Here I go again. This Shrove Tuesday, for science, I try out the viral TikTok air fryer pancake hack.
I previously put my air fryer (and my culinary skills) to the test by attempting to cook a whole Christmas dinner in an air fryer (opens in new tab). While that experiment was quite successful, my hopes weren't particularly high for pancakes. Were they going to turn out fluffy and cooked through? Plenty of viral videos on TikTok assured they would, but I had my doubts.
So far, I've been really impressed by the amount and variety of foods I have been able to cook in my air fryer. From roast potatoes to vegetables, meat and meat-free burgers, sausages and bacon, the appliance has been a lifesaver for many a weeknight meal.
The best air fryers (opens in new tab) are very handy for busy professionals, large families, and people who might not have the space for a hob to cook on. This nifty product is also more energy efficient than using an oven. On Pancake Day, many people might be looking for alternative ways of making pancakes, whether that's to make them healthier, or because they don't have access to a hob.
Without further ado, let's dive right in.
Can you make pancakes in an air fryer?
I started my morning by making a small batch of pancake batter. In a bowl, I mixed 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 1 cup of all purpose-flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Once all the ingredients were whisked and well-combined, I slowly added in 1 cup of milk and kept whisking until I obtained a smooth and thick batter.
In terms of cooking times, I'd read and seen various conflicting information, so I attempted two different methods.
1. The stack
A viral TikTok video showed users making a stack of pancakes in one go by layering them between parchment paper.
After preheating the air fryer, I lined the bottom of it with a square of lightly-greased parchment paper. I then poured a small amount of batter over it, then added another layer of paper, then batter, etc.
I closed the air fryer and set it to cook at 200 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes. Once the cooking time was done, the top pancake was nice and golden brown, but the ones below were very pale and hardly cooked.
Following the video instructions, I added a layer of parchment paper on top of the top pancake and flipped the stack over - this was quite tricky as the batter and air fryer drawer were very hot. I then put the drawer back in and set the air fryer on to cook for a further 5 minutes at 200 degrees. By the end of the cooking process, the pancakes were all cooked through, but the middle ones were still looking quite pale.
2. One by one
As I was rather unconvinced by the first method, I thought cooking pancakes individually would be better to achieve an even cook and a golden color on both sides.
As before, I lined the bottom of my air fryer with some lightly greased parchment paper, and poured a small amount of batter on top. I put the pancake to cook for 4 minutes at 200 degrees. Once that was done, I flipped the pancake, and put it back on to cook for 4 minutes.
At the end of the cooking process, the pancake had color on both sides and was fully cooked through. It was quite crispy on the sides where the batter was thinner and looked a lot more appealing than the pancakes I'd made in a stack.
To fully appreciate the pancakes, I tasted them plain first. The ones cooked in a stack were very unevenly cooked - the top ones were almost too crispy, and the middle ones very rubbery and heavy. The taste, however, wasn't unpleasant.
The pancakes I cooked individually were much better - while the edges were also a bit too crispy, the middle was properly cooked through and there was even some thickness and volume achieved from the baking powder.
After the first taste test, I stacked the pancakes, covered them in chocolate and banana, and dug in. Were they the best pancakes I'd had? Very far from it. Did I eat the whole stack? You bet ya. Make of that what you will.