These English 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?

These pancakes are thin and soft and have no leavener, so they are a very different treat to their thicker American counterparts. The runny batter only contains 3 everyday ingredients;

  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Milk

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.

How to make English Pancakes

Traditionally these are the pancakes you’d serve on Shrove Tuesday and they’re the easiest pancakes you’ll ever make. With only 3 ingredients, one bowl and no need to let the 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, just until there are no lumps left.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high 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.

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, 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;

Two images side by side. pancakes filled with strawberries in one and with cheese and onion in the other.

A pile of crumpets on a grey plate

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 the night before it’s needed, then just get straight to cooking in the morning. This will only save you about 3 minutes though.

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.


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

English Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar

5 from 5 votes
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.


  • 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


  • In a medium bowl, mix 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-high heat. When it's hot, pour in 1/4 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 1/2 to 2 minutes or until the underneath 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.
  • 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.


  1. Non=stick frying pan is best
  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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English pancakes folded and stacked on a black plate with lemon wedges nearby