teaspoon lemon juice in with your wet ingredients.
The combination will give you the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Can you make homemade pancakes without milk?
Vegans make pancakes all the time, and they do so without the use of dairy milk. The simplest solution would be to simply swap for a milk alternative, such as soy, almond, or coconut milk.
If you don’t have any milk alternatives either you can use plain water, but you may want to boost the flavor with a small bit of coconut oil or a tiny bit of sugar or maple syrup.
Can you make homemade pancakes without eggs?
Similar to the last questions, vegans love pancakes as much as anyone and they cook without eggs, so yes, you certainly can. You can simply leave out the eggs, but you’ll end up with rather flat pancakes.
A better alternative would be to DIY an egg alternative out of flax meal or ground chia seeds.
To make an “egg,” simply add 1 tablespoon of flax or ground chia to a small bowl and whisk in 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit in your fridge for about 10 minutes so that the seeds soak up the water and get nice and sticky.
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