Throughout high school, our marching band attended a handful of varsity football games throughout the season. We sat in the stands for the first half, filling two entire sections with our 200+ members and playing short pep band tunes, but with just a couple of minutes left in the second quarter, we walked single file out of the stands and down onto the far side of the track, waiting to perform our field show at halftime.
But as soon as we finished…
We raced back to the band room to change out of our heavy blue uniforms, back into street clothes, and leave campus. Our band director only required us to stay for that first half, which still gave us enough time to do something fun on a Friday night!
After the first football game of the season during my senior year, three of my friends came up with the idea to head to IHOP for a late dinner after our field show performance. We sat at a booth at the far end of the restaurant, virtually the only four people inside at 9:30 pm on that Friday night, and we skimmed through the menu as our waitress brought us glasses of ice water.
Within just a few moments, one of my friends piped up. “Chocolate chip pancakes sound really good right now…” he mentioned, scanning the breakfast section, and the two other guys immediately agreed. Since I’m never one to turn down chocolate…
All four of us ordered stacks of chocolate chip pancakes for dinner!
The waitress looked a little relieved by our easy order, and not too long after, she brought back four identical plates, each covered in gigantic, thick fluffy buttermilk pancakes completely packed with warm, melty, gooey miniature chocolate chips… And, as if that wasn’t enough, they were topped with swirls of whipped cream instead of butter.
All four of our faces lit up in big smiles, and we completely ignored the various jugs of flavored syrups sitting on the table as we reached for silverware. We ate in near silence for a full minute or two before one of the guys finally spoke up.
“Man…” he breathed. “These are SO freaking good!”
By the time we left, we all agreed… This late night IHOP trip needed to become a new Friday night post-football game tradition.
So a couple of weeks later, after the next varsity home game, we headed straight back to the restaurant after our halftime show, but we ended up with a few more friends sitting around the table. The word had gotten out, and more people wanted to join in!
We continued throughout the football season, and we took a few trips there on Friday nights during the winter and spring too. At the end of the school year, we skipped the PTA’s 1 am pancake breakfast and headed to IHOP after our senior prom instead… And after everyone left town for college the following fall, we even met up at the restaurant the night before Thanksgiving when everyone came back home for break!
And every time, we always ordered chocolate chip pancakes… Or CCPKs, as one of the original “founding members” dubbed them. (Not to be confused with CPK, the California Pizza Kitchen!)
Since then, I’ve never ordered chocolate chip pancakes at IHOP — or any other breakfast restaurant — unless I’m with one of my three friends from that very first CCPK night. It just feels weird without any of them… And almost a little wrong, like I’m breaking the CCPK rules!
So whenever I start craving CCPKs, I make them at home instead with this amazing Healthy One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Pancakes recipe! These pancakes are so easy to make, and they’re perfectly fluffy with lots of rich buttery flavor and yummy chocolate chips.
Yet unlike the ones from IHOP… These healthy chocolate chip pancakes contain no cream, refined flour or sugar, and each stack is 163 calories!
The only thing left to decide? Do I top them with whipped cream… Or more chocolate chips? 😉
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST HEALTHY CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES
Let’s go over how to make the best ever healthy chocolate chip pancakes! As I’m sure you’ve probably guessed… You just need one mixing bowl! (I’m loving my growing collection of easy one-bowl recipes, and it seems like you are too!)
To start, you’ll whisk together a teensy bit of melted butter and an egg white. Just 1 teaspoon of butter! That tiny amount of butter, combined with no egg yolks, really helps keep your healthy chocolate chip pancakes low calorie and low fat, yet they still taste just as fluffy and buttery as traditional recipes!
And that’s from my secret ingredient…
Vanilla extract! I always add a generous splash of vanilla extract to my CCPKs. Vanilla enhances and imitates butter’s rich flavor, so by adding more than you’d usually find in pancake recipes, your healthy chocolate chip pancakes taste just as buttery! Such a great trick, right? (I use it in my favorite chocolate chip cookies too!)
Next, you’ll stir in a pinch of salt and a bit of pure maple syrup. My family usually drizzles lots of maple syrup all over their pancake stacks, so it seems like overkill to add a lot to the batter… Which is why I only add a teaspoon. You could easily add more, if you prefer sweeter pancakes!
Hint: Use real maple syrup, the kind that comes directly from maple trees! The only ingredient on the label should be “maple syrup,” and it generally comes in thin glass bottles or squat plastic jugs (like this!).
There are actually two secret ingredients that make these healthy chocolate chip pancakes so fluffy! The first one is an ingredient I use all of the time in my baking recipes, so I’m sure you know what it is…
Greek yogurt! In these healthy chocolate chip pancakes, Greek yogurt adds the same moisture to the batter as extra butter, oil, or cream but for a fraction of the calories. It also gives your pancakes a protein boost!
Then the second secret ingredient is actually…
Plain white vinegar! Since I almost never remember to buy buttermilk — or use an entire carton before it expires — I decided to use regular milk in these pancakes and add some vinegar to the batter to compensate. The result? Supremely fluffy pancakes!
Nerd alert! Here’s why vinegar makes pancakes so fluffy! In this recipe for healthy chocolate chip pancakes, you use both baking powder and baking soda. The vinegar (an acid) reacts with the baking soda (a base). When they react, they create air bubbles (carbon dioxide, to be exact!). Those air bubbles make your pancakes rise, so they’re nice and fluffy, and they also create a more tender texture.
I love kitchen chemistry like that! Probably because I was a chemist before I became a baking blogger… 😉
After you’ve stirred milk and water into the bowl, it’s time to add the white whole wheat flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In case you haven’t heard of it before… White whole wheat flour is 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. They have the same health benefits (like extra fiber!), but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture… And that lets the buttery flavor and fluffy texture of your healthy chocolate chip pancakes shine!
When you add the baking soda and baking powder, do NOT dump them straight into the bowl! Instead, sprinkle them over the top of the flour, and stir all three ingredients in together. Sprinkling helps prevent clumps, which means your healthy chocolate chip pancakes will have the best texture imaginable!
Finally, you need one more key ingredient… Chocolate chips! I prefer mini chocolate chips because (a) that’s what the original CCPKs used and (b) their smaller size ensures that every bite of pancake contains at least one morsel of chocolate. These are my favorite because they turn melty and gooey when you cook your pancakes!
HOW TO COOK THE BEST PANCAKES
And speaking of that… Let’s go over a few quick pancake cooking tips!
Use nonstick pans. And at least two of them — just to make the cooking process go twice as fast! I’ve found that light metal pans tend to burn my pancakes, but dark nonstick pans yield beautifully golden pancakes. Remember to recoat your pans with a light misting of cooking spray in between each round of cooking! (I don’t own an electric pancake griddle, but I’ve heard those work really well too!)
Use really low heat. Low and slow is the way to go! If your heat is too high, then you’ll either burn the outsides of your pancakes… or the middles will be raw and gooey. Neither option is good, but if you use low heat (and a little patience!), you’ll end up with the best healthy chocolate chip pancakes!
Use a scant 2 tablespoons of batter. I use this handy measuring spoon! I don’t quite fill it up all the way. Then I transfer the batter to my pan with this mini spatula (isn’t it cute??), and I spread it out into a circular shape with the spatula too.
Use a small thin spatula to flip. I have one similar to this! I love its thin blade, which makes it really easy to slide underneath the pancakes. I also love how it’s not too wide, so I don’t bump into the other pancakes when I’m trying to slide it underneath a single pancake to flip. (Psst… Your pancakes are ready to flip when the sides look firm and you start to see some bubbles in the tops!)
Flip with your wrist. Not your arm! If you quickly flip your pancakes using just your wrist, they’ll land perfectly back in the pan. If you flip with your whole arm, you’ll end up with what I call a “pancake skirt,” or that lacey batter around the edges of your pancake. (You can see what I mean here!) Thankfully, it won’t affect the flavor — only the appearance!
Make a double batch. Okay, okay… This is an optional bonus tip. But if you make a double batch of these healthy chocolate chip pancakes, they’re great for meal prepping! They also freeze and reheat really well — so you can enjoy hot pancakes any day of the week with virtually zero effort (and almost no cooking dishes to wash too)!
So… What do you think? Would you top these with fresh fruit? Whipped cream? Extra chocolate chips? All of the above??? 😉
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 chocolate chip pancakes!
The Ultimate Healthy Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- 1 tsp unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 large egg white (room temperature)
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp pure maple syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp (30mL) white distilled vinegar
- ½ cup (120mL) nonfat milk
- ¼ cup (60mL) water
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (135g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp (42g) miniature chocolate chips
- In a medium bowl bowl, whisk together the butter, egg white, vanilla, maple syrup, and salt. Stir in the Greek yogurt, stirring until no lumps remain. Stir in the vinegar until fully incorporated. Stir in the milk and water. Pour the flour evenly over the top of the batter, and evenly sprinkle the baking soda and baking powder on top of the flour. Stir until the flour is just incorporated. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
- 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 small 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 One-Bowl Blueberry Pancakes
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Buttermilk Pancakes
♡ Healthy Dark Chocolate Pancakes
♡ Healthy Banana Pancakes
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Pancakes
♡ Healthy Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy breakfast recipes!