The Science of Pancakes

Like a lot of families, we love to make pancakes in the morning, especially on the weekends. Not only are they quick and easy, but the whole family can get in on the action which starts the day off in a fun way!

Besides a fun family breakfast, the making of pancakes is a science lesson as well. I am sure you have either seen or actually made a baking soda volcano at some point right? Making pancakes employs the same fundamentals.

The science of pancakes: Vinegar and lemon juice are called weak acids (they do not completely break apart when mixed into water), and baking soda (also called sodium bicarbonate) is a base. When these acids are mixed with this base, the result is water and carbon dioxide gas (the same stuff that makes soda bubbly). The carbon dioxide gas is trapped in the pancake batter making the batter light and fluffy when it cooks. If you notice the bubbles that form on your pancakes while cooking…they are the gas bubbles, created when you mixed the “agents” together bursting.

1 ¼ cups flour
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoons baking soda (different from baking powder)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or vinegar)
1 egg
1 tsp melted butter

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stir until combined, don’t over mix. Using hot pan greased with a bit of butter (medium heat works well), begin pouring your pancakes, one at a time flipping when “bubbles” can be seen all over the top. Let your pancakes cook another ½ minute or so on the other side (check for a medium brown color). Remove from heat when done and serve.

For something really special like a sleepover, birthday or holiday breakfast make a pancake bar! Set out a bunch of small bowls for things like berries, whipped cream, powdered sugar, jam, honey, syrup and chocolate chips and let everyone make their own pancake toppings. Serve with mini pancakes so you can try more than one combination. Take pictures of your creations! Name them! How cute would it be years later to have a photo and a written index card of the name of the pancake…especially if your kids are emerging spellers!

Tip: Freeze whatever is left and re-heat them during the week. We just put all of the cooled leftovers into a freezer bag. We take out what we need, place on a microwave safe plate, and heat for 30 seconds. We then flip them over and heat for another 30 seconds. They actually taste as good as they did when fresh!


  1. I don't normally like pancakes, but my husband does. I hate the pancakes out of the box, so I'll definitely be giving this a try!

  2. I like mine with mini chocolate chips: but you have to mix them into the batter. If they are added on top when cooking, they burn when the pancakes are flipped. My daughter likes fresh blueberries in hers: same thing, they need to be mixed into the batter. The pancakes really do freeze well, and they are better than the "boxed" ones.

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