Griddle, cast iron skillet, rice cooker, or air fryer — what’s the best way to make pancakes?
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I have always had an obsession with breakfast food—it could be as simple as coffee and toast, cereal and milk, or a big plate of eggs and bacon. It’s truly the one type of food you can eat and never get sick of. Who can resist hash browns? Or waffles? Or omelettes? So.Many.Options. [insert clap emojis]
At Reviewed we are constantly trying out the latest kitchen gadgets by recreating fun recipes and doing taste tests. I’m always one of the first to go and sample the latest treats in our kitchen and help give insight into what can make them better, especially during taste tests. We’ve reviewed the best Oreos, chips, and Ben and Jerry’s flavors, so when the idea of testing the best way to make pancakes came around, I knew it was my time to shine.
To begin testing we pulled together some of the best kitchen items we’ve ever tested, including our favorite griddle, cast iron skillet, rice cooker, and air fryer. We used a standard pancake recipe for each test and made a fresh mix each time we tried a different cooking method. Each recipe had different cooking times so we tested each method one by one, starting with the rice cooker which was the longest, and ending with the air fryer. The final outcome of the pancakes was judged based on length of cook time, taste, appearance, difficulty and quantity made. Here is what we found:
The best way to make pancakes, ranked:
2. Cast iron skillet
3. Rice cooker
4. Air fryer
For making these pancakes, we used the best griddle we’ve ever tested, the Hamilton Beach Electric Smokeless Griddle. The prep was super easy and simple—we whipped up a fresh batch of pancake mix and we made sure to turn on the griddle a few minutes before pouring the mix onto it. It took about 10 minutes from start to finish.
The griddle is a great method because you can cook up to 6 or 8 pancakes at a time, ideal if you have a big crowd over for breakfast or just a super hungry family. The pancakes came out “perfectly fluffy” as one tester put it, and they had an overall great taste and appearance. Definitely a 10/10. The only tricky part is the flipping of the pancake. It might be just a me problem, but it took me a couple of tries. But all in all a very easy, and very fast way to make pancakes.
Who doesn’t love a classic cast iron skillet pancake? Again, this was another super easy, straightforward way to make a pancake. Making the batter for this one required two bowls, but was still pretty easy, taking only a few minutes. I then set up the cast iron skillet on the stove to heat up and added butter. The entire process took about 15 minutes, from making the batter to having a hot pancake fresh off the skillet.
One of the major downfalls of this method though, is that it can only cook one pancake at a time. Is it worth the wait for the ideal pancake look and taste? Absolutely. As one tester put it, “It tastes very similar to the griddle pancake, but I like that it’s larger and a little bit fluffier”. All in all, the pancakes from the griddle were preferred, but myself and fellow testers would absolutely eat cast iron skillet pancakes again.
This method intrigued me the most because...HOW? I literally did not think this was possible. As a lifelong owner of a rice cooker, I’ve only ever made rice inside of it, definitely not any breakfast food, so I was extremely intrigued. When testing, I made this pancake first because the cook time was the longest—45 minutes. Fortunately, making the pancake batter was super simple, and all I had to do was spray the rice cooker with cooking spray and pour the batter in. There wasn’t a timer on the rice cooker, so I set a timer on my phone for 45 minutes, and eagerly awaited the results.
After, the 45 minutes were up I put on oven mitts and grabbed a plate in order to flip the pancake over onto it. As soon as I flipped the pancake I audibly gasped. I could not believe how beautiful it looked. It was so large! Probably the thickest (#thicc) pancake I have ever seen. One single pancake using this method could easily serve 4-5 people. Surprisingly, it actually tasted great. However, due to the thickness it had a significantly doughier texture than the other versions of pancakes I tried, much more “cake like” than pancake. Not something to make every Saturday morning, but would definitely eat it again—plus, this was the most fun method to try!
This method sounded like complete wildness to me–probably because I’ve never used an air fryer and don’t fully understand how they work. During testing, this was the worst method by far. Depending on the type of air fryer you own, your experience (and cook time) may differ. I preheated the air fryer and poured the mix into a small bowl. The recipe said to cook for about 3 minutes at 220 degrees and to continue to check on the pancake in 3-minute intervals, until it's fully cooked.
It was a bit annoying to keep opening and checking to see if the pancake was cooked. It was asking a lot for one tiny pancake. The first pancake actually failed because it didn’t cook all the way through. So I cranked up the temperature to 300 and tried again. Success! I had a tiny, not-so-pretty air fryer pancake. However, to my surprise, it actually tasted okay. I was expecting it to taste pretty bad, especially since I kept opening and closing the air fryer to check on it. However, the majority of the testers enjoyed the taste. One tester described it as “having more of a muffin texture—like a corn muffin, without the corn flavor” It was clear I would never do this again, but definitely interesting to try.
As I expected, the griddle, hands down is the best way to make pancakes. This is especially true if you are hosting a brunch or holiday meal and need to make a lot at once to feed some hungry guests. It's also the fastest way to make pancakes as well. But if you do not have a griddle, cast iron skillet for the win! As long as you have time and patience you can’t go wrong with this method.
Lastly, if you are looking for something extravagant and out of the ordinary then rice cooker is for you. I will say though, these pancakes are LARGE and in charge. Definitely better if you share with people. As far as the air fryer, I wouldn’t recommend trying it. It's a lot of effort for such a small outcome.
Finally, however you like your pancakes, griddle or no griddle, thin or thick, plain or not plain, we can all agree that breakfast food is the absolute best. As Leslie Knope puts it: “Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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