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7 Delicious Pancake Toppings That Are Not Maple Syrup

7 Delicious Pancake Toppings That Are Not Maple Syrup

Fluffy pancakes covered in maple syrup are an American classic. Who could say no to a stack of warm homemade flapjacks, with crispy edges and a soft center, smothered in liquid gold? Maple syrup is delicious when used on its own or combined with other ingredients like vanilla, butter, and cinnamon.

But imagine enjoying different flavors of pancakes every morning without having to alter your favorite pancake recipe. All you need to do is change the topping. Because there’s no point in limiting yourself to maple syrup when there is a whole world of amazing toppings out there!

We’re offering a number of pancake topping suggestions that are sure to tickle your imagination. When compiling this list, we had simplicity in mind. So, the majority of the items require no cooking at all!

Care to experiment? You can make your own crazy combinations by putting together two or even three different toppings on top of your stack: smear the flapjacks with peanut butter, then sprinkle with chocolate chips or go full decadent and cover in vanilla ice cream, complemented with crushed nuts and a cherry on top. Literally!


#1 Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice

If you are into simple things, cover your flapjacks with sugar, powdered or granulated, the choice is yours. From here, things can only get better. The Brits like combining raw sugar with lemon juice in order create a beautiful contrast of sweetness & tartness. Pair these griddlecakes with a warm cup of coffee for an instant wake up in the morning!

Have you ever used lavender sugar? Trust us, it is as amazing as it sounds! Add some dried lavender flower buds in a jar of sugar and let the mixture sit for 24 hours, then sift the lavender buds out. Prepare yourself for a whole new flavor! To make the experience even better, decorate the stack with fresh lavender flowers. Oh, that purple hue!

Make crunchy cinnamon sugar in no time by combining a 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon! Speaking of spices, pancakes simply adore ginger, nutmeg, clove, and allspice, especially those made with pumpkin or apples. Mix and match to find your perfect combo for the upcoming rainy fall mornings!


#2 Honey, Syrups, and Sauces

This section is dedicated to those that don’t want to stray away too far from maple syrup. Honey is very alike maple syrup in taste, texture, and color. When raw, honey is extremely healthy, nutritious, and low in calories. Believe it or not, it contains 80 different nutritive substances including glucose and fructose, as well as vitamins, minerals, and trace elements like magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, iron, potassium, chlorine, sodium, iodine, and copper. Pour it plain over the pancake stack or combine it with butter, cinnamon, and allspice.

Besides honey, you can use pancake syrup, as well as store-bought chocolate, coconut, & fruit syrups but the whole point of this post is to get creative. Think out of the box and play with flavors at home. Combine honey and orange or molasses with cinnamon. Homemade syrups are quite easy to make and will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Let’s talk about booze. If you are in a mood for spending some extra time in the kitchen, make quick pancake sauce by combining the juice of two oranges, grated zest of one orange and one lemon, one cup of golden caster sugar, and three tablespoons Grand Marnier. This should take no more than 10 minutes to heat and thicken. Boozy sauces are really something. Your little ones can enjoy them too; the alcohol content is low and most of it evaporates during cooking so, relax!

We mustn’t forget about caramel sauce. In a saucepan, mix one packet of brown sugar, ½ cup half-and-half, four tablespoons butter and a pinch of salt and set over medium-low heat. Cook for about 6 minutes, whisking constantly until it gets thicker. Add a tablespoon of  vanilla extract and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cold.


#3 The Almighty Chocolate

Pancakes pair with chocolate in all colors, shapes, and sizes: white, brown, dark, or vegan, in the form of chips, chunks, syrup, cream, sauce, or simply grated. Here is a selection of our favorite chocolaty toppings:


For some, Nutella is the only reason to make pancakes! Warning: if you smear your flapjacks with Nutella you will probably overeat. Add a few strawberry halves and you’ll be transported straight to heaven!

Chocolate chips

Semi-sweet, milk chocolate, bittersweet, or white chocolate chips…Try them all, scattered on top of the stack or showered throughout the batter! Even better, melt them with some coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds, then splash on top of your hotcakes.


There are days when your sweet tooth is raging. This topping was invented to tame it! Place three chopped Snickers bars and a ¼ cup heavy cream in a small saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Add a ¼ cup maple syrup, stir, and dive in!

In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones. Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances. As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong. In the second phase of the study, the deception was revealed. The students were told that the real point of the experiment was to gauge their responses to thinking they were right or wrong. (This, it turned out, was also a deception.) Finally, the students were asked to estimate how many suicide notes they had actually categorized correctly, and how many they thought an average student would get right. At this point, something curious happened. The students in the high-score group said that they thought they had, in fact, done quite well—significantly better than the average student—even though, as they’d just been told, they had zero grounds for believing this. Conversely, those who’d been assigned to the low-score group said that they thought they had done significantly worse than the average student—a conclusion that was equally unfounded. “Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.” A few years later, a new set of Stanford students was recruited for a related study. The students were handed packets of information about a pair of firefighters, Frank K. and George H. Frank’s bio noted that, among other things, he had a baby daughter and he liked to scuba dive. George had a small son and played golf. The packets also included the men’s responses on what the researchers called the Risky-Conservative Choice Test. According to one version of the packet, Frank was a successful firefighter who, on the test, almost always went with the safest option. In the other version, Frank also chose the safest option, but he was a lousy firefighter who’d been put “on report” by his supervisors several times. Once again, midway through the study, the students were informed that they’d been misled, and that the information they’d received was entirely fictitious. The students were then asked to describe their own beliefs. What sort of attitude toward risk did they think a successful firefighter would have? The students who’d received the first packet thought that he would avoid it. The students in the second group thought he’d embrace it. Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs,” the researchers noted. In this case, the failure was “particularly impressive,” since two data points would never have been enough information to generalize from. The Stanford studies became famous. Coming from a group of academics in the nineteen-seventies, the contention that people can’t think straight was shocking. It isn’t any longer. Thousands of subsequent experiments have confirmed (and elaborated on) this finding. As everyone who’s followed the research—or even occasionally picked up a copy of Psychology Today—knows, any graduate student with a clipboard can demonstrate that reasonable-seeming people are often totally irrational. Rarely has this insight seemed more relevant than it does right now. Still, an essential puzzle remains: How did we come to be this way? In a new book, “The Enigma of Reason” (Harvard), the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber take a stab at answering this question. Mercier, who works at a French research institute in Lyon, and Sperber, now based at the Central European University, in Budapest, point out that reason is an evolved trait, like bipedalism or three-color vision. It emerged on the savannas of Africa, and has to be understood in that context. Stripped of a lot of what might be called cognitive-science-ese, Mercier and Sperber’s argument runs, more or less, as follows: Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Coöperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain. For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups. “Reason is an adaptation to the hypersocial niche humans have evolved for themselves,” Mercier and Sperber write. Habits of mind that seem weird or goofy or just plain dumb from an “intellectualist” point of view prove shrewd when seen from a social “interactionist” perspective. Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. Of the many forms of faulty thinking that have been identified, confirmation bias is among the best catalogued; it’s the subject of entire textbooks’ worth of experiments. One of the most famous of these was conducted, again, at Stanford. For this experiment, researchers rounded up a group of students who had opposing opinions about capital punishment. Half the students were in favor of it and thought that it deterred crime; the other half were against it and thought that it had no effect on crime. The students were asked to respond to two studies. One provided data in support of the deterrence argument, and the other provided data that called it into question. Both studies—you guessed it—were made up, and had been designed to present what were, objectively speaking, equally compelling statistics. The students who had originally supported capital punishment rated the pro-deterrence data highly credible and the anti-deterrence data unconvincing; the students who’d originally opposed capital punishment did the reverse. At the end of the experiment, the students were asked once again about their views. Those who’d started out pro-capital punishment were now even more in favor of it; those who’d opposed it were even more hostile. If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias. Imagine, Mercier and Sperber suggest, a mouse that thinks the way we do. Such a mouse, “bent on confirming its belief that there are no cats around,” would soon be dinner. To the extent that confirmation bias leads people to dismiss evidence of new or underappreciated threats—the human equivalent of the cat around the corner—it’s a trait that should have been selected against. The fact that both we and it survive, Mercier and Sperber argue, proves that it must have some adaptive function, and that function, they maintain, is related to our “hypersociability.” Mercier and Sperber prefer the term “myside bias.” Humans, they point out, aren’t randomly credulous. Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own. A recent experiment performed by Mercier and some European colleagues neatly demonstrates this asymmetry. Participants were asked to answer a series of simple reasoning problems. They were then asked to explain their responses, and were given a chance to modify them if they identified mistakes. The majority were satisfied with their original choices; fewer than fifteen per cent changed their minds in step two. In step three, participants were shown one of the same problems, along with their answer and the answer of another participant, who’d come to a different conclusion. Once again, they were given the chance to change their responses. But a trick had been played: the answers presented to them as someone else’s were actually their own, and vice versa. About half the participants realized what was going on. Among the other half, suddenly people became a lot more critical. Nearly sixty per cent now rejected the responses that they’d earlier been satisfied with. “Thanks again for coming—I usually find these office parties rather awkward.” This lopsidedness, according to Mercier and Sperber, reflects the task that reason evolved to perform, which is to prevent us from getting screwed by the other members of our group. Living in small bands of hunter-gatherers, our ancestors were primarily concerned with their social standing, and with making sure that they weren’t the ones risking their lives on the hunt while others loafed around in the cave. There was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments. Among the many, many issues our forebears didn’t worry about were the deterrent effects of capital punishment and the ideal attributes of a firefighter. Nor did they have to contend with fabricated studies, or fake news, or Twitter. It’s no wonder, then, that today reason often seems to fail us. As Mercier and Sperber write, “This is one of many cases in which the environment changed too quickly for natural selection to catch up.” Steven Sloman, a professor at Brown, and Philip Fernbach, a professor at the University of Colorado, are also cognitive scientists. They, too, believe sociability is the key to how the human mind functions or, perhaps more pertinently, malfunctions. They begin their book, “The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone” (Riverhead), with a look at toilets. Virtually everyone in the United States, and indeed throughout the developed world, is familiar with toilets. A typical flush toilet has a ceramic bowl filled with water. When the handle is depressed, or the button pushed, the water—and everything that’s been deposited in it—gets sucked into a pipe and from there into the sewage system. But how does this actually happen? In a study conducted at Yale, graduate students were asked to rate their understanding of everyday devices, including toilets, zippers, and cylinder locks. They were then asked to write detailed, step-by-step explanations of how the devices work, and to rate their understanding again. Apparently, the effort revealed to the students their own ignorance, because their self-assessments dropped. (Toilets, it turns out, are more complicated than they appear.) Sloman and Fernbach see this effect, which they call the “illusion of explanatory depth,” just about everywhere. People believe that they know way more than they actually do. What allows us to persist in this belief is other people. In the case of my toilet, someone else designed it so that I can operate it easily. This is something humans are very good at. We’ve been relying on one another’s expertise ever since we figured out how to hunt together, which was probably a key development in our evolutionary history. So well do we collaborate, Sloman and Fernbach argue, that we can hardly tell where our own understanding ends and others’ begins. “One implication of the naturalness with which we divide cognitive labor,” they write, is that there’s “no sharp boundary between one person’s ideas and knowledge” and “those of other members” of the group. This borderlessness, or, if you prefer, confusion, is also crucial to what we consider progress. As people invented new tools for new ways of living, they simultaneously created new realms of ignorance; if everyone had insisted on, say, mastering the principles of metalworking before picking up a knife, the Bronze Age wouldn’t have amounted to much. When it comes to new technologies, incomplete understanding is empowering. Where it gets us into trouble, according to Sloman and Fernbach, is in the political domain. It’s one thing for me to flush a toilet without knowing how it operates, and another for me to favor (or oppose) an immigration ban without knowing what I’m talking about. Sloman and Fernbach cite a survey conducted in 2014, not long after Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Respondents were asked how they thought the U.S. should react, and also whether they could identify Ukraine on a map. The farther off base they were about the geography, the more likely they were to favor military intervention. (Respondents were so unsure of Ukraine’s location that the median guess was wrong by eighteen hundred miles, roughly the distance from Kiev to Madrid.) Surveys on many other issues have yielded similarly dismaying results. “As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration. “This is how a community of knowledge can become dangerous,” Sloman and Fernbach observe. The two have performed their own version of the toilet experiment, substituting public policy for household gadgets. In a study conducted in 2012, they asked people for their stance on questions like: Should there be a single-payer health-care system? Or merit-based pay for teachers? Participants were asked to rate their positions depending on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the proposals. Next, they were instructed to explain, in as much detail as they could, the impacts of implementing each one. Most people at this point ran into trouble. Asked once again to rate their views, they ratcheted down the intensity, so that they either agreed or disagreed less vehemently. Sloman and Fernbach see in this result a little candle for a dark world. If we—or our friends or the pundits on CNN—spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of policy proposals, we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views. This, they write, “may be the only form of thinking that will shatter the illusion of explanatory depth and change people’s attitudes.” One way to look at science is as a system that corrects for people’s natural inclinations. In a well-run laboratory, there’s no room for myside bias; the results have to be reproducible in other laboratories, by researchers who have no motive to confirm them. And this, it could be argued, is why the system has proved so successful. At any given moment, a field may be dominated by squabbles, but, in the end, the methodology prevails. Science moves forward, even as we remain stuck in place. In “Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us” (Oxford), Jack Gorman, a psychiatrist, and his daughter, Sara Gorman, a public-health specialist, probe the gap between what science tells us and what we tell ourselves. Their concern is with those persistent beliefs which are not just demonstrably false but also potentially deadly, like the conviction that vaccines are hazardous. Of course, what’s hazardous is not being vaccinated; that’s why vaccines were created in the first place. “Immunization is one of the triumphs of modern medicine,” the Gormans note. But no matter how many scientific studies conclude that vaccines are safe, and that there’s no link between immunizations and autism, anti-vaxxers remain unmoved. (They can now count on their side—sort of—Donald Trump, who has said that, although he and his wife had their son, Barron, vaccinated, they refused to do so on the timetable recommended by pediatricians.) The Gormans, too, argue that ways of thinking that now seem self-destructive must at some point have been adaptive. And they, too, dedicate many pages to confirmation bias, which, they claim, has a physiological component. They cite research suggesting that people experience genuine pleasure—a rush of dopamine—when processing information that supports their beliefs. “It feels good to ‘stick to our guns’ even if we are wrong,” they observe. The Gormans don’t just want to catalogue the ways we go wrong; they want to correct for them. There must be some way, they maintain, to convince people that vaccines are good for kids, and handguns are dangerous. (Another widespread but statistically insupportable belief they’d like to discredit is that owning a gun makes you safer.) But here they encounter the very problems they have enumerated. Providing people with accurate information doesn’t seem to help; they simply discount it. Appealing to their emotions may work better, but doing so is obviously antithetical to the goal of promoting sound science. “The challenge that remains,” they write toward the end of their book, “is to figure out how to address the tendencies that lead to false scientific belief.” “The Enigma of Reason,” “The Knowledge Illusion,” and “Denying to the Grave” were all written before the November election. And yet they anticipate Kellyanne Conway and the rise of “alternative facts.” These days, it can feel as if the entire country has been given over to a vast psychological experiment being run either by no one or by Steve Bannon. Rational agents would be able to think their way to a solution. But, on this matter, the literature is not reassuring. ?

#4 Fruity Toppings

Like chocolate, fruits come in so many different forms:

fresh fruit slices (bananas, peaches, strawberries, apples, pears, pineapples…)

whole fruits (berries)

dried fruits (apricots, figs, raisins)

juice & zest (lemon, orange, lime)

flakes (coconut)

preserves (jams and compotes)

curds (for neutralizing extra sweet pancakes)

applesauce (a healthy oil replacement in the batter)

However, fruits have another important trait – they’re very healthy and nutritious. Here is a selection of our favorite fruity pancake toppings:


Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries… Whole berries look like pearls scattered on top of the stack and contribute a tangy note that balances the sweetness in the recipe. On top of good looks and great taste, berries are very good for you. They are very rich in immunity-boosting vitamin C, as well as antioxidant compounds which fight oxidative damage and keep you in good health!


Adding a mashed avocado into the pancake batter will make your flapjacks extra silky and creamy. Avocado works great as a topping as well. We present the dark chocolate & avocado topping. Place two avocados in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons coconut oil and blend again until smooth. This healthy topping is so rich that you can use it as a cake frosting as well! Store in the fridge for a couple of days and revisit as necessary.


Due to the high content of proteins and potassium, as well as their ability to replace sugar and flour in pancake recipes, bananas are the top choice of athletes and physically active people. Besides mashing them and including them into the batter, bananas can be added on top of the stack, in the form of fresh slices or, if you feel naughtier, as bananas foster! Sweet, gooey and utterly delicious!


#5 Creamy Toppings

Creamy toppings can range from simple & healthy to rich & decadent.

Yogurt and sour cream are among the healthier options, best when combined with fruits for a fresh start of the day.

See Also

Soft cheeses like cream cheese, ricotta, and cottage cheese bring in extra creaminess. Simply combine a cup of soft cheese with a ¼ cup icing sugar and a tablespoon of honey.

One of the simplest choices that always work with pancakes is whipped cream. You can combine it with fruits slices or add some Nutella into it! Don’t forget the colorful sprinkles!

Pouring a waterfall of melted peanut butter on top of your pancakes is always a good idea. Combine it with chocolate chips, ground biscuits, chopped peanuts, or other nuts.

Of all the creamy goodness the world has to offer, ice cream comes closest to heart. There are so many colors and flavors to choose from – vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, butterscotch, fruit, or nut ice cream. Place a dollop on top of the warm stack and watch it melt. Even better, spear the ice cream between two flapjacks to form sandwiches and watch the smiley faces around you!


#6 Crunchy Toppings

Besides delicious crunchiness, nuts also bring a considerable amount of healthiness. They offer a wide range of vitamins (B and E), minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, as well as dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Chop some raw almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, or macadamia nuts and sprinkle them on top of the stack.

If you want to emphasize their flavor, toast them before chopping. Place the nuts in a skillet set over medium heat. Heat for a minute or so, until golden brown and fragrant, stirring and tossing frequently to prevent them from burning.

If you want the taste minus the crunchiness, opt for nut butter. To keep the healthiness intact, make sure the nut butter is organic or, even better, make it at home. All you need to do is pour three cups of your favorite nuts in a food processor and process patiently until smooth and creamy!


#7 Sweet-and-savory Combos

Some toppings walk the thin line between sweet and savory, threatening to cross it anytime.

Sour Cream

There’s no better pancake topping for hot summer days that sour cream. For a sweet delight, combine it with some berry jam. If you are more of a savory person, use it to make a refreshing tzatziki sauce. Combine the sour cream with grated cucumber, add some olive oil, and season with chopped fresh dill and/or mint. Serve chilled on top of crunchy potato pancakes!


Just as soft cheeses are ideal for sweet toppings, harder ones are just meant for savory specialties. Fancy a pancake pizza? Bake the sugarless pancake batter in a large pan. When it is halfway done, spoon some marinara sauce, grate some Cheddar cheese, ham or pepperoni, and add a tablespoon of chives. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, bubbly & golden. Serve immediately.


Bacon works as both a sweet and savory topping. For a more traditional experience, combine it with some maple syrup or jam. Or, turn your breakfast into lunch by pairing crispy slices of bacon with chopped scallions and grated cheddar cheese. In that case, don’t forget to leave the sugar out of the pancake batter. Or don’t…

Well, the climb to the top of a pancake stack isn’t easy, but the view is certainly worth it J Enjoy!



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