Batter Basics: Coating, Pour, and Drop 101

Types of Batters

Whether you’re using it to make a delectable stack of pancakes, a homemade batch of cookies or something deep fried and delicious, batter is the key to making the recipe perfect!

What is Batter in Cooking?

Batter is translated from the French term “battre” which means beating ingredients together, usually by vigorous whisking. In terms of ingredients, most batter consists of sugar, salt, flour and as well as other dry ingredients.

The finished result is a somewhat thin liquid that can be poured, or spooned but not kneaded (as is the case with dough). Batter can be used to coat foods or as an ingredient in preparing foods like waffles, pancakes, muffins, cakes and more.

Three Types of Batter That Are Most Common

Batter most often falls into three common categories – coating batter, drop batter and pour batter. Let’s talk a little bit more about each type in detail.

Coating Batter

A batter is considered a “coating” batter when it covers foods with edible substances like egg wash, bread crumbs, oils and more prior to be fried. Coatings are usually flavored with various spices, herbs, sauces, and so on to add additional flavors to the dish.

Coating batter serves two purposes. The first is that it keeps the food from sticking while it’s being fried and the second is that it acts to keep the food moist while it’s being cooked.

Additionally, coatings can be flavored with spices, herbs, sauces, condiments, etc. However, these ingredients should not interfere with the ability of the batter to adhere properly to the food item.

Once the food is finished frying, foods that are coated are usually consumed soon after. The reason is that the moisture that remains trapped within the coating tends to turn soggy if it remains at room temperature for too long.

To keep fried foods as fresh as possible, it’s a good idea to store it in an airtight container to lock in the food’s crispiness that makes coating batter so appealing.

Common Examples of Coating Batter

Coating batter is used a variety of different cuisines and recipes but some of the most popular and well-known types include beer batter and tempura batter, which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail below.

Beer Batter

A popular type of coating batter makes use of a widely beloved beverage, beer. 

It’s believed that the earliest known use of beer as an ingredient to coat food stretches back to Roman times. The food wasn’t fried but dipped in the alcohol, usually ale or wine, as part of religious ceremonies.

Although today’s beer batter is different in form and function, it’s one of the most popular types of coating batter. It’s easy to make and absolutely delicious. To make the batter, beer is usually combined with eggs, flour and either milk or buttermilk. Sometimes the beer can be added to the oil mix during frying which minimizes the buildup of foam.

Tempura Batter

For fans of Japanese cuisine, few things come close to matching the delicious taste of tempura batter. The term “tempura” is not originally Japanese but is a derivative of the Latin term, “tempora” which loosely refers to Christian holidays during which the consumption of red meat is avoided by Catholics. Instead, they opted to eat fish or vegetables as substitutes.

Tempura, as it’s known today, became associated with Japanese culture thanks to the introduction of a batter using flour and eggs by Portuguese missionaries during the 16th century. Prior to this, foods were traditionally fried in Japan using rice flour or with no coating at all.

Once introduced though, the mixture became extremely popular and quickly became a staple of Japanese cuisine as we know it today.

Beer Batter Tempura Batter
A tasty coating batter made with beer as an ingredient, it’s simple to prepare and imparts a delightful flavor. A traditional Japanese dish that employs a blend of flour and eggs as a coating. It was first brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century.
The ingredients typically used to make the batter are eggs, flour, and either milk or buttermilk. The batter is traditionally used for fish or vegetables.
The first recorded usage of beer as a coating for food can be traced back to ancient Roman times. The word “tempura” does not have Japanese origin, it is derived from the Latin term “tempora”, which refers to the Christian holidays when Catholics abstain from eating red meat.
It is usually consumed after frying. It is usually consumed after frying.
It can be stored in an airtight container to maintain crispiness. It can be stored in an airtight container to maintain crispiness.

Pour Batter

Pour batters are designed to be fluid so that they pour and spread easily. Of all the types of batters, pour batter is the most runny because the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients. These range from two-thirds of a cup of water to one cup with equivalent amounts of flour depending on what’s being made.

Common Examples of Pour Batter

Waffles

While many might not realize it, waffles are related to pancakes. Of all the pour batters, it is usually the thickest.

Pancakes

Pancakes are probably the most well known of all pour batters. In terms of consistency, they fall between crepes and waffles.

Crepes

Crepes are more runny than pancakes but less than popovers. Crepes achieve their thinness thanks to including eggs which results in a batter with the consistency of heavy cream. 

Popovers

Of all pour batters, popovers are the thinnest and most runny with a ratio of one part liquid to one part flour.

Batter Type Consistency
Waffles Thickest of Pour Batter
Pancakes Between Crepes and Waffles
Crepes More Runny Than Pancakes, Less Than Popovers
Popovers Thinnest and Most Runny of Pour Batter

Drop Batter

Drop batters are not as runny as pour batters because the ratio of liquids to flour is smaller. Rather than being close to a one-to-one ratio, drop batters contain anywhere from 1/2 cup of water to 3/4 cups of water for each cup of flour or put another way, twice as much flour as liquid.

The result is a batter which is much thicker and can be handled and molded, most often with the use of a spoon. 

Batter Type Consistency Ratio of Liquid to Flour Handling Method
Drop Batter Thick Less liquid than Pour Batter Spoon

Common Examples of Drop Batter

Cakes

Muffins

Donuts

Cornbread

Hush Puppies

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