This Pancake-in-a-Mug Recipe Is Your New Favorite Camp Breakfast

Yes: You can make pancakes on literally any stove, including a Jetboil. And you don't need a frying pan to do it, either—just a mug and this trick.

Photo: Adam Roy

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Spare a thought for the campground pancake breakfast. Pancakes—flipped, stacked, and topped with butter and syrup—taste even better when you’re eating them at some picnic table out in the open air with the pine needles crunching under your feet and a whole day of hiking (or reading, or floating, or hammocking) ahead of you. But while pancakes may be a mainstay of car camping trips, they’re tougher to pull off in the backcountry, where the stoves are smaller and the titanium pans are prone to ‘cake-burning hotspots. Fortunately for all of us pancake-loving, baseweight-conscious hikers, there’s a way to have your pancakes and eat them too without toting a bulky stove and pan in with you.

This recipe uses a bain-marie—that’s a water bath, for you Anglophones—to evenly heat up a mug of pancake mix, resulting in a moist, fluffy, single-serving pancake in a cup. (Regular readers will remember this technique from our cupcake recipe—it’s the same principle.) Because the water surrounding the mug never heats up past its boiling point, it cooks the mix evenly with no burned spots. Best of all, you can do it with any stove, from a Jetboil to a two-burner Coleman range, or even a fire, if you want to go fully low-tech.


  • ½ cup just-add-water pancake mix
  • Maple syrup, packed in a leak-proof container
  • Butter (optional; freeze it or bring the powdered stuff and reconstitute in camp)


  1. Pour all of your mix into a single-wall steel or titanium mug. Add water as directed by the instructions, roughly ⅓ cup; the batter should be wet but still thick. You want the mug to be roughly halfway full.
  2. Using three or four small flat rocks, build a platform for the mug to sit on in the bottom of the pot. (This elevates the mug so it’s not directly in contact with the pot, preventing any hot spots from forming at the bottom.)
  3. Pour water into the pot until it’s roughly level with the batter. If the mug starts to float, you’ve added too much. Cover the pot loosely with a lid (you can use aluminum foil if you don’t have one).
  4. Light your stove and bring the water to a slow boil. Leave it for 5 to 7 minutes, or until bubbles start forming on the top of the mug. Don’t be fooled: The pancake won’t brown—it’s being cooked by steam and hot water—but it’s still fully cooked.
  5. Uncover the pot (use care; the steam can burn) and poke the pancake with a fork to check for doneness; the tines should come out clean. Top with butter and syrup and enjoy while hot.

Tip: Cooking with a small pot? Bring a mug with handles that fold in, like the MSR Titan Cup.

From 2023