These dairy-free pancakes are so easy to make! They are gluten-free and include extra protein from the addition of nut butter. Plus, they're prepared with just a blender and a frying pan!
These fluffy dairy-free pancakes utilize one of nature's ultimate harvests - oats. Oat flour and oat milk are the stars of the show!
Oat flour is gaining a reputation in gluten-free baking because, when ground finely, it reacts very similarly to whole wheat flour. Weirdly, it is surprisingly hard to find oat flour in the store. This is probably for the best because once you learn how easy it is to make your own flour, you will never search for it again.
So, how do you make oat flour? You blend it in a high-powered blender until a fine powder forms and use it. It's that simple for a tasty dairy-free breakfast!
Plus with hints of cinnamon and maple syrup, these pancakes taste like that hot-out-of-the-oven honey oat bread from your baker down the street. Seriously - they are so good and I only wish I had been smart enough to try oat flour sooner for this easy breakfast staple!
Ingredients and Substitutions
All substitution options are a 1:1 substitution unless noted otherwise.
Quick Cook Rolled Oats: Rolled Oats make the flour that is the base of these pancakes. Using Quick Cook Rolled Oats helps to keep the texture soft because the oats have already been processed once. Not all oats are gluten-free however, just be sure to check the labels.
Substitutions: Wheat flour or a gluten-free flour blend can be used but the result may be slightly denser. Steel-cut oats, regular rolled oats (not quick cook), and Irish oats should NOT be used. Plain instant oats can be used. You can also use all-purpose flour as a 1:1 substitute.
Plant Milk, Unsweetened: We prefer oat milk for this. It provides moisture without being overbearing in flavor making it our favorite non-dairy milk for this.
Substitutions: Your favorite unsweetened dairy-free milk (almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, soy milk, etc.) or regular milk (if not dairy-free) can be used. Check out our post on substituting oat milk here!
Nut Butter: I like to use peanut butter for a peanut butter cinnamon oatmeal vibe. Yum!
Substitutions: Peanut butter, tahini, cashew butter, or almond butter will all work! Unsweetened is preferred.
Maple Syrup: Maple syrup provides sweetness, plus it goes exceptionally well with oats and cinnamon!
Substitutions: White sugar, honey, agave, or brown sugar can be used. If using honey, they would just be dairy-free, not vegan.
Baking Powder: Baking powder provides rise. It is a combination of baking soda (a base) and cream of tartar (an acid) that is activated with liquid.
Substitutions: You can make your own baking powder by mixing one part baking soda with one part cornstarch and two parts cream of tartar. You can also add an additional ¼ cup of yogurt and use ½ teaspoon of baking soda in place of the baking powder.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon just tastes good - ha! But, is there anything better than cinnamon and vanilla? I think not. I always try to use Vietnamese cinnamon because I find it sweeter than traditional cinnamon.
Substitutions: Allspice, nutmeg, or cardamom would all be great! Or, you can leave it out if you don’t have any of these.
Egg: Eggs are the binder or glue for these dairy-free pancakes. When mixed in, eggs help keep all the ingredients together, and once cooked, they expand to create more air pockets for the baking powder reaction to occur.
Substitutions: Flax egg or egg replacers, like this one from Bob’s Red Mill or one from Just Egg, can be used. A banana, applesauce, and many other things can be used also. Check out our post on egg substitutes here!
Toppings & Mix-Ins
There are so many delicious ways to mix up these pancakes! These are just some of our favorites.
- Chocolate Chips - a favorite in our house! We love using a bar of dairy-free chocolate like Hu to mix in.
- Butterscotch chips - this is for the true sweet-aholic because butterscotch is SWEET.
- Berries - a super quick variation is to mix in thawed frozen berries. Wyman's are our favorite for wild blueberries.
- Bananas - making banana pancakes, pretending like it's the weekend! Jack Johnson knows what's up so of course you know it's good.
- Sprinkles - these are always a hit with the kiddos because everyone can pick their own sprinkles. My favorite is ugly sweater sprinkles for Christmas!
- Chocolate or Nutella - chocolate is always the answer. This could be chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, etc.
- Peanut butter -
- Fruit - A lot of things that would go in a pancake can also go on top of these dairy-free pancakes! Again, I love frozen blueberries and bananas but there are so many great options like mango, raspberries, or coconut shreds.
- Whipped Cream - this is my absolute favorite and I literally could just have pancakes with whipped cream. I wish I could find the photos of me with my pancakes and whipped cream "tacos", seriously the best!
- Syrup - maple syrup is a classic but there are so many other fun syrup flavors now, like apple syrup (a Midwest staple), vanilla bean syrup, and cinnamon syrup.
Recipe Testing Notes
Throughout our testing of these dairy-free pancakes, we learned some key things that worked and didn't work. Here are the key takeaways!
Let it rest: When working with gluten-free flours, like oat flour, you have to let the batter rest for the liquid to absorb. Gluten-free flours retain much more moisture so if you do not let the batter rest, that excess moisture will evaporate when poured onto a hot pan resulting in a crumbly pancake.
Using different nut butters: When making these pancakes, we tried using tahini, peanut butter, and cashew butter. While all worked great, tahini provided a slightly better texture, peanut butter added a fun flavor, and cashew butter was the mildest and produced the best-tasting pancakes for adding toppings.
How to Make This - Step by Step
Step one: Add 1 cup of the oats to a high-speed blender and blend for 1-2 minutes, until it resembles fine flour. Reserve the remaining ¼ cup of oats for later.
Step two: Add the remaining ingredients (except the reserved oats) to the blender. Shake to distribute anything stuck to the bottom or sides and then blend for 1 minute until combined.
When using regular white flour, you will typically mix the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl and the dry ingredients in another bowl and then combine the two to avoid developing too much gluten. Because we're using oat flour, you don’t have to worry about that! That's also why the ingredients can be added together all at once.
Step three: Mix the remaining oats with a fork or spoon into the smooth batter. Let the pancake mix rest for 5 minutes. This allows the batter to settle, the moisture to absorb properly, and evenly distribute the ingredients for a better overall rise.
Step four: While the batter rests, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat with a little bit of butter, olive oil, or coconut oil.
Step five: Pour approximately ⅓ of a cup of pancake batter onto the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes or until bubbles form all around the pancake.
Step six: Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Do this until the batter is gone. Then, top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Watch How To Make This
I always prefer to make pancakes on a cast iron skillet or on a non-stick. But each pan requires different tricks. If using cast iron, you will get a beautiful crust on the pancakes but you MUST use enough butter or oil to keep them from sticking. For non-stick, you do not need much, if any oil, to keep the pancakes from sticking. For both of these pans, it's important to make sure that the pan is no warmer than medium heat and to let the pan completely heat up before pouring the batter.
Quick Facts and Common Questions
Oat flour can be purchased online, in some retail stores, or you can make it at home. It can be hard to find in stores and making your own is so easy, so we recommend just making it yourself by finely grounding quick-cooked oats.
It sure can! Just about any type of dairy-free milk can replace cow's milk in regular pancakes, except maybe coconut milk from a can. Check out our post here for all the ways to substitute oat milk.
Yes, oats are gluten-free, but sometimes manufacturers process them in facilities that are not gluten-free. This situation will cause the oats to be contaminated with gluten. Always check the label to ensure they are certified gluten-free!
This is something I can still remember my grandpa teaching me as we made Bisquick pancakes. “Always look for the bubbles.” The visible batter on top will start to form bubbles. This indicates that the heat (remember, heat rises) has made a path to the other side of the fluffy pancakes and is now cooking the inside of the pancake. Once bubbles appear all over the pancake batter, it is ready to flip!
Want to Save This For Later? Here's How!
These pancakes are awesome to save for later. They can be frozen and reheated with no change to texture - win-win!
Fridge: Store leftover pancakes in a sealed container, fridge-safe bag, or wrap them in the fridge for up to one week. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Freezer: Once completely cool, store in freezer bags or an airtight container. Heat in the microwave for one minute. It can be helpful to place parchment paper between the pancakes to keep them from sticking to each other.
Quick! Which is better for you - steel cut or rolled oats? This is kind of a trick question because of how similar their nutrient values are BUT, steel cut wins by a smidge. Commercial oats are produced by removing the tough hull (outer shell of the seed) and then processing the groat (interior) in some way.
Steel cut is made by aggressively chopping up the oat groats with steel blades. Because steel cut is one of the least processed oat styles, it retains slightly more of its original nutrients. Rolled oats are made exactly as their name indicates. They're steamed and then pressed or rolled flat. (Source)
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- 1 cup rolled oats gluten free*
- ½ cup plant milk unsweetened
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon nut butter peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, or tahini
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Add everything to a blender and blend 1-2 minutes, until smooth.
- Let the batter sit for 5 minutes (DO IT! Letting this batter rest allows the baking powder to spread evenly and the batter to relax resulting in the fluffiest pancakes). While this sits, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Pour approximately ⅓ of a cup of batter into the center of the skillet and let cook for 1-2 minutes until bubbles begin form all around the pancake.
- Flip the pancakes once bubbles are everywhere on the pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Repeat this process with remaining batter. As the batter sits, it will get thicker due to the oats absorbing more liquid. This will not affect cooking, but you may have to use a spoon to spread the batter around into a circle once poured onto the pan.
- Add your favorite toppings and enjoy! We love adding bananas, pecans, and maple syrup to our pancakes.