The best chains are reliable, and so are the best pancakes. But even though this sterling staple of breakfasts everywhere can be found in plenty of chain restaurants, few eateries turn out a truly exceptional pancake. Undercooked batter, too-sweet syrup, unevenly incorporated ingredients, and all manner of other flaws plague flapjacks across the land. Still more restaurants serve pancakes that aren't dire, but aren't really great. A number of chains manage to escape being mediocre, but can't be depended upon to produce good pancakes every single time a diner stops by.
When all these so-so chains and their less-than-delicious pancakes are wiped away, what remains? The pancake elite. These chains don't just turn out good pancakes -- they serve up the very best pancakes in the country. Get your syrup and fork ready: We're ranking the best chain restaurant pancakes in America, from the seriously good to the absolutely heavenly.
In all honesty, pancakes are probably not the thing anybody thinks of when they consider Texas mainstay Whataburger. "Burger" is in the name, after all, and this chain's are truly delicious. Moreover, its breakfast menu is packed with goodies, ranging from hearty breakfast burgers to crisp-edged hash brown sticks. But even amidst such splendor, Whataburger's pancakes shouldn't be slept on.
These are fairly humble flapjacks, compared to many entries on this list. They're not studded with blueberries, stuffed with cream cheese, or smothered in a cinnamon-sugar glaze. All they are is plain old pancakes, topped with simple butter and syrup. Will they blow your mind? Probably not. But they'll deliver the golden-brown goodness you crave. Whataburger's pancakes are particularly distinguished by their sweetness, and a faint trace of vanilla. Those diners lacking a sweet tooth might find them a bit cloying, but others will enjoy this slightly more dessert-ish take on a breakfast classic.
To most people, Marie Callender's is a frozen food brand, offering pies and hearty meals. But to those who live in California -- particularly the southern half of the state -- it's a restaurant. While this cozy chain is probably best known for its profusion of pies, it sells plenty of other foodstuffs as well -- pancakes among them.
For the most part, Marie Callender's sells plain buttermilk pancakes. Variations crop up from time to time -- the banana cream pie pancakes are particularly noteworthy -- but most locations stick to the classic formula. This is a solid choice, as these are some delightfully tasty pancakes. They're fluffy, faintly sweet, and lavishly buttery without ever becoming soggy or unpleasantly rich. Moreover, they soak up syrup like golden sponges. Pie is nice and all, but pancakes have a charm all their own. One bite is all you need to know this for a fact.
Jack In The Box
West Coast-centric chain Jack in the Box serves up a wide variety of breakfast goodies, including sausage sandwiches, croissants, burritos, and scrambled eggs. The pancakes are easy to overlook amid such an avalanche of early-morning delights. But they deserve a spotlight of their own as one of the chain's most dependable foods.
Sure, those sandwiches, burritos, and croissants are tasty-looking. Sometimes, they live up to that promise ... but sometimes, they're straight-up disappointing. Smushed dough, bland sausages, and limp bacon are all par for the course. In contrast, Jack in the Box's pancakes will never let you down. No matter the location, they're dependable little circles of buttery goodness. They're probably not going to be the greatest pancakes you'll ever put in your mouth, but they're sure to satisfy a base craving and support a heaping helping of syrup. That's nothing to sneeze at, especially at a frugal fast food price.
Back in 2021, one brave soul took to the Unpopular Opinions subreddit to make a solemn declaration: "McDonald's pancakes are the best ... they're the best pancakes I've ever heard in terms of quality, consistency, fluffiness and taste. The syrup and butter they give always deliver as well. They're better than any IHOP, Denny's, etc. And it's much cheaper to eat there."
Shocking? To some, perhaps -- McDonald's is a fast food joint that definitely doesn't specialize in breakfast food. But this Reddit user makes a good point: McDonald's pancakes are solidly good, traditionally accompanied by excellent condiments, and impressively thrifty. Their consistency is their greatest strength: Every time you get them, you know exactly what you're going to get. And what you get are some pretty gosh darn tasty pancakes. They're impressively tender, delicately sweet, and pair well with the chain's other breakfast foods. Hot tip: McDonald's pancakes and hash browns are an especially satisfying combo.
"I haven't had pancakes in years (celiac)," one Reddit user declared in a thread dedicated to the best restaurant pancakes, "but when I was a kid I loved Perkins. I don't even know if they still exist, but they were awesome!" We've got good news: Perkins absolutely does still exist, and its pancakes are indeed still awesome.
This old-school chain sticks to all things tried-and-true. Perkins pancakes come in buttermilk, blueberry, and potato varieties. That might seem limited, compared to the out-there creations sold at many other eateries on this list, but it's all Perkins needs to impress. Its buttermilk pancakes are impressively moist, to the point of outright richness. This pairs wonderfully with syrup, creating a breakfast you could call straight-up decadent. The blueberry version kicks things up a further notch. But it is the potato pancakes that really set the bar. These lacy, savory, salty discs of deliciousness are a genuine wonder of the breakfast table, and utterly irresistible when paired with applesauce.
Denny's is an iconic American chain, and its pancakes are a big part of why. They're fried to a crisp golden brown, absolutely loaded with butter, and remain luxuriously fluffy, no matter how much syrup you pour onto the plate. Their consistency, though, is the true key to their success: These pancakes are going to fit the Platonic pancake ideal no matter where you get them, or what zany time of night. Denny's is dependable like that.
Things get a little wackier when you stray from the buttermilk side of the menu -- Denny's likes to experiment. Sometimes, this is great; one Reddit user was so moved by the chain's salted caramel banana cream pancakes, they called them "truly life-changing." Other variations are less successful. The cinnamon roll pancakes, for example, tend to get a little soggy and are often just too sweet. They're not bad by any means -- they just don't meet Denny's typical standards.
Bob Evans' pancakes (or "hotcakes," as they refer to them) are available in an impressive profusion of flavors: Diners can choose from double blueberry, double chocolate, and caramel apple varieties on offer. They're all pretty darn good, and definitely decadent; whipped cream, powdered sugar, sweet sauces, and, of course, butter and syrup are the order of the day here.
But all those toppings would be worthless if the pancakes lying beneath them weren't good. This is the secret to Bob Evans' success: good, old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes. These cakes are tender, sweet, rich, and sturdy enough to support all those lavish toppings. They're a tiny bit heavier than many other entries on this list, which means side dishes might not be a great idea, but there's something to say for a pancake that can fill you up on its own. Whether you're jonesing for something extravagant or something simple, Bob Evans' pancakes won't let you down.
The Original Pancake House
Over in the Minnesota Subreddit, online pundits gathered to discuss the best pancakes in the state. One user promptly named two different restaurants, one of which was The Original Pancake House. Another concurred, writing, "OPH has the best syrup."
Whether you're within Minnesota or beyond its borders, this holds true: The Original Pancake House is a dependable source of good pancakes -- and, yes, exceptional syrup. The chain offers an impressively large range of pancakes: Diners can choose from Hawaiian, Swedish, sourdough, buckwheat, Georgia pecan, and potato pancakes, among other varieties. All of them are solid and deserve to be tried at least once. But it really is the syrup that sets this chain apart. Somehow, it transcends all other syrups in this class of pancake house. It's warm, gooey, and absolutely bursting with flavor. Notably, it isn't just sweet -- it's got that smoky, rich, almost mineral-y undertone that takes a syrup from being merely tasty to truly delectable. And that's just the maple syrup -- The Original Pancake House also serves apple syrup and "tropical" syrup, both of which are equally delicious.
From its front porches full of rocking chairs to its all-wooden-everything interiors, Cracker Barrel keeps things classic. This serves its food well, all things considered; its menu is a long and lovely litany of down-home favorites done well. Pancakes are chief among these successful comestibles, though they tend to get a little fancier than other items on offer. Buttermilk pancakes can be enjoyed at Cracker Barrel, but so can pancake tacos, stuffed cheesecake pancakes, and pancakes with chocolate whipped cream.
This is a pretty wide range of options. But Cracker Barrel does them all justice -- for the most part, anyway. These are robust, flavorful pancakes, capable of bearing all sorts of toppings and fruit. They're full of vanilla flavor and have a pleasant lightness that keeps a diner from feeling unpleasantly stuffed (even if they've opted for the seriously lavish cheesecake pancakes). The only problem lies with the pancake tacos. Somehow, the taco process makes them a lot more prone to falling apart. They're still tasty, but you might find yourself eating them with a spoon.
Let's get one thing straight about Huddle House right off the bat: If you're a pancake lover without a serious sweet tooth, this is probably not the place for you. If, however, you do enjoy dessert-y twists on the average breakfast, this is your Shangri-La. How dedicated is Huddle House to the art of the sweet pancake? So much so that it doesn't even offer plain old buttermilk pancakes -- the closest you can get are its old-fashioned buttermilk sweet cakes.
Things get ever more sugary from that point on; Huddle House offers Georgia pecan, strawberries and cream, and Oreo cookie crunch pancakes. Whipped cream, flavored syrup, candied nuts, and chocolate chunks are thick on the ground here. At times, it feels more like having breakfast in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory than a standard American restaurant. If you're not into it, you'll have a bad time. But if you're the type of person with year-round dreams of sugarplums dancing in your head, you need to get to Huddle House ASAP.
Black Bear Diner
Black Bear Diner keeps things rustic, classic, and Western. The interiors are full of dark wood, bear paraphernalia, and throwback signage. The menus are designed to look like old-timey newspapers. And the food? It's pretty much the same sort of stuff your grandpa might have had for breakfast -- and that's a good thing.
The chain's pancakes seriously benefit from this retro approach: They're absolutely bursting with down-home, throwback, comfort-centric goodness. One Reddit user captured their appeal by simply stating, "Black Bear Diner makes some damn good pancakes." Indeed they do. These pancakes are uniquely robust and utterly loaded with butter, which leads to delectably golden-brown edges. This plays beautifully with syrup (or sweet add-ons like whipped cream or fresh fruit); it's a little bit salty, a little bit sweet, and a whole lot delicious. They're also full of rich sweet cream flavor, which gives them a depth no other pancakes on this list quite manage to capture. For old-school goodness, look to the Black Bear.
A chain needs a certain amount of confidence -- almost to the point of arrogance -- to declare itself not just the house of pancakes, but the international house of pancakes. But we must admit that IHOP makes a strong case that it deserves such a moniker. This classic breakfast joint does indeed serve some excellent flapjacks. Its default buttermilk pancakes are delicious unto themselves: They're fluffy, richly buttered, sturdy enough to bear a whole lot of syrup, and boast a delightful note of vanilla that goes surprisingly well with savory sides.
But IHOP's greatest strength is the decadence of its pancakes. There's a reason Reddit users name such confectionery creations as IHOP's tres leches pancakes as their favorite offering; they really are that good. This is a chain unafraid to go out-there with its toppings: whipped cream, chocolate, cinnamon, strawberries, and all sorts of other goodies are in the mix. It might be a little much for some diners, but for those who like to have a bit of fun with their breakfast staples, IHOP is the place to be.
As you might imagine, Biscuitville, which can be found in Virginia and the Carolinas, focuses on biscuits. Said biscuits are utterly heavenly, and definitely the main draw. But they are not, in fact, the only thing this delightful little chain sells. Biscuitville also turns out fluffy, crisp-edged, butter-rich pancakes, which deserve just as much attention as its titular goodie.
These pancakes are incredibly simple: They're made from a classic buttermilk batter and served with a golden scoop of butter and an amber drizzle of maple syrup. You can order one, or a classic three-stack. Straightforward stuff -- so what earns them such a high spot on this list? Basically, Biscuitville does everything right with its pancakes. They're cloudlike in texture, yet also irresistibly crisp. They're full of mellow sweetness, tempered by just the right amount of saltiness. They soak up butter and syrup without ever becoming leaden, soggy, or mushy. In short, they're pretty much everything a pancake should be.
A name like "Village Inn" inspires visions of quaint, homey deliciousness in a prospective diner. We're happy to report that this chain lives up to its name. Village Inn serves up classic American dishes of all varieties, but its pancakes are among its best creations. First and foremost, these pancakes are big. They're also a tiny bit less sweet than many other entries on this list, which is a nice change of pace and especially attractive to those diners without a sweet tooth. Texturally, they absolutely dazzle: Somehow, these pancakes are both dreamily tender and utterly sturdy. Lakes of butter and syrup can be comfortably loaded onto these pancakes.
This sturdiness makes them a great base for some of the Village Inn's more out-there creations. Its pumpkin supreme pancakes are especially divine: We're talking pumpkin pancakes, caramel sauce, something called "pumpkin spice supreme cream," and chopped pecans. It's basically autumn in pancake form, and it's absolutely delectable.
Hash House A Go Go
Many restaurants on this list pride themselves on good old-fashioned cooking. Hash House A Go Go does too ... sort of. This chain bills itself as offering "twisted farm food," an approach exemplified by its irresistible pancakes.
There are two things you need to know about these pancakes: They're scrumptious and they're huge. As one Yelp reviewer put it, "Delicious pancakes with no wait during breakfast. The portions are lumberjack sized." These enormous discs of deliciousness come in all sorts of inventive flavors: This is probably the only place in the world where you can get Snickers, bacon, and butterscotch almond pancakes. While these zany flavors are delightful, earthier options, like the blackberry granola pancake, are just as good. There's a tremendous depth of flavor to these pancakes, which also boast a lush texture no amount of mix-ins can disrupt. All that, and tractor wheel-sized portions? It doesn't get any better.
The Flying Biscuit Cafe
It's a testament to the quality of The Flying Biscuit Cafe that its pancakes are so good -- it chooses a totally different carbohydrate for its name, after all. But that's just how excellent this Southern eatery is. One Yelp reviewer hit the nail on the head in their rave: "Hubby's meal had pancakes which were out of this world, topped with peaches and whipped cream ... We will eat here again it's just so good."
What's the secret to this success? As far as we can tell, it's a matter of quality. Every single element of The Flying Biscuit Cafe's pancakes is top-tier. The pancakes themselves are full of deep, rich flavor that's a little bit toasty, a little bit sweet, a little bit eggy, and altogether perfect. Everything that gets put into them or atop them is just as good. The peach compote that crowns the organic oatmeal pancakes, for example, is full of honeyed, fruity, Georgia-riffic flavor. These pancakes are also marvelously fluffy and never succumb to syrup sogginess.
Another Broken Egg Cafe
Generally speaking, most breakfast joints take one of two approaches: classic, down-home, old-fashioned fare, or edgy, new-wave, innovative food. Another Broken Egg Cafe takes a different tack by choosing both paths -- and doing so really, really well. Classic buttermilk pancakes are on offer here, and they're absolutely dreamy. They're lush with butter, take well to syrup, boast a tender texture, and are always served at the peak of golden brown perfection. There's a hint of delectable sweetness to the batter as well, which never verges on cloying.
Then there are the chain's more decadent creations. Consider the Bourbon Street pancakes. This dish tops the classic buttermilk stack with bananas, pecans, whipped cream, and, best of all, an utterly luscious rum butter sauce. The lemon blueberry goat cheese pancakes are similarly delicious. High quality ingredients are the secret here, and a genius for combining them in just the right proportions. Want a tried-and-true take on pancakes? Go to Another Broken Egg Cafe. What something entirely new? Same deal. When it comes to their pancakes, you simply can't go wrong.
First Watch is known for putting a unique spin on breakfast. One glance at the menu reveals items like the barbacoa quesadilla Benedict and cinnamon spice churros. These foodstuffs are certainly eye-catching, but it is the humble pancake that truly captures First Watch's charms. These pancakes are truly, deeply, and thoroughly out-of-this-world delicious.
The standard pancakes are huge, velvety, and rich. They're distinguished by a uniquely browned butteriness and a faint, robust sweetness. With nothing more than a drizzle of syrup and a pat of butter, they're a spectacular breakfast unto themselves. But First Watch's other pancakes simply cannot be ignored. They're luxuriant, to be sure -- we're talking pumpkin pancakes, lemon ricotta pancakes, and a variety of seasonal options. One Reddit user highlighted a particular favorite by raving, "I love their carrot cake pancake." These creations are unique, intensely flavorful, and exquisitely balanced tributes to the power of the pancake. What more could a breakfast fan ask for?
Read the original article on Daily Meal.