hoecakes on table


Breakfast Favorites, Pancakes & Waffles, Southern Breakfasts, Southern Sides, Starches

This Southern food staple is a yummy alternative to corn bread. When you want that corn bread flavor, but want something more breakfasty, try this tasty Southern hoecake recipe.

What’s a Hoecake?

Hoecakes are one of those dishes that many non-Southerners have never heard of. You may have heard their other name — johnnycakes. But some folks also use the term johnny cake to describe a regular flour pancake.

These are cornmeal pancakes, so imagine a regular flour pancake. Now picture it a little crispier with a yummy fried cornbread taste. Sounds good, right? It is!

Indigenous peoples of the the US used lots of ground corn for cooking. They are credited with teaching the European colonists of the South how to make johnnycakes, as well as other cornmeal dishes like cornbread and grits. These foods became popular soul food dishes that have remained Southern cuisine staples to this day.

Watch How to Make Hoecakes

Check out our chef while she makes an easy breakfast-style stack of tasty hoecakes!

Are Hoecakes supposed to be sweet? Where’s the sugar?

This hoecake recipe is traditional and does not contain sugar. If you’re a Yank, or hail from certain parts of the South, you might be used to your cornbread tasting sweet. If that’s your preference, and you want some sweetness in your hoecakes, try doing one or all of the following:

  • Top your hot hoecakes with butter. This is a tasty choice regardless of your sweetness preference.
  • Drizzle your hoecakes with honey. Honey works great together with the butter and cornmeal flavors.
  • If you’re a maple syrup fan, pour some on your hoe cakes. Syrup is perfect if you’re enjoying these corn cake pancakes as your main dish for breakfast.
  • Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar to the recipe.

Don’t want them sweet, but want a little extra something? Go full Southern hoe cake style. Cook up some yummies like turnip or collard greens and dip your hoe cakes in the pot likker. These corn cakes work great as a side dish with a big ol’ pot of greens.

Substitutions and Notes on Cooking the Hoecakes

If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, you might not be a Southerner. But that’s all right; there are a variety of substitution options. Since this recipe calls for 2 cups of buttermilk, you can use 2 cups of regular milk plus 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Check out this link for more buttermilk substitution techniques.

For frying, the way to make this dish especially Southern would be to replace the vegetable oil with bacon grease. So if you’re serving up these cornmeal hoecakes for breakfast, prepare your bacon first, and then save that tasty rendered bacon fat for frying your hoecakes.

Alternatively, these cornbread cakes can be cooked on a lightly greased griddle, as you would a pancake. If you’re averse to fried food or want to reduce the recipe’s fat content, this is the way to go.

Lastly, make sure you’re using fine ground cornmeal for this recipe. Ain’t nothin worse than a gritty hoecake. If you’re using the White Lily self rising cornmeal mix (or a similar self rising cornmeal mix) you should leave out the baking soda.

We hope you’ll enjoy our Southern Hoecake recipe!

hoecakes on table

Best Southern Hoecakes

These hoecakes are traditional Southern fare. For those unfamiliar, these tasty treats are cornmeal cakes fried in the skillet.
4.59 from 12 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern
Servings 6
Calories 325 kcal


  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • 2 Medium Bowls


  • 2 cups fine cornmeal
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil or rendered bacon fat. Use more as needed for frying.


  • Stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk together until fully combined.
  • Stir the cornmeal mixture into the wet ingredients until smooth.
  • Let the hoecake batter rest for about 10 minutes, to thicken.
  • Add the vegetable oil or bacon grease to your skillet, and place on stovetop at medium high heat.
  • Place large spoonfuls of the batter into the skillet. Fry the cakes until bubbles appear on the tops and their edges are cooked. Then flip each of the corn cakes and cook the other side until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  • After frying, pat each hoe cake with a paper towel to absorb any excess frying oil or grease, if desired.


Calories: 325kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 10gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 495mgPotassium: 366mgFiber: 5gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 211IUCalcium: 133mgIron: 2mg
Keyword cornmeal batter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. Anonymous

    Just like Grandma’s.

  2. Kids are all gone and I live alone now, and I don’t like to make a whole pone of cornbread just for me. Hoe cakes are the perfect solution to getting the cornbread taste in smaller portions without having to heat up the house, as well. For fun, I sometimes substitute very coarsely ground yellow meal instead of the fine ground meal, or even add jalapeno. Crunchy, and good compliment to beans or brothy soups.

  3. 5 stars
    WOW! … Great heart attack material…

  4. karen marie

    5 stars
    Hoe cakes have been on my radar for a while. Having bought a bag of masa harina for another purpose, today was the day to make hoe cakes.

    I used butter in the batter but fried them in bacon fat. They came out really well – tall, fluffy, with a fine crumb. So far I’ve had one topped with guacamole, sour cream, a chili sauce I made with dried chilis, and shredded cheese. Delicious!

    For breakfast “dessert,” I am going to try one with honey.

    I think I figured out though why I am not a fan of tamales – nixtalized corn. Next time I make hoe cakes, I will use fine corn flour instead of masa harina. Even so, these cakes are lovely!

  5. they look delicious. I’ll most certainly try them. Now, can they be frozen?

    • Avatar photo

      If you’d like to freeze leftovers, I’d suggest doing the pancake trick – place a piece of wax paper between each one before you wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze. Hope you enjoy!

  6. The REAL Van D

    CLEARLY ~ this recipe kicks @#X & this time I’ma make em with those jalapenos y’all been talking bout ✊ Yeaa ~ bout 2 get creative over here !!! I think this might jus be the ONE ….

  7. 4 stars
    Finally, a Southern hoe cake that admits it is NOT sweet. Part of the joy is the slight sour flavor. And that’s what makes it taste so special with greens and likker. Thanks for staying true to real Southern cooking.

  8. I’m choosing your recipe over the one in the New York Times to try. I have never had hoecakes and am looking forward to trying it on a Sunday very soon…

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