Around the world in 21 pancakes


Around the world in 21 pancakes

by Esme Curtis14 February 2023

In honour of Shrove Tuesday, we’ve put together a guide to pancakes from around the world. So whether you’re looking for something sweet or savoury, gluten free or vegan, we have the perfect pancake for you.

Around the world in 21 pancakes

In honour of Shrove Tuesday, we’ve put together a guide to pancakes from around the world. So whether you’re looking for something sweet or savoury, gluten free or vegan, we have the perfect pancake for you.

Esme is the Recipe Editor at Great British Chefs. She particularly loves Chinese and Japanese food and owns far too many cookbooks.

Esme is the Recipe Editor at Great British Chefs. She particularly loves Chinese and Japanese food and owns far too many cookbooks.

Esme is the Recipe Editor at Great British Chefs. She particularly loves Chinese and Japanese food and owns far too many cookbooks.

Esme is the Recipe Editor at Great British Chefs. She particularly loves Chinese and Japanese food and owns far too many cookbooks.

Pretty much every ingredient you can think of has either been made into a pancake or at the very least mixed into one. Since pancakes are typically, well, flat as a pancake, they can very easily be made even with flours that don’t contain gluten, which is to say, almost anything. In fact, if you can make a flour out of it you can probably make a pancake out of it too.

This means that everything from grains like rice, barley and corn to pulses like chickpeas, lentils and mung beans have been used in pancake batters across the world. The flexible nature of pancakes also makes them almost impossible to define. Does something need to be made from a loose batter to count as a pancake, or are doughs allowed? Can pancakes be made in a mould or should they always be free-form? Can they be deep-fried or only pan-fried?

For the sake of this article, we’ve attempted to introduce some order into the lawless land of pancakes. This list mostly sticks to dishes that are made from a batter rather than a dough - although Chinese spring pancakes, which are more like flatbreads, also get an honourable mention. We’ve also avoided deep-fried fritter-like pancakes, including those that literally have the word pancake in their name, like the Samoan panikeke.

Even with those rules in place, there are still easily over a hundred different pancake varieties we could have picked, and this list is far from comprehensive. Read on to learn more about just a small selection of pancakes that there are to discover, and pick up some new recipes to shake things up on Shrove Tuesday along the way.

Arepa di pampuna

These pumpkin pancakes from the Dutch Caribbean are often eaten for breakfast, but are also popular as snacks. Despite their bright yellow colour and the name ‘arepa’, these pancakes are actually made from wheat flour, not cornmeal. The colour comes from the fact that they’re made from lots of cooked pumpkin. The pumpkin gives these pancakes a very moist, dense, almost custardy texture rather than the fluffy, cake-like texture of an American-style buttermilk pancake. You can make them with canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin that has been boiled and mashed.

Bánh xèo

Bánh xèo are a crispy, savoury Vietnamese pancake made from coconut milk and rice flour. They are typically eaten wrapped in lettuce and herbs, and dipped in a spicy dipping sauce called nước chấm, like rice paper rolls. They are usually stuffed with pork belly and prawns.


These yeasted Moroccan pancakes - also known as baghrir - look a little like a larger version of the pancakes used to make qatayef (see below) or very thin crumpets. Beghrir have a lacy, honeycomb-like texture, dotted with lots of tiny holes. They are only cooked on one side, and traditionally eaten with a butter and honey syrup.

Beiju de mandioca

Beiju de mandioca, or cassava pancakes, are a pancake that have their roots in indigenous Brazilian culture. Beiju de mandioca are traditionally made from fresh cassava that is painstakingly soaked and hand-ground to a fine pulp, then squeezed until dry and passed through a sieve. The fresh cassava meal is cooked inside banana leaves or on a hot pan with a pinch of salt until it forms a soft, gooey pancake, perfect for topping with butter.


Blintzes are an Ashkenazi Jewish pancake. They are traditionally made by filling thin crêpes, which have only been cooked on one side, with farmer’s cheese – a drier cottage cheese. The stuffed crêpes are then fried in a pan until crisp, and topped with jam. They make a delicious not-too-sweet dessert or brunch dish.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Bacon and Syrup

In the USA pancakes are a breakfast staple. They go by many names - hotcakes, griddle cakes, hoe cakes - but are almost always thick and fluffy. Arguably the most iconic American pancake is the buttermilk pancake. Buttermilk pancakes are a decadent pancake made from buttermilk and white wheat flour, often served with bacon and pancake syrup (a mixture of corn syrup and artificial vanilla flavouring). Although the combination of savoury and sweet may seem strange, it’s certainly not unique. Swedish raggmunk - or potato pancakes - are often served with chives, bacon and jam.


Chorreadas are a Costa Rican pancake with their roots in indigenous cooking. They are made from fresh corn blended up with eggs, milk, some flour and sugar. They are very similar to the more well-known Venezualan cachapas, although there are a few differences. Chorreadas tend to be sweeter than cahapas and use wheat flour rather than masa harina. Cachapas are also generally eaten folded in half and stuffed with queso de mano, a Venezuelan cheese, whereas chorreadas tend to be eaten flat, and topped with sour cream.


Flija is a giant, thick Albanian pancake cake. It’s made by cooking layers of pancakes directly on top of each other in a triangle pattern on a huge pan call a sač, roughly the size of a paella pan. The pancake is traditionally made over an open flame, and takes several hours to construct as it consists of so many different layers. It can be enjoyed as a dessert with jam and honey, or on the side of cheese.


The galette-saucisse is as simple as its name implies: a sausage (saucisse) wrapped up in a Breton buckwheat crêpe (galette). And yet, despite its simplicity, this sausage pancake is so beloved in Brittany that an entire organisation has been set up, devoted to protecting it: l’Association de la Sauvegarde de la Galette-Saucisse Bretonne, or the Society for the Protection of the Breton Galette-Saucisse. The organisation has even written up ten ‘commandments’ for vendors on how to prepare these beloved pancakes properly.


Lahoh - also known as canjeero and anjero - are a Somali pancake-like flatbread similar to Ethiopian injeera. They were adopted from Yemeni food, and are typically fermented slowly and often eaten with banana. At breakfast some people like to pour Somali tea called shaah over their lahoh, and mix it up with ghee, sugar and sesame oil.

Mango pancakes

There is something adorable about Hong Kong’s mango pancake. A light yellow crêpe, rich with eggs, is filled with a large piece of squared-off mango and lots and lots of whipped cream. Although they look simple these pancakes are actually quite tricky to make, as the crêpe is supposed to be extremely pale and not browned at all.


Necci are a gluten-free Italian pancake made with chestnut flour. They aren’t made with any milk, egg or butter, and are traditionally cooked in a special pair of cast iron pans called testi. Both pans are preheated, and then the batter is poured into one pan. The other pan is pressed on top of the batter, and used to cook it from above.

Pan bati

Pan bati, or beaten bread, is a type of cornmeal pancake from Aruba, an island in the Caribbean. It’s often enjoyed for breakfast cut up into wedges with butter and jam or sugar. The name comes from the way the pancake batter is whisked furiously before being cooked. Pan bati can either be made from cornmeal or from leftover funchi, an Arubian cornmeal dish similar to set polenta. The lack of gluten in cornmeal makes these pancakes extra tender and easy to make at home.

Panqueca de carne moída

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a plate of Brazilian panqueca de carne moída was in fact a plate of enchiladas. Panqueca de carne moída - or ground beef pancakes - are essentially a cross between enchiladas and lasagne. Thin crêpes are stuffed with ground beef, then covered with tomato sauce and cheese and baked in the oven. It’s the sort of dish that sounds like comfort food even if you’ve never had it before. This is a great dish to make with a stack of leftover crêpes from pancake day.

Patishapta pitha

These sweet Bangladeshi pancakes are made from a mixture of rice flour, semolina and wheat flour. They are typically stuffed with coconut and jaggery or khoya, a South Asian fresh cheese. Traditionally the rice flour for patishapta pitha would be made fresh, but shop-bought flour works well too.


New Brunswick, Canada, is home to ployes, a thin, hole-speckled Acadian pancake made from a mixture of buckwheat flour and wheat flour. They can be eaten with syrup and butter, but are also enjoyed as an alternative to bread with savoury dishes. Acadians are a Canadian ethnic minority descending from French settlers, and this pancake reflects the Acadian people’s historical need for frugality. Unlike the luxurious buttermilk pancake, ployes are generally made without eggs, sugar or milk. The distinctive yellow colour of ployes comes from the local silverhull buckwheat, which is yellow rather than grey like French buckwheat.


Qatayef, also known as atayef, is a beautiful, stuffed semolina pancake enjoyed across the Middle East. The unstuffed bubbly pancakes look slightly like very thin crumpets, and the finished qatayef can be either open ended or fully sealed like a Cornish pasty. They are often eaten at Ramadan, and stuffed with dried fruit and walnuts, or a sweet cream called ashta and pistachios. They can be deep fried or eaten as is, soaked in orange blossom syrup.

Spring pancakes

Chinese spring pancakes or chūn bǐng are best known for being the pancakes which accompany Peking duck. They are very thin and made by mixing wheat flour with boiling water. Several small lumps of dough are rolled together into a flat disk and cooked in a pan. The thin layers of the cooked dough are then carefully pulled apart, resulting in soft, gossamer-thin pancakes.


These fluffy Norwegian pancakes - called ‘lapper’ for short - are very similar to Scotch pancakes, but sweeter and richer. They tend to be eaten with jam or brunost, a sweet Norwegian cheese made from caramelised whey.


These spicy Ghanaian plantain pancakes are the namesake of Akwasi Brenya-Mensa’s restaurant in the Africa Centre in Southwark, and a delicious use for extremely ripe plantains. Tatale come together very quickly, and are often had as a side dish with other Ghanaian dishes like aboboi.


These round and fluffy yeasted pancakes look very similar to round Danish æbleskiver, but are made from coconut milk and rice and flavoured with cardamom. They are eaten across Eastern Africa, and often enjoyed for breakfast with tea.