The Easiest Way To Upgrade Boxed Pancake Mix

Boxed pancake mix delivers a near-instant sweet treat for lazy weekend brunches or breakfast for dinner, but the flapjacks themselves can end up too firm or nearly as flat as a board. With the simple addition of some ingredients you already have, you can make pancakes from a box far more flavorful, tender, and fluffy. Just swap out the water for milk and add an egg, and they'll taste a lot more like homemade!

Pancake mixes are designed to cook up just fine with only the addition of water, as they contain powdered versions of milk or buttermilk, and sometimes eggs, too. Stirring in water produces adequate pancakes, but swapping in milk introduces much-needed fat to the batter. Fat yields a richer flavor and a tender, moist texture with no rubberiness. Just swap the milk for water in a one-to-one ratio. You can also use a rich dairy-free milk like oat or coconut milk.

Eggs bring some more fat to the party, but they're also uniquely important for fluffiness. The airy rise in pancakes comes from bubbles created by a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda, but an extra egg provides even more structure to suspends those bubbles in the flapjacks, so the pancakes puff up and stay fluffy. The powdered eggs in the mix simply can't compete. One egg per batch of pancakes should do the trick.

Separate your eggs first for even more fluff

If you're willing to put in a bit more effort, separating your eggs produces even more extraordinary pancakes. The yolk provides richness, but the whites have another quality that is perfect for pancakes: They can be whipped until light and cloud-like, which in introduces even more air to the batter. This egg white hack is also the secret behind Ree Drummond's waffles.

First, separate the eggs by hand or use a handy kitchen tool that easily separates yolks and whites, if this is a task you struggle with. The yolk can be stirred right into the dry mix, along with the milk. Then, whip the egg white in a separate bowl using a whisk. Though you can use an electric mixer, just one white should whip up by hand quite quickly. 

Whip the egg white until it reaches firm or stiff peaks, which means it turns white and doesn't fall back on itself if you pull the whisk up to create a point. Then, add the whipped whites to your pancakes batter and very gently fold them in using a rubber spatula until just combined, doing your best to avoid deflating them. The batter should increase in volume quite a bit. Cook them up as you normally would for the fluffiest pancakes ever!

Avoid overmixing for fluffy pancakes

Just as there are many tips to use for better flapjacks, there are also big pitfalls to avoid. One of the most common mistakes everyone makes with pancakes is overmixing the batter, which gets rid of air and turns the finished pancakes dense and tough. This becomes an even bigger mistake when using whipped egg whites, but even if you skip separating the eggs and just throwing everything in a bowl, you should still exercise restraint when combining the batter. 

When you manipulate flour, stretchy and resilient gluten protein starts to develop in the batter. Plenty of gluten formation is what makes items like sourdough bread and pizza crust deliciously chewy, but it makes for tough pancakes. Stirring the batter gently until just combined inhibits this effect.

Another way to make sure you do not overmix the batter is to beat the eggs and milk together separately, then add them to the flour. You won't have to stir the floury mixture so vigorously to mix in stray streaks of eggs and milk. It's actually good for the batter to have some small lumps, as this means you haven't overworked it. Your finished pancakes won't be lumpy, but nice and fluffy.