Johnnycakes Recipe

If you’re unfamiliar with johnnycakes, thank me now: Your life is about to change forever. (All you others, pat yourselves on the back and grab a baking sheet.) Part cornbread, part pancake, part biscuit, this New England breakfast staple stepped in to fill the void left when my pancake addiction was cut short by gluten sensitivities. I drown my johnnycakes in agave nectar, but no matter how you treat them, plan on sharing. You only rarely find these at BabyCakes NYC because they absolutely must be served warm. I bake them on a sheet pan, although you can spoon them onto a well-greased griddle for a crisper—though more caloric—cake.–Erin McKenna

LC Not Quite Gluten-Free Note

Yes, this cornbread-y, pancake-y, biscuit-y breakfast thing is relatively low in gluten, though it’s not quite gluten-free. It still contains spelt, a strain of wheat that’s tolerated by some, though not all, who suffer from gluten intolerance. If you’ve not yet acquainted yourself with the lovely, nutty little flour that’s milled from spelt, it’s worth considering–though not if you suffer from severe gluten intolerance or allergies.

Johnnycakes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 40 M
  • Makes 6 to 8


  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup hot water


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and adjust the oven rack to the center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil, 2 tablespoons agave nectar, and vanilla and stir until the batter is smooth. Pour the hot water over the batter and stir just until you have a thick, grainy batter.
  • 3. For each johnnycake, scoop 1/3 cup batter onto the prepared baking sheet and use the back of the measuring scoop or a spoon to shape the blob into a round, spacing the johnnycakes 1 inch apart. Sprinkle each johnnycake with a pinch of salt.
  • 4. Bake the johnnycakes for 14 minutes, rotating the sheet 180° after 7 minutes. The edges of the finished johnnycakes will be golden brown and firm to the touch. Let the johnnycakes stand on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then drizzle with agave nectar. Transfer to a wire rack and serve warm. (In the unlikely event you have leftovers, you can store cooled johnnycakes in an airtight container, separated by layers of parchment paper, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Rewarm before serving.)
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Jul 07, 2009

I was interested in something fast for breakfast. I looked on the web a little before making this recipe, and this picture and other pictures on the web make the johnnycake look like it's a pancake, but this version is more like a biscuit. The flavor was very good. What makes it unique is the coconut oil. This made the johnnycake like a large coconut cookie. It's very healthy because it uses coconut oil and very little sweetener. By using water, this recipe could be considered vegan. To make it gluten free, you'd need to sub your favorite GF mix. This came out a bit dry but not too bad. On the web, it sounds like using milk might make a difference or adding a little more liquid to get to a moister consistency.

I sprayed the parchment paper. I used a 1/3C measure and only had a yield of 6 pancakes. Check the cakes at 12 minutes and turn earlier, also set only for 5 minutes after you turn. Give it a little more time if you need it but I didn't need as much time.

On the web, it's suggested that you use maple syrup but these really are more like biscuits - we dipped some small pieces in maple syrup and it was good, so maybe a whip some maple syrup into softened butter, cream cheese or margarine. I pulled out some softened butter and that worked well - so yogurt-based spread or margarine might be fine. I think these could also be served with jam.

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