How to Run a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper (Updated for 2010)

It has now been 3 years since I last ran a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, and I am still getting positive feedback that my posts on the subject were helpful. What follows is a concise version of my much longer guide, with tips from the comments added in. Enjoy!

Background on Shrove Tuesday.

Shrove Tuesday (or Marti Gras or most tellingly, Fat Tuesday) is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday where Christians who observe Lent eat all of the indulgences they will deny themselves during Lent (eggs and meat and lard and sugar).  It is the party to get you through the purple weeks.

The pancake races are even less reverent. In my parent’s old church, after everyone had eaten tons of pancakes and sausages and orange-juice and chocolate, we would break into age-group teams to race.

Our equipment: a skillet and a pancake.

The prize: a bouncy-ball, stuffy, or Marti Gras beads.

Two at a time, at the Rector’s whistle, we would flip our pancakes in our skillets, run the length of the parish hall, slip the pancakes again at the far end of the hall, race back, and flip our pancakes for a third and final time. Depending on how Californian you are, either the winner or everyone can get prizes.

Planning Ahead.

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper is a community event, usually run by the youth ministry. As such, if you have a group that has run events together before and the parish-hall is free, you should be able to put this together in two weeks (that gives the students enough time to schedule their homework around an evening commitment).

The basics of the plan set out here are: dinner for 50-100 from 5-7:30 in a parish-hall with a kitchen, using student volunteers.


After you’ve decided you want to run a pancake supper, you may want to advertise it. Facebook events are good, but the old-tech of posters can be just as effective. In either case, you probably want to include the following information:

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
5-6:30 pm for supper, 6:30-7:30 pm for racing.
[You location’s name]
Pancakes, Apple Sauce, Sausages and Pancake Races!
All donations go to support [Your Group/Your Cause]
[Map to place where Pancake supper and race will be held (you can use a screen capture of your location on Google Maps that you’ve saved to your desktop, and then inserted into the poster)]


After deciding you want to run a pancake supper and telling everyone when to come, you’ll need people to help you run it. Youth ministry is probably a good place to look for volunteers–see below for a sample volunteer-credit form. Below is a list of jobs that need to be done for a supper.

After everyone has signed up, I would suggest posting the final list several prominent places in the kitchen as it will help people know what they need to be doing. The Maitre Die runs the front of the house: directs the servers, checks in with people eating to make sure, reports to the organizer if there are any big issues.

Job (Time): Volunteers Names

Table/Chair set up 1 (before 4:30):
Table/Chair set up 2 (before 4:30):
Decorations 1 (before 4:30):
Food prep 1 (4:00-6:00):
Food prep 2 (4:00-6:00):
Condiment prep 1 (4:30-5:30):
Condiment prep 2 (4:30-5:30):
Sausage cooking 1 (4:30-6:30):
Sausage cooking 2 (4:30-6:30):
Pancake cooking 1 (4:30-6:30):
Pancake cooking 2 (4:30-6:30):
Maitre Die (5-8pm)
Kitchen Bus-er/Servers 1 (5:00-7:45):
Kitchen Bus-er/Servers 2 (5:00-7:45):
Kitchen Bus-er/Servers 3 (5:00-7:45):
Clean up crew 1 (7:30-9:00):
Clean up crew 2 (7:30-9:00):
Clean up crew 3 (7:30-9:00):

Volunteer Form.

Here is a form I wrote up to give to volunteers who needed volunteer hours (many high schools and some extra curricular organizations require volunteer work from their students/members).

Organization name:

Phone number:

To Whom It May Concern;

On ______________, 2010 __________________ of ______________________ school assisted _______________ by helping to run the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races. This individual volunteered for ____________hours. I recognize that this student did an outstanding job in their community service to ____________________. We appreciated the time and effort that this individual put into assisting us. If there are any questions or comments regarding this individual’s community service please feel free to contact  _______________________. Thank you.

About the Fundraiser:

Volunteer name:___________________________________

Volunteer phone: (_____)_____________________________

Volunteer email:___________________________________

Supervision name:_________________________________

Supervisor signature:_______________________________

Supervisor phone: (_____)_________________________________

Supervisor email: ____________________________________

Checklist of Utensils.

Perhaps this is excessive. But when working in a community kitchen, it is always possible that the serving dishes that the parish bought last year are sitting in the choir’s closet for no reason–and so it can be comforting to verify that everything you need for the supper is in its place.

I am assuming there will be 10 people at each table.

For Each Table

    2 serving dishes (1 for pancakes, 1 for sausages)
    3 condiment bowls (1 for chocolate chips, 1 for powdered sugar, 1 strawberries)
    2 serving forks (1 for pancakes, 1 for sausages)
    1 medium bowl (for apple sauce)
    1 serving spoon (for Apple Sauce)
    10 plates (or number of people seated at each table)
    10 Forks/Knives/Spoons (or number of people seated at each table)
    10 Mugs (or number of people seated at each table)

    For the Kitchen

    3 Pitchers (for pouring pancake batter)
    3 Frying Pans (for pancakes)
    3 Serving spoons for (1 for each condiments bowl)
    4 Big heating pans (chaffing dishes can be useful if you are serving a large crowd; but if your cooks are fast, it can be easier to simply fill up a large plate with pancakes and cover it to keep the warmth in. This only works if the pancakes only have 10 minutes or under between griddle and being eaten)
    5 Spatulas
    3 Tongs for cooking sausages
    3 Griddles for cooking sausages (can also use baking sheets and an oven)

Setting the Stage.

As Pancake supper is usually a church-run event, this will probably be a parish hall or other kind of meeting space. We had about 10 tables,  in two slanted columns, with a wide aisle down the middle for the races. If you are collecting money for the event (which I do not recommend*) you can put a folding-table and some student-volunteers near the main entrance.

Decorations (partial list–please comment with more ideas!)

  • Brightly colored plastic table-clothes
  • Confetti to decorate the tables
  • Streamers for the walls (remember to bring painter’s tape)
  • Martini glasses of M&Ms or other bright candy
  • Big, silly-looking flowers (plastic you can reuse next year or real)

Menu for Pancake Supper.

Meal for 1 guest:

3 sausages
.5 cup strawberries
.25 cups syrup
4 tbs powdered sugar
3 ounce chocolate chips
.25 cups apple sauce
.25 cups apple juice/orange juice/water
3 pancakes

For example, if you were serving 100 people you would want to buy:

50 strawberries
25 cups of syrup (check one bottle of syrup for how many cups it has an divide 25 by that number)
100 tbs powdered sugar (ie, 6.34 cups)
100 ounces chocolate chips (ie, 6.86 lbs)
25 cups of apple sauce (see instructions for syrup)
25 cups apple juice/orange juice/water
300 pancakes
300 sausages


Just-add-water pancakes
Apple Sauce

Hot Drinks (on self-serve drinks table):


Cold Drinks (pitchers of each on tables, serve at 5pm, only to tables with people at them, keep rest in fridge):

Orange Juice
Apple juice


Syrup (squeeze bottles on table)
Chocolate chips
Powdered sugar
Cut strawberries
Butter (little packets on the table)

Pancake Recipes.

I strongly advise using a just-add-water pancake mix unless you are really dedicated to a recipe. My step-dad and I made this amazing yeast-based pancake mix, which exploded all over the church fridge on the night before the supper. What was left, we used, and then we used the just-add-water stuff. People couldn’t tell the difference. *sigh*

But if you really really want to make the pancakes from scratch, here are a few  recipes:

  • Basic pancake recipe (I have no measuring cups where I live now and did this recipe using a tea-cup and a gelato spoon and it worked fine)
  • Basic crepe recipe (I’ve also done this with a tea-cup and a gelato spoon. Thank goodness for resilient recipes)
  • Gluten-free pancakes (for your wheat-intolerant community-members)


Again, this may be excessive, but after 5 hours of prep and serving, having a solid plan to get everyone home soon is good management. Because every kitchen is different, all I can give is general advice:

  • Have fresh people take charge of cleaning and let servers go home.
  • Make sure cleanup people know where everything goes.
  • Go easy on everyone–it’s been a long day and you are probably a little raw.

Final Word.

  1. Use a just-add-water pancake mix. Just do it.
  2. Delegate to interested youth. Small, well-defined tasks with achievable goals help students get involved and takes a load off your shoulders. Don’t micromanage!
  3. Be flexible. You’re doing this because you love your community and it is fun to eat and run together. Help your volunteers find joy in feeding people who need to be fed.

That’s it! Please comment if you have any suggestions.

*In the community-centered fundraisers I have organized or participated in, I have found that asking people to “put what you think the meal was worth into this basket we’re passing around” is a logistically simpler and more friendly way to get donations than demanding everyone pay $5 to get in.

Whenever I’m tempted to set a price for participation in my event, I remember the bake sale a friend ran after Katrina in Palo Alto, CA. All of the families in the neighborhood baked or bought nice cakes and confections and made several thousand dollars for Katrina survivors with a simple, large sign in the middle of the table reading: “This is a fundraiser for victims or Hurricane Katrina. Please donate what you think is right.” Peer pressure+human goodness+cookies = good donations.

Inspirational Quote:

“The day before the beginning of Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday. To shrive someone, in old-fashioned English (he shrives, he shrove, he has shriven or he shrives, he shrived, he has shrived), is to hear his acknowledgement [sic] of his sins, to assure him of God’s forgiveness, and to give him appropriate spiritual advice. The term survives today in ordinary usage in the expression “short shrift”. To give someone short shrift is to pay very little attention to his excuses or problems. The longer expression is, ‘to give him short shrift and a long rope,’ which formerly meant to hang a criminal with a minimum of delay.” Etymology of Shrove.


  1. This was a really helpful write-up! My church had a pancake supper (not for Shrove Tues, just for fun), and your organization and tips helped me plan it.

    We found that Bisquick worked best for us — it was the only thing we could get in warehouse-club size, and since we were only feeding 40 people, it wasn’t too labor intensive to crack some eggs and mix in some milk.

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