These Bourbon Butter Pancakes are a flavorful update to the classic dull pancake recipe. Use bourbon butter instead of regular butter and brown sugar instead of white sugar for a pancake that has notes of caramel. Also, Lemon Zest!
I’m not a pancake lover. I think they’re flavorless and exist solely as a delivery system for butter and maple syrup. And, along with many other breakfast foods, I consider them a dessert more than a healthy breakfast.
For either breakfast or dessert, I was intent to develop a pancake recipe that would taste just as good with or without sugary toppings. If I’m eating pancakes, I want them to be delicious!
I tested well over a dozen recipes and ate more than thirty pancakes in a week’s time. I tested regular pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, and condensed milk pancakes. I tested pancakes with and without eggs, with a lot of sugar, with honey, and with brown sugar. I tested pancakes with fruit in the batter and fruit added while cooking. In the end, I came back to the tried and true pancake recipe with some small but significant changes.
This recipe swaps regular butter and sugar for bourbon butter and brown sugar. These small changes result in a pancake with a more caramel-like flavor. They’re AH-mazing. I couldn’t stop eating them once I nailed the recipe. I also gained more weight than you can imagine but just eating pancakes for a week.
To make bourbon butter you’re going to need a fire extinguisher. This involves flambéing bourbon in a hot pan to cook off the alcohol. It can be a little startling as a three-foot fireball explodes inches from your face – but it’s also super rad. If you’re using a flame top range (and have nerves of steel) you can slowly tilt the pan forward to let the fire ignite the fumes. If you think you might get startled and drop the pan, leave the pan alone and carefully wave a lit match over the pan to ignite the fumes. The match method is also what you’d use for electric stovetops. Allow the fire to burn for twenty seconds or so before placing a lid over the pan to extinguish the flame. Repeat igniting any fumes if necessary.
Once you’ve burned off the alcohol in the bourbon, you should be left with about a tablespoon of bourbon syrup. To that add unsalted butter. Stir it around in the pan to incorporate with the bourbon. Once the butter has melted and emulsified with the bourbon, pour it off into a small bowl to cool.
I found that sifting the flour does result in a fluffier pancake. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into a mixing bowl. This can be stored in an airtight container for months. You can double or triple this so you have the dry ingredients on hand whenever you need them.
Whisk the egg and milk together in a mixing bowl for a few minutes. The liquid should increase in volume and become foamy. Drizzle in the bourbon butter as you continue to mix. Then mix in the brown sugar.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl. Fold them together just until there’s no more dry flour. Then fold in the lemon zest. Allow the pancake batter to rest five to ten minutes before cooking.
I tried a cast iron pan and two different nonstick skillets for making pancakes. You’ll have to see what pan works best for you but I found this old enameled cast iron skillet worked best for me. I also tried cooking the pancakes in both cooking spray and butter. Butter was the clear winner as far as texture and taste but, if for some ridiculous reason you’re trying to reduce the calories of your bourbon butter pancakes, cooking spray will do the job.
Heat your skillet to about 350°F. You can use an infrared thermometer or use the water test. If you drop some water on the pan and it dances for a moment before evaporating you’re good to go. For five medium size pancakes I used a 1/3 measuring cup. There’s really no way to tell you how long pancakes take to cook. It depends on the size and thickness of your pancake and the temperature of your pan. You have to eyeball it. Your pancake is ready to flip when the entire surface is marked with bubbles. It should be 2-3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook for another minute or two.
Do not place your hot pancakes directly on a cold plate. Do not stack your pancakes as you continue to cook more. Pancakes should be placed on a sheet pan lined with a kitchen towel then placed in a preheated 200-degree oven. This ensures they stay warm and light.
If you’ve set your pancakes in a warm oven after cooking them, you have plenty of time to prep your accompaniments. Make a second pot of coffee. Freshly squeeze some orange juice. Fry up some bacon. Make homemade Strawberry Whipped Cream. Maybe a little blueberry compote. Oh, I tried blueberries in the batter but that really sucked. Caramel nibs though – that would totally work. As would a minute julep.
Bourbon Butter Pancakes
- 1/4 Cup Bourbon
- 3 Tbs Unsalted Butter
- 1 Egg
- 1 Cup Whole Milk
- 3 Tbs Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup AP Flour sifted
- 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Lemon Zest
- Gather a medium size stainless pan with a tight fitting lid. Keep the lid (and a fire extinguisher)nearby to quickly distinguish the flame. Add bourbon to a cold pan then simmer over medium heat until it begins to bubble. If using a gas range, slowly tilt the pan forward just enough to set the alcohol on fire. If using an electric range, use a match to set the fumes on fire. Allow the alcohol to burn off for at least 20 seconds before placing the lid on the pan. Repeat the burning off process until all alcohol is burned off (no more flames).
- Add cold butter to the bourbon. Use a silicone spatula to incorporate the melted butter with the bourbon. Bourbon butter is done when the spatula is dragged across the bottom of the pan and leaves a clean streak. Pour off bourbon butter in to a glass bowl to cool off.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and sift in to a mixing bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg and milk for 2-3 minutes or until the milk becomes frothy and increases in volume. While still whisking, drizzle in the cooled bourbon butter. Whisk in the brown sugar until it dissolves.
- Transfer the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold together with a silicone spatula just until the flour is hydrated - lumps are good. Finally, fold in the lemon zest.
- Preheat oven to 200°Line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel and place it in the oven.
- Heat a nonstick skillet to 350°. Take temp with an infrared thermometer or use the water test. If drops of water added to the pan dance around for a moment before evaporating, the temp is good. If they take more than a couple seconds to evaporate, increase your heat. If they evaporate instantly, remove your pan from the heat for a minute and test again.
- Lightly butter the pan. Use a 1/3 measuring cup to pour out one serving of pancake batter to the pan. The surface of the pancake should start to form many bubbles after a couple minutes. Using a thin spatula, carefully look at the underside of the pancake to check for your desired doneness. Flip the pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes. The second side will never look as good as the first.
- Place cooked pancake on the sheet pan to keep warm. Repeat process with remaining pancake batter.
- Serve with authentic maple syrup and a pad of salted butter.