Hoecake, Johnnycake, cornpone, Shawnee cake, ashcake, spider cornbread...the humble cornmeal pancake goes by many names, depending on where you live and how you make them.

At their most minimalist, Johnnycakes (the common term used in Yankee territory) are dense pucks made with cornmeal, water, and salt, and are best used as shovels for scooping up whatever else is on your breakfast plate.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Over time, many versions of the cornmeal pancakes have been glowed up to more closely resemble its leavened cousins. Our version falls somewhere in the middle: classic in composition, but modernized with flour, milk, and a hint of sugar. Serve these as you would pancakes (with plenty of butter and syrup) and be generous with your cooking fat, as it’ll only improve the seasoning of your Field Griddle.

Recipe: Griddle Johnnycakes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings



In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar (if using).


In a small saucepan, bring the milk and water to a boil. Carefully pour into the cornmeal mixture and whisk until a thick, polenta-like batter forms.


Heat a No.9 Field Griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Add about 3 tablespoons butter or bacon fat. Form the batter into golfball-size rounds, then pat into disks. Add 4 or 5 Johnnycakes to the skillet and press flat with a spatula. Cook cakes until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.


Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter or bacon fat as needed between batches. Serve hot with butter and syrup.

Seasoning Rating: Better

Cooking any sort of griddle cake over low-moderate heat is great for your skillet. The butter and bacon fat used in this recipe won't build up seasoning on their own, but they will ensure that your johnnycakes glide around the griddle without sticking. And, using the whole cooking surface to cook batches of cakes will help seasoning develop evenly.

After breakfast, clean your griddle promptly and make sure to apply a dab of Field Seasoning Oil before you put the pan away.

Seasoning Ratings:

Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.

Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.

Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.

OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.