Add a little sparkle to your mornings with these festive homemade elf on the shelf pancakes. Brightly colored, beautifully decorated and topped with a delicious cream cheese glaze!
Adding a little more magic to the holidays doesn’t have to require too much overthinking. A basic pancake recipe, food coloring, and some fantastic sprinkles are all it takes to bring your kids much deserved joy during the holidays!
On the days you can’t make it out to a restaurant for a special breakfast, bring the restaurant to you! My kids got these elf on the shelf pancakes at IHOP last year with their grandparents and haven’t stopped talking about them since. I thought they would be easy to make at home. Much cheaper and even more delicious!
These budget-friendly copycat pancakes can be customized to what your family likes, of course, but this easy to follow recipe will result in the familiar IHOP version. Only, better! Your kids can help you make them, or you can even use these pancakes as a fun elf on the shelf idea. Place your elf near the plate and have them ready when the kids first wake up in the morning. They will go crazy over it!
How to make elf pancakes
- Prep: Preheat the griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Melt butter in the microwave and allow it to cool.
- Whisk: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add: Then, add in the buttermilk and butter and stir until combined. Mix in the eggs and vanilla until batter is smooth and most of the lumps have disappeared.
- Cook: Coat the griddle with butter and then pour batter onto the heated griddle, using a 1/4 cup per pancake. Cook on one side until bubbles start to appear.
- Flip: Flip to cook the other side until just lightly browned.
- Glaze: Beat the room temperature cream cheese and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar and mix until creamy. Add more milk if needed to make it a thinner consistency.
- Serve: Pancakes should be served immediately while still nice and warm, when possible. Drizzle the cream cheese glaze over top and add whatever extra toppings you’d like.
Pro Tip: To save even more time, you can use a boxed pancake mix instead. My favorite is Krusteaz in a pinch. I also love to make a homemade pancake mix to store in the pantry for busy mornings. That way they’re still from scratch, but just as easy as the box mix!
Make these elf pancakes extra festive by adding toppings! I love the contrast in color that the glaze adds and the red and green sprinkles are so much fun.
Keeping warm, freezing & reheating
- Warm: If you are not going to be consuming your pancakes right away or want to keep the first batch warm while you wait for the rest, place on a baking sheet to keep warm in the oven at 175 degrees. This low heat will allow the pancakes to stay warm without drying out.
- Freeze: Allow the pancakes to cool completely before putting them into a Ziploc bag. Separate with parchment paper to keep pancakes from freezing in a clump. Will keep for 2-3 months.
- Reheat: You can reheat these pancakes in either a toaster or microwave for 30 seconds. Using the toaster method, you may not get the soft fluffy texture back the way you would in the microwave.
More fun Christmas recipes:
Elf on the Shelf Pancakes
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (more for the griddle)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups milk
- 2 large eggs (whisked)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- green food coloring
Cream cheese glaze
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk (more or less as needed)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For serving: whipped cream, sprinkles
- Preheat a griddle to 325°F, or a skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool for 3 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then add in the milk and butter and stir just until combined. Then mix in the eggs and vanilla, just until most the lumps are gone and the batter is smooth.
- Coat the griddle (or skillet) with butter and then pour 1/4 cup batter onto the heated griddle. Cook the pancakes until bubbles appear, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook the other side for 1 minute, or just until lightly browned.
- For the glaze, beat the cream cheese and butter in a medium size bowl. Then add the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until creamy. Add more milk if needed (you want it to be able to fall from a spoon)
- Serve immediately or place on a baking sheet in the oven at 175°F to keep warm. Then drizzle the cream cheese glaze over top. Add whipped cream and sprinkles if desired.