Sainsbury’s and the University College London have teamed up to develop the perfect formula for pancake tossing.

Formula for the perfect pancake

L = 4×H /π– D / 2

(L = hand distance from inner edge of the pancake / H = height of flip / D = diameter of pancake)

Working with Sainsbury’s, UCL professor Frank Smith devised a simple mathematical formula for the perfect pancake tossing.

Firstly, customers need to make the perfect pancake then follow the four Cs (see below).

He said: “No-one enjoys wasting ingredients but there are many factors and risks involved in producing a perfect pancake.”

Sainsbury’s dry goods buyer Melanie Churchian said: “At Sainsbury’s, we always see people doubling up on their ready-made pancake mixes or eggs and flour to give them room for error.”

“By following Professor Smith’s method customers will be able to minimise waste and create the perfect pancake every time.”

Last year sales of ready-made pancake mix increased 86% the week before Shrove Tuesday.

Professor Smith suggests practising tossing using a thin book.

Professor Smith’s Methodology

Hold the frying pan horizontally with the cooked pancake in it. Estimate how high you’d like the pancake to fly, say to a height H (30cm or about one foot, as a first go).  Also estimate the diameter D of your pancake, measured in the direction of the handle. D might be 10-20 cm or so.

As to where precisely to put your hand(s), work out L from the formula above and hold the handle at a distance L cm from the inner edge of the pancake. Then toss the pancake quite abruptly to a height H cm. You should now be able to carry out a 180-degrees flip.  If you want a 360-degrees flip use 2×π in the formula instead of π, and so on.


  1. Cook it! Use a recipe that’s right for the temperature of the pan, amount of oil, the mixture whether
  2. Check it! Ensure it is not stuck to the pan and there is no free oil.
  3. Chuck it (upwards)! Practise – try a little jump first. Use two hands together – not too timidly, not too hard. Pancake weight is 100 grams (including wet ingredients); and you need on average a pancake-speed of about 2.5 m/s (just over 6 mph) to reach a height of say 30cm.  You also need to produce a pancake rotation rate of about 6/s but the formula should ensure that. A smallish flip takes around ½ a second.
  4. Catch it! It comes down with approximately the same speed as at the start. Clearly we want vertical motion, in order to avoid chasing around the room.