The Great Big List of 50 Pancake Topping Ideas

Saturday mornings are pancake mornings at our house. In fact, I was looking through some old videos yesterday (on my day off) and I had recorded some footage of my then-toddler daughter and I cooking pancake shapes and then smothering them in syrup. That is evidence enough that this has been a tradition for at least a decade around here.

This morning was no different: chocolate chip pancakes on the cast iron grill topped with some mixed berries and a generous slog of maple syrup (…did I mention we live in Canada?)

My plate looked particularly photogenic this morning, and so I took a shot before digging in. All of this, the old videos, the Saturday routine, the fresh fruit and maple syrup of course got me thinking about how we fall into routine and stick with the things that are comfortable. Chocolate chip pancakes are amazing, but we don’t veer far off course of the toppings list.

So, if I someday soon decided to stray a little bit from my patriotic imperative of supporting the national maple syrup industry, here are some of the things I might consider as a good starting list of familiar, unique, interesting, tasty, and maybe a little off-the-wall ideas to add to or on top of my Saturday pancakes:

  1. maple syrup (obviously)
  2. powdered sugar
  3. butter
  4. strawberries
  5. chocolate
  6. fruit syrup
  7. banana slices
  8. chopped toasted almonds
  9. shredded coconut
  10. mixed berries
  11. peach slices
  12. hazelnut spread
  13. whipped cream
  14. caramel sauce
  15. crumbled bacon
  16. lemon sugar
  17. cinnamon sugar
  18. lox
  19. blueberries
  20. fruit compote
  21. vanilla ice cream
  22. dulce de leche
  23. peanut butter
  24. baked apple slices
  25. poached egg
  26. yogurt
  27. raisins
  28. toasted macadamia nuts
  29. cream cheese
  30. honey
  31. marshmallow cream
  32. crumbled graham crackers
  33. cottage cheese
  34. avocado slices
  35. grilled ham
  36. candied ginger
  37. nut butter
  38. apple sauce
  39. corn syrup
  40. ricotta
  41. raspberries
  42. canned pears
  43. lemon curd
  44. mango coulis
  45. pineapple slices
  46. grilled spam
  47. hot fudge
  48. rhubarb sauce
  49. candied nuts
  50. chopped candy

…and now go check out my chocolate chip pancake recipe if you need some inspiration for where to put all these amazing options for toppings.

What’s the best first cast iron pan to buy?

First, always consider that the tool you’re most likely to get the most use out of is the tool you have the most reason to use. Buy a pan to suit the type of cooking you like to do.

A big flat skillet will let you cook big batches of pancakes or grilled sandwiches.

A small frying pan will be your breakfast companion for years to come.

A generous dutch oven will serve you well for chilis, deep frying and crunchy sourdough breads.

So, the simple answer here is buy the pan you need first and build out a collection from there.

But, you ask, what would the Cast Iron Guy recommend?

You’ve read all about this cast iron movement and you’re looking at your chipped and scratched collection of aluminum pans from the supermarket and pondering leaping into building a legacy collection of cookware and begin replacing your nonstick throwaways.

You can’t go wrong with a medium-sized frying pan, of course. A simple ten to twelve inch pan is a staple of any collection and will be of great use in any kitchen.

But the piece I recommend, the piece that sits atop my stove and rarely ever finds it’s way back into the cupboard, the piece that I would buy as a gift for a friend or family member who was debating their first acquisition is a round griddle.

I own the Lodge 10.5 inch round griddle. *not a paid endorsment

This piece is a low walled, simple round, smooth pan with a bit of a lip around the rim. It’s simple to use and maintain, and cooks just about everything day-to-day: grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, fried eggs, crepes & pancakes, and naan bread. It heats fast for warming leftovers. It packs well and I often take it local travelling to hotels (like when we go skiing in the mountians where we often have a kitchen but usually not-so-great pans.) It’s an all-in-one workhorse for egg sandwiches, grilling sausages, and my lunchtime meals-for-one. It goes into the oven as a roasting pan for numerous meat and vegetable dishes, and if I need to broil anything it’s the pan I turn to first.

And if I was rich, I’d buy these by the caselot and hand them out as gifts.

So, my recommendation: you need a great first pan, and you are not looking to fill a specific cooking need, I don’t think you can go too wrong with a simple round griddle.

Saturday Chocolate Chip Pancakes

My twenty inch cast iron grill pan sees service at least once a week (when we’re home, that is) on Saturday mornings as a pancake making workstation.

For at least a decade our family tradition is a fresh batch of these simple breakfast treats.

1 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of white milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips

The flour, sugar, and baking powder get mixed together in a medium bowl.

The egg is whisked in a 2 cup measuring cup, then I add the oil, vanilla and milk and mix again.

The wet and dry are combined, mixed lightly, populated with the chocolate chips, and let to sit for about 10 minutes to hydrate.

Batter is poured in 1/4 cup portions onto a hot cast iron grill pan and cooked to desired doneness.

We serve it all up with maple syrup and a hot cup of coffee.

When Good Iron Goes Bad

My beloved twenty inch cast iron grill pan developed an ugly blemish over the autumn months.

A scar. A scab. A patch of failing seasoning crusted, bubbled and flaked off leaving a rough spot the size of a medium pancake on the middle edge of an otherwise awesomely seasoned piece.

This isn’t beauty-shaming. A good quarter of the grill was rendered useless for cooking by a spot of flaking seasoning.

I worked around it. At first.

Then I ignored it.

But it only got worse.

Three years ago I had cleaned this particular pan down to bare iron. I ran it through the deep cleaning cycle of the oven and burned off all of the seasoning. It was a mess. It took some serious love in the backyard and four rounds of reseasoning love to get it back into service as our Saturday pancake grill.

But a January mid-winter in mid-Canada is neither the time nor the place to strip a pan to bare iron.

Solution? Elbow grease, some steel wool, and an hour of grinding the blistering patch of dead seasoning into a smooth, bare spot. Then three rounds of hot-oven-baking-on some fresh carbon layers.

The results were successfully tested this morning… and those pancakes were delicious.