Are You Ready? National Pancake Day is February 13th!

little girl making pancakes with mom

Ladies and gentlemen, people of all ages – start your griddles! National pancake day is right around the corner! 

IHOP restaurants began National Pancake Day in 2006 as a part-promotion, part-fundraising event. Now held annually, the actual date falls between February 3rd and March 9th. 

This year, in 2024, the date is February 13th! 

(And for those who like to plan ahead, the next two years of National Pancake Day have already been mapped out! In 2025 it will fall on March 4th, and in 2026 it will be February 17th.)

Ready for your very own pancake party? Here are some ideas to help you celebrate this year!

Enjoy FREE pancakes! 

Last year, when the big kids went to school, my husband and I took our little kids to our local IHOP restaurant on National Pancake Day to take advantage of their free short-stack promotion. I have to admit, it was pretty awesome! Pancakes, in general, are great. But FREE pancakes? Sign me up! 

If you want to take advantage of a free short stack, head to your local IHOP restaurant for your very own little stack of buttermilk glory. There really is no catch! As a courtesy, not a requirement, IHOP restaurants encourage diners to donate to charity in exchange. Since National Pancake Day began in 2006, over $24 million has been raised to support charities in the communities where IHOP restaurants operate. 

Create your own perfect pancake.

According to Oxford Languages, a pancake is “a thin, flat cake of batter, usually fried and turned in a pan. Pancakes are usually eaten with syrup or rolled up with a filling.” Some variation of a pancake is found in almost every culture! Pancakes provide a perfect canvas for culinary experimentation. If you’d like to “mix things up,” here are some ideas to take your pancakes to perfection! 

To make your own unique pancakes, you can experiment with the batter, the toppings, or even the shape of the pancake itself! Try using a squeeze bottle for the batter (an empty, clean ketchup bottle can be upcycled for this!).

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To get the perfect-shaped pancakes, including the recently trendy pancake “spaghetti,” if you’re feeling adventurous! For a more familiar yet still fun twist, try pouring your pancake into basic shapes like hearts or alphabet letters. Cookie cutters in the pan can help give your pancake some structure if you’re trying this technique with kids! 

Batter add-ins:

  • Berries or bananas
  • Chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles 
  • Cinnamon 
  • M&M’s
  • Nuts (walnuts are a great option) 
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Vanilla or almond extract
  • Food coloring 
  • Lemon juice 
  • Brown sugar

Next-level toppings: 

  • Peanut butter
  • Nutella
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Honey
  • Fruit compote
  • Fruit or berry syrup 
  • Jam
  • Fresh fruit (again, berries or bananas are popular choices!)
  • Whipped cream
  • Sprinkles
  • Ice cream
  • Caramel sauce
  • Poprocks 
  • Shredded coconut 
  • Powdered sugar 
  • Bacon crumbles 
  • Apple butter
  • Fried chicken 
  • Fried egg

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Play with your food.

Ok … maybe not your actual food. (Although no judgment!) But you can enjoy many fun pancake-themed games and activities with your young (or young at heart) crowd! 

  • Pancake scavenger hunt: Cut circles out of brown construction paper and hide them for people to find. You can be generous with clues or keep it as unstructured as you like!
  • Pancake flipping race: Set a timer for a minute and see how many times someone can flip a pancake in a frying pan before the timer runs out!
  • Pancake balancing act: Balance a pancake on your head, knee, toe, etc. Take turns making your way across the room with the pancake balanced. If it falls, pick it up and start again. (Paper or felt pancakes are great options for this game as real pancakes, plus the floor can get pretty yucky pretty fast!) 
  • Pancake Picasso: Use your pancakes as a blank canvas to create artistic masterpieces! You can decorate using traditional toppings or use (clean, new) paint brushes to literally “paint” on the pancakes using water colored with food coloring!
  • Pancake story time: You’d be surprised by the number of children's books that have been written about pancakes! Take a trip to your local library and have the librarian help you search for books about pancakes your family can read together. (Maybe even while eating some pancakes of your own!)

Tweak the tradition!

Not a pancake fan? There are plenty of great alternatives for you to enjoy instead! Waffles, crepes, german pancakes (aka dutch babies), or even omelets give the same kind of breakfast vibes while allowing your full creativity to be as fancy or basic as you’d like! 

If you want to keep with the traditional pancake but skip flipping individual pancakes, you can try sheet pan pancakes instead.

Alternatively, keep the pancake but make it savory by making pancake “tacos”! Simply stuff your pancake with savory toppings and fold it in half to eat taco-style (ham, grated cheese, sausage, bacon, avocado, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and peppers/onions are all great filling ideas!)

There’s no wrong way to celebrate National Pancake Day! How you want to enjoy a day dedicated to pancakes is up to you. Whatever you plan, it is bound to be delicious!

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