Why Do My Pancakes Have Holes?

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Here we will cover the reasons why your pancakes have holes in them. It has to do with the process of cooking pancakes, which is usually a good sign that they are being cooked correctly in a pan or on a griddle. These holes form from the moisture escaping inside the batter while it is cooking in the heat.

Over time the holes will form all over the top surface of the batter, which is an indication that the first side of the pancake is almost done cooking.

Pancake with holes in it.
Pancake cooking with holes in it.

When a higher temperature is used to cook the batter that is placed on the heated surface, the bubbles on the surface of the cooking batter will form faster. Wherever the bubbles are forming and popping, is the same places below that area where the pancake is almost finished cooking. The bubbles will pop and leave holes on the surface. This is normal.

From the picture shown above, you can see that the holes on the surface of the batter have formed everywhere. If this all happens at the same time in a fairly short amount of time, then it is an indication that the pancake is cooking evenly.

The heat is being distributed evenly across the pancake batter. It also means that the bottom portion that is cooking first (the actual top of the pancake) will most likely have cooked evenly and will look golden brown.

The holes and the batter becoming doughy on the surface, is a clear sign that the pancake is ready to flip. Waiting until the pancake is like this, means that it can be flipped without spilling batter all over the pan, as long as the pancake is cooked at the correct temperature.

From the picture above, you can see that most of the batter is no longer wet and runny at this point. It has formed into cooked dough. It will look great when it is flipped.

Golden brown top side of flipped pancakes with holes in it.
Surface of the pancake with holes in it after it has been flipped.

From this picture of the same pancake, you can see that the top layer is a nice light golden brown color that is even on the surface after it is flipped. There are no holes in the top of the pancake. The bottom with the holes in it will also cook for a shorter period of time than the other side, after it is flipped, before it is finished, and ready to be taken out.

Usually when a pancake is made and set on a plate, the bottom isn’t showing, only the top is visible. They are usually stacked on top of each other with only the top and sides visible. Homemade pancakes are supposed to be like this if they are cooked properly.

However, if you look at other pancakes made by companies, some restaurants, or bought premade in a grocery store, they may not look like this on either side with the holes displayed. There are a few reasons why this may be the case:

  • The pancake was flipped too early.
    • When a pancake is flipped earlier than what it is supposed to, the holes will not be on either side. This is because the other side has either been cooked too fast, or not long enough. Individuals making homemade pancakes usually do this.
    • Usually with pancakes like this that are flipped before the holes are formed, the batter will go all over the placed when it is flipped, if it is done by someone that isn’t used to flipping a pancake with runny batter.
    • Some individuals do not wait for bubbles to form on the surface of the batter before it is flipped. This results in the chance of the batter going everywhere if they don’t flip it a certain way with the spatula. It can also happen if the spatula is too small for the pancake’s large size, if it was made pretty big.
  • The temperature that the pancakes are cooking on is too low.
    • If the temperature used to cook the batter in the pan is too low, then the bubbles may not form until minutes later, if they even form at all.
    • This is a sign that the pancakes are going to take a long time to cook on the first side before they can be flipped, if the goal is to get them golden brown.
    • It shouldn’t take too long for the bubbles to form on the surface of the batter and begin popping, if a high enough temperature is used to cook the pancakes. If it is taking a long time, raise the temperature.
    • Some individuals may do this on purpose to prevent the holes from forming from the bubbles popping.
  • The batter for the pancakes is really thick.
    • In the case where the batter is really thick and dense, the bubbles may not ever form on the surface of the batter while it is cooking. This means that the batter may need to be thinned out a bit before making another attempt to cook another pancake. Unless, this is what is intended, thin the batter out by mixing in some water.
  • The pancake is cooked simultaneously on both sides.
    • The pancake may have been precooked or cooked recently using cooking equipment that allows both sides to cook at the same time.
    • Pancakes can be made at home or commercially by using a panini press grill. The grill can make grilled poultry, but the plates can also be flipped on the reverse side in the grill to cook pancakes for example, on a flat side.
    • The pancake batter is poured unto the bottom surface that is heated, while the top heated surface presses down to cook both sides of the batter simultaneously, closing down on the batter like a clam.
    • This prevents the pancakes from having holes in them after it is cooked. This is useful if you desire excellent presentation of your pancakes on both sides for your guests that will be served the pancakes.

Either way, the bubbles naturally will happen, just like they do in other liquids and suaces that are heated for awhile. The bubbles will form in the batter on the surface before it is flipped, then they will pop, leaving holes on the doughy surface. However, the other side will be flat, because it is cooked on the flat surface first in the pan.

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