Since moving to Southern California two and a half years ago, I’ve started asking my parents if they want to go to our favorite brunch spot nearly every time I visit them. It’s a small local restaurant that offers lots of healthier options, and because nothing quite like it exists in San Diego (at least, not that I’ve discovered!), I always look forward to stopping by.
Even though we dine there often, most of my family members order the same meal almost every time. Still, I always glance through the menu and the list of seasonal specials, especially during the holidays. Their kitchen can be so creative with wintertime ingredients!
During my Thanksgiving visit, I spotted a few fun options on that seasonal menu: spiced cider mimosas, eggnog french toast, and fluffy gingerbread pancakes… Just to name a few! Although that last dish grabbed my attention, I still ended up ordering my usual grilled chicken, steamed veggies, and crispy home fry potatoes — with a towering slice of blueberry coffee cake to go!
As we chatted and waited for our food, my family and I sipped on hot coffee and the restaurant’s iconic richly spiced tea, and we occasionally glanced around at the other restaurant patrons as they received their meals. We spotted plates carrying some of those seasonal specials, and when the waiter presented someone close by with a stack of those gingerbread pancakes…
I nearly considered changing my order. They looked incredible — and I could even smell their cozy spice aroma from my chair!
Although I held off, I still enjoyed every bite of my standard brunch dish, even bringing part of it home (they offer healthy food and healthy portions!), but even after I flew home later in the week, I still couldn’t shake the restaurant’s list of seasonal specials from my mind…
So I decided to whip up a batch of these Healthy Gingerbread Pancakes in my own kitchen to satisfy my cravings! They’re soft and fluffy with lots of rich spice flavor, and they taste like my favorite gingerbread cookies… But as a healthy breakfast!
Even better? Each stack is 132 calories! I call that holiday pancake magic… Wouldn’t you? 😉
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY GINGERBREAD PANCAKES
Let’s go over how to make these healthy gingerbread pancakes! You’ll start with white whole wheat flour and lots of spices: ginger (it’s impossible to make gingerbread-flavored anything without it, right? 😉 ), cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. Although some people stick with ginger and not much else, I love the richer, deeper, and cozier flavor that the other spices add. It makes a big difference in how these healthy gingerbread pancakes taste!
As for white whole wheat flour… That actually exists! And it’s not just a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and regular whole wheat flour. Instead, it’s made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat (hence the name!), whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a heartier variety of red wheat. The both have the same health benefits (like extra fiber!), but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture… And that lets the cozy flavor and fluffy texture of your healthy gingerbread pancakes really shine!
Whereas traditional pancake recipes often call for a few tablespoons of melted butter or oil and some eggs, this recipe only requires 1 teaspoon of butter and an egg white. That really helps keep your healthy gingerbread pancakes low calorie and low fat! That means most of their moist and fluffy texture comes from…
Greek yogurt! It’s one of my favorite ingredients in healthy baking (and healthy pancake!) recipes. Here, it adds the same moisture to your pancake batter as extra butter or oil but for a fraction of the calories. It also gives your healthy gingerbread pancakes a protein boost!
That’s definitely a win-win in my book! Right? 😉
The last part of these pancakes’ fluffy texture comes from a slightly surprising and somewhat secret ingredient. Can you guess what that is?
It’s plain white vinegar! The vinegar (an acid) reacts with the baking soda (a base). When they react, they create air bubbles. Those air bubbles help your healthy gingerbread pancakes puff up and rise in the pan, and they also create a more tender texture. By the time your pancakes finish cooking, you can’t taste the vinegar at all because all of it has reacted with the baking soda — I promise!
One last key ingredient for you! If you’ve ever made gingerbread before, then I’m sure you know what it is… Molasses! While ginger adds that bright zingy flavor to gingerbread, molasses creates the deep, rich, almost earthy undertone. I highly recommend against substituting for it; your pancakes just won’t taste the same without it!
HOW TO COOK PERFECT PANCAKES
It’s almost time to eat… But first, you need to cook your pancakes! Before we get started on that, remember…
thin batter = thin and flat pancakes
For the thickest and fluffiest pancakes, you actually want batter that’s so thick that you need to spread it out a bit with a small spatula or the back of a spoon. (I do that almost every time I make pancakes!) For thinner pancakes, just add more liquid (milk or water!) to the batter until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
Now let’s cover some of the more common pancake cooking questions!
What pan should I use to make pancakes? I don’t own an electric griddle, so I just use dark nonstick pans that I coat with cooking spray. Don’t use light-colored metal pans! Those tend to burn your pancakes (as you can see in my photos over here). Dark nonstick + cooking spray = the winning combination!
What temperature or heat should I use to cook my pancakes? Definitely low and slow! I usually turn the burner down almost as low as it’ll go. If you have the heat set too high, the outsides of your pancakes will burn while the insides will still be a bit raw or doughy. So go low and slow — and be patient!
How do I know my pancakes are ready to flip? Keep an eye on the tops and sides of your pancakes! When the first side is done cooking and it’s time to flip your pancake, the sides should look firm and start to develop a skin. The top should also bubble and almost look a bit holey, kind of like Swiss cheese.
What’s the best way to flip pancakes? With a spatula! Okay, okay… Not that helpful, I know. 😉 I like to use a spatula with a really thin blade. Slide that underneath your pancake, raise the spatula up, and then flip only using your wrist. This helps ensure the pancake lands flat in the pan! If you use too much of your arm in your flipping motion, you end up with what I call the “pancake skirt,” or the lacey-looking batter that splashes out around the base of your pancake. It won’t affect the flavor though — only the appearance! (If you’re a visual learner, you can see what I’m talking about in my photos here!)
And now that you’re a pancake-flipping pro and have cooked your entire batch…
It’s time to grab a fork and dig in! And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy gingerbread pancakes!
Healthy Gingerbread Pancakes
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (135g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 ½ tbsp (22mL) molasses (not blackstrap!)
- 1 tbsp (15mL) plain white vinegar
- ¼ cup (60mL) nonfat milk
- 6 tbsp (90mL) water
- optional: almond drizzle, for serving (see Notes – highly recommended!)
- Whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg white, and vanilla. Stir in the Greek yogurt, stirring until no large lumps remain. Stir in the molasses and vinegar. Stir in the milk. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the water, beginning and ending with the flour, stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.)
- Lightly coat a large nonstick pan or griddle with nonstick cooking spray, and briefly preheat over low heat.
- Using a scant 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake, dollop the batter onto the hot pan, and spread into a circular shape using a spatula or back of a spoon (if desired). Let the pancakes cook for 2-3 minutes, or until a slight skin starts to form around the edges. Slide a spatula underneath, and flip. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes or until cooked through. Re-coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray, and repeat with the remaining batter.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Waffles
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
♡ Healthy Apple Gingerbread Bran Muffins
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Oatmeal Snack Cake
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Scones
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Classic Gingerbread
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy gingerbread recipes and healthy pancake recipes!