We Made The World’s Best Pancakes

Posted by on Jan 25, 2013 in Breakfast, Brunch | 13 Comments

Izzie picked up her pencil and paper and regarded both with great seriousness. At 8, she was small for her age and her thick glasses threatened to swallow her round little face. She faced her aunt over the tiny cafe table in the corner of her aunt’s tiny, yet stylish, apartment. Her aunt was tall and thin and still largely a mystery to Izzie, who had only been living with her a short time. 

Izzie faced the butterflies in her stomach and read the first question on the page. “What is the best part of being a grown-up today?” It was an assignment for school. Izzie did very well in school.

Her aunt sipped her espresso and tapped against the table. After a moment, she met Izzie’s eyes. “Guess.”

Izzie frowned. The paper did not indicate that Izzie should guess- it told her to ask a grown-up these questions and write down the answers.

An interview. Perhaps her aunt didn’t know what an interview was. 

Izzie might’ve wondered such things aloud to her mother. But her mother was no longer there. And though her aunt always answered her when Izzie mused aloud (which was often), her aunt’s answers tended to be more… peculiar. Izzie sighed and tried to think. The best part about being a grown-up… “You can wear nice clothes?” she asked hopefully.

Her aunt raised an eyebrow. “No. Not that.” 

Feeling a bit flushed, like she had said the wrong thing (but her aunt dressed so fancy! And she seemed to delight in her clothes!) Izzie tried again. “You can vote?”

“That’s a better guess.” But her aunt shook her head. “Sadly, no. Not the best part. Good. But not the best part by far.”

Izzie guessed several more times (you can have a dog!) (you can visit France!) (you can ride the subway alone!) but her aunt dismissed them one by one (No.) (That’s true, but no. Well… no.) (The subway?) Finally, Izzie drooped in her chair, defeated. “All right,” she said to her aunt. “I give up.”

Her aunt took a sip of espresso and smiled faintly over the rim. “Fine then. Write this down. It’s quite simple, really. I’m sure once you hear it, you’ll agree.” Inside Izzie’s head, she grumbled a bit. “The best part of being a grown up,” she said slowly, so her niece’s pencil could keep up, “is being able to eat truly excellent pancakes whenever one wishes.”  

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

Izzie was surprised by the answer yet not too surprised; her aunt was peculiar, after all. (And she did make truly excellent, excellent pancakes.)

There’s something comforting about having a blog and occasionally sharing quintessential  recipes. I’m not sure why… Maybe because of the sheer volume of recipes out there. So many variations and tests and special tricks and techniques. Not to mention the sources. So many sources. Endless sources. I don’t really need to go into how impossible it is to determine “the best possible” recipe in any category, do I?

Nevertheless, here I am, telling you that these are the world’s best pancakes. But maybe that’s a misnomer- let’s call them quintessential pancakes then.

They consist of white flour. Butter. Whole milk. Sugar. Baking powder. Eggs. Vegetable oil. And salt.

You’re trying to resist me, I can feel it. You’re trying to imagine variants with skim milk, soy milk, no butter, less butter, whole wheat flour, less white flour. No eggs. Maybe applesauce? Just… stop. Just for a second. I commend you for what you’re trying to do, I really do. (I do it myself! Hi!) But now’s not the time. Ruth and I (we’re friends, we’re so close.  We’re likethis.) would like you to just… take a break. Just for now. Just this once. Just for breakfast.

Because we made you pancakes. Crisp and chewy. Shiny with syrup. Topped with a pat of butter. We hope you like them as much as we did.

World’s Best Pancakes

Source: ruthreichl.com | Makes 8 large pancakes | Print Recipe


1 Stick of butter
1 Cup of whole milk
2 Large eggs
1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 Cup of flour
4 Teaspoons of baking powder
4 Teaspoons of sugar
1 Teaspoon of salt


1. Melt the butter. Whisk together the cup of milk, eggs, vegetable oil, then add the butter.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk into milk mixture until just combined. (Add a bit more milk if it’s too thick.)

3. Skim a good pan with butter or oil and pour in some batter (the size is up to you). Watch as the bubbles appear in the batter, grow larger, and then pop and vanish. When they’ve all popped, flip the pancake and cook the other side.

SKS Note: Eat the first pancake off the pan as a test. This is your right as the maker of breakfast.



  1. libby
    January 25, 2013

    I like that this doesn’t involve buttermilk. I hate buying that stuff and having to come up with other ways to use it and I can’t even drink it. Thank you.

    • Judi
      January 25, 2013

      What a coincidence- I just threw out a carton of buttermilk this weekend. It had frozen in the back of my fridge.

      • Megan
        January 27, 2013

        You don’t have to buy buttermilk every time. Just 1 tbsp of lemon juice per cup of milk and le it sit on the counter for 10 mins. Otherwise, buttermilk freezes well and can be used at a later date!

  2. Allison Day
    January 26, 2013

    I totally agree, these are some gosh freaking fantastic pancakes. I think I got this recipe from some interview or article Ruth Reichl did on some website, and holy cow, best pancakes I’ve ever made!

    And yes, the eating of the first pancake by the pancake maker is essential. Quality control is important, you know. 😉

  3. natalie @ wee eats
    January 27, 2013

    I agree with libby – it’s such a pain to keep buttermilk on hand just for that one off chance that I might want to make pancakes or biscuits or something that requires buttermilk. Happy to see that the “world’s best pancakes” don’t even need buttermilk!

    It’s 5:00 am and my tummy is grumbling for pancakes!

  4. Faye
    January 27, 2013

    This looks delicious, can’t wait to try it! Should these be done over a low heat? The burnt parts look great, but don’t know if high heat will leave the insides uncooked.

    • Nicole
      January 27, 2013

      I cooked them over medium and after the first pancake when the pan was hot, they definitely cooked quicker, so I lowered it a little and still got the more burnt/crispy parts and the center was cooked through.

  5. Allie {Urban Feast}
    January 28, 2013

    Love the last hint on eating the first pancake!! Definitely your right as brekkie maker 🙂

  6. Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden
    January 31, 2013

    This is delicious. Look great!

  7. LB
    February 8, 2013

    I’m making these right now, can’t wait to taste!!!

  8. Brent
    February 12, 2013

    Best part of the recipe is the story! I loved it…but i’ll definitely be making the pancakes!

  9. Tina
    February 13, 2013

    Looking fro a good recipe yesterday and found this one. Had them last night for Pancake Day 2013. Un-freaking-believable! Love this recipe. Light, tender…my husband gave them a 10/10. And Gus, the dog licked the plates clean!
    I’ll need to double the recipe next time to freeze them for future cravings!
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Mark
    February 1, 2015

    Pancake bliss pure and simple! Wonderful recipe. I tried a variation replacing 1/2 the butter with a 1/4 cup of whole milk yogurt and they were delicious as well. These pancakes are a perfect vehicle for maple syrup, they absorb it so gently and then release it when you take a bite.


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