Get that made-from-scratch taste with these easy boxed pancake mix hacks.
By Kristy Alpert
There’s no shame in boxed pancakes. These handy, pre-mixed packages are easy to whip together with just a few ingredients. In fact, you won’t find me on a camping trip without a Nalgene bottle full of purchased pancake mix, armed and ready to add water, shake, and pour for some easy campfire flapjacks. Boxed pancakes are convenient, but they rarely measure up to the flavor and texture of made-from-scratch pancakes. There’s no need to miss out on fluffy stacks if you’re already pulling out your griddle and spatula anyway. These simple boxed pancake mix hacks are simple and will make your pancakes from a mix taste even better.
Substitute Kefir for Water or Milk
If your box mix calls for water or milk, simply swap out the liquids for kefir. You can use flavored kefir ($4, Amazon) or plain ($6, Amazon). “Using kefir instead of milk or water helps fluff up the texture and adds a really nice, sort of tangy flavor to the pancakes,” explains Seamus Mullen, chef and author of Real Food Heals ($18, Amazon). “It also packs in a ton of protein and essential probiotics.”
Use Flavored Water Instead
Adding an extract can overpower the flavor of a boxed pancake mix, but a simple swap of flavored water in place of plain water offers just the right subtle taste of fruit. Try apple-flavored water ($16, Amazon), or make those stacks extra fluffy by using cold sparkling water ($4, Amazon) and let the cold bubbles work their way into the batter before expanding as they’re exposed to the heat of the griddle ($49, Amazon).
Add an Egg … or a Plant-Based Egg
Even if your boxed mix doesn’t call for an egg, go ahead and add one. Eggs provide a creamy richness that will make the batch taste homemade, and they allow the pancakes to rise by keeping the bubbles structurally intact throughout the cooking process. Beat your egg first before folding them into the batter for super fluffy stacks, or go plant based with a flax egg. “Instead of adding an egg, make your own plant-based flax egg by combining one tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water,” suggests Matthew Kenney, chef and founder of PlantMade by Matthew Kenney. “Stir, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.”
Sprinkle More Baking Powder
Your boxed mix likely already contains baking powder, but this chemical leavener is best when fresh. “Add a half teaspoon as a backup measure in case the leavener in the mix is flat,” recommends Naomi Robinson, owner of Bakers Royale. “If it’s not flat the half teaspoon will add a little extra fluff.”
Add Some Butter
You can’t get buttery soft pancakes without the butter. Melted butter rounds out the texture of pancakes by adding just the right amount of fat to keep the stacks rich and moist. No need to go crazy with it though; a little goes a long way. Just add a tablespoon of melted butter per cup of pancake mix for super tasty pancakes.
Have Fun with Add-Ins
Fresh fruit and crunchy nuts can liven up just about anything, but with boxed pancakes they add the perfect amount of texture for a satisfying breakfast. “Add fresh fruits directly into the batter, blueberries are a classic, bananas can lend flavor and texture, and strawberries work beautifully, too,” says Kenney. “Top your pancakes with chopped pecans, walnuts, or pistachios for added protein and healthy fats.”
Skip the Griddle
Dirty fewer dishes by making a pancake mug cake instead. Just combine ⅓ cup of boxed pancake mix with 3 tablespoons of water (or milk) and 1 tablespoon of melted butter into a large microwave-safe mug, and microwave on high for 60 seconds, or until cooked through. Top with maple syrup and enjoy!
Let it Rest
“Boxed or not, always let the batter sit for 15 minutes before cooking,” advises Robinson. “This lets the pancakes leaven to make them nice and fluffy.”
Go ahead and whip up a drool-worthy stack of pancakes from the mix you have on hand. Or use our pancake recipes for from-a-mix inspiration and from-scratch ideas. No matter the route you take, everyone around your breakfast table will gobble them up.