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The Best Van Life Breakfast: Pancakes 8 Ways


Is chilly weather bringing on cravings for warm, spiced treats? If so, you’ll probably want to work pancakes into your breakfast rotation. Pancakes are a staple of van life cooking for a good reason. These fluffy, flavor-filled rounds give van dwellers all the satisfaction of fresh baked goods with all the ease of stovetop cooking. 

There are so many ways to customize a basic pancake recipe to create a never-ending variety of flapjacks. From sweet to savory, from healthy protein pancakes to trendy Japanese souffle pancakes, this list has something for everyone and every craving. We’ve scoured the web for some of the most exciting and diverse pancake recipes and compiled them here for your perusal.

Cover image by @vw_vanventure 

Photography: @vanlifegoeson

If you already have a favorite pancake recipe, you can use this list to get inspired for fillings and toppings to spice up your go-to pancakes. Our pick? This super simple Good Old Fashioned Pancakes recipe with only seven ingredients and two steps. 

People with dietary restrictions don’t need to miss out on the pancake party either. Luckily, pancakes are one of those magical foods that can be made gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, and even keto without losing their deliciousness. Just find a recipe that suits your needs to sub in for the ones below. We recommend these easy Allergy-Friendly Pancakes made with ingredients you can keep on hand in your pantry.

Choosing one foundational recipe to modify makes it easy to keep all of the necessary ingredients on hand, master the basic pancake-making steps, and still enjoy plenty of experimentation with different flavors. 

However, if you’re brand new to the pancake crew or just prefer the exact science of following one set of instructions from start to finish, we’ve included links to full recipes for each of our suggestions below. 

Whip up one of these recipes for a romantic Sunday breakfast with a view, a rustic campfire-cooked brunch, or even a quick breakfast-for-dinner at the end of a long workday. 

Photography: @gabby_debazin


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Why we love it: Start the day off right with a healthy yet undeniably delicious breakfast. These robust hotcakes make for the perfect post-workout meal because they pack a punch of protein with eggs, chia seeds, greek yogurt, and vanilla protein powder. The oat flour also offers hunger- and blood sugar-regulating fiber that will keep you feeling energized throughout your day. Australian van life bloggers Lockie and Ash suggest topping their hearty recipe with your choice of fresh fruit, nut butter, maple syrup, and more yogurt. In this case, a stack of pancakes might be just what the doctor ordered!


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Why we love it: Chocolate and peanut butter are a tried and true combination, and this recipe will have you falling in love with the pairing all over again. These fluffy pancakes offer the perfect balance of salty and sweet. You can also customize the ratio to your liking by experimenting with different types of peanut butter and different amounts of chocolate chips. The best thing about these indulgent circles? They are just as easy to make as your classic batch of pancakes. The cakes also don’t need any toppings to shine with flavor, although a drizzle of melted dark chocolate never hurts. 


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Why we love it: Who says pancakes have to be sweet? This mouthwatering recipe proves that even the savory-inclined among us can enjoy pancakes. These cheesy pancakes are made even more flavorful with the addition of caramelized green onions suspended throughout the batter and a fresh lime crema topping. The author also offers tempting suggestions of many other ingredients you can add to the mixture for variety as well as serving suggestions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The comforting, umami-filled bites might just become your new favorite fall meal. 

Photography: @the.adhoc.advanture


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Why we love it: The soft, fluffy mouthfeel of pancakes can’t be topped. That is unless you top them with crunchy granola. If you haven’t tried this amazing juxtaposition of textures, now is the time. For a simple version of this idea, sprinkle granola on top of your pancakespreferably paired with a chocolate spread and banana sliceslike @vanlifegoeson. If you have an oven in your van and are feeling more ambitious, you can make your own maple cinnamon granola and cook it into the pancakes themselves as seen in the recipe above. Although making granola from scratch can be a lot of work, you’ll be happy to have some extra homemade cereal on hand to use for quick breakfasts and wholesome hiking snacks.


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Why we love it: This flavor combo might sound familiar from classy brunch menus. Thankfully, you can take the five-star experience on the road by learning how to DIY these perfectly balanced pancakes. The recipe is surprisingly simple. It includes a pancake batter filled with rich ricotta cheese and fresh lemon juice and zest, plus a warm blueberry compote that makes the perfect topping. The bright flavors of these pancakes, served with a gloriously melting pat of butter, will be sure to put a smile on your face. 


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Why we love it: This recipe takes classic banana pancakes to the next level. It is a genius fusion between pancakes and the tasty rum-caramelized banana dessert called bananas foster. We can’t imagine anything more decadent than the sinful caramel sauce soaking into a stack of soft golden pancakes. Go one step further by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. While you might not want to indulge in this recipe every day, keep it in your back pocket as a special dessert to impress friends, family members, your significant other, or even yourself! Plus, the author has tested out vegan versions of the dish with great results.


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Why we love it: You’ve probably seen these pillowy, jiggly pancakes all over social media. Japanese souffle pancakes have been popular in their home country for a decade and have more recently become an obsession of foodies in the U.S. Their cloud-like texture and unique shapesimilar to an English muffinset them apart from traditional western flapjacks. The pancakes require some tricky techniques, including making a meringue, using a piping bag to shape the batter in the pan, and “steam baking” the cakes in a covered pan with a bit of water. While it might take a few tries to perfect this delicacy, you’re sure to be proud of yourself when you do get it right. Toppings can tend to overwhelm the delicate flavor and texture of these pancakes, so opt for a simple sprinkle of powdered sugar or fresh fruit and whipped cream. 

Photography: @easyeatsandexercise


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Why we love it: Looking for a recipe that feels like dessert but also trying to prioritize nutritional benefits? Why choose! We started this list with a recipe from van life cooks Lockie and Ash, and we’re going to end it with another of their healthy creations. These naturally gluten-free blueberry pancakes are easy to makejust mix all of the ingredients in one bowl and get to frying. What sets them above your run-of-the-mill blueberry pancake is a simple and relatively healthy cream cheese “frosting” sweetened with honey. Tart and tangy notes from the blueberries, cream cheese, and yogurt bring out the lovely sweetness of the pancakes.

Did you try any of these tempting recipes? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

Searching for more van life cooking ideas? Rec Van offers plenty of lifestyle inspiration in addition to helping you find the camper van of your dreams. Check out our healthy egg white mug bite recipe and our how-to video for keto peanut butter ice cream.