Pancakes are a great way to start the day, since a stack of those fluffy sweet treats brighten up any morning. If you have ready-made mix on hand, then making pancakes is even easier.
However, sometimes you don’t have pancake mix on hand and you don’t feel like making the batter from scratch. If you have waffle mix ready, you may be wondering if you can use that instead. After all, both are sweet doughy breakfast treats, so they shouldn’t be too different, right?
You can use waffle mix to make pancakes, but there are enough differences between the two that the results will be different, and you have to be careful during the cooking process to avoid mistakes. Here is what you should know before substituting waffle mix for pancake batter.
The Difference Between Waffles and Pancakes
Understanding the difference between pancakes and waffles can help you understand any adjustments you need to make when substituting one mix for another.
Both waffles and pancakes are sweet breakfast treats made from a liquid batter that firms up as it cooks. The main difference is the shape, since waffles come in a grid-like shape while pancakes are flat, slightly raised circles.
The difference in shape comes from the different cooking methods. Waffles are cooked between two greased plates with a grid pattern or on a waffle iron. Meanwhile, you cook pancakes on a stovetop or griddle to get that perfect round shape.
The other difference, which is what will affect your decision to substitute waffle mix for pancake mix, is the texture. Waffles are leavened, which means that they are thicker and rise more, while pancakes are thinner and lighter.
Waffles and pancakes also have a different texture on the outside. Waffles tend to have a crispier, browner exterior. Waffle mix has a higher sugar content, and that extra sugar caramelizes and forms a thin crust as it cooks.
What Is in Pancake Mix?
Most pancake mix that you get from the store has the dry ingredients already mixed together. If you want to make your own mix, this includes flour, sugar, a leavening agent (baking powder, baking soda, or both), and salt.
Once you are ready to make pancakes, you will add eggs, buttermilk, butter, and any mix-ins such as chocolate chips, to the pancake mix.
What Is in Waffle Mix?
Waffle mix contains the same ingredients as pancake mix, which are flour, a leavening agent, sugar, and a little salt. Like pancake mix, you add your own butter, eggs, and milk to the waffles before cooking them.
The main difference between the two mixes is the ratio. Waffle mix is richer than pancake mix because it contains more sugar, and the recipe calls for more eggs and fat, such as butter or vegetable oil.
How Will My Pancakes Turn Out Different If I Use Waffle Mix?
Waffle mix and pancake mix have a base of the same ingredients, but as mentioned above, the ratios are different. In turn, the texture of a batter that uses waffle mix will be different than one that uses pancake mix.
Waffle batter will be thicker than pancake batter thanks to the higher butter and egg content. This will result in thicker pancakes that are dense instead of fluffy.
The exterior of the pancakes will also be different if you are using waffle mix. Waffle mix has more sugar, which caramelizes when you add heat. Your pancakes will have a crunchy exterior that they wouldn’t have if you used regular pancake batter.
None of these differences are large enough to ruin your pancakes, and you will still have delicious pancakes if you use waffle mix instead of pancake mix (your family might not even notice). However, if you want to get the texture of your pancakes as close as possible to the original, there are a few adjustments you can make to the waffle mix.
Adjusting Waffle Mix to Make Pancakes
If you want to make your pancakes taste as close to the original as possible, here are a few ways that you can adjust waffle mix.
Dilute the Fat
As we’ve established, one of the main differences between waffle mix and pancake mix is that waffle mix has more fat. The resulting batter is also thicker.
One way that you can counteract this is by adding water to the mix. Normally, a pancake recipe does not use water, but in this case using it will cut through the oil and butter. The instructions on the box probably tell you to use oil to make the waffle batter, but just use the same amount of water instead.
Adding more water or milk will bring the final texture of the batter closer to that of regular pancake batter. Pancake batter is runnier than waffle batter, so diluting the waffle mix with water will decrease the viscosity of the batter.
If you don’t dilute the fat content of the waffle mix, your pancakes will be dense instead of light and airy. They’ll still be delicious but might sit heavier in the stomach. There’s also a higher likelihood that you will get a crust that forms around the exterior.
Don’t Add Any Sugar
The instructions on your waffle mix might tell you to add more sugar as you add the liquid ingredients. That is because waffles need a high sugar content to get that crispy, browned exterior.
If you are using waffle mix to make pancakes, skip this step. Waffle mix already has a higher sugar content than pancake mix, so adding any more will make the batter too sweet and might create a hard, caramelized crust on your pancakes that was supposed to be fluffy.
Diluting the waffle mix with a little water also helps reduce the sugar content to a ratio that is closer to what you’d find in pancake mix. Water helps cut through the sugar and will make the sweetness less overpowering.
Use Less Fat When Cooking
Usually when cooking pancakes, you want to liberally grease the griddle or skillet. Adding plenty of butter prevents the batter from sticking to the cooking surface and soaks more flavor into the pancakes.
However, pancakes made with waffle mix already have a much higher fat content than normal. Adding any extra butter will make the pancakes feel dense and greasy.
Instead, add only a small amount of butter to the griddle, just enough to grease the surface and keep the batter from sticking. You can also use non-stick cooking spray, which has less fat than butter.
Do You Have to Adjust the Mix at All?
Maybe you’re exhausted in the morning and just want to get breakfast on the table without worrying about batter ratios and adding different ingredients.
The good news is that, technically, you don’t have to make any of the above adjustments to make pancakes using waffle mix. You can just follow the instructions on the mix box, except pour the resulting batter onto a skillet instead of a waffle iron.
Your resulting pancakes will be crunchier, denser, and maybe not as tasty, but they will be edible. If you just want to get pancakes on the table and not worry about perfection, there’s no need to adjust the ingredients or change your production method.
Do You Need to Change the Way You Cook Pancakes Made From Waffle Mix?
You may be wondering if you have to cook pancakes a different way if you used waffle mix instead of pancake mix as the base. Once you’ve prepared the batter and made any necessary adjustments to bring the ratio closer to that of a pancake mix, you don’t have to make any changes to the cooking.
Cook the pancakes on a griddle or stovetop the same way that you would regular pancakes. Cook them for around the same time, until golden-brown on each side. You will still get fluffy, round, cake-like breakfast treats.
Can You Still Add Mix-ins?
Half the fun of making pancakes is putting your own spin on the batter by adding mix-ins. From chocolate chips to fruit to nuts, you can adjust pancakes to your own taste preferences and make breakfast fun.
Even if you are using waffle mix for the base of your pancake batter, you can add the same mix-ins you were planning to use for regular pancakes.
The only adjustment you should make is to check that your mix-ins don’t add additional fat or sugar since the batter is already richer than normal pancake batter. For example, use unsweetened chocolate chips instead of sweetened ones.
Can You Use Pancake Mix to Make Waffles?
If the substitution works one way, you may be wondering if you can do it the other way around. Some chefs claim that you cannot because pancake mix is too runny. However, if you’re craving waffles but only have Bisquick or another pancake mix on hand, you can still make waffles if you make some adjustments to the ratios.
You need to put more effort into adjusting the mix to make waffles because you need to thicken the pancake mix to get fluffy waffles. Add additional fat to the pancake mix when you are making waffle batter (the recommended ratios are an additional half a stick of butter per cup of pancake mix).
You should also add more sugar, about two tablespoons per cup of mix. The extra sugar gives waffles their flavor and helps them brown as they cook in the waffle iron. Added sugar will also help form the lacy, crunchy edges on waffles that are so delicious.
If you don’t make these adjustments, the waffle mix will be too thin and yield flat waffles, which nobody likes. The batter will be too runny and may pour out the edge of the waffle iron, making a mess in your kitchen. Thus, the consequences of not adjusting the ratios when using pancake mix to make waffles are tougher than when you’re using waffle mix to make pancakes and you need to be extra careful.
How to Make All-Purpose Batter
If you don’t have ready-made pancake mix or waffle mix, you can still have a sweet start to the day by making the batter from scratch. Both pancake and waffle batter are easy to make and rely on basic ingredients that you probably have in your pantry.
The basic ingredients for both pancakes and waffles are flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, milk or buttermilk, eggs, and butter. You can add cinnamon, vanilla extract, or chocolate chips for flavor.
The ratios for making pancakes or waffles will differ depending on what you are making, so double-check a recipe book or blog. However, the method is the same until you start cooking.
First, sift the dry ingredients together. Then, whisk together the wet ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and mix until smooth.
You can make your own mix and save it in your pantry for when you’re craving pancakes. This recipe uses a ratio of four cups of flour, three tablespoons each of sugar and baking powder, two teaspoons baking soda, and a pinch of salt.
Once you have your pancake mix, you can store it in the cupboard in an airtight container for up to three months. Once you are ready to make pancakes, just add an egg and a cup of buttermilk to a cup of mix.
If you bought waffle mix by mistake or realized at the last minute that it is the only thing you have left in your pantry, you can still have pancakes for breakfast. Following the instructions on the box but cooking the batter on a skillet instead of a waffle iron will result in perfectly edible pancakes, but for best results you want to adjust the batter.
Since waffle batter is fattier and has more sugar than pancake batter, dilute the mix by adding water, reducing added fat, and reducing the added sugar. Nobody will be able to tell the difference.