For most people, pancakes conjure up images of the fluffy American style flapjacks with butter and maple syrup. However, there are tons of different types of pancakes out there. Taking various forms around the world from delicate French crepes to crispy Indian dosas, almost every country has a variation.
One of the oldest prepared foods in the world (no, really!) pancakes and flatbreads have been around for millennia. Easy to make, and infinitely adaptable, these staple foods can be found in every culture. While pancakes and flatbreads are quite different today, you can still find types of pancakes for every taste and palate, whether they are sweet, savoury, or stuffed.
Delicious Types of Pancakes From Around the World
Australia – Pikelets
These fluffy mini Australian pancakes are made with pockets that can be filled with custard or jam. Pikelets are usually enjoyed with butter and honey or jam as a snack or are served with afternoon tea.
Austria – Kaiserschmarrn
Kaiserschmarrn literally means “the emperor’s sweet omelette,” and is named for the Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austria. As the pancake mix cooks, it is turned and cut with a fork, which is why it doesn’t have the shape of traditional types of pancakes. It is usually served with sugar, berries, jam, or apples.
Belgium – Boûkéte
Belgium may be more famous for its waffles (which some may argue are essentially the same, though they actually use different batter), don’t miss the delicious boûkéte (or bouquette). Its texture resembles the French crepe, and it is usually made with buckwheat flour and pan-fried in lard. Boûkètes may be embellished with raisins and garnished with a local brown sugar known as cassonade or with sirop de Liège.
Brazil – Tapiocas
Tapiocas are also similar to crepes, though the Brazilian pancakes are often slightly thicker. They are made with tapioca flour that is cooked on ungreased girdles. They can be eaten either plain or with a range of sweet and savoury toppings, which include butter and shredded coconut.
China – Bing
Bing are savoury Chinese pancakes that are usually made with wheat. The consistency varies across regions from thick and chewy to paper-thin. They are often eaten as a snack, and can be filled with ground meat, or fried with scallions. One of the most popular variations is the cong you bing, or the flaky scallion pancakes. These types of pancakes are often served with soy sauce to dip it in.
Colombia – Arepas
Traditionally found across Colombia and Venezuela, arepas are a staple of South American cooking much like the tortilla is in Central America. Often said to be a cross between a flatbread and a pancake, they are made with corn flour (or masa) and are often split in half and filled with meat, beans, cheese, and more. While the Colombian arepas are larger and flatter than the thick Venezuelan ones, they are both cooked on a girdle.
Denmark – Aebleskiver
The spherical aebleskiver look more like doughnut holes than like most other types of pancakes. Literally meaning “apple slices” (though most versions don’t actually feature apples anymore) they are cooked in a special pan with circular depressions, which makes them pancakes. They are usually sprinkled with sugar, and served with jam for dipping.
England – Pancakes
English pancakes are much thinner than their North American counterpart. They are slightly thicker than French crepes and are traditionally topped with powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon. These pancakes are often eaten on Shrove Tuesday, though they are also enjoyed throughout the year.
Ethiopia – Injera
In Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea, injera is literally the base of most meals. This spongy round pancake is made with teff (a type of grass) flour and placed directly on top of the plate. Small portions of various savoury stews and salads are served on top of it, and it can then be used as both a plate and a utensil to eat them.
Finland – Pannukakku
Pannukakku is a Finnish pancake that is usually baked in an oven. The creamy and fluffy dish is made with a custardy, vanilla-spiked batter that is cooked until it turns crispy on top but remains gooey in the inside. It is often served with powdered sugar, cream, fruits or jam.
France – Crêpes
Crepes are a popular staple of French cuisine, and like so many other types of pancakes, they can be both sweet and savoury. The thin, large pancakes are made with either wheat or buckwheat flour and folded over various fillings such as chocolate and fruit, or cheeses and sautéed vegetables. Crepes are popular for all meals of the day, and versions of this can be found all over Europe.
Germany – Pfannkuchen & Dutch Baby
German pfannkuchen are often compared to crepes, though they are actually much thicker and are typically served with jam, applesauce, or other spreads, rather than being filled. When the pfannkuchen is cooked in the oven instead of on the stove, you get a Dutch Baby (which is quite German, despite the name). The batter gets large and puffy in the middle. But this soon falls inwards forming a bowl-like shape with crispy edges and a creamy centre. The Dutch Baby (pictured) is usually served with lemon juice, sugar, fruit or syrup.
Greece – Tiganites
Dating back to the sixth century B.C. and to Ancient Greece, this popular breakfast dish is said to be the first documented pancake in the world. Whether that’s true or not, tiganites are still popular across the country today. These traditional pancakes are typically served topped with honey and a sprinkle of walnuts or sesame seeds.
Hungary – Palacsinta
These types of pancakes are popular around Central and Eastern Europe. The Hungarian version resembles crépes and often contains rich fillings of everything from meats to jam and chocolate. A popular version is known as hortobágyi and is filled with ground meat, fried onion, and spices. It is then topped with a paprika sauce. Another version is gundel, which is filled with chopped walnuts, raisins, and rum and topped with dark chocolate sauce.
Iceland – Pönnukaka
These tin crepe-like pancakes are also known as ponnukokur, and are cooked in a special pan, and are flexible in both preparation and shape. Pönnukaka can be either folded or rolled and is traditionally filled with everything from strawberries and whipped cream to jam.
India – Dosa
A staple of most Indian diets, these thin, crispy pancakes look a lot like French crepes, but they’re quite different. Dosas are made with a fermented batter of rice and black gram and are usually served with sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew) or chutney. Other versions include appams, neer dosas, and uttapam.
Indonesia – Serabi
These Indonesian pancakes are small and dense and are made with rice flour and coconut milk. They are often served with a variety of sweet toppings, such as jackfruit, peanuts, bananas, sugar, fruit, and chocolate, as well as savoury versions like cheese and meat. While the pancakes are usually a pale golden colour, they may also be green, due to the addition of aromatic pandan leaf juice.
Italy – Farinata
This savoury Italian pancake is made from chickpea flour and is typically cooked in a wood oven like pizza. Crisp on the outside, and smooth on the inside; it is often topped with fresh rosemary and pepper and can be found elsewhere along the Mediterranean. In southern France, it is known as socca; and in North Africa, where more spices are typically added, as karane (Morocco) or karantita (Algeria).
Japan – Okonomiyaki
The word okonomiyaki comes from the words okonomi, or “what you want,” and yaki, or “grilled.” And that’s precisely what these Japanese pancakes are. A batter of eggs, flour, Chinese yam, and shredded cabbage, is topped with a variety of fillings, from vegetables and sauces to octopus, squid, to pork belly. It is then cooked and drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise and plum sauce.
Korea – Jeon & Hotteok
Korean jeon are similar to the Chinese bing. It is similarly diverse and is essentially an eggy-batter topped with various meats, seafood or vegetables. Popular versions are kimchijeon, which features kimchi, pajeon, that is packed with scallions, and hwajeon, sweet rice-based pancakes made with flowers.
Korea is also home to the thick and sweet hotteok (pictured), a popular street food that is made with a yeasty wheat-based dough that is stuffed with fillings, like syrup, caramel, honey, nuts and spices, and toasted on a griddle.
Malaysia – Apam Balik
This delicious pancake is a popular Malaysian breakfast and common street food. It is both sweet and fluffy and is made with sticky rice and eggs and is filled with crushed peanuts, sweetened dried coconut, corn, bananas, and sugar.
Mexico – Hotcakes
Mexican hotcakes are thick and fluffy, similar to American buttermilk pancakes. However, they are made with a cinnamon-infused cornmeal batter and is usually topped with condensed milk, fruit jam, or a caramelized goat milk spread called cajeta.
Morocco – Beghrir & M’Semen
These Moroccan pancakes are popular across North Africa. Beghrir are a popular breakfast food; they are small, spongy pancakes made from semolina or flour and riddled with tiny holes when cooked (they soak up whatever sauce is served with it). M’Semen are muh thinner, more like crepes, and are also made from semolina. The dough kneaded then stretched until thin, and are stuffed before being fried or baked.
The Netherlands – Poffertjes
Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes, made with yeast and buckwheat flour. They are cooked in a special pan (poffertjespan) and usually served with powdered sugar and butter, and sometimes syrup.
Poland – Naleśniki & Placki
Nalesniki are Polish pancakes that are similar to the more common Eastern European blintz and blini. The crêpe-like pancakes are cooked using carbonated water, giving them a light and airy texture. They are rolled and filled with sweet fillings, such as jam and cream cheese. Placki (or placki ziemniaczane), similar to Jewish latkes, are potato pancakes usually accompanied by apple sauce or sour cream
Russia – Blini & Blintz
Blini are thin crepe-like pancakes, of Russian origin, made from buckwheat flour, and traditionally served with butter, sour cream, fruit, caviar or smoked salmon. The blini can also be folded or rolled over these fillings. They are often confused with blintzes, which are made of wheat flour (not buckwheat), and without yeast. Blintzes are folded over a filling and then sautéed or baked.
Scotland – Drop Scones
Scotch pancakes (also called drop scones) are small and thick, made by dropping the flour-based batter onto a griddle. Though similar to American pancakes, they are smaller, and are usually served with jam and cream or just with butter.
Singaporean – Lempeng
Popular in both Singapore and Malaysia, lempeng is cooked without a rising agent and is usually served for breakfast along with fish curry, sambal (a chilli paste), or rendang (a thick meat curry).
South Africa – Pannekoek
Originating in the Netherlands, pannekoek are large crepe-like pancakes (usually a foot in diameter) that are a popular breakfast in South Africa. They can either be topped with lemon juice and sugar, or stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as apples, cheese, ham, bacon, and candied ginger.
Sweden (and Norway) – Raggmunk & Pannakor
Nordic pancakes, called pannkakor, are usually thin, much like French crêpes. Pannakakor are served with whipped cream, jam, or fruit, especially lingonberries. Sweden also has potato pancakes called raggmunk, which are similar to the Jewish potato latke. Raw grated potatoes are added to the batter, which is then fried in butter. It is served with pork rinds and lingonberry jam. Sweden also has plättar, small pancakes, and the äggakaka (eggcake).
Thailand – Martabak
Martabak is a street-food classic in both Thailand and in Indonesia, though it originated in the Middle East. It is essentially a spicy omelette pancake, that is filled with bits of vegetables and minced meat and then folded over.
Ukraine – Oladky
These small thick pancakes are known as oladyi in Russia. The batter is made from wheat or buckwheat flour, and may also have apple and raisins. Oladky are served with sour cream, and various sweet toppings like jam, varenye (fruit preserve), or honey.
US/Canada – Buttermilk Pancakes
American and Canadian pancakes (also called hotcakes or flapjacks) have perhaps become the most well-known around the world. The thick and fluffy batter often contains additions like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, apples, chocolate chips, and cheese; though they are usually unsweetened. Served in thick stacks, they are then smothered in butter and maple syrup and are usually eaten for breakfast.
Venezuela – Cachapas
Cachapas are traditional Venezuelan corn pancakes. They can either be made flat, like traditional pancakes, or stuffed with queso de mano (a soft cheese). Another version (cachapa de hoja) is wrapped in dry corn leaves and boiled.
Vietnam – Bánh Xèo
The Vietnamese bánh xèo, which literally means “sizzling cake,” are made with rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric and cooked in a hot skillet. They are stuffed with all kinds of fillings, such as pork, shrimp, green onion, and bean sprouts. The pancakes are then served with lettuce, fresh herbs and fish sauce.
Of course, there are tons of other pancakes from around the world, such as the Welsh crempog, and Costa Rican chorreadas. Be sure to let us know your favourites in the comments below.