Oatmeal-Lemon Pancakes

I’ve had so many people say they like these pancakes even more than “regular” pancakes. They rise up nicely without being soggy in the middle, and fill your kitchen with a lemony aroma. Instead of maple syrup, try easy-to-make Date Syrup.

Oatmeal-Lemon Pancakes

2 cups non-dairy milk (plus extra to thin batter in between cooking pancakes)
3 dates, pitted and chopped
1½ cups Old Fashioned rolled oats
½ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon)

1. Place the milk and dates into a small bowl and set aside so the dates can soften (at least 15 minutes).

2. Grind the oats into flour using a blender and then pour into a large bowl, along with the cornmeal, baking powder, and cinnamon, and mix with a fork.

3. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium.

4. Blend the dates and milk in a blender on high until smooth. Pour this into the bowl of dry ingredients, along with the lemon juice and zest, and mix with a fork until all of the dry ingredients have been mixed into the wet.

5. When a water droplet sizzles on the surface, the pan is ready. Pour a ½-cup batter onto the skillet (no oil is needed) and cook until bubbles form around the edges and on top, and the underside is brown (1-2 minutes). Flip the pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes. (As the batter sits it will thicken up, so add a bit more non-dairy milk as needed to thin.)

6. Serve pancakes topped with chopped bananas, berries or other fruit of your choice, and/or Date Syrup or pure maple syrup.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 4 minutes per pancake
Makes: about 8 five-inch pancakes

No-oil Pancake Tips

Pan: Using a high-quality non-stick skillet works best with these pancakes since there is no oil in them or on the pan to prevent sticking. A quality non-stick skillet such as this one also ensures more even cooking and browning.

Spatula: Use a silicone spatula with a large surface and tapered edge for easy pancake-flipping.

Ground nuts: Using a rotary cheese grater, grate some walnuts (or any type of nut) on top of your pancakes for a little extra richness. Or use some finely chopped nuts.

Heartier? Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to the dry ingredients for a heartier pancake. This is my favorite kitchen blender for grinding small batches of flax seeds, nuts, seeds, and rolled oats.

Special lemon: Meyer lemon, a cross between a lemon and an orange, is great in this recipe due to its sweetness and fragrance.

Baking instead: If you do not want to use non-stick cookware, you can bake the pancakes in the oven, by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper. After cooking at 400° for 5 minutes on the center rack, flip the pancakes and cook for another 5 minutes. The color won’t be the same dark brown as with a skillet, but they will still taste good.

Note: This recipe was edited for clarity from its original version in November 2013.

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    • says

      Hi Milton, I have made these in two different non-stick skillets; one was a Green Pan skillet, which is lighter duty/lesser quality, and the other was a Berndez non-stick, which is a high-quality, heavier duty pan. The Berndez made a significant difference in the sticking factor (they didn’t stick at all in this pan, but did in the Green Pan, which I don’t believe regulates the heat as well). You may also find that reducing the heat helps with sticking (and just cooking them a bit longer), but I think the pan quality is the bigger issue. Hope that helps :)

  1. lcvegn says

    Is the 1.5 C of oats measured before they’re ground, or after? I imagine that the 1.5 C of rolled oats would be reduced in volume after the grinding. Thanks for the help! These look delicious.

  2. says

    Hi, yes, that’s not so clear. I measure the 1.5 cups before I ground them. If you find that ground is a different measurement, let me know and I’ll note it :) Thanks!

  3. Andrea says

    Hi Cathy,
    I needed to share with you how much I appreciate this recipe. My 4 year old son has a spinal tumor and through diet (I believe) was have stablized it, avoiding chemo, thus far. So transitioning his already vegan diet to a whole foods vegan diet has been the most imprtant thing I have ever done. AND, he is 4, so you know how picky they can be 😉 I always make pancakes on the weekend and enough for a few days after. This weekend was the first time I ventured from our regular recipe that I keep trying to make healthier and made this. I added vanilla blueberries and ripe sliced banans to the mix. My son sat at the table and went on and on how he liked these pancakes much more than my normal pancakes. This morning, he ate the last of them. He was so upset there were no more and said again how much better they were than the other pancakes. I promised him we would make more tonight together and he was so happy. I already have lots of ideas how to play with it. My son has been through enough, so the last thing I want him to have to do is shove food down his throat that he doesn’t like. thank u for this recipe. Can’t wait to have some fun with it now that I feel a little more confident :)

  4. says

    Hi Andrea, thank you for sharing that wonderful story! Wow! I’m so glad your son has taken to the healthier pancakes! Keep me updated if you come up with more variations that he likes. Have a great week! 😉

  5. Andrea says

    Hi Cathy-we made apple this weekend. Elliott (my son) liked them a lot, but I would make some changes next time. I was wondering if I took out the cornmeal and just did all oatmeal flour how that would be. Thoughts? I about doubled the cinnamon, added a bit of nutmeg, did 1 cup unfiltered apple juice, 1 cup almond milk and subed the apple sauce for date paste (although next time I’m not sure I would do that since they are apple pancakes) Left out the lemon. I grated 2 fresh apples but I think I would cook them a little bit next time to make them sweeter and prob add some raisens. If you have any other ideas-please share :) Thanks again!

  6. says

    Hi Andrea, sure you can use all flour if you like. You may need to adjust the measurement a bit, but that’s easy. Wow, you’re creative! That all sounds great. Pancakes are pretty forgiving when it comes to tweaking them. Try bananas and blueberries. Sometimes I put chopped walnuts in mine too. Have fun and thanks for the comments!

  7. Monica says

    Hi Cathy, We (including my 3 & 5 y. o.) loved these pancakes! I cooked all of them at one time even though we didn’t eat them all in one sitting. I left them on the counter to cool and all morning the kids kept running by and taking another for a “fly-by bite”. Needless to say, there were hardly any leftovers after that. I happen to love lemon and can see how easy it will be to modify this recipe for whatever you have on hand.

    • says

      Hi Monica, thank you for the comment! They do make good snacks, and yes, so easy to modify them. I think as long as you have a good non-stick pan, any type of pancake is possible :)

  8. Rebekah says

    I needed to give up a mix I had because I tried using subs for oil and eggs but it did not go well. I followed your directions but the batter was so runny. I added several tsp’s of flour and the consistency improved. Then I added freeze dried cranberries and walnuts. The flavor is different, but I think I like it.

    • says

      Hi Rebekah, what kind of flour did you use? I make these a lot and the texture is typical of pancake batter before cooking and very cooked and raised up inside, never runny, so not sure what’s going on. Hmm. The flavor will be lemon-y. :)

  9. Teri Gentry says

    Love your recipes! When you mentioned this on your facebook page today I wondered how I missed this recipe. How or can this be modified to make waffles?

  10. Vivien says

    This was delicious. I was in a hurry so I used a tablespoon of maple syrup instead of the dates — but it worked out really well. Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Anita, cornmeal is considered a gluten-free grain, but is often produced by manufacturers who also process wheat on their machinery. Check labels on the package you purchase to see if it is noted that the cornmeal is processed on equipment with wheat. :)

  11. Patty says

    Cathy, just tried these and they are fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful and delicious recipes

  12. Megan says

    For some reason anytime I cook pancakes it is still moist, really moist in the middle. I follow recipie exactly but my non stick griddle only has temperature settings, not high med low. Am I cooking them on too high of heat, please help. I could leave them on for 10min ea side and still moist

    • says

      Hi Megan, I usually start my pancakes on high heat then turn it down about halfway through the batch as the pan heats up more. You could try another pan, a good quality non-stick makes the difference I’ve noticed. Maybe your baking powder is old(?) Also, don’t overmix, just mix until the dry is incorporated. It should only take about 3 minutes per side. :)

  13. Joe says

    I’ll have to say that after trying many of the recipes featured on such sites as “Forks Over Knives” and contributors to that site, my wife and I have been mostly disappointed with the outcomes of the dishes tried. Finally, a recipe that delivers what it promises. Tasty indeed!

  14. Elaine Long says

    Cathy, I’d like to try this recipe…sounds very yummy. I am not able to eat any citrus right now. Will this work without the lemon? Do I need to substitute with vinegar or anything?
    Thanks so much.

  15. Elaine Long says

    Thanks Cathy! I am also eating gluten-free so I’m experimenting with different flours. I used 50/50 buckwheat and brown rice flour. I had to thin out the batter, but it was very tasty. I also added some vanilla. I used to make pancakes with added wheat germ and I miss that sweetness it adds. Can you think of anything that would be a substitute, but still gluten-free? Also, I think with the buckwheat, this would work well with wild rice added and take it more savory. Are the dates used for binding? Wasn’t sure about the dates with the wild rice. Love your website! So thankful to find vegan, oil-free cooking. :)

  16. meg says

    I’d love to try this recipe, everything I’ve made from your site is delicious! I need advice on which non dairy milk to use? Also, it will be my first time making non-dairy milk and I’ll be using your recipes for it. I’m watching calories too and would appreciate your recommendation for a milk for this recipe. I have to second the gentleman up above, your recipes are winners every time compared to other sites. Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Meg, any kind will work, but oat and rice will be lower calorie. I usually use soy or almond since those are the ones I typically have in the fridge. :) Thanks so much!

  17. says

    I love these. They are the only pancakes I make. Just finished baking a double batch. They freeze so well and we just pop them in the toaster when we are ready to eat them! Delicious!

  18. Pam says

    Will Sunsweet Brand pitted dates (the basic kind you find in the raisin aisle) work for this recipe or will I need to make adjustments if using those? Thanks.

      • Pam says

        Thanks for your reply. The box does not say what kind they are anywhere. Under ingredients it simply says: California pitted dates. What is the difference between different varieties of dates and how many different types are there? I’ve used them a few times in different recipes (not yours) and haven’t been completely successful (may have just been the recipe – or my lack of cooking skills). Makes me wonder if I’m using the wrong kind of dates? Thanks for you thoughts on this.

        • says

          Hi Pam, there are generally two types: Medjool and deglet. Medjools are sweeter and almost twice as big. Most boxed dates I believe are deglet, so just use twice as many as the recipe calls for (I usually use Medjool and write my recipes with those in mind). There are more types than this in the world, but these are the most common in the US I believe.

  19. BJ says

    When I made these I had to go back on your site to see if I got the liquid measurement wrong as it was so thin. I was glad to see it thicken up as it set. The lemon zest added a nice touch – I almost did not add it but then decided to – glad I did. They even passed the husband test. Thanks for a great recipe.

  20. Nancy says

    Hi Cathy,

    Mine was also very runny. I added WW flour. the taste was terrific. This is a keeper.

    Thank you

  21. Roxie Newberry says

    Hi Cathy,

    I just made these for the first time this morning (was tired of my usual oatmeal!) They were so delicious, and cooked so easily. I have a Berndes non-stick pan, which I found out about from your website, and the pancakes didn’t stick at all. Thanks so much!

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