How-To & Diy

How to Make Any Pancakes with Non-Wheat Flours

October  6, 2014

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich is going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: You can make your favorite pancake recipe with any flour you like, with Alice's tips -- in an excerpt from the beginning of her latest book, Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake With Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole and Ancient Grains, Nuts, and Non-Wheat Flours (Artisan 2014).

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You don’t have to be living gluten-free to fall in love with some of the most flavorful flours in the baking aisle -- even though many of them happen to be gluten-free. When I refer to flavorful flours -- or flavor flours -- I’m talking about individual, often whole-grain or nut flours, rather than the gluten-free flour blends made from starches and white rice flour.

Now you are probably thinking that you need special recipes for baking with non-wheat flours. You are mostly right: individual gluten-free flours can’t be substituted, willy-nilly, for wheat flour in recipes. Usually you do need special recipes. For that you could order a copy of Flavor Flours, but meanwhile, do read on…

Pancake (also waffle and crêpe) recipes are a huge exception to the usual caveat about substituting non-wheat flours for wheat, and a terrific way to try new and delicious flours. You don’t need a special recipe or lots of new ingredients to make new pancakes! Just get some new flour and make breakfast as usual!  

Here’s how:
Choose one of the flavor flours from the curated list below -- each of these flours makes light, tender, and delicious pancakes. Mix up your favorite basic plain pancake batter, substituting the chosen flour, either by volume or by weight, for the flour called for. Don’t worry about over-mixing the batter because there is no gluten to make your pancakes tough -- just whisk everything together and get on with it. You may need to adjust the consistency of the batter by adding more liquid or flour, as you might normally do when making pancakes. 

Maple syrup is a great topping on pancakes made with all of these flours, but I’ve also suggested alternates to pair with each below.

Brown rice flour: fresh strawberries or blueberries

Oat flour: maple syrup with bananas and toasted pecans, blueberries, and/or blueberry syrup

Corn flour: berry preserves or berry syrups

Sorghum flour: sorghum syrup, blackberry preserves, fresh strawberries

Chestnut flour: apple or pear butter, sour cream or crème fraîche with honey or cherry preserves, ricotta cheese with honey and fresh figs

Buckwheat* flour: sour cream or crème fraîche with cherry or blackberry preserves or a drizzle of honey
*I adore the assertive flavor of buckwheat. But if you are timid, try blending the buckwheat flour with white rice flour, in any proportion, to lighten the flavor.

More: Hone your pancake-making skills with a batch of Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

Get excited about Alice's forthcoming book Flavor Flours: nearly 125 recipes -- from Double Oatmeal Cookies to Buckwheat Gingerbread -- made with wheat flour alternatives like rice flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, and teff (not only because they're gluten-free, but for an extra dimension of flavor, too). 

Photos by Alpha Smoot, Mark Weinberg, and James Ransom


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kristin
  • Genevieve Lovell
    Genevieve Lovell
  • Stephen Kimball
    Stephen Kimball
  • Amy Ratner, editor Gluten-Free Living
    Amy Ratner, editor Gluten-Free Living
  • MS
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Kristin January 5, 2015
Buckwheat flour is excellent with dark buckwheat honey specifically (a "duh" moment for me). But it also pairs well with savory toppings. I often top all-buckwheat crepes with ham, eggs, and fontina or Orangette's egg-mushroom-carmelized onion salad.
Genevieve L. October 29, 2014
Has anyone tried coconut flour?
Amanda C. February 26, 2015
Yes and while it's wonderful, you have to be careful how much you use. You can only replace about 20% of the flour required with coconut flour. You then have to up your liquids 20% to counteract the extra absorption.
Stephen K. October 12, 2014
I wonder how pancakes made with millet flour would taste and what they might go best with?
Amy R. October 6, 2014
Make sure any oat flour you use is certified gluten free or made from specialty gluten-free oats as regular oats are highly likely to be cross-contaminated.
MS October 6, 2014
My experience with buckwheat flour pancakes is that they are incredibly leaden unless you cut the buckwheat with another flour. You've had success with various pancake recipes swapping out the AP flour for all buckwheat?
Olijfjeb October 6, 2014
Boy did this article come right in time! I was about to donate my bag of buckwheat flour to a bake-enthousiast, but I'll definitely be making and baking myself this weekend. I might go for a savoury filling with these. Think goat cheese, figs and watercress might be right. Other suggestions more than welcome!