How to Make Ford Fry’s Perfectly Griddled Pancakes and Buttermilk Syrup

In time for Father’s Day, the Atlanta chef shares the breakfast recipe he makes for his kids—plus a pro tip for griddling

A hand pours syrup over pancakes


Ford Fry doesn’t consider himself a big breakfast eater—but that doesn’t mean his two sons aren’t. “For me, breakfast was my time to spend with them and serve something special,” says the chef and restaurateur, who owns beloved spots in Atlanta and beyond, including the Optimist, Marcel, Beetlecat, and Superica. Often, that special something would be pancakes.

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His recipe, perfect for a Saturday morning, uses white flour and fresh baking powder to achieve the ideal texture. “I like soft and fluffy on the inside and buttery, crispy edges on the outside,” Fry says. Here’s a hack to help with the latter: He’ll add more butter around the edges after the pancakes are flipped, letting those edges fry a little as the butter keeps them from burning.  

Then comes a dousing of his buttermilk syrup. “It’s like a baby between caramel and regular syrup,” he says—and it reminds him of his days at summer camp, when pancakes came out with a pitcher of hot melted butter. 

Below, find the recipe, which he likes to serve with bacon or breakfast sausage (Neese’s is his favorite). And no, his sons don’t help with anything but maybe the flipping—fair enough if Ford Fry is your dad.


  • Ford Fry’s Café-Style Pancakes with Buttermilk Syrup (Yield: 10–12 pancakes)

  • For the buttermilk syrup

    • 1½ cup sugar

    • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter

    • ¾ cup whole buttermilk

    • 1½ tbsp. light corn syrup

    • 1½ tsp. baking soda

    • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract

    • ¾ tsp. kosher salt

  • For the pancakes

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour

    • 1½ tbsp. sugar

    • 1¾ tsp. baking powder (must be fresh)

    • ½ tsp. kosher salt

    • 2 large eggs

    • 1 cup whole milk

    • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

    • Buttermilk syrup, warmed


  1. Make the syrup: In a medium saucepan set over high heat, combine the sugar, butter, buttermilk, and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring continuously, until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble up. Add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Cover and set aside until ready to use, or let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

  2. Just before serving, set the syrup over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking continuously. Remove from the heat and serve.

  3. Make the pancakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 

  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light yellow in color. Add the milk and melted butter and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until combined (the butter should still have lumps).

  5. Heat a large griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the griddle is hot, using a ¼-cup measure, ladle the batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to form around the edges and the pancakes begin to look dry, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. 

  6. Serve the pancakes with warm syrup on the side.