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Easy make-ahead camping pancakes

If you're overloading, car camping, or taking a short backpacking trip, good food is important. We wanted to share one of our go-to recipes for camping pancakes. Made from ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen, you'll be surprised at how easy these are to make.
make ahead pancakes

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Nalgene and pancake ingredients

A chilly morning in camp is only made better by a warm and filling breakfast. Hot coffee, bacon, and pancakes are a good way to start an action-packed day. 

If you’re wanting to find a good camp pancake recipe, many people start with a store-bought mix. These have a lot of additives we can’t pronounce, or they require whisks and bowls, making clean-up a chore. They can also lack taste, leaving you to drench them with syrup, which makes a sticky clean-up and more stuff to pack-in. But, we’ve found a from-scratch recipe that has become our go-to way to make camp pancakes.

Why has this recipe become a favorite among Option Gray Staff? Using a wide-mouth water bottle (like a standard Nalgene or similar bottle) you minimize clean-up. The recipe also tastes best when the batter is just barely mixed (with lots of lumps), as it is what gives the pancakes the light and fluffy texture. It’s a minimal effort but maximum taste, so you don’t even need to bring syrup.

Give it a try the next time you’re in camp (or even at home) and we promise it’ll be a keeper.

1. Premix the essentials at home

Nalgene and pancake ingredients
With a little bit of prep at home, you’ll pack-in three parts for pancakes. 

Milk mixture (Wet)

In a wide-mouth Nalgene or similar water bottle, mix:

  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of water, depending on the thickness you prefer

Flour mixture (Dry)

In a quart-size Ziploc bag, mix:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsps of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 3 tbspns of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt

Two eggs

Grab two eggs, which you’ll add to the milk mixture before cooking.

2. Add the eggs to the wet milk mixture

Nalgene and pancake ingredients
Just crack both eggs right into the Nalgene.

Tip: If you are prepping ingredients at home and you’ll be cooking the pancakes within 4 days (or 96 hours), you can go ahead and add the eggs to the wet mixture ahead of time, making it even faster.

Nalgene and pancake ingredients
Give it a good shake. Note that you’ll want to make sure the yolks break and get mixed well into the milk mixture, so use a camp fork as a makeshift whisk.

3. Combine the dry and wet mixtures

Nalgene and pancake ingredients
Open the dry flour mixture and add it directly to the wet milk mixture.

4. Pour the pancake batter

pancake batter in pan
On a pre-heated non-stick skillet, pour the batter directly from the water bottle onto the pan. The temperature varies depending on the heat source, but a medium or just-below-medium setting is usually a good place to start.

5. Flip the pancake

pancake bubbling in pan
Bubbles will begin to form at the top of the pancake and you’ll notice the sheen change from shiny to more matte in appearance. This is the indication to look for to know when to flip it.

Tip: Notice how lumpy the batter is? You will have lumps of the dry mix visible throughout the pancake. This is good and is what you want to see. Over-mixed batter creates flat pancakes. We promise you won’t be able to taste those lumps once it’s done cooking!

6. Eat and enjoy

camp pancakes
Depending on how hungry you are, and what else you’re eating, plan on 2-3 pancakes per person.

7. Clean-up

Dirty Nalgene
Add water to the water bottle while you’re eating breakfast to start breaking down the leftovers. Give it a good shake and dump out the water. Repeat until the water bottle is “clean-enough” for camp standards.

Easy, scratch, make-ahead camping pancakes

Makes 16, 4″ pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of milk 
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla 
  • 1/2 cup oil 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of water, depending on the thickness you prefer 
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour 
  • 4 tsp of baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda 
  • 3 tbsp of sugar 
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 eggs

Make ahead

  1. Combine milk, oil, vanilla, and water in a wide-mouth water bottle. (Eggs can be added at this step if the pancakes will be made within the next 4 days or 96 hours.) Secure tightly and refrigerate.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a quart-size bag. Secure tightly and store in a cool, dry place.

The morning of

  1. Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium or slightly less than medium heat, depending on your heat source.
  2. Add eggs to wet milk mixture and shake to combine. Use a camp fork as a makeshift whisk, if necessary, to ensure the yolks are broken and thoroughly mixed.
  3. Add dry flour mixture to wet milk mixture and shake to combine. There will still be numerous dry lumps in the batter, which is good. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour batter directly onto the non-stick skillet. Oil is not needed.
  5. Wait until bubbles begin to form on the top of the pancake and the pancake top starts to look more matte than shiny.
  6. Use a spatula to flip the pancake, cooking it only about half the time as the first side.
  7. Serve immediately. 
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