Pancakes and waffles are two beloved breakfast staples, each with their own place in our kitchens and hearts. Yet despite getting lumped into the same category, they’re decidedly different foods. Sometimes, deciding between the two even poses a challenge. You may have your heart set on a delicious homemade pancake, but you only have waffle mix on hand --or vice versa.
In this case, what’s a person to do? You might be wondering, “Can you make pancakes in a waffle maker? Can you use pancake mix in a waffle maker? Are waffle mix and pancake mix interchangeable?” Today’s post will address these questions and many others, so keep reading to learn more.
Before we talk about whether you can make pancakes in a waffle maker, you have to know the difference between these two foods. For many people, they may seem like the same thing. Both are delicious breakfast options that you can pair with savory and sweet toppings, and the ingredients are also quite similar.
Yet pancakes and waffles are decidedly different. For one, their appearance is easily distinguishable. Pancakes are round with a crispy edge, and their center tends to be fluffy. On the other hand, waffles are usually square and have deep pockets with a chewy center.
Aside from the obvious differences in appearance, let’s break down in further detail what makes waffles and pancakes different.
Anyone who’s ever tried pancakes (read: everyone!) is likely to describe them similarly: mostly thin, fluffy, and light, with slightly brown edges. Pancakes are typically round, although they don’t have to be. Plenty of chefs like to have fun with the shapes and use pancake cutters to mix things up.
You can make pancakes one of two ways. Some people use a delicious store-bought baking pancake mix, while others like to whip up their own homemade pancakes from scratch.
Both versions are easy to make at home, as they require ingredients most people have on hand: flour, baking powder, eggs, butter, and milk.
If you're looking to have pancakes that are a bit healthier, you can use egg whites and wheat flour.
Pancake Batter is Much More Runny Than Waffle Batter and is Best Suited to a Griddle
If you're feeling more indulgent, you can enhance your pancakes by adding blueberries, chocolate chips, or chopped up bananas into the batter with the wet ingredients. You'll still end up with a beautiful fluffy pancake, embedded with little bits of flavor.
A waffle is made from leavened batter or dough, which you can use to create several shapes and sizes. In most cases, waffles are square, but they can be round as well.
What distinguishes them from pancakes are their honeycomb-like indentations, perfect for filling with melted butter and syrup. They’re also much thicker than pancakes, though their center tends to be chewy.
Waffle Batter is Significantly Thicker than Pancake Batter
To make a waffle, you need a hot waffle iron. Waffle irons use two heated plates with patterns to cook your batter to crispy perfection. Some people prefer to use a Belgian waffle maker, which makes even thicker waffles with deep square pockets.
As is true of pancakes, there are two ways to make waffles. You can purchase a pre-made mix or create your own batter with a homemade waffle mix. The ingredients include eggs, butter, baking powder, sugar, flour, and vegetable oil. Once you mix the ingredients, you can add the batter directly to the waffle iron--it doesn’t need to rise before cooking.
You might think that waffles and pancakes would taste the same, given that they’re made from almost the same ingredients. But anyone who’s tried the two knows that pancakes and waffles are two different beasts.
For one, the texture is noticeably different. Although a certain level of fluffiness is expected from both, pancakes are usually thin, while waffles are thick and crunchy. As such, the textural experience of eating a waffle vs. a pancake is quite distinct.
The taste is also different because of the way their recipes have you mix the ingredients. Pancake recipes generally require you to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before putting them together, whereas waffles usually call for beating the eggs separately.
And of course, the toppings you add may also significantly change the taste.
So what should you do if you’ve got a craving for waffles but you only have pancake mix? Are our pancake mix and waffle mix interchangeable?
Unless the mix specifically states that you can use it for both pancakes and waffles, they’re not interchangeable (at least not without some adjustments, which we’ll get to in a bit).
Sure, waffles and pancakes are made from similar ingredients. But if you closely compare a pancake recipe and a waffle recipe, you’ll notice some variations.
The primary difference is that pancake mixes tend to have less sugar or no sugar at all. Pancake batter is thinner than waffle batter, which allows it to spread out on the griddle or pan. It may also have some lumps, which doesn’t negatively affect the quality of the pancakes. Thinner batter will result in thinner pancakes. For fluffy pancakes, you’ll want your pancake batter to be a bit lumpy.
Waffle batter has more fat (including some saturated fat) and sugar. Without the extra sugar, it would be impossible for the waffle to develop its characteristic brown color. The sugar caramelizes while the iron is working its magic, leaving you with perfect, golden brown delicious waffles. And the added fat is responsible for the tastiness of that crispy exterior.
The consistency is also different: while runny pancake batter is fine, the waffle mix should be nice and thick in order to produce that ideal fluffy waffle.
This question is common, but it’s not a good idea to cook your waffle mix like pancakes. Mostly because the cooking methods for each one are distinct: pancakes are made on the stove or with a griddle, while waffles require a waffle maker to make. And as mentioned, waffle recipes call for extra sugar and fat. You’d need to adjust the recipe to get a good pancake.
You really don’t want to make pancake mix waffles. While nothing’s stopping you from putting pancake mix in a waffle iron, just know that you’ll probably make a mess if you do. Pancake batter is thin and runny. On your stovetop or griddle, this consistency allows it to spread out and achieve that round shape. But if you pour pancake mix into a waffle maker, the batter will just spill out over the sides of the waffle maker resulting in a mess you’ll have to clean up.
While You Can Put Pancake Batter in a Waffle Maker - You Probably Won’t Enjoy Your Frankenwaffle
What about the cooked product? For one, your “waffles” will look different. You won’t get the perfect golden color you’d expect from a homemade waffle. And although the shape will be similar, the texture will be distinct. Instead of the crispy waffle you’re accustomed to, you’ll end up with something soft and pliable.
So what can you do if you only have pancake mix and want waffles or vice versa? The good news is that it’s easy to adjust your recipe. A few changes are all you need to go from pancakes to waffles or waffles to pancakes. Here’s how.
When adjusting a waffle recipe for pancakes, it’s vital to remember that waffles have two extra ingredients: sugar and fat. To make delicious pancakes, you’ll have to change the sugar and fat content.
The best way to do so is by adding a bit of water to the batter. The extra water helps dilute the recipe’s fat content. And when it’s time to cook your pancakes, be sure not to add any oil or butter to the griddle or pan. Instead, opt for a non-stick cooking spray.
Adding water also reduces the recipe’s sugar content, so once you’ve added it, you can cook your pancakes on the griddle as normal. You may want to start with one or two pancakes as a test and adjust the water content as needed.
Changing a pancake recipe is straightforward, too. We have to focus again on changing the sugar and fat content, but in this case, we want to add, not dilute.
You can start by doubling the amount of fat your pancake recipe calls for. If it calls for two tablespoons of butter, add four instead. This step is essential, as it prevents your waffles from sticking in the iron and making a big mess. If the recipe calls for oil, you can use any oil you like. Vegetable oil is an excellent choice, but coconut oil works well, too.
And when it comes to the extra sugar, you’ll need to add 2.5 times the amount your pancake recipe states. Once you’ve got your extra ingredients mixed, you can fire up your waffle iron and use it as usual. You’ll be enjoying yummy waffles in no time!
Whether you prefer delicious Belgian waffles or pancake plates, the right toppings make all the difference. Maple syrup is a classic choice, and you can never go wrong with it. However, sometimes it’s fun to change things up. If you love a sweet breakfast, consider adding one of the following syrups for a fun twist:
Just be careful with buttermilk as it is relatively high in saturated fat.
But don’t limit your waffle and pancake experience to syrup! You can sneak in your own secret ingredient or topping. These foods lend themselves excellently to all kinds of toppings. You may want to try adding something unexpected, like one of these tasty toppings:
Waffles especially work well with all kinds of savory toppings, so don’t be afraid to experiment!