Traditional pancakes are not vegan because they usually contain milk or eggs. However, vegan-friendly options are available and are quite easy to make.
You can get many different kinds of pancakes depending on where you are in the world. They come in savory and sweet varieties. The main two types that you have probably heard of are your standard American pancake which is small and thick, or the crepe, which is wider and thin.
The American pancake was named around the 19th Century. Prior to this, they had a variety of other names depending on where they were made, and the type of flour used.
The crepe originated in Brittany, part of France, around the 13th Century. They are popular across most of Europe, with some sweeter recipes coming from Asian countries. Typically, crepes are eaten in the United Kingdom on Shrove Tuesday, commonly known as Pancake Day, as well as in France on February 2nd each year.
American pancakes contain eggs, flour, baking powder and milk, resulting in a thick batter similar to cake mix. Their European counterparts contain the same ingredients, but omit the baking powder, resulting in a thinner, more watery batter.
Due to the inclusion of eggs and milk, common pancakes are not vegan-friendly. You can adapt the recipe for your batter, regardless of whether you are making crepes or American pancakes, to exclude animal products.
You may also need to pay attention to the toppings that are used for your pancakes, as these may also contain traces of animal products.
Alternative Ingredients for Vegan-Friendly Pancakes
To ensure that your pancakes are truly vegan, it is best to make both the batter and toppings yourself at home. This way you can monitor any ingredients used. Of course, you can always indulge yourself in a vegan-friendly café that serves pancakes.
Eggs are used within pancake batters to bind the ingredients together. They also aid with creating a light product. With both American pancakes and crepes, you don’t want to end up with a dull finished product.
Generally, standard vegan egg substitutes will work for your pancake batter. You may wish to alter which one you use depending on whether you are creating sweet or savory pancakes.
Mashed Bananas – These can be brilliant for pancakes that will have sweet toppings. Bananas can help hold your batter together while retaining the light-and-fluffy inside that we come to expect from a decent pancake. If you enjoy the taste of bananas anyway, this will be a fantastic substitute for you. It also helps prevent waste as the best banana to use is one that is overripe, meaning it may have been headed for the bin if you hadn’t incorporated it into your recipe.
Potatoes – For savory recipes, a quarter cup of mashed potato can be used for each egg needed. You could also use potato starch for ease and to avoid having to do any prior preparation, however it is best to stick to actual potatoes for a healthier recipe. You need to be mindful when using potatoes that this will involve a lot of carbohydrates alongside the flour, and will lack the protein you would have originally gained from the eggs.
Ground Flax Seeds – Ground flax seeds mixed with water will do the same job as eggs, without the need for animal products. The only downside is that they may not be as fluffy as traditional egg-based pancakes. Flax seeds work well with both sweet and savory recipes, meaning they are perfect if you want to be able to use a variety of toppings with one batch. They also contain a lot of protein, more than your standard egg per 100g, meaning you will have similar macronutrients to a traditional recipe.
Milk is used within pancake batter to achieve the correct consistency and structure. Recipes usually call for cows’ milk, however there is no reason why you cannot alter the recipes to include vegan-friendly substitutes instead.
Water – While not ideal for the taste of the batter, water can be used as a milk substitute. This will help keep your ingredients together and provide the much-needed moisture for the flour. Taste aside, water can be a great substitute, particularly for those who want to enjoy pancakes while not consuming too many calories.
Beer – For a more adult twist, you could use beer instead of milk. The type you use will depend on your preference to the drink to begin with. If you don’t like beer, then this is probably not a good option for you. If you do, then it can be a perfect milk substitute. The bubbles from carbonated beer will also help you get a fluffy texture, which can make them similar to the original thing.
Dairy-Free Milk – There is so many different styles and brands of dairy-free milk, that you should have a lot to choose from. The great thing is that they will all work in your pancake batter. Refrigerated coconut milk can give the pancakes a tropical flavor. Almond milk is great if you want a nutty base. Soy milk is a good all-rounder and can be used for sweet and savory pancakes.
Sweet Vegan Toppings
For sweet toppings, you might want to alter the contents depending on how healthy you want your pancakes to be. Some standard toppings, such as chocolate spread, contain milk powder, so would not be suitable, however there are ways that you can create your own.
Lemon and Sugar – For a traditional crepe topping, you could use lemon juice and sugar. This one is already vegan, so doesn’t need any altering. Being a standard topping, it is also one that your non-vegan friends will enjoy too, without you having to compromise on your dietary beliefs. If you switch the sugar out for sweetener, you can further reduce the calorie count, meaning you could enjoy more!
Vegan Chocolate Spread – Using hazelnuts, vanilla extract, salt and dairy-free chocolate, you can create your own vegan spread. This one will go down particularly well with children or chocoholics. To make these less sinful, chop up some strawberries and scatter over the top.
Coconut Whip and Fruits – Standard whipped cream is not vegan-friendly, so you can make your own using coconut milk or coconut cream. You can sweeten it with powdered sugar, then sprinkle fruits such as blueberries or raspberries on top for a great summer treat.
Savory Vegan Toppings
While most people see pancakes as a sweet food, you might prefer to enjoy them with savory toppings instead. As long as you use vegan ingredients and recipes, there is no reason that you can’t have your pancakes as part of a main meal.
Creamed Mushrooms – This delicious recipe uses vegan ingredients to create a mushroom filling for crepe pancakes, or could be poured over your American pancakes. Mushroom pancakes would be perfect as a lunchtime replacement for the boring sandwich.
Mixed Vegetables – You could cook vegetables into your American pancakes to include the topping in the pancake itself. Veggies such as tomato, spring onion, or green pepper would work perfectly, and ensure you were getting important nutrients from vegetables as part of a tasty, vegan snack.
Store-bought pancakes are not going to be ideal for someone following a vegan diet and lifestyle. You could also buy vegan pancake mix from specialist stores or online. These can be quite expensive, and may be a waste of money if you dislike the taste, especially when it there are ways that you can adapt both the batter recipe and the toppings you use.
Easy vegan pancakes can be homemade by omitting the offending ingredients, and incorporating those that do not contain animal products, you will still be able to enjoy pancakes as both a snack and a main meal. You will also be giving yourself full control on what goes into them, meaning they can be perfect for those who are trying to lose, gain, or maintain their current weight.