Denny’s Pancake Puppies

Denny’s Pancake Puppies have to be the only breakfast appetizer I have ever seen. Yes, Denny’s has called these their breakfast appetizer before. I think these are a cross between funnel cakes and beignets.

Denny's Pancake Puppies in a bowl

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What are pancake puppies?

Denny’s Pancake Puppies have been on Denny’s menu for several years now. If you have missed out on them, basically they’re small pancake balls fried in vegetable oil and served hot and fresh.

So think of a donut, funnel cake, or even a beignet. While these may seem more like a dessert, Denny’s serves them up for breakfast.

The flavors vary with the seasons. Currently, you get the cinnamon and sugar version served with cream cheese icing. In the past, they have served blueberry and red velvet.

Why are they called puppies?

If you take your kids for breakfast at Denny’s, a favorite question is: “Why are they called puppies?” A good one, yes?

The most well-known type of food puppy is, of course, the hushpuppy. Any other similarly-shaped, fried-dough-type food is also called a puppy.

Plenty of people have tried to explain the origin of hushpuppies, which is why there’s a whole catalog of entertaining ideas, including:

  • Hush, Dog!: The most common explanation is that fishermen would be cooking their catch, and their hounds would yap and howl in anticipation. Then the cooks would fry pieces of dough and toss them to the puppies to hush them.
  • It Was Back in the War: Confederate soldiers making dinner on their campfire thought they heard Yankees approaching, so they threw their barking dogs some fried cornmeal bits and commanded them to “hush puppies!”
  • Leaping Lizards: This is likely the most bizarre origin story. Cajuns in Southern Louisiana used to take mudpuppies (a type of salamander), and deep fry them in a batter. Since eating salamanders ranked low on the social scale, the eaters kept hush about it.

You can read more stories about hushpuppies.

Fried Pancake Batter

This recipe is very, very, simple. All you need to do is take some pancake mix that you only need to add water to and make it very thick. I use a ratio of two parts of dry pancake mix, to one part water.

Thin batter means you are making funnel cakes, and, quite honestly, that isn’t a bad thing either. You can serve these fried pancake balls with maple syrup or even a good dusting of powdered sugar.

How to Make Pancake Puppies

  1. Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together pancake mix and water until well blended.
  3. Use a cookie scoop to drop the batter into the oil.
  4. Cook until the pancake balls are browned on the bottom then flip them over and cook for another 30 seconds.
  5. Remove pancake balls from the oil and drain.
  6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
  7. Serve with maple syrup.

Deep Frying Tips

I fry these in basic vegetable oil that I buy at Costco. Most restaurants are using a blended oil, and I think vegetable oil seems to work very well.

I really enjoy deep frying in my T-fal fryer. Why? It has a feature that means you can strain the oil and use it again. It also has a great basket, and it makes the occasional deep-frying a snap.

Copycat Denny's Pancake Puppies in a bowl

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Denny's Pancake Puppies in a bowl

Denny’s Pancake Puppies

Enjoy these bite-sized appetizers everyone loves at Denny’s. 
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Denny’s Recipes, Pancakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 265kcal


  • 2 cups pancake mix use the kind where you only need to add water
  • 1 cup water
  • oil for frying


  • Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees. 
  • In a medium-sized bowl combine pancake mix and water.  Stir until well blended.
  • Use a 1-ounce cookie scoop to drop the batter into the oil.  Cook until browned on the bottom, and flip over and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Remove from oil, and drain.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Serve with maple syrup.


Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 331mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 0.8mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Jen Sabbato

    Do you have the recipe for the cream cheese icing that Dennys serves with their pancake puppies???
    Can’t wait to try making these!
    Thank you so much for the recipe!!!

  2. Tracy

    Really? I couldn’t even tell you the last time we’ve eaten at a Denny’s and now I feel totally cheated on life Ü I very rarely break out my deep fryer (except when my 83 year old Mum is making egg rolls ♥) but, thanks to you and Denny’s, I’ve got a family size bottle of oil on my shopping list to fry these babies up! Can not wait!! Thanks so much, Stephanie Ü

  3. Peggy Gilbert

    We had breakfast at Denny’s this morning. These “puppies” resemble the Swedish Ebelskivers I grew up with and still make today. We have a special pan but am looking forward to having these to see what the difference is.

5 from 6 votes

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