The Reason You Need To Let Pancake Batter Rest

It's pretty easy to make pancakes from scratch. After all, all you need as far as ingredients go is just some flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, milk, eggs and butter. But it's a lot tougher than you might think to make good pancakes — fluffy, lofty, tender, and tall pancakes, like the ones you get at your favorite diner. There are a number of ways you could go wrong, even before you start to cook your pancakes, like over mixing your batter, which will cause the gluten in the flour to expand, leading to chewy pancakes, according to Eat This, No That!.

Over mixing your batter also tends to get rid of the lumps in your batter. And somewhat counter-intuitively, it's actually okay to leave lumps in your pancake batter. Turns out, those lumps prevent your batter from becoming too runny; runny batter has the tendency to spread out when cooked, leading to flat pancakes. Those lumps also hold extra air within the batter, which will lead to fluffier and taller pancakes. Another crucial step, and one that many people miss, is to let the pancake batter rest before cooking.

Letting pancake batter rest leads to lighter and fluffier pancakes

By letting your pancake batter rest, you're giving the flour time to absorb more of the liquid in the batter, essential for making pancakes that are lighter and fluffier, explains The Little Pancake Company. Letting your batter rest will also help those lumps that you left better hydrate, so you're not left with pockets of dry flour (via America's Test Kitchen). During the resting period, the liquids in your batter will cause the flour to start releasing starches and proteins, giving a nice lift to your eventual pancakes, explains The Kitchn. Letting your batter rest also gives time for the leavening agents (whether baking powder, baking soda, beaten egg whites, or even beer as an unexpected liquid to improve your pancake batter mix) to more evenly distribute through the batter, which will cause the pancakes to more evenly lift.

How long should you let your batter rest? Most recommendations range from five or 10 to 20 to 30 minutes. Cook's Illustrated warns that you should use the batter within an hour; otherwise, you run the risk of flat pancakes from the leavening agents having released all their bubbles by that time. So the next time you're making pancakes, give the batter (and yourself) a break for the best results.