Whole Wheat Orange-Cardamom Pancakes

November 10, 2022

Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I’m too excited about breakfast — specifically, Saturday morning breakfasts that last until lunch and involve cooking in your pajamas. Those a.m. feasts generally feature some sort of stack (lately it’s these Whole Wheat Orange-Cardamom Pancakes), because pancakes are the one of the few meals I enjoy just as much now as I did when I was five. Because they’re easy, rewarding, and make the whole house smell like butter. Because, sometimes, pancakes can be healthy and worthy of freezing to enjoy during the week. I never really appreciated that last point when I was five, but I’m sure my mother would have.

These 100% whole wheat pancakes, lightly spiced with cardamom and heavily spiked with orange (juice, zest, and extract), are the kind of thing both five-year-olds and their parents can agree on. If cardamom is too much for your kids’ palette, leave it out or replace it with a pinch of cinnamon.

Overhead shot of ingredients: an egg, an orange, whole wheat flour, and orange extract.

Whole Wheat Orange-Cardamom Pancakes: Ingredient Notes

Orange Extract. If you don’t have orange extract, leave it out. It’s one of those ingredients that my parents have in their suburb-sized kitchen but I definitely don’t keep in my prewar, Queens pad. The recipe will be slightly less citrusy, but no less delicious.

Whole Wheat Flour. According to America’s Test Kitchen, 100% whole wheat pancakes can be fluffier than white flour pancakes because of their low gluten content. When you mix the gluten in white flour with a liquid, the gluten strands tighten up and cause the pancakes to become flat and dense. Whole wheat pancakes, on the other hand, have less gluten so you don’t have to worry about tightening strands when you mix the batter. You can mix with abandon. 

Orange zest. Yes, it makes a difference! Not only does it add a slightly floral note that plays well with the flavor of cardamom, but there’s also a visual benefit: Flecks of zest scattered throughout toasted-brown pancakes is one reason this recipe is so special.

Up-close side view of pancake batter in a white bowl with a wooden spoon.

Orange juice. Replacing the liquid in pancakes (which is usually milk) with OJ adds extra flavor and natural sweetness. This recipe starts with 1 1/2 cups juice per 2 cups of flour. Feel free to add more if the batter is too dry — the consistency should be thick but somewhat pourable.

Neutral oil. Canola, vegetable, refined coconut, or other neutral oils have a higher smoke point than butter, so they are better for frying up pancakes. Whenever I use butter, I find that it ends up burning and smoking by the second batch. If you still want that butter flavor, heat a combo of butter and neutral oil in the skillet.

Sugar. There is no added sugar in these pancakes because I intend to drown them in maple syrup, and OJ adds a decent amount of natural sweetness. If you prefer a sweet-on-its-own pancake, add about 1 tablespoon of sugar to the batter. 

Up-close side view of a stack of whole wheat pancakes on a white plate with maple syrup.

What to do with leftover Whole Wheat Orange-Cardamom Pancakes

Leftovers can be frozen in a ziplock bag for a quick and easy breakfast during the week. I especially like them re-heated in a toaster or toaster oven and slathered with creamy almond butter.

More pancake recipes (clearly my favorite breakfast)

The Best 100% Whole Wheat Pancakes

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Banana Protein Pancakes (an essay)

Whole Wheat Orange-Cardamom Pancakes

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (17 votes, average: 4.41 out of 5)
breakfast American
By Samantha Serves: 5 (makes 15 pancakes)
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

100% whole wheat pancakes are great to freeze and enjoy as a quick, healthy breakfast during the week.


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups orange juice
  • Zest of one orange
  • 3/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (such as canola or vegetable), plus more for frying
  • Butter and pure maple syrup, for serving



In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 1/2 cups orange juice, zest, extract, and oil. Add the orange juice mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Adjust the consistency with additional flour or orange juice if needed- the batter should be thick but pourable. Let the batter rest for at least 5 minutes—the longer it rests, the fluffier the pancakes will be.


Heat a large skillet over medium-low. Once the pan is warm, add 1 ½ tablespoons of oil. Using ¼ cup measure for each pancake, pour batter into the pan. Cook until bubbles appear on top, then flip and continue to cook until both sides are golden brown (about 2 minutes per side). Transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet (this helps the edges stay crisp while you make the rest, but you can also just transfer them to a large plate). Repeat with the remaining batter, adding 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan for each batch.


Transfer to plates, dot with butter and drizzle with maple syrup. Or, eat them right off the wire rack while you make the next batch. Best served right away!


  • 375 Calories


If you don’t have orange extract, leave it out. The pancakes will be less citrusy, but no less delicious. There is no added sugar in these pancakes because I intend to drown them in maple syrup, and OJ adds a decent amount of natural sweetness. If you prefer a sweet-on-its-own pancake, add about 1 tablespoon of sugar to the batter.  Leftovers are great to freeze for a quick and easy breakfast during the week. Best if re-heated in the toaster or toaster oven.

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  • Reply
    Whole Wheat Orange-Cardamom Pancakes — American Home Cook | My Meals are on Wheels
    October 5, 2019 at 9:24 am

    […] via Whole Wheat Orange-Cardamom Pancakes — American Home Cook […]

  • Reply
    November 16, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    Is tapped on the stars thinking it might let me see reviews and it increased the votes by one. Not sure what star rating I accidentally gave by doing that. Maybe another method of rating the recipe would be better?

    • Reply
      November 17, 2021 at 6:58 am

      Hi Dan,

      You can view comments by scrolling below the recipe card and clicking on the comments bubble. I agree it’s not the best system but I’d have to change my website’s entire theme if I wanted to get rid of it.

      These pancakes are delicious, I hope you try!


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