Copy-Cat Pannekoek — South African Pancakes

South African Pannekoek (Pancakes)

One of my very favorite dishes my future mother in law cooks is pannekoek, or “pancakes” in English.

Now my American self hears “we’re having pancakes for dinner.” and I’m immediately thinking “Cool! Bring on the bacon!”

As dinner is served I’m completely perplexed because not only were these so-called “pancakes” NOT a stack of fluffy buttery goodness, they were in a casserole dish rolled up into little tubes filled with savory mince meat! And then they were topped with the most perplexing ingredient of all:

Cinnamon sugar.

This dish can only be explained as rolled up savory crepes. The cinnamon sugar sprinkle though? I don’t know where that came from, but let me tell you:  It. Is. Incredible.

In South Africa they sell these little rolled up crepes all over the place. Gas stations convenience, grocery stores for a quick takeaway snack, served in restaurants (done both sweet and savory), and cooked for a family dinner. They are not the typical pancake that I know, but in all honestly I prefer the South African pannekoek to our own American pancakes—or flapjacks as they’re called here.

I could eat an entire pan of these babies all by myself. The light and airy pannakoek filled with a warm and savory mix of mince…What’s not to like?

South African Pannekoek (Pancakes)

I heard yesterday was National Pancake Day, and though I have yet to find that written anywhere, I decided to attempt a copy-cat version of my future MIL’s famed dish.

We’re having pannekoek for dinner!

Though it took some practice, they turned out so well!

If I were to make this dish again, I would consider adding zucchini or peppers to the mince to make it more veggie-ful. The cocoa gives this mince a darker flavor, and the coconut palm sugar adds a bit of sweetness. The sugar is optional, but the cocoa really makes this mince smokey and well-rounded. And you’ll notice, I did not sprinkle my pannakoek with cinnamon sugar, but you are more than welcome to do so!

These little rolls of deliciousness are full of protein, can be made dairy free and paleo, and also happen to be gluten free. They are fairly easy to make once you get the hang of crepe making in your nonstick pan! If you’re looking to try a South African favorite, give these yummies a shot!

South African Pannekoek (Pancakes

What You’ll Need

For the Pannakoek Batter:

  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup regular or nut milk (plus a little extra if your batter starts to thicken)

For the Mince

  • 2 TBSP oil of choice. I used pure butter but you can also use olive oil, ghee or a neutral flavored coconut oil.
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms diced
  • (5oz) lean bacon diced
  • 10 oz lean ground 100% beef
  • 1 TBSP crushed garlic
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP Coconut palm sugar or brown sugar. (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more depending)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Pepper to taste
  • Add 1 cup of diced zucchini to up the veggie content!

How To:

  1. In a large pot, warm the butter (or oil) and add onions and mushrooms. Let them cook, stirring every so often, for about 5 minutes. Until onions are translucent.
  2. Add diced bacon and ground beef to the mix and break up with a spatula. Stir occasionally for another 5-8 minutes until the beef begins to cook through and brown.
  3. While your meat is cooking, start on your pannekoek batter. Combine flour and egg and stir until combined.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of milk to the batter and stir until there are no lumps
  5. Add the other 1/2 of the milk and stir again. Your batter should be quite runny with no lumps. If it is too thick, you will not be able to make the pannekoek thin enough.
  6. Back to your pot of meat! Add spices, garlic, tomato paste, vinegar, cocoa and coconut palm sugar and stir until everything is well combined.
  7. Turn heat to low and begin making your crepes.
  8. Heat a medium sized non-stick pan and coat with a small drizzle of oil. (medium heat)
  9. Using a ladle or a small measuring cup (i used my 1/3 cup), spoon some of your pannekoek batter into the middle of the pan and tilt your pan round and round until the batter coats the entire bottom of the pan all the way to the edges. This could take a minute to get the hang of!
  10. Allow pannekoek to cook for about 3-4 minutes on one side. Check with a spatula to see if it is beginning to brown.
  11. The edges will start to peel away from the sides of the pan as it becomes ready. Now the fun part. FLIP! It’s ok, you can use your hands and the spatula.
  12. Let it brown on the other side for another 2-3 minutes or so, and then transfer to a large plate or work surface.
  13. Spoon some of your savory mince in a straight line towards one side of your pannakoek.
  14. With your hands, begin to roll the pannakoek up into a thin tube and transfer to a baking tray or rectangular casserole dish.
  15. Continue with the batter, making thin crepes, spooning your mince onto the cooked pannakoek and rolling them up until all the batter is used.
  16. You may have some leftover mince depending on how thick your individual pannakoek turned out!

I was able to make a tray of 12 savory pancakes with this recipe. I transferred my finished tray of pannakoek to a preheated oven just to warm them back up before serving.

For the future I will consider adding more veggies to this mince, but this dish got a huge thumbs up from my fiance regardless. This is super filling meal and is also fantastic for breakfast the next morning!

Serve it alongside a green salad or veggie of choice (here I’ve made my own crispy roasted broccoli) and you’ve got yourself a delicious South African-inspired dinner.

Happy Pancake (Pannekoek) Day!