Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes

Cornmeal ricotta pancakes with bananas and strawberries

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Sometimes missing the main ingredient for a dish leads to something even better.  That was the case with these Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes.  I woke up one Saturday morning with a craving for buttermilk pancakes but no buttermilk.  In the dark recesses of the refrigerator I did have some ricotta cheese that needed to be used, so I decided to substitute the buttermilk with ricotta. But you know how it goes; once you substitute one ingredient it opens the recipe up for substituting other ingredients.  Eventually you end up with a completely different recipe.  Man, I’m glad I didn’t have any buttermilk!

Update October, 2013

Since I first came up with this cornmeal ricotta pancake recipe back in 2011 it has been the only pancakes I’ve been making.  Every time I ask Bobby if he wants pancakes the response is “Absolutely, as long as it’s the Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes“. 🙂 I have only added a couple of suggested adjustments/substitutions/variations since, to the original recipe. One is, if you do have buttermilk, you can use buttermilk in place of regular milk or use a combination of the two.  The second variation came about the morning I didn’t have any lemon, so I substituted orange zest.  It was just as delicious.

Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes with a hint of lemon or orange |
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Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes Recipe
15 mins
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins

Fluffy, light pancakes with a hint of lemon or orange.  Perfect for a family weekend brunch.

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"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Breakfast
Yields: 8 pancakes
Recipe Author: MJ o MJ's Kitchen
  • 1 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk or milk/buttermilk combo
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup unbleached flour*, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • zest from 1 lemon or 1 orange o
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • Any fresh fruit*
  • Warm maple syrup
  1. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan to hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cornmeal to keep it from lumping. Cut the butter into 2 pieces and set on top of the cornmeal mix to soften and melt. Let rest until ready to add to the batter.
  2. Start heating up your pancake griddle on medium low heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar) and the lemon zest.
  4. In a measuring cup or bowl beat the eggs (with a fork or whisk). Add the ricotta. Beat well to incorporate the ricotta with the eggs.
  5. Combine the dry and wet ingredients (egg/ricotta mixture and milk/cornmeal mixture). Stir gently until ingredients are combined. Batter may be a little lumpy. (Do not over stir.) This is a thicker batter than most pancake batters, but it leads to light and fluffy pancakes.
  6. When the griddle is ready, coat the griddle with a touch of butter or margarine.
  7. Scoop about 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. This will make a 4 to 5 inch pancake. Cook until the bubbles on the surface start to pop and the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown and firm when lightly poked in the middle, about 3 minutes.
  8. Top the finished pancakes with fresh fruit and warm maple syrup. You won’t need much syrup because these pancakes are very moist and fluffy.
Kitchen Notes

Flours - For a lighter, healthier pancake, use 1/2 cup unbleached AP flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour.


Fruit - Strawberries and bananas are our favorite, but berries would also work.



Kitchen Science

A few years back I taught a week long summer camp with a friend of mine on Kitchen Science.  Playing in the kitchen making breads, cookies, and candy and getting to explore the science behind the results was so much fun!   So let’s have some fun and talk about the science of leavening agents.   I promise – no chemical formulas!

As you already know baking powder and baking soda are common leavening agents used in the baking of pancakes, waffles, quick breads and cookies.  Baking powder is actually baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) with an acidic element (usually cream of tartar) and cornstarch that prevents clumping.  When baking soda is placed in an acidic environment, a chemical reaction occurs. This chemical reaction forms carbon dioxide which forms bubbles in the batter.  When heat is applied, the reaction increases creating more carbon dioxide, and the batter rises even more.  That’s why quick breads get larger in the oven and pancakes grow on the griddle.

Ingredients such as buttermilk, molasses, lemon, vinegars, yogurts, and chocolate are some of the acidic elements used in baking to react with baking soda.  In the Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes the ricotta is the acidic element.  When no acid is included in the recipe, baking powder is used because the cream of tartar in baking powder provides the acid needed for the chemical reaction to occur.

So when you make pancakes, waffles, and quick breads be sure not to over work the batter.  Gently combine all of the ingredients then let the baking soda/acid reaction do its thing.  The reaction starts as soon as the dry ingredients come in contact with the wet ingredients, so if you stir the batter too much or too long, you’ll pop those carbon dioxide bubbles and the outcome will be flat.

If you like cornmeal ricotta pancakes, then you’ll probably like these as well.


Banana Buttermilk Waffles with Strawberries and Pecans




Apple Pecan Crepes with Cheddar Cheese


Apple Pecan Crepes with Cheddar Cheese





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16 Responses to “Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes”

  1. Carole from Carole's Chatter January 12, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

    Lovely presentation too. Cheers

  2. Steve November 19, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    I tried these this morning, much to the delight of the whole family! Problem is, now I’ve got leftover Ricotta taking up space in the fridge. Mmmm, what to do?
    I guess I can make a batch tomorrow. This time I’m going to try to remember the zest!

    • mj November 19, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

      YAY! So glad you like them and they are even better with the zest. 🙂 Guess you will have to make another batch so you’ll know and be able to use the rest of the ricotta. Thanks so much for your feedback Steve!!!

  3. kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing August 14, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    thanks so much for linking with Kids in the Kitchen! this is fabulous and I pinned and shared it!

    • mj August 14, 2012 at 8:51 am #

      Thanks Kelti!!! And thanks for hosting your blog hop!

  4. Connie May 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I would like to actually use buttermilk instead of the milk.
    Should I change the amount of baking powder in the recipe?

    Thanks for a great blog.
    My husband and I (in our early 50s) moved a few years ago to a house where we could
    plant a hobby orchard. I’m hoping by the time we retire the trees will
    have grown enough to produce enough for us and, as my husband likes to call them, our “landlords” . So far most everything has been
    eaten by the squirrels and crows. Did you have this problem and if so how did you resolve it?

    • mj May 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks Connie for your nice comments! Buttermilk works great with these! In fact, I made them with buttermilk yesterday morning. I did not change the amount of baking powder and it was fine. In reference to keeping those little varmints from eating your fruit, you could cover the trees with a light netting. I’m not sure if it would keep the squirrels out, but it was successful in scaring off the birds (most of them anyway). 🙂 I hope your orchard grows to give you an abundance of fruit!

  5. Russ May 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Fluffy and moist. I used half bread and half all purpose flour and the recipe came out as the best pancake recipe I’ve tried so far-I’ve tried a ton. The thickness of the batter made them easy to form as well. Thanks!

    • mj May 28, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      Russ, Thanks SO MUCH for the feedback! I’m thrilled that you loved them and thought they were “the best pancake recipe I’ve tried so far!” WOW!!!! Does that make my day, week, month – or what!?!?! Please share with your friends and thanks again!

  6. lisa March 22, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    These look divine! Thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday 🙂

  7. Alea February 6, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Your pancakes love fantastic! I love experimenting in the kitchen. I really appreciated your scientific notes. When my daughter was nervous before her first chemistry class I told her it was justlike cooking only you couldn’t eat the results. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this with the Gallery!

  8. April @ The 21st Century Housewife February 6, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I know exactly what you mean – once you start experimenting, it’s addictive! I really like what you’ve done with these pancakes – the cornmeal and ricotta must give a fabulous flavour and texture. Thank you for sharing this post with the Gallery of Favorites.

  9. Sally May 20, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    I cooked these last weekend and we all loved them!


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