These sourdough pumpkin pancakes are a fluffy, delicious fall breakfast! They’re made with sourdough discard, milk kefir (or buttermilk), flour and pumpkin purée.
Who else is always excited for pumpkin season?
And what goes perfectly with a steamy mug of pumpkin coffee (or tea or chocolate) on a chilly fall morning? Pumpkin pancakes.
My in-laws have been major fans of Trader Joe's boxed pumpkin pancakes for years, and I've been quietly wondering how to make the same pancakes from scratch with pumpkin purée.
Happily, this recipe was ready with just a few tweaks to my usual pancake recipe.
These sourdough pumpkin pancakes are light, fluffy and taste like fall on a plate.
Can I Skip the Sourdough Starter?
The sourdough acts as the leaven in this recipe, making the pancakes light and fluffy.
If you don't already have a sourdough starter, I've had good success making a quick milk kefir sourdough starter or kombucha sourdough starter with both traditional wheat based flours and gluten-free rice flour.
Can These Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes Be Gluten-Free?
You'll need a gluten-free sourdough starter and all-purpose gluten-free flour (with xanthan gum). If your starter contains wheat, the pancakes will not be gluten-free.
I like to make gluten-free sourdough pancakes with a rice flour starter and Cup 4 Cup flour. Other AP gluten-free flours such as Bob's Red Mill's 1-to-1 and King Arthur's Measure for Measure should work well too.
If you're using gluten-free flour, you'll probably need to add a little extra liquid to the pancakes, because the xanthan gum acts as a thickener. Check the recipe notes for directions.
What Is Milk Kefir?
Milk kefir is a fermented dairy drink. It's kind of like a drinkable yogurt.
I like to make homemade milk kefir, but kefir should be easy to find next to the milk or yogurt in the grocery store.
Can I Use Regular Milk Instead of Milk Kefir?
Yes, but you'll need to ferment the batter in the fridge instead of at room temperature. The batter likely won't ferment as much as if you fermented it at room temperature.
If possible, I recommend using milk kefir or buttermilk. Check the recipe card notes for tips on how to make homemade buttermilk with dairy milk and white vinegar.
How to Make Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes
Ferment the Pumpkin Batter
Start by whisking together the pumpkin purée and a little milk kefir. This will help the pumpkin dissolve into the liquid.
Mix the pumpkin and kefir mixture in with the sourdough starter, flour, more milk kefir (or buttermilk) and a little sugar.
Cover the batter and let it ferment for at least two hours.
After two hours, you should see tiny bubbles beginning to form in the batter, and it may have risen slightly.
If you choose to do a longer overnight ferment, your batter will rise a lot, and you'll need to gently deflate the batter.
Finish Preparing the Sourdough Pumpkin Pancake Batter
When you're ready to make pancakes, gently whisk in a couple of eggs and some melted butter.
It's okay if there are a few lumps in the batter.
Remember that over-whisking creates gluten, which will result in flat pancakes. If you're using gluten-free batter, you can whisk your little heart out.
Next, whisk in pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda.
The batter will begin to bubble and get foamy.
Cook the Pancakes on a Griddle
Next, heat up a griddle.
I used the griddle built into my stovetop, but if yours doesn't have one included, I recommend this Lodge cast-iron griddle.
Use a ⅓ cup measuring cup to scoop out pancake batter. Add it to the hot griddle, and then use the back of the cup to help shape the pancakes (if desired).
I really like these pancakes with chopped pecans added, so I sprinkle nuts onto the batter just after pouring it.
When the pancake edges begin to pull away from the griddle, use a rubber spatula to test the pancakes. If the bottom is golden, it's time to flip.
Continue cooking the pancakes until all the batter is gone.
Serve the warm pancakes right away along with a little honey or maple syrup.
Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes
Sourdough Ferment (2 Hours or Overnight):
- ½ cup pumpkin purée
- 1 ½ cups milk kefir (plain) or buttermilk, divided See recipe notes
- 1 cup sourdough starter (unfed, discard) Use gluten-free starter if needed, see "gluten-free pancakes" in Recipe Notes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (~8 ounces, measured by weight) Use gluten-free all-purpose flour such as Cup 4 Cup if needed.
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons melted butter, slightly cooled Or use 3 tablespoons oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice Or swap Chinese 5 spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans (optional)
- oil spray (or more melted butter) for griddle, optional
- maple syrup or honey (to serve)
- extra butter (to serve)
Fermenting the Batter:
- In a small bowl (or mixing cup), mix together the pumpkin and about ½ cup of the milk kefir.
- Remove the sourdough discard from your starter. Go ahead and feed your sourdough starter after removing the discard.Add the pumpkin kefir mixture, the discard, flour, remaining kefir (or buttermilk) and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until incorporated and fairly smooth.
- Cover the bowl with a lid or a towel.Short Ferment: Let the batter rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature (70°F -75°F). You'll begin to see bubbles rising up in the batter.Longer Ferment (for Stronger Sourdough Flavor): Let the batter rest for 12 hours or overnight at room temperature (70°F -75°F). The batter will rise somewhat as it rests and become very bubbly. After a long ferment, gently deflate the dough with a spoon or whisk.
Finish the Batter:
- Whisk the eggs and melted butter in a small bowl. Make sure the butter has cooled slightly so that the eggs don't scramble.Gently whisk the egg and butter mixture into the batter.Add the salt, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda to the batter and gently whisk again until just incorporated. (Avoid over-mixing.) At this point, the batter will begin to bubble and rise.
Make the Pancakes:
- Preheat a griddle over medium heat. Spray with oil (or brush with butter) if not non-stick.Use a ⅓ cup measuring cup to pour batter onto the hot griddle, using the back of the cup to help shape the pancake into a circle if desired.Top the pancake with a small pinch of pecans (if using).
- As the pancake cooks, the edges will begin to pull away from the griddle. Use a large, flexible spatula to test the bottom of the pancake and check to see if it's golden. If you typically watch for bubbles setting to know when to flip your pancakes, that technique won't work here, because there are bubbles in the batter.When the bottom of the pancake is golden, flip it. Cook until both sides are golden.Repeat with remaining batter and pecans.
- Keep pancakes warm in a 190°F oven while you finish cooking the batter, or until ready to serve. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup or honey.Leftover pancakes (Fridge): Wrap pancakes in foil and store for up to one day in the fridge. Reheat in a toaster, toaster oven or microwave until warm (about 30 seconds).Leftover pancakes (Freezer): To freeze, wrap the pancakes in wax paper and store in an air-tight container for up to 2 months. Reheat in a 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes, on a griddle until warm, or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
- This recipe is not completely gluten-free unless you use both a gluten-free sourdough starter and gluten-free flour.
- For gluten-free pancakes using AP gluten-free flour, you may need to add an extra ½ cup of milk kefir (or buttermilk). The xanthan gum in AP gluten-free flour will thicken the batter more than traditional AP flour.
- I've these tested gluten-free pancakes using a rice flour sourdough starter and Cup 4 Cup flour (and they were pretty delicious!).