Packed with rainbow sprinkles and topped with vanilla icing, these buttermilk birthday cake pancakes are the sweetest way to wake up in the morning. A stack of these colorful pancakes makes for an extra-special start to a birthday, a fun ending for a sleepover party, or any celebratory occasion that calls for sprinkles for breakfast!
For the most part, I try to make healthy, wholesome (but still tasty!) breakfasts for my family, like these fluffy whole wheat pancakes. But there are a few special dates on the calendar every year when normal rules don’t apply… and that’s when it’s time to break out the sprinkles and make a batch of birthday cake pancakes!
I started with my favorite buttermilk pancake recipe (in my first cookbook!) as the base for this funfetti-style version. I love this classic buttermilk pancake recipe because it makes the fluffiest, softest, most tender pancakes ever. Have you tried them?
I changed the recipe by adding a touch more baking powder and sugar, a little almond extract, extra vanilla extract, and a whole lotta sprinkles. The extracts, along with the melted butter, gives these pancakes the most delicious buttery cake batter flavor. Paired with sweet vanilla icing (and maybe a little whipped cream—why not go all out!?), it’s absolutely considered dessert. For breakfast.
Living the dream.
What You’ll Love About These Birthday Cake Pancakes
- Quick and easy to make
- Fluffy, buttery, and tender
- Loaded with colorful rainbow sprinkles
- Flavors of vanilla and almond extract make them taste like cake batter
- Topped with sweet vanilla icing (and more sprinkles!)
- Almost like having confetti cake for breakfast!
Key Ingredients to Use & Why
- Butter: Melt the butter first, to give it a chance to slightly cool before you mix it into the other wet ingredients.
- All-Purpose Flour: The base of the pancakes. See recipe Notes for info on using whole wheat flour and my whole wheat pancakes recipe.
- Granulated Sugar: Just enough to sweeten the batter, because you’ll add sweet toppings like vanilla icing or maple syrup.
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda: Both give these fun pancakes some serious fluffiness.
- Salt: To balance the sweet.
- Eggs: To bind the ingredients together.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk’s lactic acid, as well as its subtle tangy flavor and creamy texture, is required. Though I often suggest a DIY buttermilk option using regular milk and vinegar/lemon, I highly recommend using real buttermilk in these pancakes. I usually use low fat, but full fat works too.
- Vanilla Extract: A kiss of vanilla is the perfect flavor enhancer. You could also use vanilla bean paste.
- Almond Extract: This flavor addition is what makes these pancakes taste like cake batter. It doesn’t really taste like almonds—it’s the flavoring we always use in sugar cookies! By the way, have you ever tried this cake & cookie bakery emulsion? You can use this flavoring to replace almond or vanilla extracts in certain recipes, including today’s.
- Rainbow Sprinkles: Make sure you use the “jimmies” style of rainbow sprinkles, the waxy strands. Rainbow confetti quins (the flat pastel-colored discs) work, too. Other types of sprinkles, such as nonpareils, will bleed their color in the batter, turning it muddy—which isn’t the look we’re going for here!
Make the Pancake Batter
Preparing the batter takes just a couple minutes. Whisk the dry ingredients in 1 bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients in another, then pour wet into dry and whisk together to combine. I like to use a large mixing bowl with a pour spout. Makes pouring the batter onto the pan/griddle much easier.
Success Tip: Let Your Batter Take a Nap
Let the batter rest for a few minutes while you preheat your griddle/pan and make the icing. This gives it a chance to thicken up, which makes for even fluffier birthday cake pancakes.
How to Keep Sprinkles From Bleeding Their Color?
Because there are so many brightly colored sprinkles going into this birthday pancake batter, let me take a moment to emphasize how important it is to avoid over-mixing.
Over-mixing your pancake batter will turn it a putrid purple/green/brown from all the sprinkles’ color. Not at all appetizing. Here are my success tips for beautiful rainbow pancakes:
- Use sprinkles that don’t easily bleed their color.
- Wait to add the sprinkles until you’re ready to cook the pancakes.
- Fold them in gently. Use a light hand and stir slowly.
Also! Over-mixing will give your pancakes a dense, tough texture. A far, far cry from the fluffy stack of rainbow pancakes you see here today.
The best temperature for cooking pancakes is 375ºF (190ºC). If you’re cooking on an electric griddle, you can simply set it to heat to that temperature. If you’re cooking in a griddle pan or large skillet on the stove, allow the pan to preheat for several minutes over medium heat. Don’t be tempted to crank the heat up to high; that will lead to unevenly cooked, burnt pancakes.
To test if the pan is ready, flick a few drops of water from your fingers onto the pan. If they sizzle in place and disappear, it’s not quite hot enough yet. If they “dance” around on the surface before sizzling out, your pan is good to go!
Many pancake recipes instruct you to flip when you see bubbles forming on the surface, but you’re actually looking for holes. Your pancakes are ready to flip when the bubbles are popping, forming little holes in the surface. Cook until the edges look set and you notice holes in the pancake’s surface around the border, about 2 minutes. Flip, then cook for another minute.
For more pancake-perfecting tips, read this article on 10 Pancake Common Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them.
Easy Vanilla Icing
Vanilla icing is the perfect finishing touch for a tall stack of birthday cake pancakes. This addition definitely makes it feel like you are eating confetti cake for breakfast. I halved my original vanilla icing recipe because you don’t need as much.
Whisk together sifted confectioners’ sugar, a little milk, and a little vanilla extract. So simple!
The sweet buttery pancakes are amazing even without the vanilla icing on top (and this is coming from a pancake condiment junkie). The candle and extra sprinkles on top, however, are obviously necessary.
*Make a wish!*
More Pancake Recipes:
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- Whole Wheat Pancakes & Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
- Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
- Greek Yogurt Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
- Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes
- Homemade Crepes
Birthday Cake Pancakes
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 12 pancakes
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: American
Packed with rainbow sprinkles and topped with vanilla icing, these buttermilk birthday cake pancakes are the sweetest way to wake up in the morning. Let the batter sit for a few minutes to thicken as you heat the stove.
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (480ml) buttermilk*
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract*
- 1/2 cup (85g) rainbow sprinkles (not nonpareils)*
- for cooking: butter or nonstick spray
- 1/2 cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1–2 Tablespoons milk
- for serving: whipped cream and more rainbow sprinkles
- Melt the 6 Tablespoons of butter first. Microwave or stovetop—either is fine. Set aside to slightly cool. You do not want it piping hot.
- In a large bowl preferably with a pour spout, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and almond extract together until combined, and then whisk in the cooled melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk to combine. Make sure there are no patches of dry flour at the bottom of the bowl. The batter is thick and a few lumps are fine.
- Let the batter sit for 5 minutes as you heat the stove in the next step. This gives the batter a chance to thicken. You will fold in the sprinkles right before cooking.
- Meanwhile, heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Coat generously with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Once it’s hot, fold the sprinkles into the batter.
- Drop/pour a heaping 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle. Cook until the edges look set and you notice holes in the pancake’s surface around the border, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until cooked through, about 1–2 more minutes. Coat griddle/skillet with butter or nonstick spray again, if needed, for each batch of pancakes.
- Keep pancakes warm in a preheated 200°F (93°C) oven until all pancakes are cooked.
- Make the icing: Whisk the icing ingredients together and pour over pancakes before serving. Feel free to add whipped cream and more sprinkles on top, too.
- Serve pancakes immediately. Cover and store leftover pancakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Pancakes freeze well up to 3 months. Reheat frozen pancakes in the microwave. Or you can reheat frozen pancakes in a 350°F (177°C) oven. Place pancakes on a lined baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 6–8 minutes or until defrosted and warm.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | Silicone Spatula | Electric Griddle, Griddle Pan, or Shallow Skillet/Pan | Pancake Turner
- Can I make the batter the night before? No, I don’t recommend it. Baking powder is activated once wet. You can, however, mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together and keep them separate and covered in the refrigerator until the morning. (But do not add the melted butter until ready to cook, because that will solidify in the refrigerator.)
- Can I make waffles instead? Absolutely. Use today’s batter and follow the same cooking instructions as these gingerbread waffles.
- Can I use whole wheat flour? I recommend making my whole wheat pancakes instead, and using 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and adding the almond extract and sprinkles.
- Buttermilk: Though I typically suggest a DIY buttermilk option using regular milk and vinegar/lemon, I highly recommend real buttermilk for these pancakes. I use low-fat buttermilk, but full fat works too. I do not suggest any substitutions. If you have leftover buttermilk, you can use it in any of these recipes.
- Almond Extract: This flavor addition is what makes these pancakes taste like cake batter. It doesn’t really taste like almonds. I also really like this cake & cookie bakery emulsion flavoring. You can use this flavoring to replace the almond or vanilla extracts.
- Sprinkles: Use rainbow sprinkles/jimmies. Do not use nonpareils (the tiny balls), which are prone to bleeding their color no matter how lightly you fold them into batter. In the photos, I used these rainbow sprinkles in the pancake batter, and these round confetti sprinkles on top of the cooked pancakes for serving.
- Update in 2023: This recipe used to call for 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, and 2/3 cup rainbow sprinkles.
- Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction Cookbook Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes recipe.
Keywords: birthday cake funfetti pancakes
Reader Comments & Reviews
Making these right now as waffles and they are expanding like crazy! Sadly my blue and green sprinkles are also running badly…but the taste is great! Not sure whether it’s something I did wrong in the batter, or if that’s just how it is for waffles?
Is there a specific egg substitute you’d recommend for this recipe?
Hi Cory, we haven’t tested any egg substitutes in this recipe. If you try anything out, please do let us know how it goes!
I recently made this for my grandmother and WOW. This is truly the best Funfetti pancakes I have ever tried. Keep up the good work Sally!
I’ve been making this recipe for years! It’s the best birthday breakfast! By the way, Happy Birthday Sally!!!
Thank you so much, Rachel!
Love the “ cook mode” feature! A nice convenience!
Glad you find it useful!
Hi! Assuming the melted butter gets whisked in with the eggs and buttermilk after it cools slightly? These sound amazing, can’t wait to make them!
Hi Natalie, yes that’s correct.
My husband is a waffles man BUT when I made these pancakes (without the sprinkles or icing) and served with warm Vermont maple syrup and soft, real butter, he absolutely loved them! Doesn’t care if he has another waffle in his future. Thank you Sally for a delicious recipe. The almond really tastes awesome paired with vanilla.
These were delicious! Made them for my daughters Birthday breakfast. So fun!
This recipe was great , i didnt have almond extract so i added some cinnamon and i left out the sprinkles for normal pancakes. My batter was extremely thick so i added half a cup of milk to thin it out. Other than that it was great.
I just made this this morning … exactly as the recipe written but cut in 1/2. All 3 kids thought they were AWESOME (obviously, they have sprinkles!!). While cleaning up, I shoved one in my mouth … omg so yummy!! (I grabbed a second one!)