5 chefs share their favorite ways to take pancakes to the next level

The toppings for pancakes go far beyond syrup.

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The toppings for pancakes go far beyond syrup.
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Flickr/kurmanphotos

  • INSIDER spoke with five different chefs about the best ways to top pancakes.
  • Chef and restaurateur David Burke said pancakes don’t necessarily have to be paired with sweet toppings – salad or shrimp pair perfectly with a savory pancake.
  • Whipped ricotta cheese is perfect for pancakes, according to Chef Fabio Viviani.

Who could say no to a warm stack of buttery pancakes? Although maple syrup and strawberries are among the classic ways to enjoy the breakfast staple, you might be missing out on some next-level toppings like ricotta cheese and poppy seeds.

We asked chefs what toppings they thought paired best with pancakes. Whether you prefer a traditional taste or are more open to experimentation, these recommendations might convince you to kick your maple syrup habit.


Ricotta cheese and raspberry jam make for a memorable Saturday brunch.

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Some chefs even stuff their pancakes with ricotta.
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Rachel Hathaway/Flickr

Ricotta is usually saved for lasagna, but with raspberry jam and a drizzle of maple syrup, it’s Chef Fabio Viviani’s favorite way to top pancakes. Ricotta is low in salt compared to other cheeses, which makes it great for sweet and savory dishes.


Bacon and eggs aren’t just great for French toast.

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Consider it a well-rounded breakfast.
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Wikimedia Commons

According to Executive Chef Tim Love, pancakes are best eaten with “bacon, syrup, and a sunny-side-up fried egg.” It just goes to show that sometimes you just can’t beat the classics.


Chocolate lovers will be obsessed with raspberry and chocolate sauce on their stack.

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Chocolate and pancakes is a classic combination.
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Wikimedia Commons

We all know that chocolate and berries are a match made in heaven, but on pancakes, they’re even better. “The flavors of chocolate and raspberry are perfect complements and go great with

pancakes because you can dip into each bite,” said Chef Neil Kleinberg of Clinton St. Baking Company. Think of it as having a chocolate-covered raspberry but on a pancake.


With flavored whipped creams, you’re basically eating dessert for breakfast.

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Whipped cream makes pancakes an indulgent treat.
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Pixabay

That’s pretty much music to the ears of anyone with a sweet tooth. Flavors like coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon make yummy additions to an already delicious plate of hotcakes. “The whipped cream adds a rich lightness to each bite of pancakes,” said Chef Kleinberg.


For a little crunch, add toasted nuts.

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Toasted nuts add a crunch to otherwise soft pancakes.
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PX Here

Walnuts and pecans are great on brownies and pie, but Chef Kleinberg also loves to add them to pancakes. “They add fabulous crunch and texture,” he said. The only thing nuts about this combination is how incredible it tastes.


Pancakes are yet another excuse to break out your jar of Nutella.

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Here’s another reason to enjoy Nutella.
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Wikimedia Commons

Not that you really need any excuses to indulge in that chocolaty, hazelnut-y goodness. But instead of saving it for slathering across a few slices of bread, Chef Marc Murphy, owner of Landmarc Restaurant & Benchmarc Events and “Chopped” judge, recommends using Nutella as a pancake topping. “I spent a lot of my childhood in Italy so Nutella is something I love to put on pancakes when I’ve really got a sweet tooth. That gooey, chocolaty hazelnut spread pairs perfectly with fluffy pancakes,” he said.


Berries of any kind make for a refreshing, light breakfast.

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Berries are a natural go-to.
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Annie Mole/Flickr

Berries not only make for a super colorful shot for Instagram; according to Chef Kleinberg, they also add a slightly tart taste and balance the richness of pancakes. So go ahead and pack on the blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.


Pancake veterans might consider giving savory pumpkin and caramel sauce a try.

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If you love decadence, consider adding a caramel sauce to your breakfast.
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Jess (Paleo Grubs)/Flickr

The Japanese Kabocha Pumpkin is a type of squash and yes, it goes great on top of pancakes. And don’t even get us started about pumpkin caramel sauce! “[They] are great combos for pancakes as they add a savory and sweet component to the dish, and you can also add toasted pumpkin seeds on top for crunch,” said Chef Kleinberg.


Ham and cheese on pancakes are just as tasty as ham and cheese on bread.

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It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet.
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pxhere

If you can have bacon with your pancakes, why not enjoy them with a few slices of ham? “I’m a big fan of using pancakes as a carrier of other foods,” said Chef David Burke of “Iron Chef America.” “You have to see the pancake batter as a sandwich that you can put anything on.” Chef Burke recommends adding the ham and cheese in between your pancake layers and heating up the whole thing in the oven.


Salad no longer needs to be eaten out of a bowl.

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Yes, a salad can exist on a pancake.
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Public Domain Pictures

What if we told you that pancakes don’t necessarily have to be eaten for breakfast? “We see pancakes as a lunch where we top it with chopped salad with honey mustard, so it’s not a breakfast item and it’s not a sweet item,” said Chef Burke.


Attention seafood lovers: You’re about to toss the strawberries in favor of grilled shrimp.

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Consider the unlikely pairing of shrimp and pancakes.
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Pixabay

You’ll want to skip the seafood dinner buffet in favor of these pancakes. Additionally, you can have fun with what you layer in between the pancakes.

“Not only can you top pancakes with something unusual like grilled shrimp with garlic sauce, but you can also [eat] your pancake with fillings like mushrooms and corn,” Chef Burke said.