Pancakes are a go-to breakfast comfort food, but their calorie count may not fall in line with your health goals, especially if you smother them in butter and syrup before devouring. The good news is you can control pancake calories by keeping your portions small and being mindful of your toppings.
A single small plain pancake has under 100 calories, but if you add fruit into the batter and butter and syrup before serving, you can easily make your breakfast closer to 350 calories. While this isn't too high as far as calories go, it's not the most nutrient-dense breakfast you can pick.
A regular 4-inch pancake made from a prepared mix contains 74 calories, while a 6-inch pancake has 149 calories. A teaspoon of butter will add another 33 calories and finishing it off with pure maple syrup will pack on another 52 calories.
Basic Pancake Nutrition
Pancake calories and basic pancake nutrition can vary widely depending on many different factors, like whether you use a prepared mix or you follow your own recipe instead. The calories will also depend on whether you eat your pancakes plain or add in things like blueberries, bananas, nuts or even some extra sweetener. If you stick to a basic prepared pancake mix and don't add anything in, a 4-inch pancake will clock in at 74 calories. If you prefer to make your pancakes a little bigger, you'll take in about 149 calories for a 6-inch pancake.
Most of the calories in a pancake made from a prepared mix come from carbohydrates. The 4-inch pancake will contribute about 14 grams of carbohydrates to your diet and the larger 6-inch pancake clocks in at slightly over 28 grams of carbs. You'll get a small amount of protein too, at just about 2 grams and 4 grams, respectively.
Calories in Syrup
But what's a pancake without a heavy-handed drizzle of maple syrup and some oozing melted butter? When trying to figure out your pancake calories, it's a good idea to factor in all of the toppings you'll be using, since in most cases, you probably won't be eating it plain.
A tablespoon of pure maple syrup will add 52 calories and pretty much all of the calories in syrup comes from sugar. That tablespoon of maple syrup has 12 grams. Add a teaspoon of butter and you've also added 34 more calories. If you want to reduce your pancake carbs, you can use a different topping, like melted peanut butter or monk fruit-sweetened maple syrup in place of regular maple syrup.
A tablespoon of natural, no-sugar-added peanut butter will add more calories than maple syrup (about 105 per tablespoon), but it only has 1 gram of sugar and 3 total carbs. If you use a maple-flavored syrup that's sweetened with a Keto-friendly sweetener, like monk fruit, you won't add any calories or any net carbohydrates to your pancake meal.
What's Healthier: Waffles or Pancakes?
Unfortunately, Harvard Health Publishing calls out regular pancakes among foods that don't belong in a healthy diet. But what about waffles? Are they healthier? The short answer is no.
Waffle batter generally has more sugar and more fat than pancakes because these ingredients help them crisp up better in a waffle maker. Of course, this added sugar and fat also adds calories. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, a 7-inch waffle comes in at 218 calories, without any toppings. As with pancakes, most of those calories come from the 25 grams of carbohydrates that are in the waffle.
You can make healthier versions of your pancakes and waffles by opting for a homemade recipe instead of using a prepackaged mix that likely has artificial ingredients and more sugar than you need. There are a lot of pancake and waffle recipes out there that utilize gluten-free flours and whole ingredients instead of artificial ones. If you can eat gluten, the Cleveland Clinic recommends using whole-wheat flour and oats in place of processed, all-purpose flour to up the fiber and protein content.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Pancakes, Plain, Dry Mix, Complete, Prepared"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Butter, Salted"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Syrups, Maple"
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: "Natural Peanut Butter"
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: "Lakanto, Monkfruit Sweetener With Erythritol"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Waffles, Plain, Prepared From Recipe"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Which Foods Don't Belong in a Healthy Diet?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Recipe: Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Pancakes With Fruit"