Southern Hoes Recipe (Johnny Cakes)

Whatever you call them Southern hoescornbread pancakes, or johnny cakes, one thing is for sure – these babies are downright addictive!

Make them once and your family will want them every day.

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Creamy and delicate southern hoes

They are soft and creamy inside with crispy edges that will make you drool.

Serve them with bacon and eggs or for dinner as a tasty replacement for rolls.

Either way, fire up the cast iron skillet and make some fantastic southern hoes today!

Quick and Easy Southern Hoe Cakes

If you’ve never heard of them, you’re probably wondering how southern hoes got their name.

Stories say that enslaved people in the South cooked cornbread pies using field hoes as pans.

And the recipe was so tasty that it stood the test of time! Only today we use a cast iron pan.

The recipe is simple – to make the dough you will only need basic ingredients such as cornmeal, flour, salt, fat, buttermilk and a pinch of sugar.

Then fry them until they are crispy and golden. Pretty easy, huh?

And this recipe is just the beginning. You can add whatever you want to the dough.

So make them cheesy or add fresh herbs, spices and bacon!

Ingredients for Southern Moty Cake - flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs and buttermilk


As promised, this recipe only requires a handful of ingredients. And if you cook a lot, I bet you already have them on hand!

  • All purpose flour – The traditional recipe uses 100% cornmeal, but I found that a touch of all-purpose flour made these skeins lighter and fluffier than ever.
  • Yellow cornmeal – The base of a recipe that adds a slightly sweet flavor and delicious texture to cornbread.
  • Sugar – If you like sweet cornbread and pancakes, this is a must. But if you prefer salty things, feel free to limit the sugar.
  • Baking powder – Baking powder creates tiny air bubbles that expand when exposed to heat. That’s why these hoes are so light.
  • Salt – Just a touch of salt brings out the sweetness of the cornmeal and balances out the flavors.
  • Egg – All doughs need a binder and more often than not it is eggs. Although you can just use it as an egg substitute (then make your own buttermilk to make the dough vegan).
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk is a magical baking ingredient. It makes things rich and creamy and brings incredible moisture to baked goods.
    • Make it yourself with milk (any kind) and a little white vinegar or lemon juice.
    • Mix and let it set for about 10 minutes.
  • Water – To thin the batter. You may not need it, so add it slowly.
  • Vegetable oil – To create those crispy fried edges.

How to Make Southern Hoe Cakes

Whipping up a batch of Southern Hoe Cakes is as easy as making pancakes.

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So follow these steps and you’ll have something delicious to eat in no time:

  1. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Make sure all the ingredients are well mixed before mixing the wet and dry mixes.
  2. Mix the wet and dry ingredients for the dough. Slowly beat by hand until a dough forms. Add water as needed – it should be thick but pourable. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. Heat a cast iron pan and fry the cakes. Pour two tablespoons of oil into a cast-iron skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add batter 1/4 cup at a time. Fry until golden, flip and then fry again – about 2 minutes per side.

Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Fluffy and Crispy Southern Hoes

Tips and variations

As with most pancake recipes, you can customize this one however you like. But if you need inspiration, here are some tips and variations:

  • Keep them small. The classic hoes are much smaller than the average pancake, which is how they get those lovely crispy edges. So stick to 1/4 cup or less.
  • Absorb excess oil with paper towels. Transfer the baked hoes to a paper towel-lined baking sheet while you prepare the rest. So they won’t be greasy.
  • Do not mix the dough. Mix everything with a whisk, but do not work with the dough until it is perfectly smooth. I like to start with a whisk and then use a spatula about halfway through.
  • Let the dough rest before cooking. After mixing everything into one thick dough, let it rest for about 15 minutes before frying the scones. This should help them get extra fluffy!
  • Use bacon fat instead of oil. Both in batter and fried!
  • Add tasty extras to make it your own. Make them savory with bacon and cheese, keep them vegetarian with spring onions or sweet with chocolate!

Storage, freezing and heating

If you have any leftovers (which is unlikely!), keep them in the fridge for up to four days.

Let them cool and then put them in an airtight container or wrap them in foil.

You can also put them in the freezer, where they will stay fresh for up to three months. In this case, double wrap them in plastic and add a layer of foil as well.

More Southern recipes you’ll love

Comeback sauce
Cornbread Salad
Pineapple Casserole
Red beans and rice

Southern Hoe Cakes

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