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How to Make Icelandic Pancakes

Kristjan is an amateur chef who has been experimenting with all kinds of food preparation for years. If he can make this, then so can you.

Icelandic pancake with whipped cream and jam.

Icelandic pancake with whipped cream and jam.

The Origins of the Icelandic Pancake

The Icelandic pancake is thought to have originated from the French crepe, arriving in Iceland with French sailors who came here to fish. Local housewives took the idea of the crepe and adjusted it to suit local customs. Contrary to the French crepe, the Icelandic pancake is most often used as a dessert or as a part of a cake table. There are also some noticeable differences in the recipes themselves, such as the use of baking soda, sugar and vanilla extract in most Icelandic versions.

The most important part of making Icelandic pancakes is the skillet. You need a cast-iron skillet that has been prepared beforehand. If you don't already have a suitable skillet, you can prepare one by placing a bit of butter on it and letting the butter fry on the skillet. Repeat this a few times until you get a thin membrane on your skillet. The first few pancakes using a new skillet will most likely be disastrous, but that's just part of developing a good skillet. Also, you must never clean the skillet with soap. Just use water and wipe it with a rag. With time, it will start to look like the one below. But enough of that—let's make pancakes.

The specialized Icelandic pancake skillet. Darkened from heavy use.

The specialized Icelandic pancake skillet. Darkened from heavy use.

Approximate Time and Yield

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

1 hour 15 min

1 hour 30 min

25–30 pancakes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 4.5 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • about half a cup butter, melted

Step 1: Making the Pancake Mixture

  1. Measure the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl.
  2. Add about 3/4 of the milk while whisking continuously, continue to whisk until there are no clumps left.
  3. Next, add the eggs, vanilla extract and the rest of the milk into the bowl while continuing to whisk.
  4. Melt the butter. You can either do it in a microwave or by heating water in a pot and then add butter to a small bowl that is placed in the water.
  5. When the butter has melted you can add it to the mixture while whisking.
  6. The consistency of the mixture should be similar to or a little thicker than cream. If it is too thick you can add a little milk until you are satisfied with the thickness.
This is the best way to melt butter for the mixture. Just remember to use a dishwasher safe plastic bowl or a glass bowl, which is even better.

This is the best way to melt butter for the mixture. Just remember to use a dishwasher safe plastic bowl or a glass bowl, which is even better.

Step 2: Cooking the Pancakes

When the mixture is ready we can start the hard part. First, you need to preheat the skillet with a small amount of butter. It's best to use a medium-low setting or any setting below that which would burn your pancakes.

When the skillet is hot, take a suitable amount of the mixture and pour it on the skillet while at the same time turning it so that the mixture runs over the entire skillet. As you do that you also want to try to have the layer of the mixture as thin as possible. This is tricky and will most likely take a few tries before being successful. It'll make things easier if you can find a ladle that is just the right size for the skillet you are using, but that's not really essential.

You then need to have the bottom of the pancake cook until it turns light brown. It usually happens at about the same time as the top starts to get small holes in it. You can also take a peek by lifting the side of the pancake up.

Taking a quick peek. You can see the holes mentioned on top of the pancake. This one is ready to flip.

Taking a quick peek. You can see the holes mentioned on top of the pancake. This one is ready to flip.

You want to get them light brown like this.

You want to get them light brown like this.

Step 3: Flipping and Stacking

When ready, you flip the pancake by using a long thin metal spatula and finish cooking it on the other side. When finished you can start stacking them up and spreading sugar over them. This way the sugar semi-melts into the pancake and it makes it easier to roll them up.

Of course, if you want to use jelly and whipped cream instead then you can skip spreading sugar over them.

Icelandic pancakes with sugar, pilled up.

Icelandic pancakes with sugar, pilled up.

When you have finished making pancakes from all the mixture you can either start rolling them up as shown or just have them as is. The traditional Icelandic way is to roll them us with sugar, but it really depends on how you want to present them.

Rolled up Icelandic pancakes with sugar.

Rolled up Icelandic pancakes with sugar.

Bon Appetit

So there you have it—delicious Icelandic pancakes. If you enjoyed this recipe then remember to bookmark it for future reference and why not also share it with your friends and family. You can also click my name to see more recipes that I have made.

How Did You Like This Icelandic Pancake Recipe?

© 2018 Kristjan Matthiasson

Any Comments?

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 15, 2018:

The information about preparing the skillet was very interesting. The pancakes sound delicious.