Gluten-Free Sticky Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing

My friend Shauna James Ahern recently invited me to join The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, a group of food bloggers and cookbook authors committed to baking with ratios. (See below for the complete list of bakers and their pancake recipes.)

Logo design by Anile Prakash,
Logo design by Anile Prakash,

I hadn’t played with ratios since I owned Fanciulla,  my gluten-full Italian bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Of course, it didn’t start off that way.

I thought using ratios was only for professionals. I’m not a trained baker (or chef).

Take the recipe for my best-selling pine nut-almond biscotti. First, it was a recipe written in cups and teaspoons. But as I needed to increase the recipe yield for the bakery, the ingredient quantities had to increase and working with ratios was the easiest, most accurate way I knew how.  Here’s what I learned: Once you start working in ratios, you start to see patterns. I noticed this immediately.

That was the beginning of my baking revolution.

To turn my pine nut-almond biscotti into chocolate-espresso biscotti, I didn’t need to adjust the ratio: the relationship between the ingredients (dry, wet, fat). I just had to tweak the flavor profile. So, I swapped some cocoa powder and ground espresso for the flour and threw in some chocolate chips. Easy.

I could really use one of those biscotti right now.

The first ratio The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally will be exploring is for pancakes. If you have my cookbook, you know we like our pancakes, every which way: banana pancakes, s’mores pancakes, gingerbread pancakes, blueberry sourdough pancakes, griddled corn cakes with strawberry syrup…

Then, the idea of cinnamon swirl pancakes came to me. Chiara puts cinnamon on everything so the sweet smell of cinnamon is always in the air. It’s also deeply ingrained in my memory from my teenage days when my older brother Bernardo worked at our local mall’s Cinnabon. Try to get that out of your sensory memory -impossible!

These pancakes are no less than addicting.

They’re light and fluffy, but the best part is definitely the crunchy, sticky cinnamon swirl branded into the pancake -just perfect for holding drizzles of maple icing.

Me and my ratio:
After playing around in the kitchen with various ratios for pancakes, this one made me (and my family) the happiest. That said, only you know how thick or thin you like your pancakes, so feel free to have fun with the ratios. It will depend ever so slightly on the ratio of grains and starches in your pancake mix. Also, just in case, I’ve included cup and spoon measurements if that’s what you’re more comfortable cooking with.

5.5 parts gluten-free pancake mix
5 parts liquid
2.5 parts eggs
1 part fat

A few words on pancake mix:
When it comes to choosing the pancake mix for this recipe, use what you love and have on hand. In our house, we use the mix from my book  (page 14), a combination of white rice flour (you could substitute in brown rice flour), tapioca flour, potato starch, sugar, baking powder, salt and xanthum gum. Of course, you can always use your own blend of grains and startches, too, or even  your favorite store-bought gluten-free  pancake mix.

gluten-free pancakes

Here’s how the cinnamon sugar swirl looks on the pancake batter.

gluten-free pancakes

When you flip the pancake, the sugars in the cinnamon swirl will bubble and caramelize. This is good and exactly what you want. Watching the filling seemingly ooze out, you’ll wonder what’s happening.


Don’t worry, when you flip over the pancake again and transfer it to a plate, it’ll look -and taste -amazing. See?

Check out more bloggers and their delicious pancakes from The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally:

Tara at A Baking Life made Whole Grain Supper Pancakes

Lauren at Celiac Teen made  Whole Grain, Egg Free, Vegan 
Convertible Pancakes

Irvin at Eat the Love   made Quinoa Cornmeal Lemon Honey Pancakes with Rosemary Maple Syrup

Karen at Cooking Gluten-Free made Multi-Blend Gluten-Free Pancakes

Lisa at Gluten Free Canteen made Potato Pancakes

Britt at GF in the City made Teff Spice Pancakes

Shauna at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made Whole Grain Gluten Free Pancakes

Kate at Gluten-Free Gobsmacked made Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Pancakes

Jenn at Jenn Cuisine made Hazelnut/Coconut Pancakes

Erin at The Sensitive Epicure made Oatmeal Buckwheat Pancakes with Bananas

Carol at Simply Gluten-Free made Maple Oat Bacon Pancakes

Gluten-Free Sticky Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing

Yield: 15

Serving Size: 3-inch pancakes


For the cinnamon swirl filling:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the pancakes:

1½ cups plus 2 teaspoons gluten-free pancake mix

1 cup plus 2 teaspoons cow?s milk or non-dairy milk

2 large eggs, at room temperature

¼ cup canola oil or melted butter, plus more for greasing

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the maple icing:

1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon water


  1. Make the cinnamon swirl filling: Place the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large resealable plastic bag and seal. Using your hands, massage until combined and smooth. Snip off the corner about 1/8-inch wide.
  2. Add the pancake mix to a large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, oil and vanilla; add to the pancake mix mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Using a paper towel, lightly grease with oil. Pour the batter about ¼ cup at a time onto the pan, swirl over the cinnamon sugar filling in a circular pattern and cook until golden and set, about 2 minutes on each side. Between batches, clean your skillet by running it under hot water, dry, then lightly grease.
  5. Meanwhile, make the maple icing: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and water until pourable. Drizzle over the pancakes.


If you prefer, you can always make the pancakes plain by just following the ratio or you could add in all the cinnamony-goodness.


  1. Oh my! These pancakes look amazing! How creative and what a fab spin on two of my favorite breakfast treats!

  2. Too funny–I actually thought of doing a cinnamon swirl pancake for this! Good thing I didn’t. I can’t imagine a better-looking one. These might have to appear in my kitchen very soon!

  3. wow! I’m there. Those look fabulous. I love cinnamon swirl and never thought about it for a pancake. Must make them one weekend soon.

  4. wow do these look like indulgent bliss! beautiful job with these pancakes!! Love the decorative swirls of cinnamon goodness.

  5. How creative & inventive! Love your spin on pancakes. Ha, ha! I must make these next time I’m making pancakes.

  6. Amazing. Really amazing. Is this my second comment? I can’t get over these…. 😉

  7. Why don’t we live closer so you could make these for us?

    Thank you for participating, Silvana! You’re going to make a great host for April.

  8. These look so decadent, I keep coming back to stare at the photos! I LOVE the idea of adding a swirl of flavor. You rock!

  9. OMG. Those swirls looks SO fantastic! I love cinnamon buns. I mean I REALLY love them. And these look so good. The swirl on the pancake batter kills me. so cute. and then when they are done. SO fun.

    I’m doing these next time I make pancakes.

  10. The cinnamon swirl is genius, what is there not to love about these pancakes. My pancake loving boy will be surprised one morning now that you have provided the inspiration.

  11. Oh my goodness. These are brilliant Silvana! I’m a sucker for a cinnamon bun, especially a good one – I can see how these would quickly become an addiction, complete with a pout from my brother when they’re all gone. I’m so happy that you’re hosting next month.

  12. We tried these for dinner and they were just BRILLIANT! And your book came to me from amazon today! Can’t wait to get cooking!!! THANK YOU!

  13. Made these for breakfast this morning. A big thumbs up from the whole family, gluten-eaters included. DELICIOUS! What an easy way to indulge the craving for cinnamon buns!

  14. Wow! I made these for breakfast this morning and they were beyond fabulous. I’ve been too lazy to try to figure out a GF cinnamon roll and these perfectly filled the void. It will take much practice for me to get mine to look as beautiful as yours but on taste alone they were superb!

  15. WOW!!! And more WOW!!!! I found your recipe from the ratio rally posted on the Gluten Free Girl’s website and thought I’d try these for the family this morning as a treat. These are AMAZING!!! I used Shauna’s base for the ‘pancake mix’ and then followed the directions from there. Mine don’t look nearly as gorgeous as yours – but, what a hit in this house! I am definitely making these the next time we have company for brunch. These are so scrumptious! Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Silvana, where’s my fork? I could dive right into this plate of pancakes. Brilliant with the swirl! Just brilliant. Pancakes are big in our house, too. Can’t wait to see my boys’ eyes when I do up their pancakes like you’ve done here.


    See you at the end of the month. Can’t wait!

  17. BREEEEEEEAHHHHHKFAST! My little guy will be so stoked!

  18. Trying to make your all-purpose flour, but cannot locate the Shiloh Farms tapioca flour. How do you feel about substituting Bob’s Red Mill or Energy (sp?)?

  19. These are fantastic! I used Bob’s Red Mill pancake mix (it was the only one I could find) and there was no aftertaste for me. Maybe it was the cinnamon swirly goodness that covered it up? Anyway, thank you SO MUCH for putting your fabulous recipes on the internet.

    My bday is coming up and I’m asking for a copy of your book! You’re my hero!

  20. I wish you had so I could pin this, and show all my friends this site. My sister (who’s allergic to gluten) would LOVE this! I pin (post) anything genius and delicious on my Pinterest account. Too bad you don’t have it. 🙁 I wish you had a Pinterest, so I could follow. Thanks anyway. 🙁