Kitchen Lab: Punkin’ Pancakes, Makin’ Punkin’ Pancakes…

Now that the season of All Things Pumpkin is transitioning rapidly into a Peppermint Extravaganza, I can share with you the results of my Very Scientific Comparison of pumpkin pancakes from a mix vs. from a recipe. (With some French toast thrown in for good measure.) I wanted to see what the difference, if any, would be between a mix that is intended to appeal to everyone, and a recipe that can do as it will. So here we go!

Sample the First: The Mix

Front and back view of a paper package of pumpkin pancake mix from Goebbert's Farm in Illinois

Just add pumpkin for pumpkin pancakes!

No trip to the punkin patch is complete without the purchase of entirely unnecessary items. When your pumpkin patch has pig races, a mechanical, pumpkin-eating dinosaur, and two tents worth of exotic animals plus the opportunity to feed giraffes, anything goes. Other than pumpkins, we also got cider, doughnuts, some black raspberry jam, an excess of fudge, and a package of pumpkin pancake mix. Though the “add pumpkin” part seems to preclude having the word “pumpkin” in the name, I shan’t be that crazy woman complaining that there’s no actual pumpkin in my pumpkin spice whatever.

I hadn’t made pancakes from a mix in forever, so I was pleasantly surprised at how little time it took. Oh, so this is why people use mixes! (And they also probably don’t choose a different damn pancake recipe every friggin’ weekend, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Four pumpkin pancakes from a mix, frying on a square pan.


Mix, egg, milk, pumpkin. Boom. Easy to stir up, and it made a really nice, uniformly-round set of pancakes. Which was nice, I guess. They weren’t either fluffy or flat, unspiced or too pumpkin-spice-y… they were pretty average. They smelled nice, but not so much with the flavor. I mean, there’s a bit more heartiness there because added pumpkin, but eh.

a stack of seven pumpkin pancakes on a white plate with a black edge. The top pancake is smaller than the rest.

Uniformly orange. I should have measured the batter for each one more evenly, perhaps.

I’ll use the rest of the mix and consider it a novelty item I’ve tried.

Intermission: The French Toast

When you don’t use your whole can of pumpkin in your pancake mix, you’ve gotta do SOMETHING with the leftovers. Thankfully, weekends provide TWO opportunities for delightful breakfast foods, even if they’re somewhat similar.

ingredients for pumpkin French toast custard in a bowl, before mixing

The same as usual, with some additions.

I honestly don’t remember where I looked up the recipe I tried, but it’s essentially the same as making regular French toast with 1/4 cup of pumpkin plus a smidge of cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe ginger in the custard. I kinda liked it! Plus I fudged a bit on the spices because I know I like it spicy, and it all turned out well. (I know I could have done that with the pancake mix, but I do like to try recipes as-is for the first time I make them and then tweak.)

two slices of pumpkin French toast on a black-edged white plate, with three slices of bacon

With bacon. Always.

I call pumpkin French toast a success.

Sample the Second: The Recipe

Stored properly in a well-sealed container, pumpkin puree will last until the following weekend. Or, at least, that’s what I decided, and the results were quite good!

four pumpkin pancakes frying on a square pan

Not quite as round. Little. Broken. But still good.

Because the Internet has become my cookbook, I went a-browsing and found this recipe for pumpkin pancakes. This was literally no harder than any other from-scratch pancake recipe, and it was different enough to be interesting. They smelled amazing and tasted great, and though they could have been a bit fluffier that might be on me and my tendency to overmix. Definitely my favorite of the three test recipes!

Three pumpkin pancakes spread out on a black-rimmed white plate, slightly overlapping one over the other, with three slices of bacon

Yeeeeeaaaaaah, this is the good stuff.

They made great leftovers, too. (The recipe is pretty scant, but I’d made them for just myself this time.)

The Verdict: Homemade FTW

While there’s something to be said for the ease of a mix, they just didn’t impress me enough with their roundness to make up for how much better the from-scratch pancakes were. The French toast was fine, but not quite the same as a nice pancake. So even though we’re out of basic pumpkin spice season now, I think a nice punkin pancake would still be a nice thing for you to try.

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Beth Voigt

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and public transit and is still on her first smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around.

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