Fluffy apple bacon pancakes with a perfect amount of crisp are the answer to Saturday morning breakfast. This easy, made-from-scratch recipe has a hint of vanilla and cinnamon and is sure to make your family as happy as it does mine.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
Growing up, my dad made pancakes for us almost every Saturday morning. His pancakes ruined me for most restaurants. I’m not a fan of Bisquick, and I don’t like the dry cake-like pancakes that seem to be ubiquitous in diners throughout the US. His are thinner and more crepe-like, and are fantastic. He doesn’t use a recipe, and I’ve spent years trying to replicate his pancakes to no avail.
The best pancake recipe I’ve found thus far is Kenji Lopez-Alt’s. I’ve modified it a bit – I’m completely incapable of actually following other people’s recipes – but it was a great jumping off point. Apple bacon pancakes are my favorite, but if you want to change things up you can absolutely make substitutions. Try blueberries, bananas and chocolate chips, or even fresh peaches.
Bacon and Apples
Start, as always, by making bacon. I like my homemade bacon, but any good quality bacon will do. Best choice for this recipe is to use a method that will produce some bacon fat for use later. To save dishes, make the bacon the same place you’ll be cooking your pancakes. I usually make my pancakes on an electric griddle, so I follow the directions for frying bacon but use a griddle instead of a cast iron pan. You can also use a cast iron griddle or frying pan, or a nonstick pan if that’s all that you have. When the bacon has cooked to your desired level of crispiness, remove it to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve the rendered bacon fat. Once the bacon has cooled, crumble it into a bowl.
While the bacon is cooking, core and dice two lunchbox-sized apples. No need to peel them. Any crisp and slightly tart apple will work well. I often use Fuji or Gala, but even Granny Smith would make a nice addition to pancakes. After the bacon is finished, remove the slices and let drain. Toss your diced apples on the griddle or in the pan, right in the bacon fat. Add a pinch of salt and a light shake of cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes or until barely softened. Remove to a bowl.
Traditional pancake recipes contain three basic wet ingredients: eggs, a dairy product, and a fat. You’ll need one egg for each cup of flour that you’re using, or one for every 8 or so pancakes. The purpose of the yolk is to add fat (flavor) and assist in emulsification and binding of the other ingredients. The whites add water and aid in trapping air, contributing to the light and fluffy texture we’re usually going for in a pancake. If you want to amp up the fluffiness factor, consider separating the eggs and whipping the white separately. You can fold them in at the end, after mixing all of the other ingredients together. I’ve done it both ways, and don’t consider this necessary for a good pancake. Feel free to give it a go though, and see how it works for you!
Buttermilk is one of the most common choices for dairy in pancakes, but I never seem to have it on hand when I decide I need to whip up a batch. What is buttermilk and what can you substitute? Buttermilk is simply pasteurized milk with a lactic acid bacteria culture added to curdle and sour it. Milk is one of the worst choices for a straight substitution, since the acid content is so much reduced. The acid in buttermilk reacts with baking soda to help the pancakes rise, and the baking soda neutralizes the sour taste. If you use only milk, leave out the baking soda and substitute more baking powder.
Instead, you have several choices. One of the most commonly recommended is to add a tsp of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk and let it sit for five minutes to curdle. This isn’t my favorite (unless I’m making lemon ricotta pancakes), as you can usually taste the acid in the finished product. Instead, you can substitute sour cream or plain yogurt with much better results. Don’t use a 1:1 ratio, as your resulting pancake batter will be too thick. Instead, mix approximately two parts sour cream or three parts yogurt with one part milk and whisk until you have a consistency similar to buttermilk.
The most common fat used in pancake recipes is melted butter. Melted butter is delicious and adds flavor to the recipe. In this recipe, I actually substitute a drizzle of bacon fat in place of butter. You don’t have to do this, but I promise you’ll love them if you do. Nothing makes bacon pancakes taste better than more bacon flavor.
Whisk all of your wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Feel free to let the kids help – mine often ask to help in the kitchen, and batters and baking are easy ways to let them. To this bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and a few shakes (1/4 tsp) of cinnamon. Stir to combine. Set aside and move on to the dry ingredients.
The dry ingredients used in apple bacon pancakes are flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. They can be mixed in advance in any quantity and stored in a sealed container in a cool dark place. I use 2 cups of flour for my family of four. It yields 16-18 pancakes, which is enough for all of us to eat our fill and have a few pancakes left over.
I use unbleached all-purpose flour in most of my recipes. King Arthur is my brand of choice because I bake a lot of bread. It has a higher protein (gluten) content and is closer to a bread flour than other all-purpose varieties. Gluten is desirable in pancakes (although gluten free recipes abound on the internet), so bread flour is an acceptable substitution. Pastry and cake flours have a lower gluten content and wouldn’t be my first choice.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda? Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate, while baking powder is sodium bicarb with added acid and salt. They are both leavening agents. Baking soda needs an acid to be activated (hence the buttermilk/sour cream/yogurt), while baking powder does not. Baking soda is better at neutralizing the taste of acidic ingredients in a recipe, so if you leave it out you may want to use milk instead of buttermilk. Your pancakes will not brown as well if they’re too acidic. Baking powder is used in yeast-less quick breads and biscuits to act as a leavening agent, and is more effective than baking powder in producing a rise. Pancakes made with baking soda alone will have not be consistently fluffy.
If you’re out of baking soda, you can absolutely make great pancakes with just baking powder. Substitute three parts baking powder to one part soda. You may want to reduce the acid content of the rest of the recipe, however, by substituting milk for some of the buttermilk or sour cream/yogurt mixture.
If you’re out of baking powder, you can make it at home. 1 teaspoon of baking powder is 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch. The pancakes still won’t rise quite as well, as commercial baking powders are double acting. They will still, however, taste delicious!
Salt and Sugar
A small amount of salt (1 tsp) and sugar (1 Tbsp) round out the recipe. I use coarse kosher salt – slightly reduce the quantity if you’re using fine table salt. I also typically use white sugar, but brown could absolutely be used in this recipe for a bit of extra molasses flavor. Sugar substitutes aren’t something I keep in my kitchen, but if you have successfully used them please let us know in the comments. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Making Apple Bacon Pancakes
Preheat griddle to 350, or warm a griddle or frying pan over medium heat. While the pan preheats, mix your batter. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking until just combined. Overmixing will result in a gummy pancake, and small pockets of flour are desirable.
Lightly coat the griddle with melted bacon fat (preferably) or butter. You can use a pastry brush or just spread a thin layer with a spatula. Use a 1/4 cup measure to pour a circle of pancake batter on to the griddle. Sprinkle a pinch or two each of bacon bits and apple pieces into the batter while it is still wet. If you move quickly, you can do several at a time.
Flip the pancakes when bubbles start to form on the top and the bottom is a golden brown. Do NOT smash the pancakes with a spatula – you want them to be thick and fluffy. They only need to cook for a few minutes per side. If you’re making pancakes for a crowd, hold the first few batches in a 200F oven.
Serve these apple bacon pancakes with butter, real maple syrup, and a fried egg. If you enjoyed the recipe, please comment below!
Apple Bacon Pancakes
- 2 apples cored and diced
- 8 slices bacon
- 2 Tbsp bacon fat divided
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
Wet Batter Ingredients
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups sour cream may substitute 2 1/2 c buttermilk OR 2 c plain yogurt plus 1/2 c milk for sour cream and milk
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp butter melted
- 2 Tbsp bacon fat
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Dry Batter Ingredients
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar white or brown
- Cook bacon, starting on cold griddle or frying pan, until it reaches desired level of crispiness. Remove to paper towel-lined plate. Reserve bacon fat. Crumble bacon once cooled.
- Add diced apples to a tsp of bacon fat on same surface. Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp each of salt and cinnamon. Cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Remove to a small bowl.
- Mix wet ingredients: in a large bowl, beat two eggs. Add milk and sour cream (or milk and yogurt, or buttermilk). Add butter and bacon fat. Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well with a whisk.
- Mix dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
- Add dry ingredients to wet slowly, whisking to combine. Do not overmix. Wet and dry ingredients should be fully incorporated, but small pockets of flour are fine.
- Heat griddle to 350F or pan over medium heat. Coat lightly with bacon grease (or butter). Use a 1/4 cup measure to portion out pancakes, with each batch small enough that the batter circles don’t touch.
- Add several pieces each of cooked bacon and apples to each pancake immediately after pouring batter onto pan. It’s important to add while the batter is still wet.
- Watch for small bubbles to start to form on top of the pancakes. Flip with a spatula when bubbles are present and down side is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Do not push down on pancakes with spatula once flipped.
- Cook pancakes an additional 2-3 minutes, or until second side is golden brown. You may hold cooked pancakes in a 200F oven while making additional batches. Coat pan with additional bacon fat before each batch.
- Serve pancakes with butter, real maple syrup, and a fried egg.