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
  • (18)
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Makes 8 to 12 cakes
4.9/5 - 18 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.


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    1. Thank you for writing, Nicole. Cornmeal does have a tendency to make things a touch dry (I think that is why many cornbread recipes call for some all-purpose flour). These cornmeal griddle cakes may feel dry if one was expecting something similar to the traditional pancakes, Johnny cakes, crumpets, etc., but the cornmeal should not feel “uncooked.” One thing you may want to try is to let the batter sit for a few minutes (say, 5 to 10 minutes) in order to give the cornmeal some time to absorb the liquid before it hits the griddle. In fact I use the same trick when I follow cornbread recipes in which cornmeal makes up more than 50% of the dry ingredients.

  1. 5 stars
    We made these to salvage some yellow cornmeal mixed with water by mistake starting a different recipe. Made them a bit larger (pancake size) because it was all experimental, but they turned out great! Second half we tried adding a little butter and honey to the mix which gives them a real golden brown color, and crisper outside. We love them and will be making more!

  2. These are meant to be crispy. So serve them as a side dish. Fry onions in the skillet next to the corn cakes. They are nice served with any protein along with greens or root vegetables. As someone else here commented already, I did add more water to my batter.
    We ate them Feb. 12th in honor of Abraham Lincoln who apparently loved corn cakes. My boyfriend loved these with maple syrup.

    1. I didn’t know that Abraham Lincoln was a fan of corn cakes, Kathena. Interesting! I’m so glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed them. Thanks for taking the time to let us know!

  3. 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!

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