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The Healthiest Frozen Foods in the Supermarket: Pancakes

Illustration: Christina Harrison Text: Daniel Boone

Frozen pancakes may not seem like a healthy choice, but give them another look. There are pancake options now made with whole grains that are good sources of fiber and protein. What's even better is that most take less than a minute to cook. You still need to be careful with how they're topped; skip the pool of syrup, and opt for fresh fruit with a light drizzle of syrup or honey instead. But, frozen pancakes can be a quick, nutritious breakfast, so check out our favorites below.

Taste Test Winners:

365 Organic Whole Wheat Pancakes

Microwaved pancakes often turn rubbery and tough, but these hotcakes were fluffy and light which made them our favorite plain pancake tested. They have a slight sweetness that pairs well with their toasty wheat flavor from the whole grain. $2.99 for 12 pancakes

Serving size: 3 pancakes

Calories 210; Fat 2.5g (sat 0.5g); Protein 7g; Carb 41g; Fiber 5g; Sugars 9g; Chol 0mg; Iron 2mg; Sodium 410mg; Calc 60mg

De Wafelbakkers Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes

"Tastes like homemade" and "plump, fresh-tasting blueberries" are just two of the reasons that these pancakes were unanimously voted the top flavored pancake. They have a sweet flavor which may allow you to use less syrup, and the berries are prominent but not overpowering. $3.99 for 6 pancakes

Serving size: 3 pancakes

Calories 260; Fat 5g (sat 0.5g); Protein 7g; Carb 47g; Fiber 6g; Sugars 16g; Chol 0mg; Iron 3mg; Sodium 390mg; Calc 150mg

Other Favorites:

De Wafelbakkers A+ Cinnamon Sweet Potato Whole Grain & Spelt Pancakes

Sweet potato and cinnamon provide a warm, sweet flavor, which made several of our testers say they'd be happy to eat them with or without syrup. These comforting pancakes were a close runner-up to their blueberry cousin above. $3.99 for 6 pancakes

Serving size: 3 pancakes

Calories 240; Fat 4.5g (sat 0g); Protein 6g; Carb 45g; Fiber 5g; Sugars 16g; Chol 0mg; Iron 2mg; Sodium 320mg; Calc 150mg

Earth's Best Organic Mini Homestyle Pancake

Fluffy and sweet are how our taste testers described these cute, mini hotcakes made from 100% whole wheat flour. Grown-ups, don't let the picture of Elmo on the box deter you from buying; both kids and adults will enjoy. Adults may just want to increase the serving size. $4.99 for a box of 32

Serving size: 4 mini pancakes

Calories 70; Fat 1g (sat 0g); Protein 2g; Carb 15g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 2g; Chol 0mg; Iron 4mg; Sodium 140mg; Calc 20mg

Things to Look for on Labels

  • Limited Added Sugar: A touch of added sugar flavor is okay, but you don’t want one in which added sugars are a primary ingredient. Make sure added sugars like brown sugar, honey, syrup or other sweetener are listed towards the end of the ingredient list - and not one of the first few ingredients - to avoid excess.
  • Fiber: The fiber content can vary greatly, so look for ones that have at least 3g or more of fiber per serving.
  • Whole Grains: Typically, if waffles have 3g fiber or more per serving, then they include some whole grains, but you really want whole grains to be predominant over refined. Check the ingredient list to make sure the whole grain flour (whole wheat, whole oat flour, brown rice flour, etc.) is listed before the refined flour.

How We Tested

Only frozen foods that met Cooking Light’s nutrition guidelines were tested. Products were eliminated based on the following: lack of calorie and/or protein adequacy, lack of whole grains, presence of trans fat or hydrogenation, presence of significant added sugars, and presence of artificial coloring or sweeteners. All frozen foods were cooked according to package directions and taste tested by a panel of Cooking Light editors and staff. To ensure consistency, Breville microwaves were used to cook all foods.