Waffles And Pancakes: What’s The Difference?

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Deciding whether to indulge in the sweetness of pancakes or waffles for breakfast can be a challenge for many.

Of course, as the most important meal of the day, your chosen breakfast must fuel your energy for your daily activities. 

Pancakes and waffles are both versatile options that can be enjoyed with an assortment of sweet and savory toppings.

Despite the similar ways in which they can be consumed and the ingredients that are used to make them, pancakes and waffles are not the same.

Perfectly cooked pancakes should have a crispy edge and fluffy center. Waffles on the other hand have a crispy exterior and chewy center.

They are also visibly different. Pancakes always tend to be round, whereas waffles can be round or square. 

If you are curious as to what makes waffles and pancakes different from each other, we have covered each of these factors in our guide below. 


Pancakes tend to be thin and round with a light and fluffy consistency and brown exterior.

Although they primarily tend to be round in shape, they can now be made in a variety of fun shapes thanks to the availability of pancake cutters that allow you to shape the pancake as it cooks in the frying pan.

Pancakes are flat due to the surface that they are cooked on which typically tends to be a frying pan or griddle

Pancakes can be made using a few, simple ingredients; flour, baking powder, eggs, milk, and butter. While pancakes are easy enough to make from scratch, they are pre-made options available that can be purchased at your local store. 


Waffles are made from leavened dough or batter. They can be made in a round or square shape and are cooked between two patterned heated plates which give them their square-shaped surface.

You do not need to allow your waffle mixture time to rise before cooking, neither does it require kneading. Instead, the batter or dough can simply be mixed and then poured into your waffle maker. 

Waffles typically tend to be thick and fluffy with a slightly chewy center. Just like pancakes they can be made from scratch using a waffle making machine or the pre-made batter can be purchased from the store.

Waffles are made from eggs, flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, and vegetable oil.

As you can see, they are made using the same basic ingredients as pancakes, however, waffle dough or batter tends to include more fat or sugar as this creates the crispy coating which counteracts the soft and chewy inside and this contrasts with the floppiness of pancakes. 

An awareness of how pancakes and waffles are cooked will make it easier to understand the difference between each mixture.

Cooking Pancakes

Cooking pancakes is a straightforward process and requires the use of very few utensils. Although flour, baking powder, eggs, milk, and butter tend to be the most commonly used ingredients, there are a variety of other recipes available which may introduce other ingredients or flavorings. 

You should begin by whisking together your dry ingredients thus being the flour, baking powder, a sprinkle of salt, and some sugar before creating a well in the center of the bowl. 

In another bowl, you will need to beat your eggs before adding whisked milk, and vanilla (this will enhance the flavor and can also stop the pancakes from sticking to the base of the pan). Then you will need to melt the butter and you can whisk all of the soft/liquid ingredients together. 

When you are happy with the consistency of the mixture, you will need to add them to the well that you created in the dry mixture. Your pancake batter should be thick so you will need to whisk it until it is lump free and smooth. 

Next, you will need to heat a small amount of oil in a heavy based frying pan. This will prevent the pancakes from sticking to the pan and burning. Alternatively, you can use butter although it is likely to burn quicker than oil. 

Once you have allowed the pan enough time to heat up you can then begin to add your mixture. The underside of the pancake should appear golden brown after a minute or two and it can then be flipped giving the other side roughly the same amount of time to cook too. 

Cooking Waffles

Similar to pancakes, cooking waffles isn’t an overly complicated process but there are differences to be aware of. While waffles are typically made using a waffle iron or waffle maker they can be made on the stove if you don’t have this equipment available.

Again, there are a variety of recipes available that include additional ingredients to create waffles of a certain flavor but the basic ingredients include eggs, flour, milk, vegetable oil, a sprinkle of salt, baking powder, and vanilla extract (to enhance the flavor). 

If you are using a waffle iron you will need to begin by heating this up. In a large bowl, you will then need to beat the eggs until they appear fluffy. Once you have done so, you can then add the remaining ingredients and beat them together until a smooth mixture is formed. 

Before adding the mixture to the waffle iron or maker you will need to spray it with a non-stick cooking spray as this will prevent the mixture from sticking or burning.

Now you can add the mixture to the designated slots of your maker and allow them to cook until they appear golden brown. This will typically take around 3 to 4 minutes, although most appliances will inform you when the waffles are cooked. 

As you can see, the most prominent difference in the cooking method of each applies to how each of them are cooked. While waffles require the use of a waffle maker or iron, pancakes can simply be made using a frying pan and the difference in cooking surfaces results in different appearances.

There are also fewer steps involved in making waffles as you begin by beating the eggs before adding the rest of the ingredients. However, pancakes require the wet and dry ingredients to be mixed separately before being mixed together.

The volume of ingredients used to create waffles is also likely to differ from the amount used to make pancakes. More sugar is required to create the crispy outer coating of waffles. 

How can you top pancakes?

Pancakes can be topped with many different ingredients, some will create sweet pancakes and others will create savory

pancakes. Of course, a classic topping is lemon and sugar; it may be simple but it creates a great-tasting pancake.

Other sweet topping alternatives include jam and cream, Nutella and fruit, ice cream, and a flavored sauce….the list goes on. For savory-style pancakes, you can add bacon and syrup, eggs, salmon, and plenty more. 

How can you top waffles?

There are also several ways of topping waffles. Perhaps the most common sweet topping associated with the consumption of waffles is maple syrup, however, you can also add fruit, whipped cream or ice cream, a flavored sauce, nuts, and many more.

If you would prefer savory waffles you may add bacon, sausages, or eggs of some variety. 

As you can see both pancakes and waffles offer excellent versatility regarding the condiments that they can be topped with. The toppings that you choose are likely to be decided by your taste, however, both can be eaten as a sweet or savory snack and you are certainly not limited by the availability of different types of great-tasting toppings.

Why do waffles taste different to pancakes?

Due to the similar ingredients that are used to make waffles and pancakes, you would of course expect them to share a similar taste. However, the different ways in which they are made result in a different taste.

The majority of ingredients used to make pancakes and waffles are extremely similar with perhaps a slight difference in the ratio in which they are added to the mixture. Waffle batter also utilizes leavening agents which encourages the mixture to lift during the cooking process.

The differences in texture can also influence how each of them tastes. Again both are fluffy, but pancakes are thin and waffles are thick hence why they tend to leave you feeling fuller following consumption.

How the ingredients were prepared beforehand can also alter the taste. As we have mentioned to make waffles, the eggs are beaten separately before being added to the rest of the ingredients, however, with pancakes you begin by mixing all of the dry ingredients together and all of the soft/liquid ingredients together before combining them to make the final mixture. 

Final Thoughts

Pancakes and waffles differ in a few ways although it is easy to see why some may confuse them. The ingredients used to make both are extremely similar which would lead to the assumption that they are virtually the same thing.

Both are super versatile as they can be enjoyed as a savory or sweet snack and they can be topped with an exciting range of tasty toppings too.

Typically, waffles and pancakes are eaten warm and straight off the heat, however, it is possible to eat them cold as they have been precooked.

Despite there being many shared similarities, they of course differ in many ways too. They differ in appearance as pancakes are flatter and smoother, whereas waffles are thicker with a ridged square patterning.

The methods implemented to cook pancakes and waffles differ too. Whereas waffles are predominately made using a specific waffle maker or waffle iron, pancakes can be made using general utensils that are likely found in the kitchens of most; a frying pan.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can pancake mix be used for waffles?

Yes, you can use pancake mix to make waffles. However, in order for the pancake mix to take form and not stick as they become waffles, they will need a little extra fat in the mix.

To use your pancake mix to make waffles, add 2 tablespoons of oil to your pancake recipe in order to use it as a waffle recipe. This can be any oil of your choosing, but coconut or vegetable oil work well if you are unsure of which oil to use.

If you are using more than one cup of mix, remember to double the recipe up! For every cup of pancake mix, just add 2 tablespoons of oil.

Simply spoon the mixture into your waffle iron as you would normally, and viola! You’ll have beautifully golden and delicious waffles out of pancake mix that you can add your favorite toppings to.

Why do waffles and pancakes taste different?

Generally speaking, pancakes and waffles have the same or similar ingredients – eggs, sugar, butter, and leavening agents. So, why do they taste different? The difference in taste mostly comes down to the method in which you prepare them.

A handful of chefs will tell you the difference in taste is all in the additives. Typically chefs will add more butter and baking powder to waffles, but when it comes to pancakes, folding whipped egg whites into the batter is the secret for achieving fluffiness in every mouthful.

The more time and consideration taken to achieve light and fluffy pancakes can make all the difference in texture and could be the difference between rubbery or fluffy pancakes.

While pancakes are cooked on a smooth, flat surface, waffles batter is drizzled into an iron and compressed on both sides. This can significantly affect the taste, despite the fact you can theoretically use the same batter for both should you wish to. While a good pancake is fluffy, a waffle focuses more on caramelization.

Which is better: pancakes or waffles?

This entirely depends on who you ask as it is largely a subjective matter. However, it is worth mentioning that not all pancakes and waffles are made equally, so this is a difficult one to answer.

Which you prefer will depend on the processes you take to prepare and cook your pancakes or waffles, as both are strong contenders. However, preparing the batter alongside the cooking process is where room for error can arise.

Generally speaking, pancakes have around 20% fewer calories than waffles due to the difference in size. However, it is also worth noting that toppings can make all the difference, and adding more could affect the nutritional content significantly.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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