How I Changed up My Sheet Pan Pancakes to Make Them More Exciting
I’ve learned that I burn anything that needs to be cooked in a frying pan with oil. This includes pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, breakfast sausages, and even pork hash cakes so I started worrying about how early I was making those items (neighbors and smoke detectors) or had Matt make them if the kids ever asked. Over time though I wanted to be able to make them myself so I was super excited when I came across how to make pancakes (and even grilled cheese look it up!) in the oven. It’s so simple. I love that I can whip up a batch (once I even pre-mixed it the night before), toss it in the oven, and go take a shower while it bakes. I also love that I can easily double it so I have leftovers in the fridge and freezer for future quick microwavable breakfasts. It’s amazing! But I also noticed that my kids started sopping the syrup up using their pancakes and quickly asked for more repeatedly. I decided to change up my pancakes so we wouldn’t need syrup as the sweetness was already included prepackaged inside each one.
I first came across the concept of sheet pan pancakes through @MacaroniAndButter on Instagram although I can’t find that specific post anymore. I later reviewed a cookbook I received through NetGalley, titled Healthy One Pan Dinners, and have since only used her Sheet Pan Pancakes recipe and now double it for two complete sheet pans worth of pancakes at one time. Doing a simple search online for
sheet pan pancakes brings up many results so I figured rather than sharing a recipe I’d instead share how I change up my pancakes in case you’re also looking for something different. I figured I’d make it easier by separating out the images based on: preparing the pancakes, ingredients I’ve mixed into the batter, ingredients I’ve added to the pre-baked pancakes, images with the two previous categories shown, ingredients added to the mostly baked pancakes, toppings added to the finished pancakes, and finally how I deal with the leftovers. So first one up is:
Preparing the Pancakes
A couple times when I know I want pancakes the next morning, but don’t have any leftover ones available in the fridge or freezer and I know I don’t have enough time to mix up a fresh batch AND bake them the next morning I’ve attempted to speed up the entire process by mixing up the pancake batter the night before. This way in the morning I can turn on the oven, grease the sheet pans, pour the already made batter into the sheet pans, and, by that time, the oven is preheated and I can toss them them in. I still have the same amount of dirty dishes that day but the pancakes themselves take much less time and we can get going sooner with whatever plans we might have that day.
After pouring the pre-made batter onto the sheet pans I was able to grab the prepped cups of ingredients, sprinkle them each over a pan of batter, and toss them into the preheated oven. I’ve only done this once or twice so far but both times allowed me to speed up the pancake process just enough to have enough time to make fresh pancakes for breakfast on days when I had less time.
Ingredients Mixed Into the Batter
I started out making plain pancakes for the girls but found they’d sop up all the syrup and repeatedly ask for more. I quickly realized that I wanted to find a way to change up the pancakes in a way that replaced the syrup. The first time around I simply added chocolate chips to the pancake batter, which added sweetness, and told them it was instead of syrup. This way they each got a set amount of chocolate chips, the ones in their pancakes, and getting more was dependent on having another whole pancake rather than simply getting more syrup to pour over the remaining pancake on the plate.
Adding ingredients to the pre-made pancake batter was so easy that I kept trying different combinations of ingredients that the kids, mostly, loved. The whole experiment was a success. Some of the ingredients I’ve tried were:
- Coloring the batter
- A bit of water-based food dye is, so far, the simplest way
- I once bought some beet powder, from the Great American Spice Company, to add to the pancake batter before adding the wet ingredients. Adding only a little bit didn’t change the color of the batter that much and, when I added a larger amount, the kids didn’t like the taste so I started covering it up with cocoa powder before just stopping. That said if you want to try a more natural addition I’ve also heard of adding spirella, for green, but haven’t tried since the beet powder was a bust.
- Cocoa powder darkens the pancakes a bit and adds the chocolatey taste.
- Fruit like berries which can either be added fresh or frozen.
- Dried fruit. So far I’ve tried raisins, craisins, and freeze dried pears and pineapple from Freshly Preserved.
- Chocolate chips… keeping it simple
- Sprinkles are great added at the beginning (melted dots) or at the end. I’ve done similar using nerds once too
- And more!
There are so many ingredients you can add to the batter!
If you love the idea of berry pancakes but want to make them more exciting you could always add some chocolate chips to the mix!
I love how easy it is to add custom ingredients to the bowl of pancake batter when I mix it up. That said since I’ve been doubling the recipe, as I have the oven on anyway, adding any ingredients to my pancake batter means that both sets of sheet pans have exactly the same set of pancakes in it. To get around this I’ve started changing up how I do it.
Ingredients Added to the Pre-Baked Pancakes
I’ve been doubling the pancakes so I’m left with a lot of leftovers meaning simple breakfasts that only need to be quickly microwaved in the morning without too many dishes. As such I prefer it when both sheet pans have drastically different pancakes in them so the girls don’t get too tired of the flavors. Rather than mixing the custom ingredients into the batter I now wait until after I split the batter between the two sheet pans and then add the additional ingredients on top. These ingredients are basically the same ones that you can add to the batter although, since there are two options now I’ve become more creative with the individual sheet pans as it matters less if the kids don’t like them since it’s in only one of the two batches. Plus since the batter is already mixed together these additional ingredients don’t get broken down as much like the berries in the above photos. Just a quick heads up… anything you add to the uncooked batter will probably sink into the batter before it’s fully cooked. Additionally, as the ingredients may melt, they may combine within the oven in unexpected ways.
Normally I sprinkle these ingredients onto the liquid batter in the sheet pans before tossing it into the pre-heated oven but sometimes instead I add the ingredients to the greased pan before the batter is poured over top.
There are so many different things you can do! For instance here I sprinkled the pancakes with raisins, craisins (dried cranberries), and white chocolate chips.
Once I had extra Heath (like Canadian Skor) bits that were expiring soon so I made a more dessert-y pan of pancakes by sprinkling the top with Heath bits and colored sprinkles. Since they get baked for the entire pancake-required duration the sprinkles melt and loose their definition. These were originally heart shaped.
Or you can dabble with dehydrated fruit. For instance here I sprinkled dehydrate pears and pineapples, one to each pan, with the last of my mini chocolate chips. Even though they were added at the last minute, rather than to the batter early on like in the previous section, they still turned out tasting great.
Here I revisited the pina colada inspired idea of sliced bananas and coconut. I went a step further by adding some chocolate to the final product.
Combine the Previous Two Ideas!
Of course you could always combine the previous two methods by adding some of the ingredients to the bowl of batter and then saving other ingredients until the last minute when you can sprinkle them over the pan before putting it in the pre-heated oven.
In this case I poured half of the batter onto the first sheet pan to the left before adding some fruit to the batter, mixing it up, and pouring the rest onto the right sheet pan. I then sprinkled both pans equally with mini chocolate chips. The only downside to this method is that it’s hard to equally divide the pancake batter so one pan may end up being taller than the other pan and they may need slightly adjusted bake times.
Or you can add the ingredients to the bowl before mixing together your wet and dry ingredients, pour it equally between the two sheet pans, and then change the two pans up by sprinkling different ingredients on top.
I then made the sheet pans drastically different from one another by adding sprinkles to the left one and some chocolate covered acai to the right one.
Pull Them Out at the Last Minute to Add a Final Ingredient to Heat Up
I’ve also changed up the pancakes by adding toppings at the last minute to them. I kept these separate from the previous sections as these additions shouldn’t be heated as long as the pancakes need to bake (which are normally baked for twenty five minutes at 350°F).
The first time I used the pink and blue swirled unicorn chocolate chips in a pancake, as seen far above, I tossed them into the pancake batter and during the bake time they melted together to form a purple lump at the bottom of the pancakes thereby wasting the adorably cute and probably only bought once chocolate chips. As such, for the next time, I decided to pull the pancakes out of the oven in the last five minutes of baking, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, and throw them back in so they have just have time to get hot and soften but not enough to melt. As the pancakes have already firmed up in the first twenty minutes the chocolate chips also weren’t be able to sink and get stuck to the pan. This turned out amazingly and the rest of the unicorn swirled chips were used, bit by bit, in pancakes like these until we ran out.
Plus if you’re only baking them for a few minutes why not take advantage of this. I added mini marshmallows to the top of the pancakes too and made sure to keep an eye on them so I can pull them back out once the marshmallows get larger and potentially browned yet before they get too big. Hello s’more pancakes!
Once the pancakes had baked for twenty minutes I pulled one of them out so I could decorate it with the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. I then put it back into the oven for a few minutes and took out the other sheet pan to dish. Once the marshmallows had browned I pulled that sheet out too.
A couple times this summer we’ve set up our tent in the backyard so the kids could camp outside within reach of our bathroom and other amenities. Of course with camping came the idea of s’mores made in the microwave and, once, patiently over a burner. Quick aside the kids preferred the microwaved one so that’s how we made them afterwards. Anyways, because of these s’mores we ended up with leftover opened graham cookies, half a chocolate bar, and some marshmallows with chocolate inside of them. I decided to use up the leftovers by making pancakes with chocolate chips and then, in the last five minutes, adding the large marshmallows on one end of the pan and, on the other, break up the chocolate bar and crumble up the cookies into crumbs. Although I had to be careful while dishing as the cookie crumbs didn’t stay stuck I counted these as a resounding success as the girls adored these surprise s’mores!
Change the Pancakes on the Way to the Plate
I’ve also changed up the pancakes after they were fully baked. The odd time I did this to the entire sheet pan but most of the time this was to individual pancakes after they were plated so the kids could decide exactly what they wanted on the fly.
This particular time around I had strained some of my homemade yogurt to make labneh, sort of like cream cheese, and I had extra leftover. I was trying to think of how to make my pancakes healthier for the girls so I spread a dollop or two over the entire sheet pan and then added a couple of the unicorn chocolate chips to make it look more fun. They didn’t love it but they still ate them. As a quick aside I just looked up how to strain yogurt and found this post by Tori Avey if you’re interested in learning more. I had trouble using it all as I was only thinking of it as a cream cheese replacement but that site I just linked to shows a picture of a dollop of labneh with oil and olives on top and now I’m intrigued so I just looked up how to eat it and at the top of the result listings I see a reader question on The Kitchn and a list of interesting ways to eat it on Rouba’s website. …So maybe I should try it once again after I come up with a better game plan.
Other times I added toppings to the pancake after plating them for the girls. Just a heads up some of these ideas show waffles rather than pancakes. I decided to include them so you can see the diverse range of ingredients you can use to extend the pancakes.
This post-baking step can range from simple to more complicated like the face above. Just last week Ada randomly asked me for the leftover pancakes in the fridge but wanted them to be heart shaped. The last of the pancakes weren’t too large so I hunted down a small metal heart-shaped cookie cutter and used it on each of the pancakes. I split the newly formed heart pancakes onto two saucers, heated them up, and then heated the bowl of pancake bits I had leftover from using the cookie cutter so they could share the leftover bits if they were still hungry. This time there was no special topping as the use of the cookie cutter was the special addition to these fruity pancakes. Plus it was kind of cool that Ada was able to make what felt like an outlandish request and I was able to make it happen in the time it took them to get dressed that morning.
Leftovers… Now What?
With the discovery of oven pancakes and the realization that making a double batch, two sheet pans full, is just as simple as one I started generating lots of leftovers. This was awesome! I loved having leftover pancakes so the girls could be excited for breakfast and I wouldn’t need to take extra time baking them or, later on, cleaning the sheet pans. I started out by putting all of the leftover pancakes into the fridge but over time the girls started eating less for breakfast and got tired of them sooner. I adjusted my method and started laying out the pancakes on a Silpat lined baking sheet, freezing them, and moving them to a Stasher bag for long term freezer storage. This was perfect! I could make two types of pancakes for breakfast, save a third to a half of them for weeks later, and keep the remaining in the fridge for the next couple days. Sometimes I leave the frozen ones in the freezer for longer, make another batch, and the freezer then contains four types of pancakes rather than just the first two.
Coming across pancakes made in the oven completely changed up my breakfast game. I absolutely LOVE it. There are so many different oven pancake recipes out there that I didn’t need to come up with my own. That said I love how I’ve changed them up over the last year or so and wanted to share these variations with you in case you’re looking for something similar too. I haven’t tried these variations out on a frying pan so I can’t tell you if that would work as easily or not so if you do or did I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Also I’d love to hear whether you’ve made oven pancakes before or not? If so how did you change them up? If not will you? I’d love to have some new options in the future so feel free to share any new ideas in the comments below. I hope you’re having an amazing day!
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