Pan Fried Cornbread is a favorite in many Southern homes. Also called Hoe Cakes or Jonny Cakes, they’re like a cross between pancakes and cornbread. This old-fashioned recipe makes a tasty cake that pairs well with any Southern entree. Serve them warm and topped with butter and maple syrup for a comforting breakfast, or as a side with lunch or dinner.
Fried cornbread is well known in Southern states, but go by different names depending on who you ask. Some call them hoe cakes while others call them Johnny cakes. They’re also called fried cornbread cakes, fried cornbread fritters or fried cornbread patties. Whichever name you use, you’re sure to enjoy this timeless recipe.
Why Is It Called a Hoe Cake?
These cakes were first made by Native Americans who used maize (ground corn) as a staple for thousands of years. European colonizers soon learned their recipes and started recreating them. The original method of cooking these cakes was by using a type of iron pan known as a hoe. This was a slang term for a griddle, which was often used to make these cakes.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- All-purpose flour
- Fine cornmeal
- Buttermilk, or milk
- Canola oil, or bacon drippings
- Baking powder
- Sugar, optional
How to Make Pan Fried Cornbread
1. In a medium bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and optional sugar.
2. Whisk to mix.
3. Add the water, buttermilk and beaten eggs.
4. Whisk until smooth. (The batter should have the consistency of pancake batter; add a dribble of milk if too thick or a teaspoon of cornmeal if too thin.)
5. Place a cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the pan.
6. Drop approximately ¼ cup into the pan for each hoe cake.
7. Fry for one minute or so until crispy and golden underneath.
8. Flip and fry until crispy and golden on the other side. Remove and set on a prepared rack to cool and continue until all the batter is cooked. Serve warm with butter, honey or maple syrup if desired.
- Hot Water Cornbread (Thin Crispy Fried Cornbread): This old-fashioned recipe produces thin, crispy fried cornbread. They’re delicious on their own as a satisfying snack, or can be used as a side dish. Combine cornmeal, salt, sugar and boiling water in a bowl, then add in shortening. Pan fry the better in oil or bacon grease, then turn it over to fry the other side. They should be golden brown and crispy. Serve hot with maple syrup or honey.
- Deep Fried Cornbread Balls (Hush Puppies): These light, flaky balls of cornbread are golden brown and crispy on the outside with a warm, soft centre. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Add in a whisked egg and buttermilk to make a smooth batter. Drop the batter in rounded spoonfuls into hot oil. Fry until golden brown.
- Air Fry Cornbread: Making cornbread in the air fryer is surprisingly easy to do. Preheat to 360°F and gather your ingredients. Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in buttermilk, eggs and melted butter. Spray your baking pan with cooking spray, then pour in the cornbread batter. Bake for 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
What to Serve with Fried Cornbread?
These delicious cornbread fritters make a tasty side for so many of your favorite Southern entrees. Serve up a stack alongside fried chicken, chili, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Did Fried Cornbread Originate?
Fried cornbread originated centuries ago from a Native American recipe. Indigenous Americans used maize in many of their traditional dishes and used it to create a batter, which was then fried. European colonists copied the recipe and made the cakes on griddles which were colloquially referred to as ‘hoes.’
What is the Difference Between Hoe Cakes and Pancakes?
The key difference between a hoe cake and a pancake is the cornmeal. Hoe cakes are fried cornbread pancakes and they have cornmeal as a main ingredient. Pancakes are not made with cornmeal. Hoe cakes tend to have a more bread-like texture and that unmistakable corn taste.
What is the Difference Between Johnny Cakes and Cornbread?
In many Southern households, “Johnny cake” is just another name for fried cornbread. Regular cornbread is baked in an oven, rather than being pan fried. Baked cornbread has a more crumbly, cakey texture compared to the pancake-like consistency of Johnny cakes.
Why Is It Called Hot Water Cornbread?
Hot water cornbread is a thin, crispy version of pan fried cornbread. It’s called hot water cornbread because boiling water is used to make the batter, along with cornmeal, sugar and a pinch of salt.
Is Cornbread Bad for You?
Cornbread is often considered soul food or comfort food. Because it’s made with cornmeal, it’s a great source of whole-grain fiber, which is great for your digestive system. Cornbread also provides calcium, potassium and folic acid. Unfortunately, many pre-made cornbread mixes may contain extra sodium or sugar. You can avoid this by using pure cornmeal. If you’re on a keto diet, you may want to avoid cornbread due to its high carbohydrate content.
You May Also Like
- Corn Pone (Easy Southern Fried Cornmeal Bread Recipe)
- Arepa Paisa (Colombian Flatbread)
- Pull Apart Pizza Bread
Fried Cornbread (Hoe Cakes)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fine cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar optional
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup buttermilk or milk
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1/4 cup canola oil or bacon drippings
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Then place a wire rack on top and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and optional sugar. Whisk to mix.
- Add the water, buttermilk and beaten eggs, whisking until smooth. (The batter should have the consistency of pancake batter; add a dribble of milk if too thick or a teaspoon of cornmeal if too thin.)
- Place a cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the pan.
- Drop approximately ¼ cup into the pan for each hoe cake. Fry for one minute or so until crispy and golden underneath. Then flip and fry until crispy and golden on the other side.
- Remove to the prepared rack to cool. Repeat the previous two steps for the remaining batter.
- Serve the fried cornbread / how cakes warm with with butter, honey or maple syrup if desired.
- Hot Water Cornbread: This variation is also called lace cornbread or thin crispy fried cornbread. To make it, you don’t need the flour, baking powder, milk and eggs. Instead, simply combine 2 cups cornmeal with 1 3/4 cups boiling water, salt and an optional teaspoon sugar. Whisk until smooth and fry in oil the same way.
- Deep Fried Cornbread Balls (Hush Puppies): Refrigerate the batter for at least one hour so it firms up. Heat 2 inches of oil to 350°F in a deep fryer or saucepan. Use a 1 ½-inch cookie scoop to drop balls into the oil (start with 4). Fry until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack to cool.
- Storage: Once the cornbread is cooled completely, store in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze for up to 3 months.
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