Food

Green Pancakes Might Be the Best Breakfast for Kids

Green Pancakes Recipe

In her recent house tour, Happy Menocal talked about making green pancakes for her kids. A bunch of readers requested the recipe, and she is happy to share…

“My daughter won’t eat anything, but she loves pancakes,” says Happy, “so once a week I make a huge batch of green pancake batter. The consistency isn’t as fluffy as regular pancakes, but they’re delicious and so healthy. I’ve been making these pancakes since my kids were little, so they aren’t freaked out by the green. It has been grandfathered in.”

Recipe: Green Pancakes
Serves 4

You’ll need:
5-6 cups dark leafy greens, like kale (Basically fill the whole body of the blender so there’s barely room for the other ingredients. Frozen greens work, too)
2 cups oats
1.5 bananas
1 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup flax seed oil
4 eggs

In a blender, combine all the ingredients. Blend it like a smoothie. Then fry them up in salted butter, and serve with berries and good maple syrup.

You can save extra batter in an airtight jar in the fridge and use the next day, but no longer than that I’d say.

Note: In general, you can tinker with the proportions to get your ideal version of the pancake.

Thank you so much, Happy!

P.S. Two-ingredient pancakes and toddlers in the kitchen.

(Photo by Happy Menocal.)

  1. Elizabeth says...

    Listen, if you are desperate to get green vegetables into your kid then these will do the trick. Make sure your kid is really hungry and have a heavy hand with the maple syrup. I made them for my three-year-old son on the weekend and his review was “Mommy, these are really yummy and also really bad”. Sums it up. He ate 6. Next time I’ll just make regular pancakes and have a salad for lunch, but I would still call these a success.

  2. Sadie says...

    Okokok I tried making these and would recommend using a green that is not kale…… yike!

  3. Sophie says...

    Are the oats cooked? I have steel cut oats… so they would be tough uncooked

  4. Camille says...

    Long time reader, first time commenter! Made these pancakes last night for dinner (only had 1 egg, so I used a combo of egg + flax meal/water). They were phenomenal with salted butter and real maple syrup! Sweet and thick and nutrient-dense!

    P.S. Every other sentence that comes out of my mouth is “this reminds me of an article I read on Cup of Jo…” Slowly trying to bring all my friends over to this corner of the internet! This site has brought me so much comfort, joy, and peace, as I’ve navigated a breakup, stressful job search, online dating, and my general foray into the adult world (24 years old and trying to figure out what’s next!).

    Thanks Joanna + team for everthing. Xo

  5. Madhura says...

    We often make a pot of green soup/ mush which is essentially just steamed veggies (whatever that’s left in the fridge every other week) + frozen spinach without any seasoning and blend it once cooked (i.e. no texture!). We then freeze this puree and store it in our freezer in cubes. Through the week we often use these cubes as soups, in making pancakes, in pastas, in rice, and whatever we can and feel very smug of being able to smuggle some healthy goodness into our 2 year old.

  6. Hello,
    I have been struggling with finding things that I digest well in the morning and these are fantastic. I love the taste and my kids don’t steal them from me because of the colour. They are delicious and fill me up! Thank you so much! I was also very inspired by Happy Monacal;)

  7. Y says...

    Hi Joanna, I just made these pancakes for my family and got a thumbs up from the 16 yr old and my husband, which is huge! I tagged you on Instagram!

  8. Jessica says...

    I make green smoothie pancakes for my 4-year old son, and he loves them because I’ve called them “Hulk Pancakes” from the beginning. :)

  9. Margaret Elizabeth Blettner says...

    I’ve been thinking about this since I read that post! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Bridget says...

    I have 13-month old twins and have been meaning to make these since I saw Happy’s amazing home. This post was the push I needed! I read the comments and came up with a combination of Happy’s recipe and some reader suggestions. Fast forward to 11:30 pm: boys asleep and I’m cackling manically in the kitchen as I flip my green treasures. The boys loved them this morning! Thanks for the post!

  11. Elisabeth says...

    These look wonderful. I have an egg-allergic kid, and often use ground flax as a replacement for pancakes, but these are pretty egg-heavy and I’m wondering if they’d still work. Any ideas, or other egg replacements that might work better?

    • Bridget says...

      Before I made these I dug around the internet for similar recipes. Lots of recipes called for flax as a substitute. I made mine with only one egg and they turned out great so you should be fine with flax.

    • Elisabeth says...

      Thank you, Bridget!

    • Lyn says...

      Ottolenghi has a delicious green pancake recipe as well. It’s quite herby, has melted butter in it. He does use an egg. He beats the eggs whites until firm and folds it in to add fluffiness to the finished pancake… I was reminded that in vegan cooking, the aquafaba (chickpea water) can be similarly whipped as a replacement (and used to make vegan meringue!).

  12. Shannon says...

    I love this—thanks for the fun and healthy kid recipes, Jo! My son was a great eater of all fruits and veggies from babyhood up through the end of preschool. Then the darned NYC public school lunch menu ruined his palate. (It’s free for all kids at our school, so even though I send him with his own healthy lunch, he gets himself fries and choc milk behind my back. Ugh.) Trying to win him back to healthy food is hard, but ideas like this one are a great help!

  13. Emma says...

    Fabulous pancakes, made these and so good with butter and cherry jam…

  14. Pancakes are a favorite in my house and i think these green pancakes are the best way to include green leafy vegetables in the diet of our kids otherwise it is battle to make them eat veggies, and your recipe is amazing

  15. Jess says...

    I was roasting tons of squash for my baby as well, and I recently discovered that cubing and boiling squash works just as well, is much faster, and means I don’t need to turn the oven on!

  16. Isla says...

    I replace most of the liquid in pancakes and waffles with soft tofu and they are great – the kids get more protein but they have no idea!

  17. I was so inspired I made these for my daughter this morning! We called them monster waffles (I put them in our tiny waffle maker) and she loved them. She’s 2, so if I can get her to eat kale pancakes, FANTASTIC.

    I will say, however, that I tried one and it was truly revolting. It tasted like kale… covered in maple syrup. Good thing she likes them!

  18. Hali says...

    Well if this isn’t a festive St. Patrick’s day breakfast?! I’m born and raised vegetarian and we ate loads of spinach “chicken” nuggets, which always yielded gawking in the cafeteria. Green foods always have a special place in my heart.

    • Michelle says...

      Hali, can you please share what spinach nuggets you use?!

  19. Ashley says...

    and matcha pancakes are the best for adults :)

  20. We’ve been dyeing regular pancake mix green for years – our kids think it’s hilarious to have colored pancakes! This is such a FACEPALM moment for me, as I could have been sneaking in veggies (instead of food coloring). Duhhhh. Can’t wait to try this!

  21. Julie says...

    My four year old, who eats almost nothing, loves butternut squash pancakes. It’s a huge pain because I have to roast the squash first and I’m trying to buy less plastic so I have to buy the full squash, not the pre-cut ones (which I loved before I decided I was fully capable of cutting my own stupid squash). Then I make the pancakes from scratch (food 52 perfect pancakes recipe is awesome – I haven’t done it with the apples but I bet it’s delicious). I’m going to try these green ones and if she eats them then I will make them far too often and run this recipe into the ground! MUHAHHWWW!!!

    • Sarah E Berenz says...

      Love this. And YES YES YES to buying your own squash and not the stuff in the plastic bags! Our addiction to convenience is mucking up the world… you are doing the right thing!! Thank you!

    • Dnaa says...

      I dislike peeling raw squash so I’ll either roast for about 20 minutes whole or nuke it for about 5 (make sure to puncture it) and it makes it easier to peel but still firm enough to cube. Hope that helps!

    • Molly says...

      Laughing so much at “which I loved before I decided I was fully capable of cutting my own stupid squash”. I groan every time I have to slice up a squash.

  22. Nikki says...

    I have a donut maker (like a waffle maker but in donut form). These would be a great grab and go breakfast foods in donut form. And it’s a donut.

  23. Heather says...

    Yay! Thank you for making our St.Patrick’s Day breakfast healthier than a bowl of Lucky Charms this year!

    My kids are pretty good eaters, but even eating veggies at most meals, they still don’t get near the recommended amount. I can’t wait to try these!

  24. Viv says...

    where is the beautiful china from??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s Blue Lace by Mottehedeh. so pretty!

    • Dana Wilson says...

      right?? I couldn’t decide which I liked better….the pancakes or the china! :)

  25. Sasha L says...

    I don’t know if the spinach gets cooked enough, or if pureeing negates, but eating too many raw greens (I don’t mean a salads worth, I mean like four salads’ worth, all at once) isn’t good for you. Especially with kale or chard, spinach to a lesser degree. I think eating greens is wonderful, I mostly put mine in soups, but we can go a bit overboard, esp in smoothies etc and cooling then seems to be safer and healthier.

    When my now grown children were little there was a big trend to *hide* healthy vegetables in order to get kids to eat them. Things like black bean brownies. That just never made much sense to me. To each their own, but involving children in meal planning and preparation, eating the healthy foods yourself in front of the children, providing lots of opportunities to try it without pressure – all work pretty well. Most children do eventually broaden their tastes and they can get all of their needed nutrients from a wide variety of foods – it’s really ok if greens aren’t their favorite for awhile.

    • Mary W says...

      And I can’t eat greens that have been cooked too much. They release tons of histamines and I have a horrible allergic reaction. Greens are one of those things that have really great reputation, but not everyone can enjoy them.

  26. Micki says...

    I just got a tiny waffle maker and I think I’ll make a batch and freeze the extras. This looks like a perfect grab-and-go!

  27. Annie K says...

    I rooted this recipe out of the comments section of Happy’s post. I made them for my fam…me and the three year old were not fans, but the 36 year old man and 9 month old both liked them.

    A super-mom friend of mine gave me “banana pancakes”: pancakes made with two eggs (whipped with a fork) + one banana mashed into them. I add a touch of cinnamon and vanilla to the mix and serve with yogurt and maple syrup. My little family loves them, but I wouldn’t serve to grown up guests. They definitely feel like kid food.

    • liz says...

      I tried to make them and it tasted like a banana omelette lol. what did i do wrong?

    • Annie K says...

      Ha! Cup of Jo… Cup of All the Amazing Secrets! Of course you already knew mine.

      Honestly, Liz, they do kind of just taste like banana omelettes. It helps to whip the eggs and integrate the banana as well as possible.

    • Hanna says...

      Try one egg, one mashed banana and two tablespoons whole grain flour – mix with a fork. The easiest, super yummy and healthy pancakes that you could also serve grown ups and no omlette taste! ;-)

  28. Suzanne Quinn says...

    Use the good china every day! Treat yourself and your fam!

  29. Jessica says...

    What kind of oats???
    Cooked or …?
    How in the WORLD would steel cut oats cook in time in the recipe?

    Oats are one of those things that, really, you can’t just list in a recipe. They come in so many forms (rolled, sliced, groats) with so many cooking times. I wouldn’t dare make this recipe without knowing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I‘ll ask!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Happy says: “I like Bob’s Red Mill slow cooking rolled oats, and don’t cook them first. You could prob use steel cut or any kind, since they’re getting minced up in the blender anyway. Xxx“

    • Jessica says...

      If your blender can mince up raw steel cut oats, it’s better than mine!
      Thanks for looking it up!

    • Tovah says...

      I’m no expert, but I wouldn’t think steel cut would work in a pancake recipe– their cook time is too long. I think you’d be fine with regular rolled or quick oats.

  30. Hilary says...

    I have also found that my daughter eats anything green if I call it “Monster” whatever the thing is. Ergo, these are monster pancakes and she’d totally flip!

    I also sometimes let her put sprinkles in the pancake batter, because life’s too short. This would be a nice counterbalance :)

  31. CS says...

    This is my kinda pancake!!! Thank you! Fingers crossed that I can get my son to eat them with me… but either way I am making them. I think they would make an awesome lunch for work! Make a batch and take a few to work each day! Extremely healthy!

  32. Amy says...

    Mmmm! I’m in!!

  33. Ann says...

    I may do this for St. Patrick’s Day! Maple syrup makes everything taste great! Thanks for the recipe!

  34. Hilary says...

    Ah I love this! Even better, a recipe that can be easily whipped up in the blender and a kid-win. Pancakes freeze really well, too! Thanks for the delicious- and approachable- recipe!

  35. Jane D says...

    Hey, are you sure you mean fewer eggs=fluffier pancakes

  36. M says...

    We sometimes blend some defrosted frozen spinach in Kodiak cakes (you can find the brand at Costco, Target). The kids love them.

  37. patricia blaettler says...

    St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner!

  38. Jade says...

    I dont have kids on first sight I KNOW I would be tempted to call these a
    Shrek Breakky! (Especially given Toby and Anton’s past Halloween costumes.)
    When I was little I was a fussy eater and would not eat eggs. One morning when watching the cooking segment of my beloved Humphrey Bear (an Aussie Kids program) my wonderful mum saw they were making a sort of french toast and seized this opportunity by asking me if I wanted Humphrey Bear toast for breakfast? To this day 25 years later whenever I am feeling upset or unwell – Humphrey Bear Toast has become the go-to.

  39. K says...

    I also make green oatmeal. Just blitz up some baby spinach (or any dark leafy greens) with water and use the green water the cook the oatmeal, with whatever other additions you love. Looks weird, tastes like regular oatmeal. Actually, I kind of love the amazing green colour.

  40. Rosie says...

    Even without a banana allergy there is no chance I could convince my picky munchkin to eat green pancakes. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I would eat these!

    • Sasha L says...

      I’m with you Rosie! I love spinach – in salad, stuffed in raviolis and lasagne, sauteed and in an omelet…….. But in pancakes??? No thank you. Or in oatmeal? (Gasp) also no thank you. But I think I can taste everything in a dish, and spinach just doesn’t go when yummy fluffy pancakes. I also don’t like my food to be odd colors (no thanks to blue frosting either).

  41. Roxana says...

    YES! Thank you so much for this!

    We’ve been living off of Smitten Kitchen’s banana oatmeal pancakes, which are great! BUT, my two younger kids (3 and 6) are being total stinkers about veggies (they used to eat ’em up easily). I’ve been struggling to get greens into them. So excited to try this! I always keep chopped frozen kale and spinach in the freezer.

  42. Lydia says...

    Too cute! Growing up my mom used to make us green pancakes, but only on Saint Patrick’s day… she’d insist on speaking in a (very bad) Irish accent until we finished eating them. :) nice memories :)

  43. Nina says...

    These look amazing! What’s the function of the flax seed oil? It doesn’t taste very nice, and its healthy fats are negatively affected by high heat.

    • helen says...

      I know – I agree with you. I might try coconut oil instead – might help balance out the flavour of the greens

    • Alison says...

      Omega 3s!

    • Good question! I just include flax oil because I assume it’s super healthy, but hadn’t considered how the heat affects its potency. I’ve used coconut oil and it’s been fine. It’s possible you could forego oil altogether and be fine. I’m constantly subbing things when I run out (I’ve done buckwheat flour instead of oats, whole milk instead of yogurt…)
      The pancakes are by no means masterpieces— I’d honestly rather eat Bisquik— but they are a vehicle for nutritious ingredients and a triumph for me as a mom of a picky eater!

    • Nina says...

      Thanks for responding, Happy! Heat doesn’t just reduce “potency”, it actually damages the healthy fats (omega 3 etc) and may make them actively unhealthy. Looking at the recipe I imagine it would work fine without any oil added to the batter.

  44. Laura says...

    I can see making it for kids, but my god, that is the least appetizing pancake I have ever seen! :P :P :P

    • AN says...

      Not if green is your fave color! You do you, boo.

  45. Jen says...

    Too funny! Just this morning I was scouring through my photos for the screen shot I took of this recipe from many months ago. Little did I know that if I just waited a few hours it would be posted! Much easier, thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good timing! :)

  46. Molly says...

    That’s my wedding china – Blue Lace by Mottehedeh – can’t say I’ve ever used it for breakfast!! But those look yummy!

    • Margot says...

      I was scrolling through the comments hoping someone would identify that beauty! I agree with another poster, those – use your wedding china every day!!! We’re here to enjoy ourselves and remember the sweetest moments throughout life (weddings and breakfasts number among them)!!!

  47. Abesha1 says...

    A friend taught me that if you’re not picky, pancake batter goes nicely into a waffle iron, too!

    • Emily says...

      Ditto this! Waffles so much easier too cook than pancakes, I think.

  48. Alice says...

    These sound great!
    On a green pancake theme, smitten kitchen’s swiss chard pancakes are amazing. Regardless what greenery I throw in, my kids always eat them and have done since they were teeny. They’re savoury, and go brilliantly with so many things for a quick dinner. Highly recommend!

    • Sarah says...

      Yes, love those SK pancakes! I have eaten those for a savory breakfast many times (though I skip the garlicky yogurt for breakfast :)

  49. sarah says...

    I’m so happy to see this! I periodically give my daughter green pancakes for lunch in Kindergarten. She said that some of the kids make fun of her. So, I asked her how it made her feel and what she wanted to do about it. She said, “can you please keep giving them to me, so they will get used it”. She totally surprised me with that response. I was fully prepared to only serve them at home.

    • Ann says...

      Love you daughter’s approach!!!

    • Isabella says...

      This is awesome! It sounds like your daughter has amazing strength of character. I love the way our kids can surprise us with their wisdom and insight and grit! <3

    • Margot says...

      Top-class kiddo you got there.

  50. ANDREA says...

    My nutritionist says that blending or pureeing vegetables and fruits converts them into sugar, so I don’t think these are much of a win.

    • Abesha1 says...

      ???

    • LS says...

      Can you please elaborate?

    • mb says...

      It changes the composition but it does not turn them into sugar. Cooking onions over a stove for a long time caramelizes them, that is, it brings out the sweetness of the onion, a natural property of that vegetable’s composition. It also makes the onion lose some of its nutrients (as does a lot of cooking processes, although some processes make nutrients more available). But it absolutely does not convert them into sugar.

    • Mallory says...

      I looked this up awhile ago… “If most or all of the whole fruit and/or vegetable is blended into the beverage (skin, pulp, and flesh), then the nutrients and fiber are preserved, making it nutritionally comparable to eating the ingredients in whole form.”

      Juicing is another story though.

      https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/common-questions-fruits-vegetables/

    • JC says...

      This is scientific nonsense!
      Love,
      A scientist :)

    • Maggie says...

      I admit this made me chuckle a little bit. What a privileged world we live in where (a) get to see nutritionists and (b) that they can be critical of the format in which we ingest produce! I am no expert, but I just feel like.. eat your greens (any which way) – you know?!

      This recipe looks delicious. I may even make this for dinner tonight!

    • Amy says...

      Blending veggies and fruits is okay, as I understand it. JUICING them, however (and maybe pureeing? IDK), is where you get the sugar bomb. It’s not that they suddenly get more sugary by being juiced; it’s that the fiber that’s in the veggies and fruits–the stuff that helps your body process and regulate the sugar that you’re taking in–gets destroyed.

      I once asked my doctor whether blending veggies wouldn’t have the same effect. He said, “Fiber makes it through your stomach acid just fine. It’s not going to be destroyed in a blender.” But juicing actually physically removes the fiber.

    • Jessica says...

      Blending/pureeing is a physical process that happens on more of a macro-scale, you physically break the food into smaller pieces. Sugar conversion is a chemical process, which takes place on a much smaller, molecular, lengthscale. I would be highly surprised that a typical blender is capable of cutting long chain carbohydrates into their shorter chain sugar building blocks. Without putting too much thought into it, this seems scientifically highly unlikely (I’m a scientist). Your nutritionists advice is a little bit suspect.

    • Justine says...

      Also, cooking can increase the availability of certain nutritional elements in vegetables, like tomatoes (increases availability of lycopene and a few other lovely things).

    • EB says...

      While juicing does remove fiber in the form of pulp and therefore causes the natural sugars inherent in whole fruits and vegetables to be more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, pureeing whole greens (as called for in this recipe) would absolutely not convert these nutritious foods into sugar.

      Please know that only a very few states actually require “nutritionists” to have any sort of licensing, education, degree or qualifications. I live and practice in Colorado, and absolutely anyone can call themself a nutritionist with no additional information needed. I’d be rather wary of any nutritionist peddling this sort of utter rubbish about transforming vegetables and fruits into sugar through blending. As Maggie says above, “eat your greens any which way.”

    • Karolina says...

      This makes absolutely NO sense. What you put into the blender is also what you get out (in a different consistency, that is.)

  51. Pam says...

    Nice, thank you! My kids would be skeptical, but I also know I’ll be able to sell these easily come March as Leprachaun Pancakes ;)

    • Kim says...

      Brilliant!!!

  52. Jana says...

    Yeeeeeeesss been waiting with bated breath! Thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha glad to help!

  53. Em says...

    We do souped up pancakes too – extra eggs, bananas, oat/wheat bran etc. Our kids are picky eaters but will eat these every morning. We make a big batch on the weekends, freeze, and defrost/toast during the week. I wonder if they’d try green pancakes.

  54. Sarah Petit says...

    We like to cook up a huge batch of pancakes on Sunday and save the leftovers in the fridge. Then we can look forward to popping them in the toaster Monday and Tuesday mornings as an easy, warm breakfast.

    • Lorange says...

      Yes this such a good method! They last way longer in the freezer than the batter in the fridge too!

    • SF_DC says...

      I do this too! I alternate weekends making a batch of pancakes and waffles, and freeze leftovers for weekday breakfasts & snacks. They reheat great!

    • CaraM says...

      Why in the world haven’t I thought to reheat these in a toaster on a weekday? That’s a game changer and I’m sad I didn’t think of it. Thanks for sharing!

  55. liz says...

    oooo this is going to be a game changer for me. I’ve been struggling to find new breakfast options lately