The Unhealthiest Pancakes at 10 Major Breakfast Chains—Ranked!
Pancakes might be an American breakfast staple, but they can also rack up some serious calories if you're not paying attention to their nutrition. While indulging in fun breakfasts from time to time is totally normal, eating at these breakfast chains regularly might mean that you are getting lots of extra calories, added sugar, and unhealthy fat in your diet.
We checked in with registered dietitians and nutrition experts to find out exactly which pancake menu items you might want to skip next time you eat out for breakfast.
How restaurant pancakes can become unhealthy:
Pancakes can be considered unhealthy when they are prepared using ingredients and methods that add to a high intake of calories, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and sugars. Here are some factors that can make pancakes less healthy:
- Refined Flour: Traditional pancake recipes often call for refined white flour, which lacks nutrients and fiber. Consuming too much refined flour can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and generally provide empty calories.
- Added Sugars: Many pancake recipes include added sugars in the form of maple syrup, honey, or other sweeteners in the batter. Excess sugar consumption is linked to various health issues, including obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- Unhealthy Fats: Some recipes use excessive amounts of butter, cream, cheese, and oil to achieve a rich texture. These fats can contribute to increased calorie content and unhealthy levels of saturated and trans fats, which are correlated with risks for heart disease.
- Portion Size: Pancakes are often served in large portions, leading to excessive calorie intake. Large portion sizes can contribute to weight gain and other health problems if eaten regularly.
- Toppings: Toppings like whipped cream, chocolate chips, and sugary syrups can add significant amounts of calories, sugars, and unhealthy fats to pancakes.
If you want to make your pancake order more balanced, consider choosing a whole grain or multigrain option, adding fruit to the side, and asking for your butter and syrup in separate containers so that you can control your portion size.
The unhealthiest restaurant pancakes to never order—ranked from bad to worse!
We've ranked the worst pancake orders at each chain from bad to worse, based on total calories, fat, and added sugar. Read on to find out exactly what pancake orders dietitians say you should not be selecting from the menu, and for more, don't miss 8 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Baked Goods To Avoid Right Now.
Huddle House Oreo Cookie Crunch Sweet Cakes
The Oreo Cookie Crunch Sweet Cakes at Huddle House can pack up to 1,340 calories if you get all of the sides like eggs and sausage with your sweet cakes. Even with the sweet cakes alone, you'll take in 760 calories before you add toppings and syrup. Compared to other pancakes, this order doesn't stack up in terms of fiber and protein either. This one is a big pass from us!
IHOP New York Cheesecake Pancakes
Pancakes are traditionally semi-sweet, but IHOP takes the "cake" on this breakfast, with their New York Cheesecake Pancakes, says Madeleine Putzi MS, RD a Pittsburgh-based dietitian. "Each order, which contains four pancakes, is stuffed with cheesecake bites and topped off with whipped cream and a strawberry glaze, which can easily pass as a next-level dessert," she adds.
Putzi chimes in on the nutrition label of this IHOP creation: "At 890 calories, this meal yields 33 total grams of fat, with 14 grams coming from saturated fat. Additionally, this meal has 2,220 mg sodium, 126 grams of carbohydrates, and 48 grams of sugar, which is the maximum discretionary allowance for added sugars based on a 2000 calorie-per-day diet, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans."
The Original Pancake House Georgia Pecan Pancake
The Georgia Pecan Pancake sounds like it could fare pretty well at the Original Pancake House, but this order will serve you up 910 calories and 104 carbs. With 18 grams of saturated fat in this order, you'll nearly meet your daily saturated fat recommendation after just a few bites.
Consider ordering the original pancake houses silver dollar pancakes instead as they are smaller portion size and may be easier to control your total consumption.
Marie Callender's Banana Cream Pie Pancakes
Marie Callender's Banana Cream Pie pancakes pack 800 calories into a meal at Marie Callender's. With nearly all of their ingredients coming from refined carbohydrates, sugar, or added fat, this pancake order does not deliver much nutrition for its high calorie count. These empty calories may not keep you full for very long and can result in overeating later when hunger strikes.
Perkins Boston Cream Pancakes
Perkins' Boston Cream Pancakes delivers a jarring 940 calories! With almost 150 grams of carbohydrates, this stack of hotcakes has several forms of added sugar: sugar, chocolate, and cream. And that's not including any syrup you used to top it off!
Particularly if you have diabetes or other blood sugar concerns, this breakfast order could cause a serious blood sugar spike and Inevitable crash.
Village Inn Double Blueberry Pancakes
The Double Blueberry Pancakes with Sausage at Village Inn might sound like a balanced meal at first glance. However, when you take a look at the nutrition facts on this one, you'll see that this meal accounts for nearly half of your daily calorie needs and includes a significant source of refined flour and added sugar.
Choose the multigrain option instead for a better menu option that won't have your blood sugar spinning. Multigrain flour has more fiber in whole grains than most pancake menu items and will help slow down digestion and keep blood sugar more stable.
First Watch Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Diving into a breakfast indulgence like First Watch's Lemon Ricotta Pancakes might seem tempting, but with 1250 calories and a whopping 80 g of sugar, these pancakes can easily set you on a sugar rollercoaster for the day, shares Jessie Hulsey RD, LD, an Atlanta based registered dietitian. "Opting for such a high-calorie, high-sugar option can lead to energy crashes and cravings later on. For a more balanced start, consider choosing whole-grain options with lean protein and fresh fruit to nourish your body without overwhelming it," she tells us.
Cracker Barrel Stuffed Cheesecake Pancakes
It's no surprise that pancakes stuffed with cheesecake are high in calories, but this breakfast stack clocks in at a whopping 1480 calories for the entire meal. With 73 g of total sugar, this order alone packs nearly 3 times the daily added sugar recommended allowance for women.
Denny's Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
This morning meal consists of a pair of buttermilk pancakes topped with a layer of cinnamon crumb, accompanied by cream cheese icing and whipped cream. It is served alongside a duo of eggs and a choice between hash browns, two strips of bacon, or two links of sausage.
One of the most unhealthy pancake orders at Denny's is the Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast, says Wan Na Chun, RD CPT of One Pot Wellness.
"This meal is high in added sugar, sodium, and saturated fat with a total of 1,270 calories, 62 grams of fat, and 123 grams of sugar. Consuming this on a regular basis can be harmful for overall health and lead to a greater risk for developing chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity," Chun adds.
And the #1 Unhealthiest Pancake Order Is… Bob Evans Double Chocolate Hot Cakes
Bob Evans' Double Chocolate Hot Cakes contain a shocking 1,440 calories that almost all come from empty calories — meaning they don't provide much nutrition for the energy you take in calorie-wise. With the highest count on this list, this order takes the cake for the highest calorie and highest carbohydrate-packed pancake order of all the popular chains in the US.
Particularly if you have diabetes or other blood sugar concerns, this breakfast order could cause a serious blood sugar spike and inevitable crash.