Upgrade to Brunch-Worthy Lemon Pancakes

My husband Spencer makes breakfast every weekend as a staple in our Sunday morning ritual. We sleep in and run downstairs just before the trumpets sound on the CBS Sunday Morning broadcast. About thirty minutes in, Spencer saunters over to the kitchen and fries up thick slices of hickory-smoked bacon along with six fluffy, scrambled eggs. In the last ten months of quarantine-Sundays, we've missed bacon only about four times. Spencer is such a meat-man that he has our meats shipped in from a butcher. I've never eaten more bacon in my entire life than in the last ten months. I don't complain, though perhaps I should. The unfortunate truth is that bacon is simply too good for me to pass up during quarantine - or ever for that matter. Finding Lysol spray has been impossible, and toilet paper has sometimes been scarce, but the one thing that COVID-19 has never caused us to miss is a Sunday with hickory-smoked bacon.

The bacon and eggs are never a question. Our only decision is what carb goes with them. Spencer has a pretty good traditional pancake recipe that he makes every now and then, but last Saturday he mentioned that he wanted lemon ricotta pancakes from one of our favorite local brunch spots. I intended to give him a break from Sunday morning breakfast duty by having them delivered as a surprise. So, when Sunday morning arrived, I grabbed my phone to key in an order. By the time I finished adding lemon ricotta pancakes for four people to the shopping cart (they didn't come with sides), my order was already totaling $50! Adding eggs and bacon would've cost $75+.

I'm not proud of it, but I must confess that I cheapened out and abandoned the shopping cart after I'd told him I was ordering the lemon ricotta pancakes. So, he resumed the bacon and egg duty while I baked homemade blueberry muffins instead - not a bad substitute I'd say. Still, I had to redeem myself this weekend and make him the lemon pancakes he'd wanted.

How to Make Lemon Pancakes

The trick to lemon pancakes is that you must add enough lemon juice and lemon zest to the batter. Lemon curd (store bought is fine) is the best topic, but I prefer also adding a generous drizzle of pure maple syrup to mine along with bright blueberries or raspberries for color. A generous dusting of powdered sugar is also nice. You can find recipes for lemon pancakes with or without ricotta, but I prefer them with ricotta because it gives them a softer, fluffier texture, elevating them from basic pancakes to brunch-worthy pancakes.

Here's how to make them:

How to Make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes in 8 Easy Steps


3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 lemons, zested and juiced (grate the yellow part of the peel to get zest and then juice it, and toss it all in)

Butter, for griddle

1 (11-ounce) jar for lemon curd topping

Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Maple syrup, for drizzle


  1. Clear your countertop, and grab your whisk, a spatula measuring cups, teaspoons and pancake ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry. Separate your wet ingredients from your dry ingredients on the counter.

  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Check that you added every dry ingredient in the correct amount, and return them to the pantry.

  3. In a second larger bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, vanilla, eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest. Check that you added every wet ingredient in the correct amount, and return them to the refrigerator.

  4. Preheat a nonstick griddle to 350 degrees, and lightly coat it with butter.

  5. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined, and be careful not to over mix.

  6. With a ladle or a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour a pancake size dollop of batter on the griddle and cook on the first side for about 2-3 minutes until the center bubbles and the edges look dry.

  7. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes until both sides are a light golden brown.

  8. Serve with warm lemon curd (buy it in the jelly section of your grocer), maple syrup, berries, and of course, bacon and eggs.

This recipe makes about 6 pancakes and saves you about sixty bucks at the same time. Now that you know how to make lemon pancakes, you can try these next Sunday!


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© 2021 by Shai Littlejohn