How to Make: Brown Butter Cornmeal Pancakes

It could be the texture…The variegated grains of organic ground cornmeal massaging my palate, each bite a sensational experience. But it could also be the impossibly golden color, irresistible smell of brown buttery richness, or the impeccable cake like texture that entices grandiose ideas of devouring the whole goddamn batch…shamelessly. I want to make these all the time. Regular pancakes are dead to me, they’re like an ex, sometimes popping up on my Instagram feed, but we’re never, ever getting back together. I’m married to these cornmeal pancakes, we’ve eloped. During our honeymoon, we’ll dive together, splashing into bountiful oceans of the most perfect lemon berry syrup, grade a maple syrup, maybe even sharing a mimosa or two along the way (shh, don’t tell).

You’re going to love these pancakes as much as I do, they’ll complete you, make your day, and maybe even be your best friend. They’re incredibly simple to put together, and you probably have all of the ingredients laying around. This recipe makes a relatively small batch (8 average sized pancakes), so if you’re making them for a larger group, double the batch and crank your oven up to 200°F (93°C) to keep them warm while you scoop, chat and flip.

If you’re a thymeforbreakfast regular, you know that I’m adamant about the use of good, quality ingredients. In most recipes, the flavors of the most basic components of the dish are what really shines through. I used organic free range eggs, grass fed butter (and buttermilk), organic grains and high quality vanilla extract. These things are absolutely optional but are capable of imparting a much greater depth of flavor into the final product. Before you make this recipe, know that there’s one thing you’re required to do. Tag me on Instagram (@thymeforbreakfast) after you’ve made them so that I can relieve the golden days (tee hee, see what I did there…golden…like golden brown, never mind).


  1. What type of pancake griddle should I use? — Pancakes like medium heat that is evenly distributed across a relatively nonstick surface. Don’t you want to give your pancakes what they want? Use a large flat griddle pan like this one or even a dedicated, electric pancake griddle, available from Bed Bath and Beyond.
  2. Can I make the pancake batter beforehand? — I do this all the time. You can whip up the batter the night before, cover it with a lid, and then refrigerate until you’re ready to cook in the morning. The batter will thicken slightly, but will still cook up all the same. You can add a little more buttermilk if you feel the batter is too thick.
  3. What can I substitute for buttermilk? — Apparently most people don’t just keep quarts of the stuff lying around like I do (for fried chicken emergencies). If you have regular milk (whole, 2%, or whatever floats your boat), just add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the milk, stir, and let it sit for a few minutes. Magically you will have buttermilk that just as good as the store bought stuff!
  4. What should I serve with these pancakes? — Recently, I invited some friends over on a Friday night and they ended up staying past Saturday morning. When we all woke up, I threw together a quick batch of these and put my friend Evan on espresso duty. I use the Breville Barista Express, and even though Evan’s tamping skills could use a refresh, the Breville pulls a perfect shot every time. Serve these pancakes with café au lait, hash with runny yolks, or even do it chicken and waffles style with some pickle brined, fried boneless chicken thighs. I’m just saying, whatever you serve with these is definitely going to be enjoyed. For those who care, I’m currently brewing Hayes Valley Espresso, by Blue Bottle. Its ridiculously delicious and I love it.

Brown Butter Cornmeal Pancakes

with lemon berry syrup

By: Scott Smith

“These have a golden brown, buttery country richness that will keep you coming back for more. — S”

Makes: 8 Pancakes + 2 Cups Syrup

Prep Time: 10 Min Bake Time: 15 Min Ready In: 25 Minutes

Ingredients (for the cornmeal pancakes)

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (170 g)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (75 g)
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter (43 g)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (300 ml)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients (for the Lemon Berry Syrup)

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (4 tbsp or about 2 lemons)
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon (1 tbsp)

Make the cornmeal pancakes

  1. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Combine the egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat until it is bubbly, fragrantly nutty, and a deep amber color. You’ll know the butter is done when it stops making a popping sound and the brown bits settle to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Pour the buttermilk and egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk just to combine. The batter should be slightly clumpy. Pour the browned butter into the batter and whisk to combine. If you are making the lemon berry syrup, set the finished batter aside and allow it to rest while you whip up the syrup. If not, heat your pancake griddle or skillet to medium heat with a little bit of cooking oil. When the griddle has come up to temperature, add about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake, cooking just until the bubbles have popped on the surface and the bottom has browned lightly. Flip the pancake and cook for a further 1 minute on the other side.
  5. Serve the cornmeal pancakes warm with the lemon berry syrup, maple syrup, or the topping of your choice (fresh strawberries and mascarpone cream go particularly well together).

Make the lemon berry syrup

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium high heat until the luscious juices have burst from the berries and all of the sugar has dissolved. Reduce slightly to concentrate the flavors. 5–10 minutes if using fresh berries and 10–15 minutes if using frozen.

You can find @thymeforbreakfast on Instagram!

Disclosure: Some of the links above may be affiliate links. These are links directly to products I love and use on a daily basis. Affiliate links help to support Thyme for Breakfast with a small monetary commission, without any added cost on your end. Please email if you have any questions.

Thymeforbreakfast Fun Recipes, Baking Tips, and How-To’s with Food Blogger Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Written by

a desolate soul. moored on an isle of flash fiction, science, and carb-borne euphoria.

Thymeforbreakfast Fun Recipes, Baking Tips, and How-To’s with Food Blogger Scott Smith