There's a reason for the pancakes vs. waffles debate. Here's why the breakfast dishes are actually so different.

iStockPancakes and waffles are cooked very differently.
  • Pancakes and waffles typically have the same or similar ingredients but they taste different because of how they’re made.
  • Some chefs add toppings and spices to the batters to create totally separate breakfast dishes.
  • When pancakes and waffles are made from the same batter, chefs have said the difference in taste comes from how they’re prepared.

Let’s set the record straight once and for all: A short stack of pancakes and a plate of waffles are not one and the same.

Sure, the off-the-griddle breakfast items are essentially birds of a feather – quick, doughy delicacies to satisfy your morning sweet tooth – but pancakes and waffles taste vastly different and you might be surprised to know the reason why isn’t always on the tip of your tongue.

For starters, not all pancake and waffle batters are created equally

Bisquick batter Pancake mix taste testSydney Kramer/INSIDERBoth pancake and waffle batter typically contain eggs, butter, and leavening agents.

Pancake and waffle mixes generally have a similar base – eggs, butter, sugar, leavening agents – but a handful of chefs will tell you the difference in taste is all in the additives.

“When the batter is made separately, there are several key differences between the recipes,” Chef Bryan Ogden, the corporate executive chef of Sugar Factory told INSIDER.

Even if pancakes and waffles are made from separate batters, the batter’s texture is key. Ogden told INSIDER that typically chefs will add more butter and baking powder to waffles, but when it comes to pancakes, folding whipped egg whites into the batter is his secret for delivering optimal fluffiness to each bite.

Jamie Johnson, nightlife impresario and owner of The Morning After, also noted that his restaurant’s signature pancake recipe calls for baking soda and baking powder but his waffle recipe does not.

At the same time, even though the ingredients that make up the batter matter, spices and toppings can make a significant difference in taste

Lizzi Ackerma, CMO and co-founder of Birch Benders, told INSIDER it only takes a few key ingredients to transform one batter into two completely separate dishes with very different tastes. For example, adding chocolate chips to a classic pancake batter, she said, can create a totally different tasting experience because during cooking the chocolate will melt throughout the batter differently than it would in a waffle.

Chef Johnny Church, the corporate executive chef for Golden Entertainment, Inc., told INSIDER he always uses different batters for pancakes and waffles and he tends to be more experimental with pancakes as they’re “more versatile.”

But when pancakes and waffles are made from the same batter, the difference in taste comes from how they’re individually cooked

Waffle ironGetty ImagesWaffles are made using a special iron.

Not only do pancakes and waffles taste different, but they also don’t look very similar, either. It turns out, the visible discrepancies translate to a difference in taste.

Pancakes are cooked on a smooth, flat surface. For waffles, the batter is drizzled into an iron and compressed on both sides. In theory, no matter what shape a batter takes on, it should taste the same, but when it comes to pancakes and waffles, Tanner Agar, owner and chief experience officer of Rye restaurant in Texas, said the mould makes all the difference.

“The pancake is all about the fluffy texture created from having one, flat, cooking surface. This means two caramelised sides with fluff in the middle,” Agar told INSIDER. “The waffle maximizes the cooking surface so that you have more caramelization and less fluff. This change changes everything.”

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