IHOP vs. Denny's: Which chain has the best pancakes?

How do these two icons of the pancake game stack up?
Pancakes / Found Image Holdings Inc/GettyImages

Food debates can get nasty. Which food item is better than the next, or who makes it best? And perhaps one of the biggest food debates out there concerns one of the simplest and most delicious treats the world over, the humble pancake. Today we tackle who makes them best: IHOP or Denny’s?

If you’re looking for your next carb fix, pancakes are surely the way to go. North Americans have been starting their days with pancakes for a long time…. According to a piece over at the Smithsonian Magazine, evidence of the first pancake, or a version of it, was discovered during an excavation in the Shanidar Cave in Iraq.

The piece goes on to state that many other discoveries were made at other locations over the years, mapping out the instances in which evidence that pancakes, in some form or another, have been around for 70,000 years or so. That's a lot of pancakes, and before we get to the final battle between IHOP and Denny's, let's break down some of this fascinating, and delicious, history.

Easy pancake recipe

In case reading this piece gets you in the mood for a fluffy pancake, and I know that was the case for me as I wrote it, what follows was my old standby for pancakes when I worked the line in a few local Montreal restaurants when I was first starting out as a writer.

There is an old Russian quote that goes: “The first pancake is always lumpy.” Many also say that the first pancake always burns and needs to be thrown out. But like anything else, with care and proper execution, disaster can almost always be avoided in the kitchen.

Recipe: 1 Cup of Flour, 1 Cup of milk, 1 egg, pinch of salt, 1 tsp. baking powder. Whisk well to avoid lumps, spray and heat pan (not too hot or your first pancake will surely burn, as is mentioned above), pour out your pancakes and voila… When golden brown, you’re there, dear readers. Top with your favorite syrup and enjoy.

*chocolate chips, raisins, fresh berries and many other delicious items may be added for further enjoyment.

Did you know? Blini are tiny pancakes that originated in the Russian/Ukrainian culinary scene. They are made with buckwheat and are traditionally more of a savory option usually served, or rather, topped with smoked salmon, caviar, fresh cream cheeses and so much more. They are also smaller in circumference than your traditional pancake, but oh-so-worth the effort.

Now that we've got some pancake info out of the way, let's talk IHOP and Denny's.

IHOP—in the game since 1958

For 65 years, IHOP has been in the breakfast foods game and excelling at it for sure. According to a 2019 press release, they’ve grown since that date to have a whopping 1,831 locations all over the world.

Denny’s Turns 70 this year!

Yes, Denny’s been in the game longer by just about 5 years, having started out in 1954. Despite this early start, they currently "only" have 1,602 locations—a few hundred shy of their younger competitor.

The place originally was conceived as a donut shop called Denny’s Donuts in 1953, but when one of the original partners (Richard Jezak) left, the remaining partner, Harold Butler, decided to go a whole other way, according to the company's official timeline.

Both chains offer a plethora of food options when it comes to delicious breakfast foods, but for today we’ll tackle just the pancakes.

So who makes the better pancake?

Starting debates, or rather trying to settle them is a scary thing, but it’s what we do here at Guilty Eats. So remember, at the end of the day it’s always just a matter of opinion, and these "Food Wars" are really nothing more than a fun back-and-forth between foodies.

Let’s face it: Neither of these conglomerate restaurant food chains make pancakes that taste like the type you’re likely to find in your local grocery store’s frozen section… You know, the ones you can just stick in the toaster and enjoy.

They both make a good pancake, but who has got the edge? Who makes a better batter? Who serves them just right?

According to the Quora, and its users, this time they didn’t really come up with a distinctive answer (happens often enough; especially when dealing with opinions--they tend to vary), stating that if a lighter pancake was what you were after, then IHOP would be your location of choice, but if a tighter, less-fluffy pancake was more of your taste, then Denny’s would be where you’d be sitting.

As for me, I’m more of a Denny’s man. I feel the pancakes are presented well, and the end result, which is their taste, their smell and of course the site of them makes us as diners feel. After all, that’s what good food is all about, dear readers.

Got any family pancake recipes to share? Let us know, and of course don’t forget to let us know which breakfast chain—IHOP or Denny’s—has the edge for you in the old pancake department.

dark. Next. NEXT. Cinnamon Buns: Undercooked or over?? The debate rages on…