There’s no mistaking the sweet, pebbly punch of cornmeal. Just don’t tell a Rhode Islander that you’re making johnnycakes with anything other than the state’s signature white cornmeal, ground by a process that leaves the particles flat rather than granular. This recipe comes from Kenyon’s Grist Mill (kenyonsgristmill.com) in Usquepaug, where they’ve been grinding it properly since 1886. The cakes are lighter and lacier than your typical flapjack, with a slightly crunchy crust that holds up nicely under a slathering of jam or a puddle of warm maple syrup.–Ryan D’Agostino

LC What Folks Are Saying About This Recipe Note

“A classic recipe for johnnycakes.” “Make more than you think you’ll need, these disappear quickly.” “A perfect savory alternative to the sweeter flour pancake type as part of a breakfast-for-dinner meal.” That’s what folks are saying about this johnnycakes recipe. Well, that’s what some folks are saying about this johnnycakes recipe. Others would beg to disagree. The thing is, you have to go in to a plateful of thesewith the proper expectations. These are johnnycakes. These are not pancakes. As such, they’re light and crunchier and, to some, lovelier. But make no mistake, they’re not pillowy or sweet. They’re gritty and sorta bland in a good way and arguably best stacked alongside bacon or sausage and doused with maple syrup or slid beneath something savory and roasted or braised so as to sop up those irresistible pan juices. We also sometimes use them much as we do arepas. Suit yourself.

Johnnycakes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes about 18 silver-dollar-size


  • 1 cup (115 to 140 grams) finely ground white cornmeal (see LC note above regarding the specific cornmeal that makes or breaks this simple recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 milliliters) water
  • Bacon fat or unsalted butter, for the griddle
  • Warm maple syrup, for serving


  • 1. Heat a well-seasoned griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat or preheat an electric griddle to 380°F (193°C).
  • 2. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
  • 3. Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl with high sides. Gradually add some of the boiling water, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and thick enough to plop off the spoon in a blob. Think thick Cream of Wheat. (The goal is to scald the cornmeal with the boiling water, which essentially cooks the cornmeal in the bowl so the only thing you need to achieve in the skillet is crisp the exterior.)
  • 4. Test your griddle or skillet to make sure it’s the right hotness by flicking a drop of water on the griddle or skillet—it should skitter across the cooking surface. When the surface is sufficiently hot, slick it well with bacon fat or unsalted butter. Drop the batter by tablespoonsful onto the griddle or skillet. Using the edge of the spoon, chop across the surface of the blob of batter to release any air. Let the johnnycakes sit, without budging them, until the edges begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes, then flip them and keep frying until the cakes are cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes longer. (The timing will, of course, vary depending on just how hot your cooking surface is and just how big your blobs of johnnycakes batter. Best not to turn your back on the stovetop.)
  • 5. Transfer the johnnycakes to warmed serving plates and serve hot with maple syrup.
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