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Buttermilk Pancakes Taste-off: Frozen, Pancake Mix or DIY?

Posted by Lisa | Wednesday June 6, 201219 comments

I grew up on Eggo waffles. They are quick, easy and all you have to do is pop them in the toaster. It’s great. I can understand the appeal of buying frozen waffles because not everyone owns a waffle iron but frozen pancakes? Yes, they sell those too!

This got me thinking:  is it actually worth buying frozen pancakes that you pop in a toaster instead of making them yourself? I can understand the need to buy frozen waffles, but most people can make pancakes since it requires no special equipment.

A couple of friends and I decided to get together to do a taste test involving buttermilk pancakes. We decided to try out frozen pancakes as well as pancakes made from a mix,  and then see how well they stacked up against pancakes made from scratch. Is it worth buying the convenience versions or are you better off making them from scratch?

The Contenders:

1. Aunt Jemima Frozen Buttermilk Pancakes
Previously cooked and then frozen, making them the fastest to prepare in a toaster, microwave or oven. 

2. Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Pancake Mix

Convenience plus a bit of DIY.  The recipe on the back of the box calls for:
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups pancake mix

Pour the pancake mix into a mixing bowl. Add the egg and milk (for extra tender pancakes add 1-2 Tbsp of vegetable oil). Stir with a wire whisk until large lumps disappear. Let stand 1-2 minutes to thicken.

3. Buttermilk pancakes made from scratch
Recipe from: The Joy of Cooking

Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Combine in another bowl:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
(1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Ignore lumps. Rest the batter. (Note: It’s recommended to cover, refrigerate and rest the batter for 3-6 hours or longer for superior results.)

To cook the pancakes:
Pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto a greased skillet or frying pan. Turn when pancakes bubble and bottoms are golden brown. Continue to cook for approximately 1 minute or until second side is golden brown.

The Results 

The Aunt Jemima frozen buttermilk pancakes were definitely the easiest to prepare. They were perfectly circular and uniform in shape and size. They looked perfect!  However, they tasted the worst out of the three. “Flat,” “dense,” “tough” and “tastes like cardboard” are all comments that were made by the taste testers.

The homemade pancakes and the ones prepared from the mix tasted very similar. Some people preferred the taste of the homemade pancakes, some preferred the taste of the pancakes made from the mix, while others couldn’t taste any difference between the two. However, the pancakes made from the mix came out slightly more fluffy and because of the lighter texture, the taste testers preferred these ones overall. What a huge upset!  Although I usually prefer the homemade versions of things, in this case Aunt Jemima buttermilk pancake mix wins from a convenience standpoint.

Bottom Line

It's worth buying the pancake mix for the convenience and the taste. It does cost a bit more but it saves the time and effort of having to measure out the dry ingredients. For people who don't bake a lot or have all the ingredients on hand, Aunt Jemima pancake mix is the way to go.

But if you want to go the extra mile...
Homemade pancakes call for very simple ingredients so if you have the ingredients on hand go ahead. And if you have the time and patience to allow the batter to rest for at least 3 hours more power to you! This works out to be the most economical way as well.

One thing is for certain though: who doesn’t love having pancakes for breakfast?

*Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, a quick trick is to add 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup milk.

All Photos by Jane Lee of butteredup.blogspot.ca

Lisa is a dietitian, food lover and blogger. Check out her other taste tests on confessionsofadietitian.com
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on June 13, 2012  Racenhawk  2,659 said:

Not a pancake fan but I make my crepes from scratch. It's so easy!

on June 13, 2012  no1-mom  1,031 said:

Scratch is the best - when in a pinch Aunt Jamima is best. Should try sour cream if no butter milk is handy. I've used it and works well. Try serving with banana slices and fresh raspberries and blueberries. I standard Sunday morning meal!

on June 12, 2012  DawnMackie  3,667 said:

I'm not a fan of the aunt jemima mix for some reason I prefer to make them by scratch! I love my recipe and so do my kids, I usually make reg pancakes for the kids then mix egg whites, half a banana and oatmeal in a blender and fry in Pam yum!!

on June 10, 2012  midnightsun2288  6,053 said:

I think it is worth it just to buy the pancake mix. They have the taste of homemade but the convenience of frozen (give or take a bit).

on June 08, 2012  GoneBatty  3,196 said:

I love Aunt Jemima pancake mix, for we still do buy the kind you can pop in the toaster for busy morning when the kids still want pancakes! They don't seem to mind the taste :)

on June 07, 2012  roadee  2,181 said:

Wow. These are such great comments! I'm going to have to try Bisquick against Aunt Jemima pancake mix since it seems to be the pancake mix of choice from several of the commenters. I also like the fact that it seems to be quite versatile as well.

Yes, I have heard that crepes are very easy to make (and that the pre-made crepes that they sell in the store aren't worth buying). Of course, I will have to verify this in an upcoming taste test (homemade vs. store bought crepes). Should be pretty easy to guess the winner but you never know! Thank you for the great ideas!

on June 06, 2012  Tiffmorris  1,792 said:

I love making pancakes, either using a box mix or making from scratch. pancakes are the only sort of baking I will use a mix for, the taste is too similar to make a big difference. I always enjoy making pancakes from scratch, and you really don't need to rest the batter at all, there are other ways to get the same consistency that resting it would give, using carbonated water for all or part of your liquid or simply just whipping the egg white separately from yolks until soft peaks then folding them into the batter. Lets not forget either, that the flour used makes all the difference, all purpose flour will give you denser pancakes then if you used cake flour.

on June 06, 2012  HayleyK  632 said:

Now I want pancakes. LOL.

on June 06, 2012  farouknabela  3,424 said:

I love The Joy of Cooking! Great stuff!

on June 06, 2012  takanikki  2,265 said:

Mmmm. Now I want some pancakes. Bookmarking this recipe for later. :P I make pancakes from scratch using a general list of ingredients from my mother (no proportions, just ingredients :O). Sometimes they would turn out OK but sometimes they turn out like the frozen ones, dense, packed, you name it. Through trial and error, I think I've got it pretty down pat now. Definitely would like to try out a recipe that's already been tested. :)

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