Pancake recipes are easy enough to make with just a few ingredients, but I often find I run out of milk or other ingredients I ment to be adding to the recipe.
So, if you ever wondered whether it’s possible to use water instead of milk in pancakes, you are in the right place!
Yes, water can be substituted for milk in pancake recipes. You might need to use less water and add extra flavouring, but overall, water is the easiest way to swap for milk in any pancake recipe.
In our family, we used to make pancakes with water ever since I remember. As children, me and my brother loved pancakes and could easily eat the whole stack of them each weekend. We used to make quite large batches, which would involve quite a lot of milk.
We used water because we didn’t have much money, and saving the milk for tea and other cooking uses was more important than using it in pancake batter. We never minded and got creative with inventing new topping flavours based on what we had in the kitchen pantry.
Nowadays, I still sometimes make pancakes with water, when I run out of milk or don’t have the right milk to use.
Is it possible to substitute water for milk in pancakes? The quick answer
Yes, you can substitute water for milk in pancake recipes.
You might need to adjust the amount (add less water than milk as water is ‘thinner’) and perhaps add extra flavour as water doesn’t have any.
Overall, water is the easiest, most convenient and budget friendly way to swap for milk in any pancake recipe.
What happens when you use water instead of milk in pancakes ?
The pancake recipe will work in exactly the same way, but you might lose a little bit of flavour by swapping water for milk. It is the fat content in milk that adds flavour to your pancakes.
You might need to add a little less water to keep the pancake batter nice and thick. This is because milk has a fat content that helps to bind the flour and the rest of the pancake mix together.
How to add flavour back to pancakes with water (instead of milk)
Whilst it’s perfectly fine to use water instead of milk to make your pancakes, you are losing some of the flavour that milk would provide.
If you are in a hurry, on the budget or are not fussed, make the pancake recipe simply by swapping water for milk and add the rest of the ingredients as specified in your recipe.
Any pancake toppings will add extra flavour and you will hardly notice any difference between pancake made with water and pancake made with milk (especially if you are used to making pancakes with low fat milk).
Pancake toppings ideas to improve the flavour of water pancakes
There are so many pancake topping options you can choose from here. From simple sugar and lemon juice to honey drizzling, fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or other pink fruits, bananas, melted chocolate and savoury options such as maple syrup and bacon.
- Banana & Honey Curd >>
- Lime Curd >>
- Easy Apple Curd >>
- Apple & Cinnamon Puree >>
- Pumpkin Butter >>
- Pear Simple Syrup >>
- Earl Grey Sugar Syrup >>
- Brown Sugar Syrup >>
How to add flavour to water pancakes batter
If you want to improve the flavour of the water based pancake batter, you can also add extra flavouring and ingredients depending on the type of recipe you are making. Here are just a few examples of flavours I’ve tried before:
- Lemon or Orange Zest
- Vanilla Essence (or other essences such as Almond, Lemon or Orange)
- Cinnamon or other spices based on the seasons, such as Gingerbread Spice , Christmas Spice or Apple Pie Spice
- Fresh blueberries or raspberries
- Apple puree (use it instead of the milk amount – if the apple puree is too thick dilute with water eg. 50% apple puree plus 50% water)
- Cocoa Powder – add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder to the pancake batter mix to make chocolate pancakes – top with melted chocolate and chopped-up bananas
MORE HOMEMADE SPICE MIX RECIPES
How to substitute water for milk in pancakes
Use one to one ratio (or slightly less) water to milk in the recipe
Use slightly less water than the amount of milk in your recipe. Measure the same amount of water as the milk amount in your recipe, but don’t add all of it in. Leave about 2-3 tablespoons out and only add it in if the pancake batter looks like it’s too thick and needs that extra liquid.
Leave the pancake batter to rest
Make sure that you leave the pancake batter to stand for 10-15 minutes before starting to make your pancakes. This will make sure that the batter thickens a bit and the pancakes will be nice and sturdy and hopefully won’t stick to the frying pan when you start making them.
Which types of pancakes recipes are best with water?
I usually find that the more ingredients the recipe has, the less it’s visible that I’ve not used milk and used water instead.
Another example could be any pancakes recipe that either savoury or ment to be served with savoury toppings (such as maple syrup and bacon). You will hardy notice the difference in savoury pancakes recipes, which means that you can easily use water instead of milk without any extra ingredients adjustment.
Pancake recipes that can be used with water instead of milk
The following recipes can be easily used with water instead of milk.
OAT BASED PANCAKES RECIPES
Oat or oatmeal based pancakes recipes are great because once you mix water (or any liquid) with the oats (any kind of oats you like), they start to thicken and bind very well together with the rest of the ingredients.
Taste wise, you’ll not notice much difference when using water instead of milk with this recipe, which makes it ideal recipe to use with water.
My oats pancake recipe also works great with gluten free flours, heritage flours or just regular plain, cake or self-raising flour.
GLUTEN FREE PANCAKE RECIPES
Gluten free flours work great with just water and each recipe has plenty of other ingredients, which adds extra flavour, so that you don’t need to worry about adding anything else.
MORE COMPLEX PANCAKE RECIPES
EASY BASIC RECIPE
This is my favourite basic recipe for pancakes, which can be easily made both with sweet or savoury toppings, because it’s sugar free recipe.
FRUIT PUREE BASED PANCAKES RECIPES
This is a great recipe to use with water, because I’ve used the fruit puree as the liquid to mix with the flour and the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have mango, use any other type of fruit you like, it works with pretty much any fruit that has some flavour.
PANCAKE RECIPES WITH FRUIT
Althought this is fruit based pancake recipe too, this time I’ve used whole blueberries in the pancake batter. The blueberries will add extra flavour, which means you can easily swap the milk for water and don’t need to add anything else.
PANCAKE RECIPES WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLOURS
Heritage, wholemeal or other unusual types of flours really add extra flavour to your pancakes. This again means that swapping the milk for water will cause no problem, as you get plenty of flavour from the other ingredients.
On the plus note, the flax and the buckwheat flour in the following recipes soak up quite a lot of liquid, which means that the pancake batter will be still nice and thick with water only.
Can I use water instead of milk with a shop bought pancake mix ?
Yes, you can water as a substitute for milk with pancake mix. Depending on what type of pancake mix you buy, the instructions might be for adding water only anyway, because the mix might include powdered milk.
If the pancake package indicates you should add milk (or buttermilk) you can still use water and just make sure that you don’t add all of it at first. Mix in most of the water (the same quantity as the milk specified in the recipe) and only add the rest if pancake batter looks too thick.
If you wish, you can still add more flavouring (see my notes above) such as vanilla essence or butter to replace some of the flavour and fat that milk would normally provide.
Can I use water and milk together in my pancake recipe?
Yes, absolutely! I often have only some of the milk that I need for my pancake recipe and usually mix in water. The amount really depends on how much milk you have (or can allocate) for your pancake making.
What also works great is to use something thicker than milk and then water it down. This could be for example double or single cream (half and half), yoghurt (any type including plant based), cheese cream (any kind including plant based) or any plant based milk or cream.
You can also increase the amount of butter (if you are using any), but not by the whole amount, that would make the pancakes batter too oily and fatty. I find that using extra tablespoon is enough to give the pancakes the extra fat and flavour.