Souffle pancakes are fluffy, sweet, incredibly photogenic. They are also the latest food craze to float our way from Japan. They are everything that makes regular pancakes so loveable, but magically even better thanks to whipped egg whites. And they’re surprisingly easy to make.
With this easy recipe, you’ll learn how to make them at home. Weekend breakfasts will never be the same.
Made in Breakfast Heaven
Everyone loves pancakes. They’re easy and quick to make, lightly sweetened, and the perfect vehicle for deliciously rich pure maple syrup. But believe it or not, there is something even better for breakfast: airy Japanese pancakes.
They’re made with all the same ingredients, but they’re impossibly fluffy and light. They’re so delicate they practically melt on your tongue.
Tips for Perfect Japanese Souffle Pancakes
These pancakes aren’t difficult to make, but the recipe is a bit more fiddly than the standard pancake recipe. Here are a few tips for perfect fluffy Japanese pancakes.
- Use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Cake flour is finely milled, delicate, and has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour. As a result, it makes for more delicate cakes (and pancakes) with a more tender crumb and a higher rise. You can make your own substitute for cake flour by combining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons A-P flour with 2 tablespoons cornstarch (makes 1 cup cake flour substitute).
- Keep your egg whites cold until you are ready to whip them. This ensures that they will whip up to an airy consistency and retain that airiness when they are folded into the batter.
- Whip your egg whites just until they just barely reach the stiff peaks stage. Pull the whisk out of the whipped egg whites and if the mixture forms a peak that flops over at the very top while otherwise holding its shape, you are there. The mixture should also be glossy at this point. While you don’t want to under-whip your whites, you don’t want to over-whip them either. Both will result in batter that doesn’t rise as much as you want it to.
- Don’t stir the egg whites into your batter. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the meringue into the batter so that you don’t deflate it in the process.
- Use ring molds if you want your pancakes to have tidy, tall sides. The taller the ring mold, the taller you will be able to make your pancakes.
- Use a large, nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid to cook the pancakes.
- Handle your pancakes gently as you flip them and as you remove them from the pan to plate them. They are very delicate and will fall if you handle them roughly.
Easy to Make, Even Easier to Eat
These lofty pancakes are super impressive. Thankfully, they are also quite easy to make if you follow a few simple steps.
Step 1: Separate your eggs, putting all 4 whites into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, and 2 of the yolks into a separate medium mixing bowl.
Step 2: Whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, a bit of the sugar, baking powder, and lemon juice. Add the flour and milk and whisk to combine.
Step 3: Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are foamy. Add the sugar and continue whipping until they are glossy, and hold stiff peaks.
Step 4: Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
Step 5: Heat a nonstick pan over low or medium-low heat.
Step 6: Grease the pan with butter or spray it with cooking oil spray. If using ring molds, grease the insides of those as well.
Step 7: Gently spoon the pancakes batter into the skillet, in the ring molds if using, and then cover the pan. Let cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.
Step 8: Remove the lid of the pan and spoon a bit more batter on top of each of the pancakes. Replace the lid and let cook for 2 minutes more.
Step 9: Remove the lid again and slide a thin, flat spatula all the way under
Step 10: Gently slide the spatula underneath the pancakes and remove them to a plate. Let cool slightly before dusting with powdered sugar or applying other toppings.
How to Top Your Japanese Pancakes
While you can top your pancakes with the usual maple syrup, I actually find that the heaviness of the syrup weighs down the fluffy cakes. I prefer a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Sliced strawberries, fresh raspberries, and/or dollops of pillowy whipped cream are also dreamy.
Did Someone Say Chocolate?
That’s right! You can make an easy chocolate version of these fluffy Japanese pancakes. Just leave out the lemon juice and substitute unsweetened cocoa powder for half of the cake flour. Oh yum.
If you want a really delightful weekend brunch, serve this with a delicious batch of Homemade Breakfast Sausage. And maybe throw in a Honey Cake for good measure! If you just want something super easy, Sheet Pan Pancakes are ideal.
If you want to try making more Japanese dishes, try Sunomono, Onigiri Rice Triangles, Miso Salmon, Chawanmushi, Chicken Karaage, Stir-Fried Lotus Root, or Spicy Miso Ramen.
more breakfast and brunch recipes you’ll love
- Chocolate Chickpea Muffins
Gluten FreeBanana Muffins with Peanut Butter
- Candied Ginger and Peach Scones
- Dessert Crêpes with Sweet Ricotta Cream and Strawberries
Japanese Souffle Pancakes
- 4 cold large eggs
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons cake flour for chocolate version, use 3 tablespoons cake flour and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ¼ cup cold whole milk
- ½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (leave out for chocolate version
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Unsalted butter or cooking oil spray for greasing the pan and molds
- Powdered sugar for serving
- Separate the eggs, putting all 4 of the whites into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and 2 of the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. Discard the remaining 2 yolks (or save them for another recipe).
- Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the vanilla, and the baking powder to the yolks and whisk to combine. Add the cake flour (or the cake flour and cocoa powder if making the chocolate version) and milk and whisk again to combine.
- Add the lemon juice (if using), salt, and cream of tartar to the egg whites in the other mixing bowl and use an electric mixer (or the stand mixer) fitted with a whisk attachment to whip the mixture until foamy, about 1 minute on medium speed. Continue whipping while you add the remaining 5 tablespoons of sugar. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, raise the speed to high and whip until to glossy and stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Scoop a cup or so of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture and then use a rubber spatula to gently fold the two mixtures together. Fold in the remaining egg white mixture in two batches, folding just until the two are combined.
- Heat a large, lidded nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, spray it with cooking oil spray or grease it with butter. Spray or butter the insides of the ring molds, as well, being careful to fully coat the insides of the molds.
- Place as many molds into the skillet as you can fit comfortably (I can fit 2 in my largest nonstick skillet, but you might be able to fit 3. I usually use a small skillet at the same time with 1 mold in it, but that requires a lot of coordination and timing. If this is your first time, you might want to stick to making 1 or 2 pancakes at a time.)
- Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them until almost, but not quite full. Cover the skillet and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the lid and carefully slide a thin spatula underneath one of the pancakes. Use a second spatula or your hand protected by a silicone oven mitt to assist as you flip the whole thing over to cook the second side. Flip all of the pancakes in the skillet(s). Don’t worry if a bit of batter splatters out around the ring when you flip the pancakes. Replace the lid and cook for about 3 minutes more. When the pancakes are done, any batter that has seeped out around the edge of the ring will be nicely browned. Carefully slide the thin spatula underneat the pancake and ring again and lift the whole thing out of the pan and onto a plate. Carefully remove the ring (you may want to wait a couple of minutes to let it cool a bit). Repeat with the remaining pancakes and batter.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with powdered sugar.