Trust me when I say, these vegan pancakes are the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted. We tested this recipe 30 times and with countless variations so they would be perfect.
The precise blend of baking powder, vegan sour cream, and soy milk, transforms into a thick yet airy batter bursting with buttery flavor. When cooked, the pancakes become perfectly crispy and golden brown, and yes, they even have that classic golden ring around the edges. But the interior remains pillowy and soft, with an incomparable fluffiness.
If you’ve ever felt underwhelmed by flat, soggy, flavorless vegan pancakes, this is the recipe you’ve been waiting for. Classic American diner-style pancakes, but made vegan.
Why this recipe works
Not your average pancake.
These pancakes involve a tad more work than your average vegan pancake recipe. They are, however, anything but average.
A mix of vegan butter, vegan “buttermilk,” sour cream, and vanilla fills them with rich, buttery flavors. The flavor is so good that I sometimes just eat them plain with my hands like the animal I secretly am.
Fluffy. Crispy. Buttery.
You get the best of all worlds here: a pancake with a fluffy interior, a crispy exterior, and incredible buttery flavor.
Baking powder, lemon juice, and protein-rich soy milk work together to create serious air bubbles in the thick batter. And a bit of sugar aids in caramelization.
Once a scoop hits the hot oiled pan, the pancakes rise, fluff up, and crisp around the edges.
They’re filling, too.
It’s likely you’ll be quite full after only one or two pancakes. They’re the fluffiest pancakes ever and, with the addition of vegan sour cream and soy milk, very filling. I’m happy with just one pancake but even Max never eats more than two.
We take pride in being thorough at RPL, and we tested this recipe at least 30 times (no exaggeration).
We tried 4 different sour creams, 3 different yogurts as substitutes, tested without sour cream, tried whole wheat flour, used a nonstick pan and a stovetop griddle, and more variations than I can count.
I’m confident if you follow the instructions and tips, you will be treated to WORLD CLASS PANCAKES!
Soy milk + lemon juice. When mixed with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar, soy milk curdles a lot due to its high protein content, yielding a super yeasty pancake batter that fluffs up fantastically when it hits the hot pan.
And the acidity in the lemon juice helps break down the gluten strands in flour, lending a more tender crumb.
Substitute: If you can tolerate soy, please use soy milk. If you have a soy allergy, creamy, full-fat oat milk is a pretty good alternative (we like Oatly and Califia Farms extra creamy oat milk).
Vegan sour cream. The idea to add sour cream to the batter came after flipping through J. Kenji Alt López’s seminal book The Food Lab. The vegan sour cream plays a few roles:
- Adds rich flavor and a very subtle tang, very much needed in a standard vegan pancake.
- Yields pancakes that are tender and moist on the inside and crisp and golden on the outside.
- The fat coats the flour, limiting gluten development and lending a tender crumb.
We tried this recipe with four different sour creams: Follow Your Heart, Tofutti, and Kite Hill Foods, and Forager.
The first 3 produced excellent results: fluffy interior, crispy edges (Tofutti was the absolute best). Forager was good but didn’t fluff quite as well. Some readers have also made this with Trader Joe’s sour cream, which may not be the best flavor on its own but seems to work great here (and is usually more budget-friendly).
Substitute: Check out the FAQ section below.
All purpose flour. The standard flour for almost any pancake recipe.
Substitute: You can use 100% whole wheat flour. See the FAQ section for details.
Baking powder. A generous amount is key for a light and fluffy pancake. Double-acting baking powder starts reacting once it’s mixed with the liquid ingredients and acid, and again as it hits the hot pan.
Vegan butter. For excellent buttery flavor, a requirement in any excellent pancake.
Substitute: Melted refined coconut oil is a nice alternative; however, plain oil (e.g., canola oil) adds zero flavor so don’t do that.
Organic cane sugar. You don’t need much. It (1) gives the pancakes enough sweetness that you need just a tiny drizzle of maple syrup for serving; and (2) encourages browning, leaving you with pancakes with a crispy exterior.
Vanilla extract. Because a pancake recipe without vanilla is just sad.
Make sure the sour cream is at room temperature before you begin: measure it out and set on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes. If it’s too cold, it will be stiff and clumpy and won’t incorporate into the batter well.
Make the “buttermilk”. Pour the lemon juice into a mixing bowl. Pour the soy milk on top, stir, and leave it to curdle.
Start on the batter. Whisk the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
Once the buttermilk has curdled, add the sour cream and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to mix on low until smooth.
Melt the vegan butter, and while it’s still hot, pour into the wet ingredients.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
Stir the batter with a wooden spoon until just combined (lots of lumps are fine). Don’t overmix!
Rest the batter for at least 5 minutes. It should feel almost like yeast bread dough when it’s done. Don’t stir after it’s done resting or else you’ll deflate the air bubbles!
Cook the pancakes. Heat some coconut oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. You’ll know it’s hot enough when a small sprinkle of water sizzles in the pan.
Cook a heaping ⅓ cup of batter at a time. The thick texture makes it hard to get perfect circles, but who cares! Cook until bubbles form in the center and the edges begin to dry out, 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.
Tip: Swirl the oil around in the pan after flipping to achieve super-crispy edges like this!
Tips for making the best vegan pancakes
The temperature of the ingredients matters. Stiff and cold vegan sour cream won’t incorporate into the batter as well as room temp sour cream. Measure it out and set on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes before you begin.
Hot melted butter will get rid of any clumps left in the batter. Melt it right before you drizzle it into the batter so it can remain warm.
Achieving the right batter texture. After resting for just 5 minutes, the pancake batter will have a thin top layer, but right underneath, it will look like a yeasty bread dough. This is the baking powder reacting with the acid (lemon juice) and the proteins from the soy milk.
Note: This batter is much thicker from your average pancake batter, but it’s this combo that results in a fabulously fluffy pancake.
Reminder: Do NOT stir the batter after resting—this deflates the air pockets >> the pancakes won’t be as fluffy (the spatula below is just to show you the texture).
For the crispiest edges. Use 1 teaspoon of oil per pancake and swirl it around in the pan.
Refined coconut oil and avocado oil are our top choices because they can withstand relatively high heat (vegan butter, like regular butter, tends to burn a bit). It also leaves the pancakes with a gorgeous golden ring around the edges and a crispy exterior.
If cooking two pancakes at once in a large skillet, use 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of oil.
Keep the measuring cup on the side. If you let the cup rest in the batter, it will deflate the air pockets.
Use a nonstick frying pan if you can. A good nonstick pan will get you great pancakes. This nonstick frying pan (affiliate link) is our absolute favorite and works better than any nonstick pan I’ve ever had.
If you prefer to use a cast iron pan, just make sure it’s well seasoned; otherwise the pancakes will stick.
And if you are cooking for a crowd and want to move efficiently, you can use a griddle (though the texture is best in a frying pan). More details on using a griddle in the FAQ.
Every stove is different. I’ve tried to provide super detailed instructions, but as always, use your eyes too. You may need to lower the heat after the first pancake like I do, or after the second or third. We have a gas stove, so if you have an electric stove, you may need to monitor the heat level more closely, as gas stovetops are more responsive.
Flip just once and at the right time. Flipping pancakes too early or flipping them back and forth will rob you of a uniform golden exterior and peak fluffiness.
You’ll know the pancakes are ready to flip when the edges start to dry out (these pancakes don’t really form bubbles in the center, so don’t look for that cue).
While I encourage you to make this recipe as written the first time, once you experience its magic as intended, it’s fun to add mix-ins!
For chocolate chips and blueberries, we recommend sprinkling them directly on top of each pancake instead of folding them into the batter for three reasons: (1) you can add the mix-ins to just a few pancakes in case some folks like their pancakes plain; (2) it helps with more even distribution of mix-ins in the batter; (3) it prevents over-mixing and then deflating the batter.
Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- You’ll probably need 1 cup of dairy-free or dark chocolate chips (6 oz / 170g) for the entire batch of pancakes.
- After you ladle the batter into the pan, sprinkle the top surface of each pancake with a few chocolate chips. Cook as directed in the recipe card below.
- You’ll probably need 1 1/2 cups cup of blueberries for the entire batch of pancakes.
- After you ladle the batter into the pan, sprinkle the top surface of each pancake with a few blueberries. Cook as directed in the recipe card below.
Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes
- Zest 2 medium to medium-large lemons to get 2 tablespoons lemon zest.
- Measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons of poppy seeds.
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients just until combined, as stated in the recipe.
- Add the lemon zest and poppy seeds and gently fold them in using a silicone spatula, using as few strokes as possible to combine. Cook as directed in the recipe card below.
- PS: These taste like mini lemon poppy seed cakes. Yum!
Chunky Monkey Pancakes
- Mash 1 medium banana. Finely chop ½ to ⅔ cup (60 to 80g) pecans or walnuts. Measure out 1 cup (170g) chocolate chips.
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients just until combined, as stated in the recipe.
- Gently fold in the mix-ins using a silicone spatula, using as few strokes as possible to combine. Cook as directed in the recipe card below.
Whole WhEat Pancakes
- Sub the all-purpose flour with 100% whole wheat flour. Use extra milk to hydrate the batter, 2 cups or (480 mL) of soy milk instead of the 1 3/4 cups (420 mL).
- Use a heaping ¼ cup of batter per pancake for the optimal pancake texture (crispy edges with a soft fluffy interior) instead of the larger quantity stated in the recipe. Cook on medium heat for 1 ½ minutes per side.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t have access to vegan sour cream, you can (1) omit it entirely.
The texture is great, but they have less flavor (the tang from the sour cream goes a long way). However, with maple syrup and vegan butter on top, they were still lovely. They also cook slightly quicker, 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side.
(2) You can use a thick and tangy vegan yogurt instead. We like Culina, CocoJune, GT’S CocoYo or Kite Hill Greek Yogurt
Yes, it’s right! A generous amount is the secret behind light and fluffy vegan pancakes. We tried this recipe with less baking powder and we lost a lot of fluff.
Yes. A few notes.
(1) Preheat the griddle while the batter rests.
(2) Generously spray the griddle with cooking spray, or with coconut oil and spread it out with a paper towel.
(3) Use a heaping ¼ cup of batter per pancake instead of a heaping ⅓ cup. The larger pancakes we tested on a stovetop griddle were a bit too soft on the inside.
NOTE: The exterior doesn’t get as crispy and the interior doesn’t fluff as much on a griddle. So using a griddle is a decent alternative when you’re short on time…but for the best pancakes, I recommend using a frying pan.
Yep! Once the 5-minute rest is over, refrigerate the batter in an airtight container (don’t let it sit out too long on the counter, or the air bubbles deflate).
The pancakes are fluffiest when the batter is cooked within 24 hours, but are good for 5 days.
Wrap them in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can revive the crispy exterior by reheating them in a skillet for a few minutes, or in a 350ºF/175ºC oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Yes. once cooled, layer them between parchment or wax paper in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze for 1 to 2 months.
How to serve vegan pancakes
Serve them any way you like :) For a loaded Sunday brunch spread, serve alongside my Tofu Scramble and a big platter of fruit. Or with my Tempeh Bacon, sliced avocado, and roasted potatoes. Of course, there are plenty of toppings to choose from to take them up a notch:
- They’re already buttery and full of flavor, which means you should only need a light drizzle of maple syrup. Or, top them with an extra pat of vegan butter. This is what Max does and he swears by it.
- Make them extra fancy with vegan whipped cream or a whipped topping and fresh berries.
- Or skip the maple syrup and use a berry compote instead, like this simple strawberry compote.
Watch: How to make the best pancakes
If you love these Vegan Pancakes as much as we do, please rate and review the recipe with your feedback below :) It’s always very much appreciated!
- 1/2 cup (113g) vegan sour cream, at room temperature for 30 min (see Note 1)
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 ¾ cups (420 mL) plain-flavored soy milk (see note 2)
- 2 cups (250g) all purpose flour (see note 3)
- 2 tablespoons (25g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons (42g) vegan butter, melted (or refined coconut oil),
- Refined coconut oil, avocado oil, or other high-heat oil for cooking pancakes
- Vegan butter + maple syrup
- Add the lemon juice to a medium bowl. Pour the milk on top and stir. It should curdle pretty quickly. This is the "buttermilk."
- In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar and whisk well to combine.
- To the buttermilk, add the room temp vegan sour cream and vanilla. Mix on low speed until mostly smooth (it’s okay if there are very tiny crumb-size pieces of sour cream, it doesn’t need to be 100% smooth).
- Melt the vegan butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Drizzle it into the wet ingredients and stir until combined and no lumps remain (see Note 4).
- Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mix and fold with a wooden spoon until just combined. Do not overmix—lots of lumps are fine. Rest the batter for 5 minutes (or 10 minutes). The batter will be very very thick and fluffy, almost like a yeast bread dough. But don't stir after resting—the batter will lose air bubbles, resulting in a flat pancake.
- Preheat the pan. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat for several minutes. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil (see Note 5). Allow to heat ~30 seconds. Test to see if the pan is hot enough by adding a droplet of water—if it sizzles and dances, it’s ready.
- Cook the pancakes. Ladle a heaping ⅓ cup pancake batter into the pan (since the batter is thick, it won’t ladle into a perfect circle). For smaller pancakes, use a heaping 1/4 cup batter. After the first 20-30 seconds, swirl the oil in the pan around the pancake edges to get those crispy edges. Cook for a total of 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until the edges start to dry out and you can see the bottoms are golden brown. Carefully flip. Cook on the second side for a total of 2 to 2 ½ minutes, swirling any remaining oil around the edges again.NOTE: don’t flip back and forth, just the one time. This makes pancakes less fluffy without a uniform golden brown exterior.
- Cook the rest. Add a teaspoon more oil to the pan and lower the heat a touch to prevent burning (my burner is 1 to 7; I start at 4 for the first pancake, then reduce to 3). Repeat with the batter, adding a teaspoon of oil to the pan to preheat per pancake before adding more batter.
- To keep pancakes warm, add to a wire rack-fitted sheet pan in the oven at 200ºF/95ºC until ready to serve. Serve pancakes warm with maple syrup and a pat of vegan butter, if desired. If you have leftover batter, store in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 6 days.