If you want a healthy breakfast with minimal ingredients, allow me to direct you toward the best protein pancakes you’ve ever had.
Each pancake has only 100 calories and nearly 7 grams of protein, making them a great way to hit your protein goals.
Oh yeah, and did I mention they are absolutely delicious?
If you know me at all, then it’s no secret that I’m a huge waffle fan. So, it may seem very strange seeing me post a pancake recipe…
I need to set the record straight. I love ALL breakfast food.
Yes, waffles are my breakfast of choice. I believe they’re the most versatile and delicious of all the breakfast options out there.
But that being said, it would be crazy for me to say I don’t appreciate a stack of fluffy pancakes!
There’s room in this world for all breakfast food.
You only need 3 ingredients to make protein pancakes
Many people request simple recipes from me, and these protein pancakes deliver just that.
We only need three simple ingredients to make these protein pancakes.
Many recipes out there require, , , or , cottage cheese, and the list goes on. We don’t need ANY of that here.
Here’s what you need to make protein pancakes:
- Cake mix
- Diet soda or seltzer
- Unflavored or Vanilla Protein Powder (see below on what type works best)
Really, that’s it!
You can use any cake mix you’d like to make these pancakes, too. I find Funfetti to be superior when it comes to cakes (maybe it’s just due to nostalgia), so that’s always my choice when I’m in the mood for something fun.
If you want to make classic pancakes, a regular yellow cake mix works unbelievably well for an authentic pancake flavor. And yes, you can even use a high-protein pancake mix like Kodiak Cakes for some extra protein, but then you do run the risk of these becoming a bit too dry.
Since the dry ingredients in the boxed mix already include baking powder and sugar, it’s a nice little shortcut for us not to need to add additional ingredients.
As far as the protein powder is concerned, we only need to use about one scoop here. Depending on the type of protein powder you use, 30g will be roughly one scoop of protein- I kicked it up to 40g of protein, so slightly more than a scoop, but anywhere from 30-40g of protein works about the same.
Note that I did try adding even more protein powder to these pancakes, but I found the final result to be very dry. 40g total (1 & 1/3 scoops) was the sweet spot I found for still having these taste like authentic pancakes and being high in protein.
It’s not a huge amount of protein, about 6.5g of protein per pancake, but the protein powder actually helps these protein pancakes become even fluffier.
I used PEScience protein powder for these pancakes, which is a blend of whey & casein. I’ve actually tried both unflavored and vanilla protein powder, and both worked great, so it’s just a matter of how sweet you like you pancakes.
I did not find the vanilla to be overly sweet by any means, but since there is already sugar in the cake mix, the unflavored protein powder works great to achieve the perfect sweetness level.
Whey protein should work in place of the whey/casein blend considering the amount needed is pretty low. Whey protein powder tends to lead to dry results, so I would stick with just a single scoop if you decide to use whey protein powder.
I try to test many recipes with various types of protein powder, and you can check out my Protein Powder Substitution Guide if you want to see all the differences.
I have no experience testing these with vegan protein powder, but if you try it, please let me know if it works!
Additionally, if you want to add a little bit of butter flavor to these pancakes, I’ve found that it works incredibly well.
Just 1/2 tsp gives these pancakes an amazing buttery flavor, but it’s definitely not a required ingredient.
Why do we use diet soda for these protein pancakes?
Cake mix and diet soda is my favorite baking hack of all time. Most cake mix requires adding coconut oil/butter or eggs to the cake mix to turn it into an actual cake.
My “hack” that I learned many years ago is swapping those out for diet soda or seltzer. I couldn’t tell you why it works, but it works incredibly well.
When you use this hack to make a cake (or cupcakes) look how fluffy they get!
Try this swap next time you’re making a cake or cupcakes, and I promise nobody would ever know the difference.
No matter what type of soda you use, you won’t taste the flavor. I’ve used plain seltzer, lime, peach, and others, and you can’t taste them in the slightest! The flavor cooks right out.
Can you substitute milk for seltzer in these protein pancakes?
I tried a side-by-side experiment to see if using milk would work as well as using seltzer, and while the milk produced pancakes that looked great, they ended up not fluffing up quite as much, and the end result was on the drier side.
If you’re in a pinch, you can definitely make milk work, but I did not enjoy the result as much. On looks alone, they definitely pass the test, but the carbonation of the seltzer really helps to fluff these up, especially with protein powder involved.
How to make 3-ingredient protein pancakes
These pancakes really couldn’t be easier, but let’s walk through them so I can give ya a few tips.
First, mix your 3 ingredients together in a bowl. Be sure to gently mix everything up until there is no dry powder left, but don’t overmix. If you beat the batter too much, you will flatten the carbonation, and that’s how we’re getting a rise out of these protein pancakes.
The batter you’re left with should be thick, but easily pourable (or spoonable, in this case).
Once the protein pancake batter is ready to go, heat a large nonstick skillet over low-medium heat for a few minutes.
Spray the pan with cooking spray, then use a spoon to add the batter to the pan. Each pancake was 2 spoonfuls for me, and I am able to consistently fit 2 or 3 pancakes in the pan at a time.
Let the protein pancakes cook for about 1-2 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready to be flipped when the edges thicken and you can effortlessly slide a spatula underneath.
Flip and pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes (if you prefer extra large pancakes, they may take 2-3 minutes instead)
Remove from the pan and repeat for as many batches as you are making! This recipe will make about 6 protein pancakes, so it should take 2-3 batches.
Keep in mind that the pan will continue to heat up, so if you are making multiple batches, it may get too hot.
Low-medium heat is the perfect heat to crisp the edges of these pancakes while keeping them light and fluffy inside. If you find the pan getting too hot, remove it from the flame for a few minutes to allow it to cool down slightly.
When I initially tested over medium-high heat, it was too much:
I much prefer playing it safe and keeping the heat low. If the pan is too hot, the pancakes will brown and burn without a chance to fully fluff up.
But if you keep the heat low, you’ll achieve beautifully fluffy protein pancakes.
Serve ’em up with maple syrup, fresh fruit, or any other of your favorite toppings, and dive right in!
If you have leftovers, you can keep them stored in the fridge in an airtight container for about one week, or freeze your leftover pancakes in a freezer-safe bag to have them last even longer.
You can throw any leftover pancakes right into a toaster oven, microwave, or regular toaster for a quick high-protein breakfast on busy mornings.
Serve these protein pancakes alongside another high-protein breakfast option like this Turkey Sweet Potato Hash or Blueberry Breakfast Sausage and you’ll be well on your way to hitting your protein goals first thing in the morning.
How to customize Protein Pancakes
If you want to change up the flavor of your protein pancakes, you can use any cake mix you want! Funfetti is one of my go-to’s, and nothing says weekend brunch quite like a stack of pancakes filled with sprinkles.
If funfetti isn’t your cup of tea, here are some ideas of ways to switch it up:
- Top with banana to make the best banana protein pancakes.
- Use a chocolate cake mix and chocolate to make rich chocolate pancakes. Bonus points: add .
- Speaking of – you can use a yellow cake mix and add to make delicious chocolate chip pancakes.
- Use a plain cake mix, and add (or use ) then top with icing to make roll pancakes. You can make a very simple icing with powdered + like I used for these Roll Cookies .
- Use a chocolate cake mix with flavored , then top with melted (or another ) to make Reese’s pancakes!
The list goes on and on. If you get creative with your own cake mix pancakes, please share them with me on Instagram! I always love seeing your creativity.
Can you use this recipe to make protein waffles?
I knew that at least one person out there would be curious about transforming this easy protein pancake recipe into protein waffles.
As a lover of waffles, I needed to give it a try.
Turns out, it works incredibly well.
The waffles gets super crispy on the outside, and stays soft and cake-like on the inside.
To make 3-ingredient protein waffles: follow the recipe as-is, but use exactly 1/2 cup of seltzer/diet soda (slightly less than the recipe calls for).
For waffles, we want a slightly thicker batter than pancakes! The recipe will make 2 Belgian waffles, each being roughly 300 calories and 15g of protein.
Update: I ended up using this recipe to create Crispy Churro Waffles, so be sure to check that recipe out as well!
More recipes for breakfast lovers
Breakfast food is my favorite food, which is evident by the large selection of breakfast recipes I have here on my blog.
While I’ll never be able to choose my favorites, here are some delicious high-protein breakfast recipes to check out:
- Protein Cinnamon Rolls
- Deliciously Crispy 3-Ingredient Churro Waffles
- Quick & Easy Protein Bagels
- Healthier Cinnamon Crunch Bagels (Panera Copycat Recipe)
- Brioche French Toast Breakfast Sandwich
- 130g (1 Cup) Cake Mix of Your Choice
- 40g (1 1/3 Scoop) Unflavored or Vanilla Protein Powder (a whey/casein blend is recommended)
- 2/3 Cup Seltzer or Diet Soda of Choice
- Optional: 1/2 tsp Butter Flavor Extract
- Add your cake mix and protein powder to a large bowl and give it a quick mix to fully combine them.
- Add the diet soda while lightly mixing until you have a thick but pourable batter. Do not overmix as we do not want to flatten the carbonation.
- Optional: Add 1/2 tsp butter extract for extra buttery flavor.
- Set the batter aside and heat your pan or skillet over low-medium heat for a few minutes.
- Spray your pan with nonstick spray and use a spoon to add the batter to your pan. Each protein pancake should be roughly 2 large spoonfuls of batter, and I find that spooning the batter leads to much rounder pancakes than pouring.
- Let then pancakes cook for about 1-2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side. Adjust the cook time based on how light or dark you like your pancakes, and you can always flip them back if you find they are not quite a golden brown.
- Remove the protein pancakes from the pan and repeat until all your batter is used.
- Top with maple syrup, fresh fruit, or any of your other favorite toppings, and enjoy!
- I tried this recipe using milk instead of seltzer and while the pancakes do work, they are a bit on the dry side, so I don't prefer it.
- If you're making multiple batches, your pan is going to continue to get hotter. If doing any more than 2 batches, I recommend removing the pan from the flame for a couple of minutes to allow it to cool slightly before your final batch.
- 1.5 minutes was the perfect time for my pancakes, but you'll need to adjust based on your preferences. You'll know the pancakes are ready to flip when you can easily slide a spatula underneath them. If you prematurely flip the pancake, you can always flip it back over to finish that side.
- I haven't experimented with different types of protein powder, but I would guess that any type of powder should work here. The one I use is a blend of whey/casein, but whey protein alone would work, and a plant-based protein powder SHOULD also work. I would lower the protein powder amount to just a single scoop (about 30g) to be safe.
- If you want to make this pancake recipe for meal prep, you can store the protein pancakes in the fridge or freezer to enjoy later in the week.
- The nutritional information will vary based on the type of cake mix you use, so be sure to calculate your own.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Servings Serving Size 1 Pancake
Amount Per Serving Calories 105Total Fat 1gCarbohydrates 18gProtein 6.5g