Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

These cornmeal griddle cakes are a simple Southern staple, made with a handful of inexpensive pantry ingredients including cornmeal, baking powder, salt, egg, and water. Entirely gluten-free and amazing at breakfast and beyond. Here’s how to make them.

Two stacks of cornmeal griddle cakes on a patterned plate.

Cornbread was for many years the basic bread of the rural South, the very poor South. Corn bread is close to being religion in the South. But for years, corn bread was the primitive Baptist to the Episcopalian biscuit, the all-night tent revival to the ladies’ prayer luncheon. Cornmeal griddle cakes are the most basic of Southern breads. Biscuits require expensive dairy products, while gluten-free cornmeal griddle cakes, also known as hoe cakes, can be made with little more than meal, a bit of oil, and water. They’re especially delicious to sop up juices and gravy.–Virginia Willis

How Are Cornmeal Griddle Cakes Different Than Pancakes?

Crisped exterior. Ethereally airy interior. Pleasantly gritty through and through. Can’t blame us for swooning over these cornmeal griddle cakes! Lest you mistake them for that other sort of griddle cake, the kind you stack five high on a plate in a puddle of melted butter and maple syrup, bear in mind that these savory somethings have no leavening and no sugar. As such, they’re best as a second fiddle to anything that needs a lovely little something to sop and mop up its juices, whether roast chicken, pulled pork, the burnt ends of brisket, or, well, you get the gist. They’re also quite respectable with just a bunch of butter and syrup. Darn good thing they’re quick to make, as you may find yourself in need of a second batch.

Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

  • Quick Glance
  • (16)
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Makes 8 to 12 cakes
4.9/5 - 16 reviews
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In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

In a second bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk the
 egg and 1 cup water until smooth. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using as few strokes as possible.
The batter should be soupy but not watery.

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the heated skillet for each cake, being careful not to crowd the skillet. When the batter hits the hot oil, the edges will sizzle and become very crisp.

Cook the cakes until the bottoms are a rich brown and bubbles form on the tops and along the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. For best results, be sure to cook the cakes until the edges are deep, rich, golden brown.

Serve immediately, flipping those little babies onto a plate and passing them along while you fry up the remaining cakes, adding oil to the skillet as needed. Originally published October 10, 2011.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

These cornmeal griddle cakes were easy to make. With such a short list of ingredients and simple measurements, you won’t need the recipe after you follow it a few times.

We enjoyed the cakes with maple syrup and they were delicious. But since they were neither sweet nor savory, and full of straightforward corn flavor, we thought they would make perfect “quick flat cornbread” without having to turn on the oven. I can see a couple of these rounds served on the side of a bowl of chili.

The recipe yielded 10 griddle cakes that were about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. You decide how many mouths it satisfies in your household.

These griddle cakes are simple to put together and quick to cook. They have a great crispy outside and chewy cornmeal center.

They’re good hot off the grill with butter and syrup and they’re also good for savory toppings such as a tomato salad.

Very laid-back and simple food, definitely Southern style.

I did need to add more water, as suggested; I got it to the consistency of wet sand, which seemed to work well. I used a cookie scoop to portion out the cakes in the pan and then flattened them out so they could crisp and cook thoroughly. Keep your oil at the ready. I definitely needed more than 1/4 cup, but that was a good starting point.

I made these cakes with steak, shredded basil, garden-fresh sliced tomatoes, and buttermilk ranch drizzled over top. They were delicious and a great accompaniment to any good protein.

Since I’m always looking for unique ways to use cornmeal, I found this recipe enticing. The preparation could not be easier. All of the ingredients were readily available in my pantry, so I was off and running.

While the batter came together simply, it did require about 1/2 cup more water. Since I was cooking at a high elevation, I poured the entire 1/4 cup oil into the pan to begin the frying process. After each batch, I did need to add a bit more oil (I kept the oil level at about 1/4 inch depth). Each side crisped up to a nice golden brown.

As I prepared to serve them, I realized I had never eaten a corn cake before and was in the dark on how to plate them. I had some leftover lavender honey sauce from another recipe and used that to top the corn cakes. They were delicious—crispy on the outside, light like a corn muffin on the inside.

This is not a recipe that you just make and eat by itself. If you do, it really is not that great. It’s a bit bland and slightly dry. However, used as a base for some stew, chili, or barbecue, it’s wonderful. I used it as a base for some poached eggs and homemade Canadian bacon. It really was outstanding and soaked up that yolk like a champ.

It’s very simple to make with minimal effort and ingredients. I did at first “slick” my cast iron pan, and the cakes worked out ok. However, for the second batch I used more oil—closer to 2 or 3 tablespoons—and the cakes were much better, with slightly crispy edges. The recipe made 8 cakes for me.

I would make it again and maybe add some chipotle Hollandaise to really round out the eggs Benedict motif.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the finished product of this recipe. I had never made anything like this before and didn’t know what to expect. What can I say — delicious! Loved the corn flavor and the crunch from the cornmeal. I used a coarse cornmeal, and my co-eater thought it might be better with a finer grind. Also found that the cakes made last were a little less crunchy than the first batch. This recipe made 10 cakes for me. Tried it with maple syrup, strawberry preserves, and also honey and butter. Loved them all! So quick to make, I’ll certainly make these again!

These griddle cakes are simple and delicious. They make a great stand-in for corn bread, take much less time to make, and don’t involve the oven (which is a good thing in the summer). As someone who is from the northern part of the country, my taste preference definitely tends towards sweeter corn bread and griddle cakes. I used less oil than called for in the recipe — just enough to moisten the pan — and the cakes still came out with a nice golden crust. I also added a bit more water to the batter, as the first few were dry. They were nice with savory food, but I really enjoyed them for breakfast with Greek yogurt, raspberries, and maple syrup. One recipe made about 11 to 12 griddle cakes. When I make them again, I will most likely reduce the salt a bit.

I make something similar to these quite often. These are easy and quite tasty hot from a cast-iron skillet with a smear of butter. I did need to add a bit of water to the batter to get a nice consistency. I drizzled some of the 1/4 cup oil (I used sunflower oil) into the skillet each time I fried a batch. I ended up with 8 griddle cakes.

This was a very easy recipe to make and actually faster than it says. We ended up having them with baby lamb legs, and I must say, oddly enough, that it was a great combination. The juices from the roasted lamb were perfect for the cakes.

Do not confuse cornmeal griddle cakes with buttermilk pancakes! Though these easy-to-make cornmeal griddle cakes can be served smothered in butter and syrup like a pancake, they would also be terrific aside beans, chili, tomato relish, or anything you’d eat with corn bread. They are, in fact, a quicker simpler form of corn bread. I think they’d be great with some whole kernels of corn added, or scallions, or even some kind of peppers — jalapeños, chipotles, diced or chopped Southwestern green chiles, or a little pinch of ancho powder or an even smaller pinch of cayenne. My batter was thick, and I ladled out eight quarter-cups onto my pre-heated skillet. Cooking in batches, the timing was perfect, though I didn’t see much bubbling on the tops and edges. I oiled between each batch of cakes, generously. These cry out for oil aplenty! The browning is important, both visually and for the great crisp texture it creates, just like corn bread cooked in cast iron! Definitely heed Willis’ advice to serve immediately: They are never better than the second they come out of the skillet!

This recipe is very good, but what would make it better is more salt. I added some extra to the batter after I fried a few. I didn’t use the full 3/4 cup of oil because I was not making them in a larger skillet. I have a Scanpan — love the way it browns, but my skillet isn’t too large, so I made them one at a time. It was just three of us, and they don’t take long to fry. The directions are right on for the time. I want to make this again, and I can see adding corn and onions next time.


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  1. This recipe was a great jumping-off point to assuage my savory-sweet cravings today.

    I used the recipe as a base with these additions/changes:

      -Chopped up several pieces of bacon and cooked until crispy in a skillet, then added approx 1c frozen corn and one bunch green onions, chopped. Cooked until the green onions were a little crispy, and removed the mixture from pan while reserving as much of the bacon grease as possible.
      -Prepared the batter with a little less salt than it calls for, and substituted 1/2c whole milk for half of the called for water…but had to add approx 1/4c water at the end to get the right consistency.
      -added the corn/bacon/green onion mixture and a healthy handful of finely grated sharp cheddar cheese to the batter.
      -Fried in my skillet in a mixture of bacon grease and vegetable oil.
      -Topped with some reserved bacon/corn/onion mixture and a hearty dose of Steens syrup (Louisiana cane syrup).

    Would absolutely make it again. Corn griddle cakes are definitely an eat as you go food, and if you have any long pauses in cooking, be sure to stir your batter to ensure even liquid distribution and consistent cakes from start to finish.

    1. Nicely done, Mary-Elizabeth! We’re so glad you found a way to make this perfect for you. Can’t wait to hear what you try next!

  2. These were so good and easy. I am going to break them up and put them in my Thanksgiving dressing. That is how my mother did it when I was a kid.

  3. i love corn breads and cakes,l; polenta and grits. this has become one of my favorite recipes. i’ve even taught it in my cooking classes here in the alaska bush and my kids love it. simple. straightforward. corn-filled goodness whether plain, as a side, or as a bread to sop up juices and such.

    1. eric, thank you so much for sharing this! love hearing everything you just shared. there’s just a simple honest goodness with this sorta thing. thank you for appreciating it and thank you for letting us know…

  4. I’d been craving some savory cornmeal pancakes for weeks and finally stumbled across this recipe. I wish I’d have read the tester reviews before making them, but all in all, it was a success. I did add spices to the batter (chili, garlic and a bit of cumin) but didn’t add additional water, which in hindsight, would have been better, as they got a bit too thick and dry. However, the salsa we made had lots of jalapeno and TJ’s zoug sauce, so it soaked right in). I’ll definitely be make this again! Plus it’s gluten free, which is always a thumbs up in my book!

  5. Made these into muffins instead. Turned out AMAZING. Same recipe, used a blender to make it more battery, cooked it at 350°F for around 10 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

    Add honey or jam…so good!

  6. Very nice!
    I only had medium grind cornmeal, and I think they might be even better with a finer grind, but I liked the robust cornbreadiness of them. They reminded me of the only thing I liked at school lunch: they always served cornbread with beef stew (which seems weird in retrospect) and would put a squeeze bottle of honey out with it. I would stick the tip into my cornbread and sort of fill it with honey – these totally reminded me of that, even though I used maple syrup!
    I also should have done them in a pan instead of on a griddle, I think they do need to fry in the oil more.
    I can definitely can see these as a savory side for soup or stew also!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! My grandma (from the South) always made fried cornbread growing up and would use milk and egg, salt and pepper, but would use self-rising cornmeal. As we got older, she began taking a can of creamed corn and just adding as much of that (no eggs or milk) to the self- rising cornmeal for the correct batter consistency along with salt and pepper. If she still needed to thin it out, she would add some milk. It’s so delicious hot out of the pan, and I love making it. We always ate it with a pot of peas or beans. My childhood friend who had such fond memories of it, just made it recently for the first time. So easy and delicious!

    1. Those sound so good Robin, that takes me right back to my childhood as well. We always had a can of creamed corn in the house, just in case!

  8. Cooked in bacon fat it’s a hoe cake. 🙂 Another reminder from LC of something I almost forgot about. I’m going to make them for my Norwegian step daughter, she loves cornbread so these should be a hit. Thanks for the nudge into the southern direction.

    1. You must be a southerner Michelle! Hoe cakes, also known as Johnny cakes or fried cornbread in some areas, are decidedly southern.

  9. Your recipe is amazing. I was looking for a recipe with no flour and finally found one. I add a 1/4 cup of sugar when the kids want pancakes and I don’t when I serve with chili. Thank you.

  10. Great basic recipe! I made these as written and found them to be unremarkable. I cooked them with canola oil, but I think that the original recipe made by the original cook(s) would not likely have used a “mild-flavored vegetable oil.” She’d have used LARD. So I cooked a few in lard and they were excellent. For my 10-inch cast-iron skillet, I found that a full quarter cup of batter per cake would cook up fine, but I could only fit 2, so I resized the scoop to about 2 tablespoons and I was able to fit 3 cakes in my pan. They were still good-sized (about 3.5 inches across versus about 5 inches across for the quarter cup size batter scoop). Also, I had to add more water to the batter–perhaps a quarter to a third cup, to make the batter “soupy” and for the end result to be less dense–but the recipe did warn me about that so no complaints.

    Overall, I have no complaints about the original recipe, just commenting that I made a few adjustments that made me happier with the results. Thank you for sharing! I feel certain I’ll use this again because these days, I seem to be unable to digest wheat products like I used to and since this uses only corn, my tummy is happy and so’s my palate.

  11. Made these this morning after weeks of wanting to. I was not disappointed. They are as delicious as I anticipated. All I had in hand was canola/olive oil hybrid and I can taste it but it doesn’t distract much from the total deliciousness of these cakes. I topped with real butter and a sprinkling of sugar. So good. Will definitely be making again.

    1. Magnificent to hear, Julie! So thrilled to hear that you like these as much as we do. Greatly appreciate you taking the time to let us know how well they worked out for you…

  12. Found this recipe just after finding out that I am gluten intolerant. No flour is the order of my days. With chili for dinner tonight it is the perfect complement….you know…chili and corn bread!

  13. I had to use quite a bit more water, nearly 3/4 of a cup, and I used much less oil cooking them on a griddle. Knowing the light flavor they would have, I had them for breakfast with a mixture of maple syrup and sorghum. Absolutely delicious! The sorghum adds so much to the flavor combination!

    1. Lovely, Ed! And yes, the sorghum is spectacular here. So glad you liked these. And thank you, we greatly appreciate you taking the time to let us know. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next!

  14. I made this today! Yummy! I needed a little extra water and added a pinch of sugar and some chia and flax seeds (kids requested the seeds) so good! Thank you for the delicious recipe.

  15. I am so happy I found this simply delicious recipe. Had some white rice and stew chicken but needed a little something extra. These were perfect. Thanks 4 sharing

    1. Magnificent, Sonia! You’re very welcome. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know. We so appreciate it and look forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  16. Thinking of making these tonight, but I don’t have a cast iron skillet. Will a regular one be okay or do you have a suggestion for an alternative?

    1. Gary, I’m sorry I didn’t see this comment until now. A regular skillet will be fine, just use a touch more fat in the skillet to compensate for the pan being less non-stick than cast-iron. Would love to hear what you think…!

  17. I chopped some onions and garlic, and also mixed in some chopped spinach to the batter, then fried them. Delicious! I’m looking forward to getting more creative with different ingredients and maybe adding some spices. Thanks for this great gluten-free recipe!

  18. I added diced onion to this recipe and my family loved them. It’s nice to have a quick easy cornbread. I made up the batter and stored it in a covered container in the fridge, that way I can make one or two as needed. Thank for the recipe!

  19. I may have to use this as a starting point for recreating a favorite from my childhood in south Georgia: fried cornbread. The difference, I think, is that fried cornbread used a thinner batter, so the resulting cake had lacy edges and was very thin. Of course, these were best served almost straight from the hot pan, with the cook making more as the eaters scarfed up the done ones.

    1. That sounds fabulous, Nancy! I’m a north Georgia girl and have to admit that anything fried just tastes better.

  20. So happy to find this recipe. Just what I was looking to try. My husband loves cornbread but now prefers to eat gluten-free. This will be perfect for our beans and cornbread dinners (now corn cakes) as well as a breakfast treat now and again. Like others, I also like not using the oven and that these will be quicker and easier than cornbread. Thank you.

  21. I was introduced to corn cakes by a beloved aunt when I was quite young. We put them in warm milk with onion on the side dipped in salt and pepper. This was a delicious supper.

    1. Ozella, thank you for sharing. That makes me think of the day-old cornbread in milk that my mother would make me way back when. I’m now craving these cornmeal cakes, though, perhaps with a side of fish…and onion.

  22. Make these cakes with buttermilk that comes off of homemade butter…and fry the cakes in bacon grease and then serve with homemade syrup…it’s way easier than it sounds and you have the satisfaction of everything being homemade and delicious.

    1. Robin, I’m reading this in the wee hours and suddenly I’m craving these like mad. I think I’m going to have to play hooky and try your approach…many thanks for the inspired suggestion.

  23. I love this recipe because they make griddle cakes with that nice cornmeal texture and good corn taste without adding extra flour which is how I like my cornbread. We pair these with chili, stews and sometimes just as pancakes with honey butter and/or syrup.

  24. A born and bred Southerner from middle Georgia, my mother always made hoe cakes with buttermilk, not water, and so do I. The buttermilk makes a cake that’s lovely and crunchy on the outside.


    1. Since I was a young woman, I have been fortunate to have my Mother’s delicious cornbread cakes. They are delicious and take on different varieties according to people’s tastes. I prefer mine crunchy, but some Southerners prefer it in the form of cake. This is typically a Southern dish, but mseems almost everyone enjoys it in some form or another. I prefer making mine with buttermilk and baking it in the oven till brown.

  25. I’m not surprised to see that one of Virginia’s recipes received so many Testers Choice comments. I have her cookbook and every recipe tried has been a huge success. The woman is an amazing cook!

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