When a craving for pancakes strikes, it’s always tempting to visit your local IHOP and enjoy a relaxing meal under the iconic blue roof. One of the most popular restaurant chains in America, there’s at least one IHOP in all 50 states, and you know that your local one will be ready to serve you a stack of pancakes — no matter the time of day.
But don’t think it’s pancakes or bust at this restaurant chain. IHOP, which started its life in 1958 as the International House of Pancakes, now has quite a diverse menu. While the chain still serves more than 700 million pancakes per year, it’s not uncommon to instead order something completely different like a sandwich or an omelette.
Despite the wide array of options on the menu, not everything at IHOP is equally as delicious. In fact, some of the items the restaurant serves should be totally avoided. This definitive ranking of IHOP’s popular items will fill you in on what you can order with confidence and what you should stay away from completely.
16. IHOP’s T-Bone Steak and Eggs
If you get to IHOP and suddenly realize that you want steak, you may make a colossal mistake and order the T-Bone Steak and Eggs thinking the steak has to be at least somewhat comparable to a piece of meat that you’d get from a national steakhouse chain. That assumption couldn’t be any more wrong. While the picture of IHOP’s T-bone steak may look tantalizing when you see it on the menu, what you’ll actually be served is meat that is an unappetizing gray-ish color with a texture that is so off-putting that you’ll be convinced it was cooked in a microwave or boiled in a vat of despair.
After your first bite of this steak, you’ll fully comprehend the mistake you’ve made. Instead of finishing it off, you’d be better served taking off your shoe and eating that instead. At least in that scenario, you could hop out of IHOP with your dignity still intact.
15. IHOP’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes
How could something with a scrumptious-sounding name like Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes be so gross? That’s a good question and one you’ll be asking yourself if you opt for these chocolatey pancakes from IHOP.
The first issue with these pancakes is the texture. Instead of being warm and melting in your mouth, you’ll find that the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes are chalky. They’re so chalky, in fact, that these pancakes can be difficult to swallow.
The problems only get worse when your taste buds get involved. Although you’re probably imagining that these pancakes have a deep, rich chocolatey taste, they’re actually annoyingly sweet. You’ll be disappointed each time a chocolate chip or some of the chocolate syrup enters your mouth because that will only highlight the issue of too much sweetness.
If you power through the disappointment and finish eating these pancakes, don’t be surprised if the thought of eating anything chocolate will be revolting for a good 48 to 72 hours.
14. IHOP’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Strips and Fries
Ordering the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Strips and Fries is another choice that is better in theory than it is in reality. Theoretically, this should be a safe option that will fill you up. However, you’ll find that it’s thoroughly underwhelming all the way around.
When you first take a bite of the chicken, you’ll realize that the crispy chicken strips are actually too crispy. The overbearing crunchiness you first encounter is made worse by the fact that the chicken isn’t juicy at all. While IHOP offers honey mustard, ranch, or IHOP Sauce (which is said to be a mix of mayonnaise and ketchup with a squirt of yellow mustard) for dipping purposes, none of those three sauces can undo the damage.
While IHOP’s fries are decent enough, they can’t compensate for the lackluster chicken strips. To make matters worse, this whole meal is smaller than you’re imagining. By the time you finish it, you’ll know that you should have just gotten chicken nuggets from a fast food joint like McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A.
13. IHOP’s Bacon Temptation Omelette
The word "bacon" may be so tempting that you can’t say no to the Bacon Temptation Omelette. Unfortunately, you will be dismayed by your meal if you let your lust for bacon get the best of you.
Not everything is terrible about this omelette. You will discover yummy bacon that has been cured and smoked with hickory generously stuffed inside of it. Bacon crumbles also rest on top of the omelette, along with tomatoes and shredded cheese.
Tragically, what would otherwise be a tasty omelette is sabotaged by what IHOP describes as a "white cheese sauce" that is slathered on top. This mystery sauce is so odd that there’s a good chance that you’ll end up gagging on it. If IHOP would have just gone with melted cheese instead of the white, creamy enigma, this would actually be a very good omelette, and it’d deserve to be much higher in this ranking. As it is, you need to avoid the temptation of getting suckered into ordering the Bacon Temptation Omelette.
12. IHOP’s Chicken & Waffles
Although it’s not exactly the healthiest thing you can eat, a delicious plate of chicken and waffles is one of the most sought-after examples of Southern comfort foods. If you order the Chicken & Waffles from IHOP thinking you’ll get the glorious chicken and waffles you’d expect from a place like Roscoe’s, you’re going to have a bad time.
The waffle half of the equation is fine. IHOP’s waffles aren’t revolutionary or particularly amazing, but they’re on the level of what you’d expect. Sadly, it’s the chicken half of the equation that falls flat, as these are the same chicken strips you get if you order the aforementioned Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Strips. As good as these waffles taste, they don’t camouflage the disappointment you feel each time you take a loud, crunchy bite of one of the strips.
If you do order IHOP’s Chicken & Waffles, your best bet is to just concentrate on the waffles. Load them up with butter and an ocean of syrup, and pretend the chicken doesn’t exist.
11. IHOP’s Double Blueberry Pancakes
The Double Blueberry Pancakes is another underwhelming popular item on IHOP’s menu. These pancakes simply can’t compare to the blueberry pancakes that your grandmother used to make. You’ll be able to finish the pancakes but, in retrospect, you won’t be thrilled with your decision to pick this item as your meal.
The first issue is the lack of blueberries used in the pancakes. You’d expect these pancakes to be loaded with blueberries but instead, the berries are few and far between. There will be numerous bites in which no blueberries will come along for the ride to your mouth.
To live up to the Double Blueberry Pancakes moniker, IHOP also drizzles blueberry compote on top of these pancakes. But, again, the blueberry compote underwhelms when it comes to the number of whole blueberries you can expect. Instead of being a heap of blueberries, it’s more like a river of sauce with a few blueberries scattered here and there.
10. IHOP’s Philly Cheese Steak Stacker
While the Philly Cheese Steak Stacker isn’t great, it makes for an acceptable meal. You’ll be just satisfied enough that you won’t regret spending your hard-earned money at IHOP.
The star of the show for this sandwich is the sirloin steak that has been grilled and placed inside of a lightly toasted roll. Joining the party is an ample amount of grilled onions, which actually add quite a bit of flavor. Before the sandwich is closed, American cheese is melted and added on top of the steak and onions. French fries are then served on the side, and your meal is ready to eat.
All in all, the best thing about the Philly Cheese Steak Stacker is that IHOP keeps it simple. No surprises await your taste buds if you order this thing. It’s also big enough that you should be full when the sandwich and the fries are gone.
9. IHOP’s Stuffed French Toast
Another acceptable item at IHOP is the Stuffed French Toast. This meal begins with two thick pieces of bread prepared with raisins and cinnamon. Each piece of bread is then stuffed with a cream filling. Unfortunately, this cream is overly sweet to the point of ridiculousness. It’s so sweet that it will have your sweet tooth waving a white flag after a bite or two.
On top of the Stuffed French Toast, IHOP allows you to select between glazed strawberries or strawberry vanilla. Always go with the glazed strawberries, as the strawberries themselves add enough tartness to allow you to deal with the super-sweet filling. The final touch is some tasty whipped cream.
If you pick the Stuffed French Toast, you should proceed as if it’s a dessert and not an actual meal. Using that mindset, you’ll be able to get through it with a smile on your face. Otherwise, if you view this as an actual meal, the sweetness will quickly overpower your senses.
8. IHOP’s Classic Steakburger
The Classic Steakburger isn’t as magical as it sounds — but, as long as you keep your expectations in check, you’ll be able to get some pleasure out of it. The highlights of this burger include the tasty bun, the gooeyness of the American cheese, the flavorful pickles, and the freshness of the red onions, tomato slices, and lettuce. And while the IHOP Sauce is definitely odd, the mix of mayo, ketchup, and mustard (allegedly) works well.
Where does this burger fall short? The Classic Steakburger is made with choice Angus beef that is 100 percent USDA certified and all-natural. Despite the high-quality beef in the recipe, the taste is only mediocre. To compare, the meat in a really good fast food hamburger is a step or two above what you should expect if you order this IHOP burger.
If you order this steakburger knowing that it’s not going to be better than the best fast food burger, you’ll be satisfied. If you’re expecting more, you’ll be let down.
7. IHOP’s Swedish Crepes
The International House of Pancakes was given its name due to the international items that could be found on the menu. That tradition lives on with their Swedish Crepes. If you order this meal, you will get four dainty crepes that are topped with lingonberry butter and actual lingonberries. Before it hits your table, a very light sprinkling of powdered sugar is added on top of it all.
The great thing about the lingonberries, which are popular in Sweden, is that they are both sweet and tart at the same time. That balanced flavor profile prevents IHOP’s Swedish Crepes from being too sweet, which is a problem with both the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes and the Stuffed French Toast.
Why aren’t these crepes even higher in this ranking? It comes down to size. While you get four crepes, each crepe is really light and is gone before you know it. Honestly, you’d need about ten of these things to adequately fill you up, even if you’re only moderately hungry.
6. IHOP’s Colorado Omelette
If you want a really good omelette from IHOP, don’t get charmed by the Bacon Temptation Omelette and its icky white sauce. Instead, go with the Colorado Omelette. While the name of this omelette isn’t nearly as alluring (unless you have an affinity for the Centennial State), this meal will raise your spirits a mile off the ground.
Not only does the Colorado Omelette also have bacon in it, it’s also stuffed with pork sausage, shredded beef, and chunks of ham. Each of those four types of meat has its own distinct flavor and will make every bite a unique adventure. Beyond the meat, this omelette has chopped onions and green peppers along with a notable amount of cheddar cheese.
Even if you cracked a few eggs and have gathered up all the other ingredients, you wouldn’t truly be able to replicate this omelette at home. Why are IHOP’s omelettes fluffier than the omelettes you make in your kitchen? It has to do with the fact that they add a splash of their pancake batter to each omelette.
5. IHOP’s Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
When only a sandwich will do, the Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich is what you should order from IHOP. It’s not the best thing on the menu, mind you, but it’s certainly the best sandwich.
The Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich features a crispy chicken breast — but, thankfully, it’s not as crispy as their chicken strips. The piece of crispy chicken is then tossed in Frank’s RedHot Buffalo sauce — the exact same sauce that you love and is available at your local grocery store. Once the chicken is completely covered in the buffalo sauce, it’s added to a bed of pickles, red onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.
To ensure that things don’t get too spicy, a liberal amount of buttermilk ranch is added on top of the chicken. Finally, you get some extra tastiness from the brioche bun. All told, this sandwich is a joy to eat. It’s just spicy enough to get your attention but mild enough to allow you to completely enjoy it.
4. IHOP’s New York Cheesecake Pancakes
If you want to roll the dice with one of IHOP’s more inventive pancake options, skip past the Mexican Tres Leches Pancakes and the colorful Cupcake Pancakes and head toward the New York Cheesecake Pancakes instead. While neither the Mexican Tres Leches Pancakes nor the Cupcake Pancakes are a bad choice, the New York Cheesecake Pancakes are a far superior option.
It’s not clear how IHOP does it, but they manage to take four buttermilk pancakes and add majestic bites of cheesecake to each pancake. Not only are the bites numerous in quantity, but the quality of each bite will also shock you. Your taste buds will celebrate each time a cheesecake morsel passes your lips.
As if that isn’t enough goodness, glazed strawberries are added on top along with some whipped cream. Don’t try to mess with perfection and add any type of syrup. Eat these pancakes as they’re served to you, and you’ll be overjoyed.
3. IHOP’s Original French Toast
While it can sometimes be overlooked on the menu, don’t make the mistake of ignoring IHOP’s Original French Toast. While it sounds simplistic and doesn’t look overly complicated, it’s a tasty meal that you’ll appreciate from your first bite to your last.
Three slices of thick bread are cut in half to create a total of six triangles of scrumptiousness. Before it’s time to chow down on the Original French Toast, powdered sugar and a scoop of whipped butter are added on top. While butter at restaurants can sometimes underwhelm, IHOP’s butter tastes like real, honest-to-goodness butter. Be sure you get some butter on each slice of this French toast because it emphatically enhances every bite.
If you love the French toast but you want a little bit more heartiness and flavor diversity, go with the Strawberry Banana French Toast. It takes what’s best about the original and supercharges it with slices of banana and glazed strawberries.
2. IHOP’s Breakfast Sampler
When you just can’t put your finger on exactly what it is that you want to eat, go with the Breakfast Sampler from IHOP. All the variety in this meal will ensure that you will always be pleased.
First, you will need to decide how you want your two eggs. You can get them sunny side up, over easy, over medium, over hard, or scrambled. Joining your eggs will be two links of pork sausage, two thick slices of ham, and, yes, two strips of their delicious bacon. Finally, you’ll receive a charitable amount of yummy hash browns that have that perfect crispy-but-not-too-crispy texture and two buttermilk pancakes.
Tip: Save the pancakes for last. Instead of forking over more money for a dessert, load up the pancakes with some of IHOP’s fantastic syrup (available flavors will likely include blueberry, strawberry, boysenberry, maple, and butter pecan), and finish off this meal with a sweet treat.
1. IHOP’s Original Buttermilk Pancakes
The Original Buttermilk Pancakes put IHOP on the map and remain the best item on their menu to this day. Other menu items have come and gone, but these pancakes will be around forever. A full stack will come with five large pancakes and a scoop of whipped butter on top. All you will need to do is pick your syrup flavor, drizzle the syrup over the pancakes, grab ahold of your utensils of choice, and dig in.
If the full stack sounds like it’d be too much of a good thing, the short stack is the exact same meal except with three pancakes instead of five.
The secret to IHOP’s legendary pancakes involves science and precision. For example, the restaurant keeps the pancake batter very cold in order to prevent a chemical reaction that would result in springy pancakes. Thankfully, you don’t need to learn about the science of these pancakes before you eat them. When you visit IHOP, all you need to do is order the Original Buttermilk Pancakes and prepare to enjoy the best item on the menu.