How many calories are in a pancake? Expert tips on how to make low calorie pancakes

You'll be surprised to know just how many calories are actually in a pancake - from crepe-style to American to Scotch...

Pancakes on a plate covered in a variety of berries
(Image credit: Future / Getty)

Wondering how many calories are in a pancake? Trying to work out how many you can indulge in this Pancake Day? Let us explain...

It is said that on average in the UK alone we consume 117 million pancakes on Pancake Day - that's an average of two pancakes per person and doesn't even include the extras that some of us have room for. 

With the millions we're consuming it's got us asking the question, how many calories are actually in a pancake and how can we cut the calories down - whether in the pancake batter itself or the pancake fillings we choose?

"Overeating sugar is terrible for our health. From increasing our risk of diabetes, heart attack, strokes, and even cancer, to damaging our teeth, upsetting gut flora, and impacting our mood. But don’t worry, there are many ways to enjoy pancakes without overdoing it," says Click2Pharmacy’s Dr. Hussain Ahmad

There are a range of ways to cut calories in pancakes - whether whipping up a batch for the weekend or making some, especially for Pancake Day. Pancakes don't have to be as calorific as you may think, particularly if you are on a diet, calorie counting or just looking to eat a little healthier.

How many calories are in a pancake?

On average there are 59 calories in a classic crepe-style pancake recipe, 100 calories in thicker Scotch pancakes and 146 calories in American pancakes. Calories are calculated based on the pancakes only - toppings and fillings are not included.

A crepe-style pancake also contains an average of around 1.4g of fat and 1.5g of sugar. If you add a dash of lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar to your pancake, you're looking at 61 calories, a tablespoon of Nutella and you're looking at 73 calories, or a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle of chocolate sauce you're looking at 80 calories.

"Pancakes themselves are generally quite calorific and not the most nutrient-dense option, particularly when made with full-fat milk, oil, and plain flour," says Dr. Hussain Ahmad. "On top of this (excuse the pun) we tend to top them with sugary spreads, chocolate, syrups, and even sugar itself! We often get carried away when it comes to toppings and can find ourselves eating literal spoonfuls of sugar one after the other without even realising." 

coconut pancakes

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

How to make low calorie pancakes

One of the easiest ways to cut calories in pancakes and make low calorie pancakes is to swap regular pancake ingredients for lower fat or lower calorie options instead. Think skimmed milk, low calorie cooking sprays, and fruit instead of sugar as a topping. 

Dr. Hussain Ahmad shares his expert tips; "My number one tip would be to substitute full-fat milk with a skimmed alternative or even a substitute such as almond milk. This can significantly reduce the fat content in your pancakes, without sacrificing flavour. Another great idea is to switch plain flour to wheat flour or other flour alternatives that are higher in protein, such as almond flour or simply some blitzed oats. This can add protein and/or fiber, both of which help to keep your feeling fuller for longer." 

He continues; "When cooking the pancakes, try a really good quality non-stick pan instead of adding butter or oil. Alternatively, low calorie sprays such as fry light seem to work really well and are much lower in calories too. Also - and this one may seem quite simple but trust me, it works - make smaller pancakes! Most of the time we end up folding them up if they’re larger and actually overeat to the point where we’re full to bursting. Instead, make them a little smaller than you usually would, and after you’ve enjoyed a few, ask yourself if you’re still hungry before making another." 

Scotch pancakes

(Image credit: Future)

"Sweeteners can be a great option instead of sugar for toppings, as can honey, choc shots and other low sugar options. This can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes or those who are simply looking to eat less sugar. Fruit also makes a delicious topping, a handful of strawberries or blueberries for instance will provide a tonne of vitamins and minerals as well as that all-important fibre," Dr. Ahmad adds.

We also wanted to find out how to cut down calories in pancake toppings and fillings too as sometimes this is where most of the fat, sugar, and calorie content can start to add up. Dr. Admad says; "Fruits such as chopped banana and berries can help to provide natural sweetness, potassium and fibre, helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer and less likely to reach for another.. And another… and another!" 

"When it comes to the batter itself, it can be great to add a scoop of protein powder, this can be any flavour you like and will help transform your pancakes into a more balanced dish with healthy amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates. This can be particularly beneficial for those looking to keep an eye on their blood sugar levels or reduce their weight, as balanced meals such as this are less likely to cause those peaks and troughs when it comes to insulin levels in the blood." 

How to burn off pancake calories

There are a variety of ways you can 'burn off' pancake calories and fat - particularly if you've eaten a few too many. "A nice gentle half an hour or hour walk is a great way to burn calories and aid digestion after overindulging," says Click2Pharmacy’s Dr Hussain Ahmad.

To avoid overindulging in the first place, Dr. Ahmad suggests "Only making the amount of batter you need! If you make far too much, it’s difficult to say no to extra helpings. Whereas if you plan ahead of time how many you’d like and calculate how much of each ingredient you’ll need for the batter, you’re setting yourself up for success." 

  1. Skipping: It takes just 9 minutes in total to burn off a pancake which is great news if you're a fan of skipping merrily around your local park or even in your garden.
  2. Walking up stairs: We've all got stairs around us, at home, work, or in shopping centers, so put them to good use and burn off some lovely pancake space in your tummy. Just 6 mins of climbing is all you need to do.
  3. Hula hoop: You don't really need to give us too many excuses to dust off the hula hoop! 20 minutes will fly by in hooping fun - and you'll burn off 100 calories.
  4. Kissing: Now you might think kissing doesn't sound like too much work - but this is kissing for 80 minutes. Hmmm how many pancakes did we want again...?
  5. Hopscotch: Grab some chalk and head outside. Just 17 minutes of energetic hopscotch will burn off 100 calories.
  6. Cartwheel: Now, we haven't done a cartwheel in years, but we remember them being quite fun. 10 mins of cartwheeling - don't worry, they don't need to be this perfect - will score you one calorie-free pancake.
  7. Twister: Well this is just fun anyway. 20 mins of bending for those coloured circles burn off the required 100 calories.
  8. Sleep: Now this one sounds more up our street. An extra 2 hours of sleep in a day can see you lose 100 calories - you don't have to tell us twice.

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Jessica Dady
Food Editor

Jessica Dady is Food Editor at GoodtoKnow and has over 11 years of experience as a digital editor, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the must-buy seasonal food hampers and advent calendars for Christmas to the family-friendly air fryers that’ll make dinner time a breeze, Jessica loves trying and testing various food products to find the best of the best for the busy parents among us. Over the years of working with GoodtoKnow, Jessica has had the privilege of working alongside Future’s Test Kitchen to create exclusive videos - as well as writing, testing, and shooting her own recipes. When she’s not embracing the great outdoors with her family at the weekends, Jessica enjoys baking up a storm in the kitchen with her favourite bakes being chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and a tray of gooey chocolate brownies