These English Pancakes (or British pancakes) are the pancakes I grew up with, and every time I make them I’m immediately transported back in time to when mum used to serve these up to us kids.

We’d get to load them up with lemon and sugar ourselves. Thankfully over the years, I’ve adjusted the ratio of lemon to sugar on mine, but I enjoy them just as much now as I did then.

These pancakes are great added to a breakfast platter like this.

English pancakes rolled and stacked on a black plate with lemon wedges nearby.

What are English Pancakes?

English pancakes (aka British pancakes) are thin and soft – somewhat like a thicker crepe. They have no rising or leavening agent, so they differ to the thicker American pancakes in shape and size but are just a delicious and if you’ve never tried lemon sugar pancakes, these are the perfect vehicle.

Traditionally these are the pancakes you’d serve on Shrove Tuesday (pancake day or fat tuesday) – a traditional feast day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent in the Christian calendar – and they’re the easiest pancakes you’ll ever make.

Due to their flat shape, English pancakes are eaten similarly to crepes, filled (often with lemon juice and sugar) then rolled or folded up. They are lightly golden on each side with slightly crispy edges.

While I know these pancakes as a UK tradition, there are versions, similar or the same, all over Europe.

Ingredients for English pancakes

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

The pancake recipe only contains 3 everyday ingredients;

  • Flour – this is plain flour / all-purpose flour.
  • Egg – use large eggs.
  • Milk – use whole milk for the best flavour.

You may have noticed there is no sugar in the batter and that’s because these pancakes are most often topped with lemon and sugar – sweet and zingy and definitely my default topping choice. It also means, they work with any of your favourite sweet pancake toppings but can also be served with savoury toppings too.

These are also yummy enough to have for dessert or even breakfast for dinner?

How to make English Pancakes

A collage of 5 images showing how to make english pancakes.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

With only 3 ingredients, one bowl and no need to let the pancake batter rest you can get straight into it when you wake up and have delicious brekky on the table in half an hour.

  1. Mix together flour, eggs and milk in a bowl or large jug, just until there are no lumps left. This pancake batter has a thin consistency.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and pour ¼ cup of batter in and spread it out.
  3. Cook on one side until golden (about 1-2 minutes) then flip and cook the other side until golden dots appear all over (another 30-40 seconds).
  4. Sprinkle over sugar and lemon juice, roll it up and devour.

Treat the first pancake as a tester to get you into the flow of it and understand when to flip them or adjust the heat.

English pancakes folded and stacked on a black plate with lemon wedges nearby.

Tips and tricks to perfect thin pancakes

  • A whisk is helpful for combining the ingredients but don’t be too vigorous – you aren’t trying to aerate the batter, just remove all lumps of flour.
  • A non-stick pan works best. You can even have 2 pans on the go at once. With a non-stick pan, you won’t need to add any oil or fat to the pan.
  • You can use an ice cream scoop or simple 1/4 cup measure to measure out even amounts of batter.
  • Use the scoop to spread the batter out in the pan, or simply roll the pan around using circular motions until its about 20cm (8 inches) wide.
  • A good flat spatula or fish slice makes it easy to flip these over but be careful not to push the spatula straight through the thin pancake.
  • While the pancakes cook, you can chop up wedges of lemon and fill a bowl with regular white sugar
  • Stack the pancakes up on a warmed plate and place a clean tea towel over the top until they’re all cooked – they’ll stay nice and warm this way.

English pancake topping ideas

Ok, so I’m a sucker for tradition, so I always take the lemon and sugar but try these ideas too;

  • Fresh chopped strawberries and cream (see below) or even ice cream.
  • Syrups like honey, maple syrup or try this orange syrup with a little of this Maple Butter
  • A thin layer of jam or curd – try these ones; lemon curd, blood orange curd, passionfruit curd, pineapple curd, blackberry curd.
  • Other spreads like Nutella or chocolate spread are delicious.
  • Try a savoury combo finely chopped spring onion and cheese (see below) or chopped ham and cooked mushrooms. If making them savoury, make sure to sprinkle over a little salt and pepper as well.
Two images side by side. pancakes filled with strawberries in one and with cheese and onion in the other.

Can I make these pancake ahead of time?

These are definitely best served fresh, however, if you want to get ahead you can make the batter 2-3 days ahead. This will only save you about 3 minutes though since they’re so quick to make.

If you have leftover pancakes, store them on a plate covered with plastic wrap for 2-3 days. You can also freeze them wrapped well. Make sure to warm them before eating – the texture isn’t so nice when cold.

English pancakes can be reheated and I’ve done it on this Breakfast Charcuterie Board. If you want to reheat them, you can do so in a pan again one at a time or place them in the microwave 4 or 5 at a time and heat at 20 second increments until they’re hot.

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A white plate topped with a stack of english pancakes.

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A white plate topped with a stack of english pancakes and wedges of lemon

English Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar

4.9 from 7 votes – Rate this recipe!
English Pancakes with lemon and sugar are easy, zingy and a winning sweet breakfast treat. Traditionally made on Shrove Tuesday, these thin pancakes take just 5 ingredients and less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 195 g plain (all-purp) flour (1 ½ cups / 7oz)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups milk (560ml)
  • 2 lemons, cut into 8 wedges
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar, to serve

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs and milk until there are no lumps left. It will be a thin batter.
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat. When it's hot, ladle or pour in ¼ cup of batter, then use the cup or a spoon to gently spread the batter out in a circular motion to about 20cm (8 inches)
  • Cook for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until the underside is golden, then flip. Cook on the other side for another 30-60 seconds until there is golden dots all over.
  • Transfer to a warmed plate and cover with a clean tea towel. Repeat until all are done. If you're making a double batch, keep them in the oven on the warm setting.
  • To serve, squeeze lemon juice all over one side then sprinkle over a little sugar (to taste). Roll or fold the pancake up and eat with a spoon or knife and fork.
  • Please take a moment to rate this recipe. I really appreciate it and it helps me create more recipes.

Video

Notes

  1. Non-stick frying pan is best – If you don’t have a non-stick pan, grease the bottom of the pan with a little vegetable oil or melted butter first. Not too much.
  2. Even quicker if you use 2 pans.
  3. Don’t overbeat the batter, just until there are no lumps left.
  4. Best eaten fresh but leftovers can be reheated.
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