Are Pancakes Vegan? The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Vegan Pancakes

Sweet or savory, we’ve got tips for finding your next platter of vegan pancakes.

are pancakes vegan a stack of pancakes with maple syrup oozing

Treehugger / Catherine Song

Morning, noon, or night, pancakes make a tasty meal. But unfortunately, most pancakes don't meet vegan standards. Non-vegan ingredients like buttermilk, eggs, and other dairy products can turn brunch into a bummer.

Fortunately, plenty of pancakes don't include animal products. Whether you're dining out or baking from scratch, we explore which non-vegan ingredients to look out for as well as tips for buying store-brand pancake mixes.

Why Most Pancakes Are Not Vegan

Pancakes are a nearly universal staple food that almost always includes animal products. These flat, round, starch-based cakes are fried or cooked on a hot surface. Because pancakes are usually made from a batter instead of a denser dough, they require a liquid—traditionally milk or water.

Some pancakes are leavened, meaning they contain ingredients like baking powder and eggs that give pancakes a light, fluffy texture. Other varieties skip leavening agents altogether. Pancakes can also be fried in animal fats like butter or lard (a pork by-product). Toppings, too, can contain animal products, including cheeses, meats, and creams. 

Pancakes, as most Americans know them, do not generally meet vegan standards as they include eggs and dairy. Of more than 100 global types of pancakes, less than a handful are regularly vegan-friendly. 

One of the most popular varieties of non-vegan pancake, buttermilk (a fermented form of animal milk) announces its non-vegan status in its name. But most commonly, egg and dairy simply appear alongside wheat or other grains on the ingredient label. This holds true for most restaurant pancakes as well as many pre-made pancakes and pancake mixes available in grocery stores. 

When Are Pancakes Vegan?

Whether you’re eating flapjacks, griddlecakes, or hotcakes, you can find plant-based options by dining at restaurants that cater to vegan customers or making your own.

Because homemade pancakes recipes are often simple, replacing ingredients like eggs and milk with vegan alternatives makes it easy to achieve similar results. Popular store brands, including breakfast giant Bisquick and natural food favorite Bob’s Red Mill, offer vegan pancake mixes that need only non-dairy milk or water to get baking. 

You can also look outside of traditional American and European cuisine to find a few varieties of usually plant-based pancakes. Several types of pancakes native to Asia and Africa are regularly vegan-friendly.

Vegan Pancakes and Pancake-Like Flatbreads

A stack of injera, East and North African flatbread, sit on a silver platter.
Injera, the national food of Ethiopia.

Neal Wilson / Getty Images

Like many staple foods, pancakes and pancake-like flatbreads can be made in a variety of ways. These select few are often available without animal products, but some types may still include non-vegan ingredients.

  • Dosa (South Indian pancake traditionally made of fermented rice, black gram (lentil) flour, and fenugreek seeds. Dosa can be cooked in vegetable oil.)
  • Potato Pancakes (can use applesauce as the binder)
  • Injera (North and East African flatbread made only from water and teff flour)
  • Scallion Pancake (a savory Asian-style pancake made from dough instead of batter. Double-check that scallion pancakes are not made using animal fats.)

Types of Non-Vegan Pancakes

Fresh crepe filled with melted chocolate and topped with fresh fruit.
Almost all crepes contain dairy and eggs.

Tanja-Tiziana, Doublecrossed Photography / Getty Images

Non-vegan pancakes usually include a dairy derivative or use eggs as a binder and leavening agent. You can generally count on these pancake recipes, including animal products.

  • American breakfast pancakes (typically contain both milk and eggs)
  • Blini (Russian pancakes that usually include milk and eggs)
  • Buttermilk pancakes (popular in the U.S. and Scotland)
  • Cachapas (South American corn pancakes that contain dairy products and eggs)
  • Crepes (thin French pancakes served with both savory and sweet toppings that typically include butter, milk, and eggs)
  • Dosas (can be cooked in non-vegan ghee)
  • Frybread (North American pancake often fried in lard)
  • No-flour banana pancakes (Eggs serve as a binder and leavening agent.)
  • Okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancake that includes egg)
  • Palatschinke (a Slavic style of pancake that usually contains eggs and milk then fried in butter)
  • Potato pancakes (may use egg as the binder)
  • Puras (Indian pancakes that usually contain whey, a dairy derivative)
  • Scallion Pancake (non-vegan if the recipe uses animal fats instead of oil)

Store-Brand Vegan Pancake Mixes

Pancake batter and whisk in yellow mixing bowl

Kristin Lee / Getty Images

A variety of common store brands offer pancake mixes that contain no animal products. These vegan pre-made boxes will usually call for water or non-dairy milk of your choice as the liquid.

  • Arrowhead Mills (Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix, Organic Gluten-Free Pancake & Baking Mix, and Organic Oat Bran Pancake & Waffle Mix)
  • Bisquick (Gluten-Free Pancake & Baking Mix and Original Pancake & Baking Mix)
  • Bob’s Red Mill (Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix, Gluten-Free Pancake Mix, Organic 7 Grain Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix, Organic Cornmeal Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix, and Organic High Fiber Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix)
  • Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Co. Vegan Flap Jack Mix
  • Madhava Deliciously Organic Flip For Flapjacks Pancake Mix
  • Stonewall Kitchen (Double Chocolate Pancake & Waffle Mix, Gluten-Free Blueberry Pancake & Waffle Mix, and Gluten-Free Pancake & Waffle Mix)
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can vegans eat pancakes?

    If the pancakes don’t contain animal products, then yes, vegans can eat them. The great majority of pancakes around the world, however, are not vegan-friendly. Vegans need to confirm the ingredients to ensure their meal is completely plant-based.

  • Does pancake mix have dairy?

    Many pre-made pancake mixes can contain powdered milk or buttermilk. However, several popular store brands mixes contain only plant-based ingredients. Mixes specifically marked as vegan are also available. All dry pancake mixes require either water or milk; vegans can always opt for a dairy-free choice.

  • Are pancakes vegan at IHOP?

    Unfortunately, no. Pancakes at IHOP contain both eggs and milk, as do the crepes.