Residential Recipes with Noah: Johnny Cakes

By: Noah Young, Graphic Designer

Do you hate spending money? I sure do! Do you like corn? Hopefully you like corn enough to eat something that is entirely corn. This week, we’re making Johnny Cakes, and while attending college, my friends and I have had these countless times and for all three meals. I’ve had these beside eggs, on top of home fries, and just by themselves. They’re great and cost pennies to acquire the ingredient and minutes to cook. Another plus is that these are gluten free! Since it is just corn.

Don’t worry about how you’re just eating corn paste that has been pan fried, it’s really good! Just not on its own, you have to introduce something tasty along with it. Each Johnny Cake is a blank canvas to make a masterpiece of toppings. These crispy corn discs can house peanut butter, cinnamon and sugar, honey, and best of all: Maple Syrup. Let’s get started:


  • Corn meal
  • Boiling water
  • Butter or pan grease


In a bowl, pour an amount of corn meal you would like to eat. Then pour the boiling water into the bowl until it is a paste, making sure to not over saturate the corn meal. This can be fine-tuned by adding more corn meal or more water, it should be difficult to pry off your hands and into the pan and be able to hold its shape. Mash the corn paste around with a fork until you have eliminated the dry spots.

Flatten the paste out on your hand and throw into a buttered pan on a stove set to medium-low. I tend to make them palm sized since I form them in my palms. This size is easy to flip with a spatula, but you are free to make them any size you like. Make sure there is enough butter to prevent the johnny cake from burning or sticking to the pan. Experiment with thickness, the thicker, the less crispy, I’ve had smooth and doughy Johnny Cakes as well as thin and crispy Johnny Cakes. Each has their place. Tailor them to your specifications.

Remove from pan and go crazy with toppings. Enjoy!

For something different, you can try mixing yellow and white corn meal together for a cool texture.

Side Note:

Johnny Cakes have their roots as a New England staple food. And while a google search resulted in dozens of stories on where these came from, the common thread is usually Native Americans teaching European Settlers how to make these and slowly their name became slurred to ‘Johnny Cakes’.

Johnny Cakes can also be adapted to be more pancake-like. Any recipe online will tell you how to make such cakes, and while there are plenty of recipes showing how to make pancakes with corn in them, I have found none who describe how to make these Johnny Cakes except in a quote in the Johnny Cake Wikipedia article.