Big Little Recipes

3-Ingredient Pancakes That Stay Fluffy Against All Odds

January 14, 2020

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. Psst—we don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Today, we’re making pancakes without the usual suspects.


Photo by ROCKY LUTEN. PROP STYLIST: AMANDA WIDIS. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG.

Pancakes at their best have a crackly-charred border, bouncy-plush center, and can be whipped up when you’re half-asleep on a Saturday morning. In most cases, this means tracking down a reliable recipe—say, buttermilk pancakes or cottage cheese pancakes or overnight-oatmeal pancakes—and keeping it close at hand. But the formula I’m about to tell you is so simple, you could hear it once, and know it by heart.

One banana, third-cup almond flour, two eggs, and a pinch of salt. Got it? Got it.

Maybe you’re raising your eyebrows at the fact that there’s no wheat flour, no sugar, no leaveners, and no milk. None of this is an oversight.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“This seems like a truly easy recipe unlike those using tapioca flour, etc.”
— Marilyn L.
Comment

We first caught wind of seemingly-impossible, supposedly-magical, two-ingredient banana pancakes a few years ago, when Sarah Jampel tested some of the most talked-about recipes on the internet. “While we all agreed that these pancakes could use some salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup,” she wrote, “everyone who tried them was pleasantly surprised.”

Actually, a lot of people thought these pancakes could use some cinnamon. Add a teaspoon-ish and this one-up recipe is its own internet hit (see everywhere from Whole Foods to Tasty, not to mention spinoffs like The Food Network with pumpkin pie spice). The idea is, two-ingredient pancakes need something, and cinnamon solves this.

Photo by ROCKY LUTEN. PROP STYLIST: AMANDA WIDIS. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG.

I agree that the two-ingredient version is unfinished. Because, despite developing recipes like one-ingredient chicken broth and two-ingredient chocolate–peanut butter mousse, I get that less is not always more. But! I still don’t think the missing piece is cinnamon.

It’s almond flour. This gluten-free staple is a longtime favorite in French macarons. As Shirley Corriher notes in BakeWise, “A nut meal can provide all the ‘flour’ needed in a cookie.” Or, it turns out, a pancake. Just as cookies rely on flour for structure, pancakes do too. But that flour can be milled from a lot more than wheat.

Here, almond flour fluffs up the batter, the way you would your pillows before you fall asleep. It also reins in the fruity flavor, so you feel less like you’re eating banana bread, and more like you’re eating, you know, pancakes. Not to mention that eggy flavor, which is the greatest complaint when it comes to this recipe. When I asked my husband to guess what was in these, he guessed—deep breath—all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, yogurt, nuts, banana, milk, cream, and baking soda, all before he got to eggs.

You could top these with whatever strikes your fancy. Say, sugared berries and sour cream. Tahini and honey. Or keep it classic, like we did, with salty butter and maple syrup.

If you can’t wait until the weekend for brunch, I should add that these come together in one bowl, swiftly enough to pull off on a workday. After all, you already have the recipe memorized, right?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • nana marie
    nana marie
  • Hannah
    Hannah
  • Peaches
    Peaches
  • Marilyn Light Gallas
    Marilyn Light Gallas
  • Alexandra Hemingway
    Alexandra Hemingway
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

11 Comments

nana M. April 25, 2020
I made these and was blah . It looked so easy and simple. They tend to burn easily and the texture was not what I liked. I am going to experiment and try once again and beat the ingredients thoroughly with a mixer.
 
Hannah February 7, 2020
I tried this with hazelnut flour I had leftover from a loaf cake I made earlier this year. They turned out okay. Next time I get my hands on almond flour I’ll make them the right way!
 
Peaches February 6, 2020
Curious as to whether something like applesauce can be substituted for the banana (as only like bananas as fresh fruit)? Sorry all banana bread lovers!
 
Kendall April 21, 2020
I like your idea of using applesauce because I dislike bananas. Maybe other fruits could be a good substitute?
 
Marilyn L. January 25, 2020
Thank you for this. I'm being told I need to be gluten free due to auto-immune issues. This seems like a truly easy recipe unlike those using tapioca flour, etc.
 
Alexandra H. January 23, 2020
I'm new to almond flour. Am I looking for blanched or unblanched for this recipe?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. January 24, 2020
Hi Alexandra, I used blanched almond flour for these.
 
Alexandra H. January 24, 2020
Thank you so much! Definitely giving these a go this weekend ;D
 
Author Comment
Emma L. January 24, 2020
Yay, hope you enjoy!
 
W. January 14, 2020
Given the variations in banana size, it would be helpful to have the approximate weight of banana in grams. :)
 
sleeper54 February 6, 2020
Or even a relative size ...small, medium, large..??

...tom...