Pancake Day Traditions: Savor the History and Recipes

Vanessa Gatelein Feb 08, 2024

Let's get ready for pancake day! It's not just a chance to whip up some batter and get flipping. Let's dive into its rich history—with religious roots, yep, I said religious roots, dating back to the Middle Ages—and discover why it's more than just a tasty treat. You'll find out how towns across England mark the occasion with races who have runners tossing pancakes like pros.

And hey, whether you're all in for lemon juice classic pancakes or looking for healthier spins on this holiday staple, we've got your cravings covered with recipes galore. Plus, ever wondered if other countries go pancake-mad too? Spoiler: they do! We’ll show you how our global neighbours serve up their versions of this festive food frenzy.

The Origins and Significance of Pancake Day

Imagine a time when Anglo-Saxon Christians marked the arrival of Lent, a special time leading up to Easter, with the sizzle of pancakes in a hot frying pan. Lent is a time of fasting and letting go of favourite foods before the Easter celebrations. Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, takes us on a delicious journey back to this era. Falling 47 days before Easter Sunday, this day has flipped its way into history since at least 1439—when pancakes began gracing cookery books.

If this history stuff is boring for you... you can skip down to the amazing pancake recipes we prepared for you below!

Understanding Shrove Tuesday

The term "Shrove" stems from 'shrive', meaning to confess sins—a practice integral to preparing for the Lenten fast. But why mix batter and flip pancakes? Well, households were busy making use of rich fatty foods like eggs and milk that would spoil during fasting periods. Basically, Shrove Tuesday is the day that people in the Middle Ages used up valuable food before hunkering down for the fasting time during Lent. And thus emerged the tradition of crafting these simple yet delightful pancakes.

Celebrating Pancake Day with Traditional Activities

When you think of Shrove Tuesday, your mind might jump straight to busy kitchens and the sweet smell of pancakes sizzling in a frying pan. But did you know that flipping pancakes is just the tip of the syrup bottle when it comes to this day's traditions? Towns across England mark Pancake Day with activities that are as quirky as they are historic.

The Famous Olney Pancake Day Race

Imagine racing through streets, apron flapping, pancake flipping, skillet in hand – welcome to the Olney pancake race. This tradition isn't a modern fad; we're talking about an event steeped in history since 1445. Runners dash down the road while keeping their pancakes airborne with expert flips. It's not just for laughs either; there's serious competition here. If you want a taste of this action-packed celebration or even dream up strategies for winning next year’s race, take a peek at Olney's official pancake race page.

Mob Football - A Shrove Tuesday Pastime

Have you heard about mob football? Before football or rugby existed, entire towns would turn into playing fields on Shrove Tuesday, kicking around anything resembling a ball. This is truly a medieval sport with a ball larger than a standard football - that is filled with cork in case it falls in a river, so it can float! 

Key Takeaways

Pancake Day is more than just cooking; it's a day packed with quirky and historic activities like the Olney pancake race, where runners flip pancakes while racing, and mob football matches that turn towns into playful battlegrounds.

Crafting Perfect Pancakes for Every Taste

When life gives you lemons, make pancakes. Not just any pancakes—let's talk about the kind that have been adored since 1439. That’s right, we’re stirring up some history with a squeeze of lemon juice to top it off.

Lemon Juice Classic Pancakes

The art of pancake making is as timeless as it is tasty. Lemon-topped pancakes aren't just food; they're a symbol of creation and purity in every fluffy bite. Imagine whisking together ingredients that speak to both tradition and wholesomeness—a true staff supporting our connection to English heritage.

To craft this classic delight from scratch, start by dusting off your frying pan and look below for an authentic pancake recipe. Follow each step closely, folding in plain flour with care because these aren't just any old cakes—they carry centuries of cultural significance all the way back to Anglo-Saxon Christians preparing for Lenten fasts.

Makes about 8-10 pancakes. Serve 1-2 pancakes per person


  • 100g plain flour  
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp oil, plus a little extra for frying
  • Lemon wedges to serve (optional)
  • Caster sugar to serve (optional) 


  1. Put the flour, eggs, milk, lemon juice, oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug, then whisk to a smooth batter.
  2. Set aside for 30 mins to rest if you have time or start cooking straight away.
  3. Set a medium frying pan or crêpe pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe it with some oiled kitchen paper. 
  4. When hot, cook your pancakes for 1 min on each side until golden, keeping them warm in a low oven as you go.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges and caster sugar, or your favourite filling. 
  6. Once cold, you can layer the pancakes between baking parchment, then wrap in cling film and freeze for up to 2 months.
The Complete-ly Delish Pancake Recipe

Makes about 4 pancakes. Serve 1-2 pancakes per person


  • 1 scoop Juice Plus + Complete Vanilla
  • 1 mashed banana 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 shot almond milk
  • 100g or ¾ cup blueberries


  1. Mash a banana.
  2. Add the Juice Plus+ Complete Vanilla powder, eggs, baking powder, and almond milk and blend.
  3. Stir 2/3 of the blueberries in the mixture.
  4. Fry pancakes and garnish with remaining blueberries.
  5. Enjoy!
Conscious Pancake Alternative - Vegan Pancakes

And let's not forget planet conscious or kind alternatives. These unique pancake recipes can swap out animal products without losing an ounce of flavour—think almond milk instead of cow's or flax seeds in place of eggs—and yes, even on Shrove Tuesday. Who knew eating pancakes could feel so good?


  • 1 egg or flax egg*
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 15ml milk or plant-based milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 scoops Complete by Juice Plus+ Vanilla
  • Butter or coconut oil 

Optional Toppings:
Berries, strawberries, bananas, and walnuts.
Almost no calorie additions: cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. 


  1. In a large bowl, mash the banana well using a fork. 
  2. Using a whisk or fork, stir in the milk, pinch of salt and Complete by Juice Plus+ powder together until it creates a batter. 
  3. Lightly grease a frying pan or griddle with butter or coconut oil.  
  4. Important! Heat the pan at low to medium heat. 
  5. Using a measuring spoon or ladle, measure out one pancake into the pan at a time. 
  6. These pancakes need to be cooked very slowly. Deep breaths and patience! 
  7. Let the pancake cook until little bubbles start to burst in the pancake, then flip gently with a pancake turner or spatula. 
  8. Let the second side cook gently and then move to a serving plate. 
  9. Serve with your toppings of choice. We love bananas with walnuts or strawberries. 
  10. Low calorie additions include spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. 
*How to make a Flax Egg (vegan) 

1 Tablespoon of flaxseed meal 

2 Tablespoons water 


  • Mix together well and let stand for 5 minutes. 
  • You can now add this to your recipe as if it were one egg J 


  • 1 flax egg (make ahead, see recipe below.)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed 
  • 15ml plant-based milk 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 2 scoops Complete by Juice Plus+ Vanilla 
  • Butter or coconut oil 

 Optional Toppings and Flavours: 

  • Berries, strawberries, bananas, and walnuts. 
  • Flavour additions: cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. 


  • In a large bowl, mash the banana well using a fork. 
    Using a whisk or fork, stir in the milk, pinch of salt and Complete by Juice Plus+ powder together until it creates a batter.
  • Lightly grease a frying pan or griddle with butter or coconut oil.  
    Important! Heat the pan at low to medium heat. 
  • Using a measuring spoon or ladle, measure out one pancake into the pan at a time.
  • These pancakes need to be cooked very slowly. Deep breaths and patience!
  • Let the pancake cook until little bubbles start to burst in the pancake, then flip gently with a pancake turner or spatula.
  • Let the second side cook gently and then move to a serving plate.
  • Serve with your toppings of choice. We love bananas with walnuts or strawberries. 
  • Flavour additions include spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
How to make a Flax Egg (vegan egg replacement)

Pancake recipes need something to bind all the ingredients together. Typically, that would be an egg in a classic pancake recipe. Here we use flax seeds, soaked for at least 5 minutes to create a natural plant based "binder."


  • 1 Tablespoon of flaxseed meal 
  • 2 Tablespoons water 


  1. Mix together well and let stand for 5 minutes. 
  2. You can now add this to your recipe as if it were one egg.

Protein Pancakes

Of course, there are some focused folks who want more nutrition in their pancakes like protein! Protein pancakes keep the egg, use less flour and add in a protein powder which makes these pancakes chock full of protein when you count the egg and milk protein as well as the protein powder. Here we used Juice Plus+ Perform powder to make gorgeous PINK Fruit Fusion protein pancakes. You get about 21g protein per serving.

Pink Protein Pancakes. Fruit Fusion Flavour!

Makes about 4 large pancakes. Serves 2 pancakes per person


  • 2 scoop Juice Plus+ Perform
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 60 g (1/2C) plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 150 ml whole milk (or plant-based milk)


  1. In a bowl, add the Juice Plus+ Perform powder, flour, eggs, baking powder, and milk and whisk all together. 
  2. Fry pancakes gently in a frying pan and enjoy!

More Pancake Recipes from Juice Plus+

International Pancake Traditions

Did you know that what we call Shrove Tuesday others know as Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday” in French, referring to the last use of fat before Lent!

That's right; from Rio to New Orleans, folks are getting busy making pancakes or their local equivalents on Fat Tuesday before Lent kicks off. And let me tell you, these aren't your plain ol'pancakes. We're talking doughy delights flavoured with everything from chocolate chips, to fruit, to savoury spices.

Spain - the Day of Tortillas

In Spain they don't make pancakes, but they make their own classic savoury tortillas on one special day. The day is called, "la Día de la Tortilla" where they make a dish using eggs, ham or fish, potatoes, and onion.

Denmark, Norway, and Sweden Bake Semla Buns

In the Nordics they celebrate by enjoying semla buns packed full of almond paste and whipped cream—not exactly a pancake but trust me when I say it hits all those same cozy spots in your heart (and stomach.)

Iceland Pancakes with Skyr

In this northern country, they prep their version of pancakes with Skyr, a type of thick, thick yoghurt. AND they also enjoy eating their last meat stew before their fasting period.

Australian Crêpes with Chocolate Spread

And let's not forget our friends down under who spread lashings of chocolate spread on thin crêpes for an Aussie twist during Mardi Gras celebrations. 

In Poland, They Make Donuts

Here you can enjoy donuts, not quiet pancakes, with orange zest or candied orange pieces within.

Brazilian Pancakes

Brazil is famous for its carnival Mardi Gras celebrations, not only eat pancakes, but eat a variety of different foods while being loud, dancing, dressing up and having fun to celebrate.

USA Pancake Day?

The USA doesn't celebrate pancake day the way Europeans do except in New Orleans. Typical USA pancakes are much thicker and fluffier than British pancakes and always include a sweet, sweet topping of syrup, honey, or chocolate syrup.

And there you have it—the worldwide whirlwind tour showing how different cultures serve up their version of our beloved Pancake Day.

Key Takeaways

Pancakes aren't just a treat; they're a global tradition. From UK races to Mardi Gras feasts, each country adds its own flavour to this historic indulgence—making Pancake Day an international affair of taste and celebration.

FAQs on Pancake Day


Pancake Day is a tapestry of tradition and taste. It's about remembering when Anglo-Saxon Christians prepped for Lent and townsfolk in Olney raced flipping pancakes in frying pans. You've seen how a simple mix of flour, eggs, and milk bring us back into touch with tradition and history.

Celebrate it by flipping pancakes or catching up on the quirky mob football games—it's all part of the fun. And while you're at it, remember those lemon juice classics are just the beginning; there’s room to get creative with your recipes by adding in nutritional powders, flavours, and fresh fruit.

You should now see pancake day isn't just another date on the calendar. It's history alive in our kitchens and communities today—and everyone's invited to join the feast!

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