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Pancake recipes - healthy ingredient substitutions


Try these mini blueberry pancakes

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is the traditional day to eat pancakes in the UK, but they’re quick and easy to make anytime.

If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you might think pancakes are full of carbs and calories, which they can be – but our message is that if you make simple switches in ingredients you don't have to miss out on treats on special occasions.

We’ve got a few swaps you can try, ideas for healthier toppings – sweet and savoury – plus tips if you’re gluten- or dairy-free. Try our foolproof recipe and get flipping...

Try our recipe for perfect pancakes

Download your How to make healthier pancakes (PDF 578,KB)

What's in a pancake?

Just four ingredients:

  • plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • milk

Four simple switches to make your pancakes healthier

  • Use skimmed milk.
  • Don’t add butter to the batter.
  • Use a spray oil or measure your oil (1 tsp of oil is enough to cook 8 pancakes if you use the same oil soaked in kitchen paper and wiped around your frying pan).
  • Use low-sugar, low-saturated fat toppings.

Here's how to change some of the ingredients to make your pancakes healthier or suit your diet.


Pancakes can be made with most flours: white or wholemeal wheat, oat flour, rice flour or buckwheat. As well as gluten-free flour you can use nut or rice flour.

Depending on the flour you choose, you can use this classic recipe as a guideline; but you may need a little more or less liquid as absorption rates vary. Different flours such as nut flours need a gentler heat to prevent burning. You can even make pancakes from potatoes.

Eggs and milk

Most pancakes contain egg, but not all. You can use egg substitutes for a vegan alternative. The liquid is milk or water or a mixture of both, so use skimmed milk for a lower-fat version. Soy, rice milk or nut milks, such as almond, work well too.

Top tips for top batter

  • Sift your chosen flour into a bowl. (This is to add air, so when sifting wholemeal flour you’ll be left with the wheat bran in the sieve; just add this back into the sieved flour.)
  • Mix a pinch of salt into the flour, then make a well in the middle. Add lightly beaten egg and half your liquid and mix into a smooth paste.
  • Gradually mix in the rest of the liquid and beat it until you have a smooth batter with no lumps. If using wheat flour, cover the batter and leave it to stand for 30 minutes to an hour. This relaxes the gluten and improves the texture of the pancakes, making them softer and less chewy.

Cooking tips

With any pancakes it’s important to get an even medium temperature across the pan; non-stick pans are the best option. You need virtually no oil if the temperature and consistency are right.

  • Test the pan with a small pancake first to make sure it’s not too hot or too cool. Start with a low to medium heat and allow the pan to heat fully before adding the oil and batter.
  • Add a little batter (2–3 tablespoons is plenty) to the pan and swirl it gently to spread the batter out thinly. Leave for 30–40 seconds, it should form a crust on the edges and the pancake will have bubbles in the middle.
  • Ease the edges with a spatula and shake the pan. You should be able to move the pancake around without it sticking. It’s now ready to flip. You can use a large spatula or toss the pancake then cook the other side for around 1 minute.

Four steps to flipping a pancake

  1. A shallow-sided pan is best. (You can buy specific pancake pans, too.)
  2. Make sure the pancake is cooked and slides easily round the pan when shaken.
  3. Slide the pancake towards the handle then away from it a couple of times.
  4. Then, when shaking it, increase the speed and flick the pan upwards and away from you, only a few centimetres but quite vigorously. This should toss it onto the other side.

Top toppings

  • Lemon juice and sugar are traditional toppings, but try a sugar alternative, such as a low-calorie


    granulated sweetener instead with a squeeze of fresh orange.
  • Try chopped nuts, grated lemon or orange zest or 0% fat Greek yogurt and berries.
  • Go savoury with beetroot and a sliver of goat’s cheese (it’s high in saturated fat but strong tasting so a little goes a long way), or prawn and avocado.

Fillings for you to try:




Garlic mushrooms





Rhubarb fool





Roasted red veg with ginger and garlic





Barbecued fruit


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