Rejoice, pancake people! You can turn your ordinary flat pancakes into light, airy clouds of breakfast bliss by switching out just one ingredient. And guess what? If you don't have it, you can hack it with stuff you have in your pantry.

Buttermilk Pancakes
Buttermilk Pancakes | Photo by Meredith

And the Secret Ingredient Is...Buttermilk

That's right. If you use buttermilk instead of regular milk in any pancake recipe, its natural acidity combines with leavenings such as baking powder and baking soda to make a chemical reaction that fills the batter with bubbles. (I love you, food science.) Those bubbles make the batter rise, and the result is light and fluffy pancakes. I suggest anchoring them to your plate with plenty of syrup. And berries, if you've got 'em.

Two things to know about using buttermilk in your pancake recipe:

1. Add at least 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for every 6 ounces of buttermilk to get those bubbles forming in the batter.

2. Cook the batter right away, otherwise the bubbles will lose their lifting power. When I'm making buttermilk pancakes, I mix the liquid ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in a separate larger bowl. Then I wait until my griddle is hot before I pour the liquid into the dry and combine with a few quick strokes of my whisk.

Watch and learn a bit more about the magic of buttermilk:

Gotta Make the Pancakes

This top-rated recipe for buttermilk pancakes is a perfect starting point.

No Buttermilk? No Problem!

Remember how I said you can hack buttermilk? It's easy. Check out 5 easy buttermilk substitutes. All you do is mimic its moisture and acidity. And you probably already have the simple ingredients you need to do it.

This recipe for Fluffy Pancakes shows you how to DIY "buttermilk" with milk and vinegar.

Fluffy Pancakes
Fluffy Pancakes | Photo by Sara

More Pancake Know-How

Now that you know the secret ingredient, learn the tips and tricks that go into making pancakes so light they practically float off the plate. What's more, you can turn any pancake recipe into even more awesome buttermilk pancakes. Here are some of our most popular recipes to get you started on your buttermilk pancake conversion campaign.

Get even more pancake recipes.

The buttermilk hack works for waffles, too!

For more inspiration, check out all things Brunchworthy.