May 9, 2011

Fresh Corn Johnnycakes

by IsaChandra

Makes 15 two-inch Johnnycakes (serves 4)
Time: 30 minutes

Somewhere between cornbread and pancake lies Johnnycake! To be honest, my knowledge of Johnnycakes is limited to Little House and the Prairie and The Sopranos, but the two always made me crave these rugged crunchy corn cakes and so after years of yearning, I felt qualified to come up with a recipe.

These pancakes were supposed to have been eaten on the American frontier, when supplies were limited. But I’m not going for a perfect historical representation — I added some fresh corn and brought everything together in the blender. The resulting cakes are at once tender and crunchy and have a rich, salty corn flavor that’s so satisfying drenched in some maple syrup. Oh, and because they’re 100% cornmeal, they contain no gluten!

You absolutely need a really well seasoned cast iron pan or something non-stick because corn likes to stick! If using cast iron, also lightly spray a metal spatula for flipping.

1 cup corn, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
1 cup plain almond milk
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Spray oil

In a blender, pulse the corn and almond milk around 5 times, just to get the corn a bit chopped up. Add all remaining ingredients and blend for about 5 seconds, or until combined. There should still be chunky pieces of corn left.

Let the batter rest for around 10 minutes, and in the meantime, preheat a well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium heat. If using non-stick, you only need to preheat 3 minutes or so.

Spray the pan with oil and use ¼ cup measuring cup (or ice cream scoop) to ladle out three johnnycakes. Cook for about 3 minutes, the underside should be crisp and browned, the top still wet. Flip the cakes (spraying the pan as you lift each cake) and cook until crisp and flecked with brown.

Keep finished Johnnycakes on a plate covered with tinfoil as you prepare the rest. Serve with pure maple syrup and a few blueberries if you have them.

  • May 9, 2011 at 12:24 am: Nancy Dinsmore

    Can’t wait to try these, you have the best recipes!

  • May 9, 2011 at 12:53 am: Jaimie-lyn

    these look great. SO going to make these during this week. <3 corn bread and pancakes, this is an inbetween.!!! Awesome.

  • May 9, 2011 at 1:00 am: Erika

    My husband mocks my constant corn obsession… but I have a hunch after I make these he won’t be teasing…rather he’ll be begging me to share!

  • May 9, 2011 at 1:13 am: Joey Dee

    Try savory with gazpacho chili and nacho cheese

  • May 9, 2011 at 3:23 am: FoodFeud

    I will eat anything Little House on the Praire-ish (veganized)! The texture looks awesome, as Laura would say.

    • May 9, 2011 at 3:51 am: IsaChandra

      That sounds more Mary to me.

  • May 9, 2011 at 4:11 am: Wednesday's mom

    These looks so great. Do you think substituting soy milk will work? Nut allergies in the fam.

    • May 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm: IsaChandra

      Yep, that’s great!

  • May 9, 2011 at 11:31 am: Rhi@The Challenged Cook

    I’ve wondered what a Johnnycake is ever since that episode of the Sopranos. I didn’t realize how easy and tasty they would be. Thanks for clearing up a mystery so deliciously.

  • May 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm: VegWhoHatesTofu

    Oh yum! That looks super delicious!

  • May 9, 2011 at 8:35 pm: in2insight

    These look awesome. So making them this weekend for brunch!
    They remind me of this awesome place in Seattle (University Village) that served Johnnycakes with a Jack Daniels Maple Syrop.
    Will have to see about recreating that syrop…

  • May 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm: Bethany @ Bananas For Smoothies

    Jonnycakes are HUGE in Rhode Island, and yet, I’ve lived in RI my whole life and never tried one! I’m going to make these!!

  • May 10, 2011 at 8:58 pm: Jenni

    I am making these for dinner tonight! I love you guys so much that it hurts. Thank you for all of your recipes. <3

  • May 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm: suzi

    will that new flax milk work? and if anyone has made these, how did they turn out? i’m trying to sneak better food to my husband and he LOVES johnnycake!

  • May 12, 2011 at 11:27 am: Michalene

    I love the whole idea of Johnnycakes….have tried them before on my kids with mild success….but you have inspired me to try again. Thanks.

  • May 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm: Angela

    Hey made these this morning and I had some problems. First of all, I have a shitty blender and to get the ingredients to actually blend (rather than just the two oz of stuff at the bottom), I probably over-blended. Sooo this may be my fault but they just fell apart when I tried to flip them and stuck to my (tried and true) cast iron. I had to switch midway to a regular ol’ nonstick pan and had better results, but they were still fairly delicate. Do you have any words of wisdom for me (other than “buy a new blender”)?

    On the plus side, while not beautiful, they reminded me of the corn pancakes I was addicted to when I was living in Ecuador. Mmm…delicioso.

    • May 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm: IsaChandra

      I guess just to be very careful when flipping!

  • May 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm: octospiro

    these are so amazing. i’m never going back to plain old pancakes ever.

  • May 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm: Amy

    These look delicious!!!

  • May 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm: SD

    These are so easy and perfect! I have to resist the urge to make them for every meal…
    @Angela – maybe try to do the first step in the blender, then the rest in a mixing bowl? I used my cast iron griddle and was surprised they didn’t stick, and my griddle could stand to be reseasoned…

  • May 18, 2011 at 4:21 am: caitlin

    oh man, seconds after reading this post we went to our cabinet to make sure we had all the ingredients- which of course we did because it is so simple. We whipped up a batch for a post-dinner snack, and my goodness ,they are delicious! Thanks!

  • May 18, 2011 at 4:22 am: caitlin

    btw…we used hemp milk

  • May 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm: Pretty. Good. Food.

    Oh yum! Sounds great! Definitely going to give these a shot for breakfast over the weekend!

  • May 28, 2011 at 3:35 am: Jan Joe

    Wow! These Johnnycakes are fabulous! I think the trick to cooking them is patience. They take a bit of time to set on the first side. Then once they’ve set and browned, you can flip them over. Next time I make these I’m going to add cayenne pepper to give them a kick!

  • May 28, 2011 at 6:44 am: Scrumptious

    These were super delicious and so easy to make. They came out exactly as they should, with no problems at all. We ate a bunch of them with salsa and drunken black beans from Viva Vegan, and then had some with maple syrup for dessert! They worked perfectly for both sweet and savory applications.

  • May 30, 2011 at 5:15 pm: krb

    made these for breakfast today – yum! i didn’t even bother dragging out the blender, just chopped the kernels a little smaller and threw all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed. i think i prefer the savory toppings (salsa) over the sweet (maple syrup) but will definitely be making them again.

  • June 1, 2011 at 1:56 am: SED

    I made these with hemp milk today, plus I substituted cooked quinoa for half the corn. They were fabulous and enjoyed by the whole family. My blender didn’t do much to the mixture once I put in the dry ingredients, so I stirred it up in the blender with a wooden spoon. I did need to let them set before flipping, as Jan Joe says.

  • June 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm: laura

    I made these last night with 3/4 c cornmeal, 1/4 c coarsely ground corn meal, and 1/2 c whole wheat flour, because i didn’t have a whole 1 1/2 c of cornmeal but wanted to make them anyway! They were divine! I will have to try them the “real” way, too, but just wanted to throw out an alternative recipe for anyone who might care. They also held together well when flipping, but still did need a little coaxing to lift off the cast iron. New favorite!

  • July 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm: Rachel

    I made these this morning. Really good! I didn’t have any problems with them sticking to my cast iron griddle, I kept it well oiled through out the cooking process. One question, is the finished pancake supposed to be grainy from the corn meal? I like corn meal crunchiness on pizza crust so I didn’t mind it here but I wonder if I did not blend the batter long enough? Also, my variation replaced the lemon juice with Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur. Dee-lish!

  • August 7, 2011 at 3:19 am: Skatcatla

    I made these tonight and they were delicious! I cooked them on my cast iron griddle and they did stick a bit, but I let them cook pretty thoroughly on the first side and the last few were better (also by then the griddle was probably hotter).To get everything to blend I had to mix it for much longer than 5 seconds and I think it may have been too much, because my batter was VERY thin, and the resulting cakes were much thinner than the ones in the photo. Next time I think I’ll just try mixing it in a bowl.Great flavor though..even my toddlers devoured them!

  • August 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm: Connie

    These are super tasty! The only thing I would do is to make sure you let that batter sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken before making the cakes. I’d love to make the batter the night before and have johnny cakes in the morning! Also, a fantastic sauce for these is 1 cup blueberries, zest and juice from 1/2 a lemon, 2 tbl of water and 2 tbl sugar heated in a saucepan. Can’t wait to make again!

  • September 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm: Zoe (Bite This)

    Made them this morning post early morning yoga. Major delicious!! Mixed some wild blueberries with agave and maple syrup, heated it up and poured over. Will mos def be making these again (and eating the leftovers for breakky tomorrow!)

  • December 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm: AshYTim

    Making these now!

  • January 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm: Bekah

    I was looking for a recipe for vegan pancakes and I stumbled on your recipe. I made them this morning after finding your recipe this morning. I substituted ground flax seed (as a binder), apple cider vinegar and omitted the baking soda, b/c I didn’t have any on hand. They came out wonderful. I topped them with sliced banana and raw agave. Pure Bliss!!!! Mucho Gracias
    P.s- Your book Vegan with a Vengeance was my first vegan cookbook! Keep on rockin’!

  • April 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm: Emma

    I finally got around to making these today and they were so so good. I used 1/2 fine cornmeal and 1/2 coarse as that’s what I had on hand and they came out perfectly fluffy and tender but with a great crispy crust.
    We went the savoury route serving them with black beans, coleslaw, avocado and Christi’s mole sauce I can’t wait to make them for breakfast too though.
    …oh and I used a cast-iron pan with no sticking trouble :)
    Thank you.

  • April 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm: JLB

    Love these! My hubby and I recently decided to cut down on gluten and I missed his pancakes like crazy. These are more than an adequate substitute. Delicious and super easy!
    Thanks from a fellow Nebraskan!

  • October 28, 2012 at 11:10 am: Julu

    Perfect recipe! I love cornmeal! I love Little House on the Prairie! These Johnnycakes made all of my dreams come true!!!

  • November 13, 2012 at 1:57 am: Jess(ica)

    Made this recipe for breakfast for dinner yeah, these were pretty amazing :-)

  • January 10, 2013 at 4:19 am: jordan

    made these and they were YUM! of course mine didnt look as beautiful as yours but nonetheless still delish..

  • March 17, 2013 at 10:52 pm: JennO

    Dang your recipes are g-o-o-d…another hit and sooo much better than others (ahem…babycakes) I have tried. You know your stuff. Time to break down and buy one of your cookbooks…but which should I get first?? They all look wonderful!

    Thank you!

    • March 18, 2013 at 2:36 am: IsaChandra

      Ummmm. I guess Veganomicon? But Appetite For Reduction is easier. So…I’m no help.

  • June 10, 2013 at 3:00 am: Tiff

    I’m new to cooking so do I add the maple syrup and the canola oil to the blender with the dry ingredients too???? For the sake of not making mistakes, I’m going to hold the maple syrup and oil and just blend everything else *crossing fingers* I hope this turns out ok…

    • June 10, 2013 at 4:40 am: IsaChandra

      Everything goes into the blender!

  • June 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm: Tiff

    Thanks so much Isa!!! At the last second something told me to put everything in the blender and I did! They turned out great! I was able to get about 8 johnnycakes out of my batter… I fried them on a non stick pan with sunflower seed oil and I added some jalapenos! They turned out amazing!!! I just began eating vegan this month and have been cutting out gluten so I’m super thankful that I found your website!!!

  • August 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm: lauren

    So this recipe is probably not the best for a bullet type blender were the gasses from the sodas can’t escape. my kitchen and I are now covered in cornmeal, lol.

  • August 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm: Caroline

    Thank you sooo much for this recipe!! I was craving something yummy, yet low fat, and this recipe had me at hello! ;) They turned out perfectly! Just had them for brunch <3

  • September 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm: debbie

    awesome recipe, they came out perfect! only thing was that mine only yielded 9 pancakes (and yes, I also used a 1/4 c scoop.) no biggie, next ime I’ll be sure to make a double batch! deLISH! thank you :o)

  • October 28, 2013 at 11:23 am: Melanie

    So when I first made these, I didn’t have a lot of corn meal, so I used more flour than corn meal (and fresh corn). They came out great, but I’ve made them a couple times since, each time increasing the ratio of corn-wheat flour.

    They are still good, but this time I did 1 c corn meal and 1/2 c whole wheat flour. They flipped fine, but came out a little dry and crumbly. They want to break apart / crumble in the middle when you cut them with a fork.

    So my question is: it this the way actual ‘corn cakes’ are supposed to be? or is it because of the whole wheat flour? If I go 100% corn meal, will they be even more crumbly? I have some friends visiting soon, one of which is gluten free. So I want to make them 100% corn. But I liked them better then they were more moist and less crumbly. Am I just failing to embrace the corn cake for what it is?


  • October 28, 2013 at 11:25 am: Melanie

    Also, I don’t have a blender. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem (?) (I just hand chop the corn and mix everything else).

  • October 29, 2013 at 4:42 am: Melanie

    It is probably obnoxious to leave 3 comments in a row, but I felt the need to clarify this:
    This was the first time I used whole wheat flour in this recipe. Before I used all purpose flour. And this is the highest corn meal / flour ratio I used (i.e. more corn meal this time).
    The scientist part of me is aware that I changed two variables, and that the way to solve this problem is to make them again, with varying amounts of each kind of flour.
    But the hungry vegetarian part of me is just hoping someone can tell me the answer to this, so I can cook delicious vegan food for my friends and actually seem like I know what I’m doing :-)

  • December 27, 2013 at 12:17 am: Silvia

    I didn’add the maple syrup to the batter but added sone orange peel and pit in the blender with the corn. I loved it!

  • July 10, 2014 at 1:17 am: Gary Yochum

    These were soo good – you have made my 2014. As in, the rest of the year will be a win because I found, made, and ate these cakes.

  • October 10, 2014 at 2:32 am: Julie

    Hi! Do you know if these will freeze well?