'Hotcake' vs 'Pancake' vs 'Flapjack': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 2, 2023

Are you confused about the difference between 'hotcakes' vs. 'pancakes' vs. 'flapjacks?' You aren't alone.

Here is a quick answer in case you are in a hurry: 

  • In the United States, 'hotcakes,' 'pancakes,' and 'flapjacks' often refer to the same thing. 
  • In Europe, 'hotcakes' and 'pancakes' describe what Americans refer to as 'pancakes,' but 'flapjacks' refers to a similar breakfast dish that is baked in the oven instead of cooked on a griddle or in a frying pan.  

You can learn more about these terms and how to correctly use them in this guide. So, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Hotcake' vs. 'Pancake' vs. 'Flapjack?'

The difference between 'hotcakes,' 'pancakes,' and 'flapjacks' depends on where you are in the world. In the United States, all three describe the same spongey cakes, cooked in a frying pan or on a griddle, that are served for breakfast.

However, in Europe, 'hotcakes' and 'pancakes' are the same thing, but 'flapjacks' are used for a different dish that is baked in the oven. 'Flapjacks' are made of rolled oats, honey or sugar, butter, and syrup.

The mixture is placed on a thin baking pan and baked in the oven. They are then cut into squares and look similar to granola bars.

So, if you are addressing an American audience, these three words all describe the same fluffy breakfast cakes made from flour, eggs, baking powder, and sugar. However, if you are in some parts of Europe, 'flapjacks' refers to the granola-like breakfast bar.

'Flapjack' is also a computer program scientists use to compare chromosomes and DNA markers.

Definition of 'Hotcake': What Does 'Hotcake' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'hotcake' is a noun that means:

  • A 'pancake' or a flat cake is made by mixing baking mix and water, then frying the batter to make breakfast cakes
  • A pancake

Definition of 'Pancake': What Does 'Pancake' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'pancake' as a noun that means:

  • A thin cake made out of batter and grilled on a griddle or cooked on a frying pan that is often served with syrup and other breakfast foods

'Pancake' can also be a verb that means:

  • To cause something to become flat
  • To hit something until it flattens
  • To cause something to flatten suddenly

Definition of 'Flapjack': What Does 'Flapjack' Mean?

'Flapjack' is defined by the same as a noun that means:

  • A flat cake that is cooked on both sides and served with other breakfast foods

Synonyms: 'Hotcake' vs. 'Pancake' vs. 'Flapjack'

'Hotcake,' 'pancake,' and 'flapjack' are synonyms, which means, in most cases, you can use them interchangeably. However, there are a few other synonyms you can use in place of these terms, including:

  • Flapjack
  • Griddle cake
  • Waffle
  • Crepe
  • Flapjack
  • Blintz
  • Blin
  • Oatcake
  • Wheat cake

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Hotcake' vs. 'Pancake' vs. 'Flapjack'

Pronunciation is often overlooked. Nevertheless, it makes a significant difference regardless of whether you are learning English as a second language or working on improving your public speaking and writing skills.

So, here is a guide you can reference for pronouncing 'hotcake' vs. 'pancake' vs. 'flapjack.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'hotcake':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'pancake':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'flapjack':


When and How to Use 'Hotcake' vs. 'Pancake' vs. 'Flapjack'

You learned the difference between these terms, but it may still be challenging to determine when and how to use each. So, here are some tips for using 'hotcake' vs. 'pancake' vs. 'flapjack':

  • Use 'pancake,' 'hotcake,' or 'flapjack' when you are speaking about 'pancakes' to an American audience.

For example, you might say:

Today, we have hotcakes with buttered pecan topping and your choice of syrup.


Today, our featured pancakes are topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberry sauce, dark chocolate shavings, and whipped cream.


What kind of syrup would you like with your flapjacks? 

  • If you are addressing a British audience, use 'flapjacks' to refer to the baked breakfast bar.

So, you could say:

We have a special treat today. I made traditional British flapjacks. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Hotcake' vs. 'Pancake' vs. 'Flapjack'

Read these sample sentences using 'hotcake' vs. 'pancake' vs. 'flapjack.' They will help you remember these terms and learn different ways to use them.


  • Do you like hotcakes, or do you prefer waffles?
  • I made breakfast: hotcakes with butter and warm maple syrup.
  • There are few things better than hotcakes with Vermont maple syrup.
  • If you want hotcakes, use the baking mix to make the batter, and then I will cook them.


  • It is easy to make blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes.
  • You can add whatever ingredients you want to the pancake batter.
  • If you do not feel like making them, we can go to IHOP for all-you-can-eat pancakes.
  • Every time I eat pancakes, I feel so full.


  • I used to think that hotcakes, pancakes, and flapjacks were the same thing.
  • Flapjacks are actually a baked breakfast food similar to a granola bar.
  • If you have never had traditional British flapjacks, you should try them. They are very tasty.
  • The flapjacks in the hotel restaurant are some of the best I've ever had.

Final Look: 'Hotcake' vs. 'Pancake' vs. 'Flapjack'

In this guide you learned the definitions, uses, and pronunciations of these terms. So, let's do a quick recap of the difference between 'hotcakes' vs. 'pancakes' vs. 'flapjacks':

  • In the United States, 'hotcake,' 'pancake,' and 'flapjack' all mean the same thing. 
  • In Europe or more specifically, Britain, 'flapjacks' are a granola bar-like baked breakfast dish, and 'hotcakes' and 'pancakes' are the names used for the dish Americans call 'pancakes.'

Hopefully, you will remember the meanings of these terms. However, if you need a reminder, you can always return to this page.

You can also learn about hundreds of other words like these in the confusing words section here. Each guide contains definitions, usage tips, a pronunciation guide, and sample sentences.

So, they are an excellent way to increase your vocabulary while learning essential grammar and writing skills that you can apply to other terms and scenarios.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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