Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes with Fresh Strawberry Compote

Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes

I haven’t posted a pancake recipe in ages – but the other night I had a craving and made Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes for dinner. Don’t tell! Breakfast for dinner! Why does that freak some people out? I say we need it more often! There should be a movement!

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes

I was inspired to make pancakes, too, by the lovely strawberries we’ve had this spring, and made a Fresh Strawberry Compote to go with them. For a few short minutes, I was in heaven! Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes with that Strawberry Compote was like breakfast, dinner, and dessert all on one plate! I probably should have gone whole hog and made whipped cream, too, but that was a little too over the top for me.

About Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes:

I’m sure that over the years Cook’s has probably put out many pancake recipes and I have no idea what issue/’book this recipe came from. I know it was good enough for me to copy onto a recipe card and file it away. And I know it’s a fast and easy pancake, almost a too good to be true recipe.

Cook’s Illustrated Pancakes are light and fluffy and have a fantastic flavor. I love them just with a little bit of real butter. What more can you want? Well, besides that Fresh Strawberry Compote, that is?

I’ve always thought these Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes are a good, solid pancake with very little effort. If I had to make a hierarchy of pancakes on my site, not including the special varieties that have ricotta or are crepe-like, I’d put them right under the fussier Swedish Silver Dollar Pancakes (I don’t know if any pancake recipe can beat those!) and the Best Basic Betty Crocker Pancakes which are a simple no fuss stir together recipe, fluffy and so delish. Just as an aside, I did have fun reading about all the different pancakes on Wikipedia!

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes with Fresh Strawberry Compote

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes with Fresh Strawberry Compote

Making Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes:

I don’t know if there ever was a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that didn’t have a few extra twists and turns in the making due to their quest for absolute excellence, but this recipe isn’t too bad. There was a bit of weirdness that called for part fresh and part buttermilk, but honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference either way and most of the time I just put 2 teaspoons of vinegar in a cup and add (whole, preferably) milk rather buying buttermilk, anyway. You might sacrifice a smidge of thickness in the batter,

What really seems to pay off is melting the small bit of butter, separating the egg and adding the white to the buttermilk and the yolk to the butter. The white isn’t beaten to peaks like most recipes that ask you to separate the egg, just whisked right into the buttermilk. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but it is a curious bit of kitchen alchemy that really seems to work.

Do watch the size of the pancakes! When you make them, use 1/3 cup measuring cup because you’ll want 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. That means you won’t have to try to scrape the batter out of the measuring cup until the very last pancake. What remains behind in the cup after each pancake is poured seems to be just about exactly the difference between the 1/4 cup of batter that lands on the griddle and the 1/3rd cup measuring cup full of batter. Hope that made sense! If it didn’t, just trust me, lol!

This recipe for Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes make 8 small pancakes, about 4 inches across, and if you make them larger, they don’t rise as quite as well. The recipe makes exactly 8 (seriously, like exactly 8 with no smidge of batter leftover) so you might want to double or triple if you have bigger eaters. I don’t know anyone who will only want two of these pancakes!

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes

Saving Money on Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes:

I already mentioned one way to save a little on the pancakes: Use the vinegar/milk combo instead of buying buttermilk. In this case, I used 2 teaspoons of vinegar (to compensate for the original recipe that used part buttermilk and part plain milk) but the standard, just for future reference is to use a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of milk.

Any standard baking items are going to be on sale, particularly during the winter holidays and Easter, so stock up then. I freeze any products containing flour for three days when they first come into the house. If you have an Aldi, their prices on baking goods are excellent.

Butter and eggs are usually on sale during just about any holiday. I try to stock up on both (if I have room!) especially the butter. Freeze it and it keeps for months. If you have an idea about how much butter you go through, buy enough to last for the next holiday and you’ll always be using sales priced butter. Aldi has decent prices on butter and sometimes puts it on special around holidays.

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes with Fresh Strawberry Compote

Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes with Fresh Strawberry Compote


Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes

Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes – light & fluffy and no fuss. They’re high on the list of our family’s favorite pancake,

  • Author: cook's illustrated
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 pancakes 1x
  • Category: Breakfast & Brunch
  • Cuisine: American



If you don’t have any buttermilk, mix 1 cup room temperature milk with two teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice and let it stand for five minutes. Substitute this “clabbered milk” for the buttermilk and milk in this recipe. Since this milk mixture is not as thick as buttermilk, the batter and resulting pancakes will not be as thick.

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup milk (plus an extra tablespoon or so if batter is too thick)
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • vegetable oil (for brushing griddle)


Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside.

Pour buttermilk and milk (or the milk/vinegar or lemon juice substitute) into 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Whisk in egg white. Mix yolk with melted butter, then stir the butter yolk mixture into the milk/egg white mixture. Dump the resulting mixture of wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once; whisk until just mixed. Allow to rest for five minutes.

In the meantime, heat griddle or large skillet over strong medium-high heat. Brush griddle generously with oil. When water splashed on surface confidently sizzles, pour batter, about ¼ cup at a time, onto griddle, making sure not to overcrowd. When pancake bottoms are brown and top surface starts to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes, flip cakes and cook until remaining side has browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Re-oil the skillet and repeat for the next batch of pancakes.


  • This makes 8 smallish pancakes, about 4 inches across. Batter may be doubled or tripled.
  • If making a large batch, have the oven on at 250 degrees, and a have a sheet tray in oven. Place cooked pancakes in oven to keep warm before serving.
  • Pancakes freeze well. Lay them flat on a plastic wrapped sheet tray and store with plastic between them in a Ziploc bag when frozen.
  • If you want blueberry pancakes, add 1/4 cup blueberries to the batter.

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I’ll be posting Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes at Fiesta Friday 232, hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog. Stopover, mingle a bit and check out all the best food blogger recipes for the week, all in one place.

Cook's Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes - light & fluffy and no fuss. They're high on the list of our family's favorite pancake, #CooksIllustratedPancakes #ButtermilkPancakes ##CooksIllustratedButtermilkPancakes

26 thoughts on “Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes

  1. I’m with you on pancakes for dinner Mollie– it’s sort of a Sunday night staple around here. These look great! Cooks Illustrated is so reliable. And– did you change your blog template again?? I like it a lot! Easier to scroll down and beautiful big sized photos!! xox

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Rhonda, thanks, but I can’t find a theme that works with everything on my blog. Like the menus don’t work right on this one – I think my blog is too large for some of the templates. I don’t really like this one but it seems like its faster so I keep searching and trying different ones.

  2. Mollie I’ve no idea how you managed to categorise your pancakes like that, but that shows real pancake love! These look gorgeous with or without the compote and now I’m definitely having pancakes for breakfast! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe and linking up with Fiesta Friday #FF232

  3. I used to love cook’s illustrated. They don’t publish anymore, right? I loved their test kitchen, when they tested appliances and products. Loved the editor, who now does Milk Kitchen, or something like that? Why can’t i think of his name. He also published a book called Dear Charlie. Do you remember the letters to his son in the beginning of the magazine? Anyway, great pancakes.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Chris Kimball. I used to love those letters and he’s an excellent writer – I might have to look for that book. I don’t know about the magazine or the show for that matter, but I made some great recipes from them over the years!

  4. We have breakfast for dinner at LEAST once a week in our house lol These pancakes look fantastic Mollie; I’m saving to try this recipe out for later. Thanks 😀

  5. Pingback: Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes — Frugal Hausfrau | My Meals are on Wheels

  6. I’m going to try them out this summer. Is there any reason one couldn’t use 1 cup of buttermilk, instead of the buttermilk/milk combo? I froze away a couple of containers each containing 1 cup of buttermilk a while ago, and don’t know what I’d do with the other 1/4 cup once I thawed it. 🙂

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I really don’t see why not. I can’t for the life of me remember why the weirdness about the milk. I think the key piece is mixing the yolk with the butter and the whites with the milk. Hope you love them!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I used to think I wasn’t a pancake fan, then I realized I am, just a picky pancake fan! These fall in that category!

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