How to Make Fluffy Japanese Pancakes

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Try making a batch of light and airy fluffy Japanese pancakes for a morning treat. The best part is, no specialty ingredients or equipment are needed. Just a bit of patience!

If you haven’t had them before, the best way to describe fluffy Japanese pancakes is part pancake, part souffle. They’re distinguished from a classic buttermilk pancake by their height and custard-like flavor. They’re a serious stack of pancakes, and breakfast lovers will definitely want to try them.

What Makes Japanese Pancakes Different?

There are two secrets to making these lofty pancakes. First, by separating the egg whites and whipping them into a meringue, it gives the batter an airy souffle-like texture that allows your pancakes to get some serious height. The second secret is in steaming them to ensure all the height you’ve built into your batter cooks through completely while keeping the pancakes nice and moist.

It takes more time to make fluffy Japanese pancakes, but the extra effort is well worth the reward of eating your new favorite breakfast!

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil

This recipe makes 6-8 pancakes.

Tools You’ll Need

  • To easily whip up your egg whites to soft peaks, grab a hand mixer, stand mixer or good whisk
  • You can cook multiple pancakes while trapping steam using a large nonstick fry pan with a rounded lid, like this Circulon anodized nonstick pan
  • If there’s a trace of yolk or oil in the bowl, egg whites won’t whip! A set of clean glass or stainless steel bowls like these Duralex stacking bowls will help ensure your egg whites whip up

Directions

Step 1: Separate egg yolks and whites

Separting Yolks fluffy japanese pancakesMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

Separate egg yolks and whites, placing them in separate bowls. Here’s a technique to separate yolks and whites from our Test Kitchen. Be sure that no egg yolk gets into the bowl of whites as the presence of fat will prevent them from whipping.

Step 2: Whip the egg whites

Stiff Peaks fluffy japanese pancakesMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

Using a whisk, hand mixer or stand mixer, whip egg whites until they reach soft peaks. They should look shiny and doubled in size, and when you lift the whisk, the tip will fall over.

Gradually add sugar to the egg whites, a tablespoon at a time, until they become glossy stiff peaks.

Step 3: Make the batter

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes BatterMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

In the bowl with egg yolks, add milk and vanilla extract and whip until the mixture becomes pale yellow and bubbly. Sift in baking powder and all-purpose flour and gently fold in until no dry bits remain.

Step 4: Fold in the egg whites

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes Batter 2Megan Barrie for Taste of Home

Gently fold in half of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula. Then add the remaining egg whites, being careful to not let out all the air you’ve built up.

Step 5: Griddle the pancakes

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes Batter In PanMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

Heat your widest nonstick pan on medium-low for at least 30 seconds. Using a brush or paper towel, brush the surface of the pan evenly with canola oil. Using a 1/4 cup or ladle, scoop batter from the bowl and place in the pan, leaving room for a total of three pancakes.

Then go back and get another scoop, topping each pancake with a total of about 1/2 cup batter. It should be stacked about an inch high. Place the lid on the pan to trap in the steam and cook pancakes for about four to six minutes.

Step 6: Flip

Remove the lid and see if the sides of the pancakes are matte and set. Carefully use a flat spatula to check the bottom of the pancake to see if it’s light brown, giving each a flip and placing the lid back on for another four to five minutes of cooking. Remove from the pan and place on a plate to keep warm as you repeat this process with the remaining batter.

Step 7: Serve

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes Ready To ServeMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

Serve topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries or peaches.

FAQs About Fluffy Japanese Pancakes

What do fluffy Japanese pancakes taste like?

They’re sweet and custard-y, with a taste of vanilla. It’s a bit like if you combined a buttermilk pancakes, vanilla cupcakes and baked custard into one dish.

What makes these pancakes fluffy?

Whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks essentially builds a meringue, which provides airy structure to the batter.

Can I make these from a pancake mix?

Yes! But be sure to buy the right mix. Japanese grocery stores sell the mix Morinaga, which is as easy to use as American pancake mix. Just add egg and milk, and stir. They won’t come out as tall, but will still give you that fluffy, delicate sweetness you’re looking for.

Why do my Japanese pancakes deflate?

Just as a quiche, Dutch baby pancake or chocolate souffle deflate slightly when they’re removed from the oven, so will these pancakes. However, a way to ensure they don’t instantly deflate is to properly whip your egg whites to stiff peaks, being sure to not under- or overwhip them.

The other potential problem is not cooking the pancakes fully. You need to cook them over medium low heat and use a proper lid to seal off the steam. Steaming the pancakes ensures the middle is cooked through, which means there will be enough structure to the batter when you remove it from the heat.

How can I change the flavor?

Fluffy Japanese Pancakes HeroMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

These pancakes can take on a variety of delicious flavors. Try adding 2 teaspoons of high-grade matcha powder during the flour and baking soda step to make matcha Japanese fluffy pancakes. In the summer, take advantage of seasonal berries. You can top the pancakes with fresh strawberries, blueberries or blackberries. In the winter months, cook down 1 cup of frozen berries along with 1/4 cup of sugar in a small pot on medium low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until berries have reduced and thickened slightly, to make a delicious compote.

Adding lemon or yuzu juice and zest to the batter can also give you lemon Japanese fluffy pancakes. Add 1/4 cup of lemon or yuzu juice and a teaspoon of zest to the egg yolk mixture and gently fold in.

Why is my batter not light and airy?

There could be a few reasons. First, be careful when cracking and separating your eggs to ensure no traces of egg yolk are in your whites. The presence of the fat can prevent the proteins in the white from fluffing up. Another thing to check for is your baking soda. Make sure that hasn’t expired—here’s how to test baking soda.

The last thing is to make sure you measure properly. Having too much flour can weigh the pancakes down, so be sure to level the top of your measuring cups. This is the right way to measure flour, for best results.

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Megan Barrie
I'm a home cook, instructor, and recipe developer focused on celebrating seasonal, comforting, Japanese-y food. I founded a platform called Seasoned Cook to give people the building blocks to make cooking approachable and enjoyable every day. My recipes are currently featured on Harvest Queen and Taste of Home.