Brighten Your Pancake Mix With Lemon Zest And Never Look Back

Premade pancake mix makes an appearance in millions of American pantries. It's no wonder, considering that 93% of Americans either like or love the breakfast treat, and 29% eat pancakes once every couple of weeks (per Top Agency). Even if you insist that homemade is always going to be superior, you can't deny that pancake mix produces some excellent flapjacks. For the busy person or parent who doesn't have time to whip up a batch from scratch, it makes so much sense to use a mix that comes together quickly with the addition of an ingredient or two. Plus, the variations you can produce are countless.

You may throw some of the more popular additions in, like blueberries, chocolate chips, or slices of banana, but for a fresh, bright flavor that doesn't necessarily add sweetness, consider lemon zest. It elevates the flavor of an otherwise plain pancake to make it taste bright and floral with no tartness or bitterness. It adds the best, most flavorful part of the lemon, and it won't compete with other flavors in the pancake like sugar or butter. And it's so quick and easy, it will merely take just a few seconds of preparation time, but the resulting pancakes will taste, perhaps, even better than homemade.

Zest for some zing

All you'll need to do is take your favorite pancake mix and add the finely shredded zest of a whole lemon to the dry portion of your batch before mixing in your wet ingredients. Just this one simple addition will completely change the way your pancakes taste, for the better. They will still be fluffy, warm, and a little sweet but you'll notice that subtle something extra. You'll probably also notice tiny shreds of zest in the pancakes once you cut into them. Think of these as colorful little flavor bombs.

If you're thinking to yourself that you'd never abandon your beloved blueberry pancakes, don't worry, you don't have to. Try adding the lemon zest in addition to the berries. Lemon loves blueberries, not to mention chocolate, strawberries, apples, other fresh berries, dried fruits, nuts, and even whipped cream. The zest will magnify all of these flavors, turning your otherwise plain pancake breakfast into something really special. With a dollop of whipped cream on top and maybe an extra pinch of lemon zest, you might even convince yourself that your short stack didn't come out of a box.

Don't stop at lemon zest

The reason that lemon zest can transform something like a pancake mix is that the oil that comes out of the topmost layer of citrus peel (called flavedo) is powerful and contains a huge amount of flavor (not to mention that terrific aroma). The same can be said for other citrus like limes and oranges, which also make wonderful additions to pancake mix. Try adding orange zest to a batch of chocolate chip pancake batter — or consider orange and vanilla bean pancakes (hello, Creamsicle). Consider orange with dried cranberries, orange with pistachios and cardamom, or orange zest mixed with toasted pecans.

If you have a bowl full of limes instead of lemons or oranges, feel free to zest a couple of limes per pancake batch. Tangy and tropical-tasting, lime zest is delicious in banana-macadamia nut pancakes, white chocolate chip pancakes, and toasted coconut pancakes sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Don't be afraid to mix different zests as well; lemon-lime pancakes with fresh mango on top might just be the next big thing in the food world.