Whether you call them Southern hoe cakes, cornbread pancakes, or Johnny cakes, one thing’s for sure – these babies are downright addictive!
Make them once, and your family will want them every day.
They’re tender and creamy inside with crispy, crunchy edges that’ll make your mouth water.
Serve them with bacon and eggs or with dinner as a tasty replacement for dinner rolls.
Either way, fire up that cast iron skillet and make some fantastic Southern hoe cakes today!
Quick and Easy Southern Hoe Cakes
If you’ve never heard of them, you’re probably wondering how Southern hoe cakes got their name.
The stories say that enslaved people in the South cooked up cornbread cakes using field hoes as griddles.
And the recipe was so tasty, it stood the test of time! Only today, we’re using a cast iron skillet.
The recipe is simple – you’ll only need pantry staples like cornmeal, flour, salt, fat, buttermilk, and a touch of sugar to make the batter.
Then fry them until they’re crispy and golden. Pretty easy, huh?
And this recipe is just the starting line. You can add anything you want into the batter.
So make them cheesy, or add fresh herbs, spices, and bacon!
As promised, this recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients. And if you cook a lot, I bet you already have them on hand!
- All-Purpose Flour – Traditional recipe uses 100% cornmeal, but I find a touch of all-purpose flour makes these hoe cakes lighter and fluffier than ever.
- Yellow Cornmeal – The base of the recipe, adding a slightly sweet flavor and delicious cornbread texture.
- Sugar – If you like sweet cornbread and pancakes, this is a must. But if you prefer things savory, feel free to cut back on the sugar.
- Baking Powder – The baking powder creates tiny air bubbles that expand when they hit the heat. That’s why these hoe cakes are so light.
- Salt – Just a touch of salt draws out the sweetness from the cornmeal and balances the flavors.
- Eggs – All batters need a binding agent, and more often than not, it’s eggs. Though you can use flax as an egg replacement (then make your own buttermilk to make the batter vegan).
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk is a magic baking ingredient. It makes things rich and creamy and brings incredible moisture to baked goods.
- Make it yourself with milk (any kind) and a splash of white vinegar or lemon juice.
- Mix it up, then leave it to curdle for about 10 minutes.
- Water – To thin the batter. You may not need it, so add it slowly.
- Vegetable Oil – To create those crispy fried edges.
How to Make Southern Hoe Cakes
Whipping up a batch of Southern hoe cakes is just as easy as making pancakes.
So follow these steps, and you’ll have something yummy ready to devour in no time:
- Combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated before mixing the wet and dry together.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients into a batter. Whisk slowly by hand until a batter forms. Add water as needed – it should be thick but pourable. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet and fry the cakes. Pour two tablespoons of oil into a cast iron skillet and set it to medium-high heat. Add the batter a 1/4 cup at a time. Fry until golden, flip, then fry again – about 2 minutes on each side.
Serve and enjoy!
Tips & Variations
As with most pancake recipes, you can adapt this however you like. But if you need inspiration, here are a few tips and variations:
- Keep them small. Classic hoe cakes are much smaller than average pancakes, which is how they get those lovely crisp edges. So stick to 1/4 cup or less.
- Blot the excess oil with paper towels. Transfer cooked hoe cakes to a paper towel-lined plate while you make the rest. That way, they won’t be oily.
- Don’t overmix the batter. Use a whisk to blend everything, but don’t work the batter until it’s perfectly smooth. I like to start with a whisk and then use a spatula about halfway through.
- Let the batter rest before cooking. When you’ve mixed everything into one thick batter, leave it to rest for about 15 minutes before you fry the cakes. This should help them get extra fluffy!
- Use bacon grease instead of oil. Both in the batter and for frying!
- Add tasty extras to make them your own. Make them salty with bacon and cheese, keep them veggie with scallions, or go sweet with chocolate!
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating
If you have any leftovers (which is unlikely!), store them in the fridge for up to four days.
Just let them cool, then pop them into an airtight container or wrap them in foil.
You can also put them in the freezer, where they’ll stay fresh for up to three months. In this case, double-wrap them in plastic and add a layer of foil too.
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