Light, buttery cornmeal pancakes! Served with a homemade blueberry compote, these tender cornmeal pancakes make a delicious weekend breakfast or brunch. 

yellow pancakes on a pink plate topped with blueberry sauce and fresh basil

Cornmeal Pancakes vs Johnny Cakes 

All Johnny Cakes are cornmeal pancakes, but not all cornmeal pancakes are Johnny Cakes. So what gives? It really comes down to history.

Johnny Cakes, hailing from as early as the 1700s, are often credited with being the precursor to what we now know as pancakes. The exact method and ingredients for Johnny Cakes varies depending on region—as do the name they go by which includes hoe cake, ashcake, jonny cake, journey cake and Shawnee cake.

yellow pancakes on a pink plate topped with butter

In general, Johnny Cakes are flat griddlecakes made with cornmeal. Some are fluffy, not overly sweet and half the size of regular pancakes. Others are oven baked and more resemblant of cornbread. 

You’ll find recipes that use boiling water while others are very adamant about using milk. Some recipes feature flour, others omit it and only use cornmeal. Eggs, fat (either melted butter or oil) and leavening (most commonly baking powder) are also often included. 

Cornmeal pancakes are loosely defined as pancakes made with cornmeal—usually a combination of cornmeal and flour. The rest of the ingredients are really up to the cook—anything goes. 

a bite of cornmeal pancakes on a fork with blueberry compote on top

Ingredients Need for Cornmeal Pancakes

These cornmeal pancakes, which are inspired by Johnny Cakes, feature fresh sweet corn and a scoop of whole-wheat flour.  

How to Make Cornmeal Pancakes

  1. Cook blueberries and maple syrup together to make the quick blueberry compote.
  2. Sauté sweet corn in butter until tender and just starting to brown.
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  4. Whisk together wet ingredients.
  5. Mix wet and dry ingredients together then stir in cooked corn kernels.
  6. Cook batter in a butter cast iron skillet until golden brown.

Leftover Tip: Leftover blueberry compote is great spooned over greek yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal and more.

Step-by-Step Images

step by step images showing how to whisk together ingredients for pancakes
Separately whisk together dry ingredients and wet ingredients.
step by step images showing how to whisk together cornmeal pancake batter
Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in corn.

How to Serve Cornmeal Pancakes

I love to serve cornmeal pancakes with blueberry compote, but butter and warm maple syrup are a classic for a reason. 

These buttery corn pancakes are just barely sweetened with coconut sugar, making them a blank canvas for both sweet and savory toppings. I love to serve cornmeal pancakes with blueberry compote, but butter and maple syrup are a classic for a reason. If you opt for the savory route, consider créme fraîche with smoked salmon, chives and capers. 

pancakes on a pink plate with a bite on a fork with blueberry compote on top

If you give this Cornmeal Pancake recipe a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations!

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yellow pancakes on a pink plate topped with blueberry sauce

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 pancakes (4 servings) + 1 ¼ cups compote 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Southern
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Tender cornmeal pancakes featuring pockets of fresh sweet corn. Serve with a flavor-packed blueberry compote and fresh basil for the ultimate brunch.




  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ear corn, kernels cut from cob (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Basil, for serving, optional


For the blueberry syrup, combine blueberries, maple syrup, ¼ cup water, zest and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

Whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice and cornstarch. Stir slurry into blueberry mixture and simmer until sauce thickens and becomes shiny, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon lemon juice and vanilla extract; set aside.

Heat oven to 200ºF (93ºC). Line a sheet pan with a wire rack

For the pancakes, in a large cast iron skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, add corn kernels and sauté until softened, 3–5 minutes. Transfer kernels to a bowl; wipe out skillet.

In a large bowl whisk together cornmeal, flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together buttermilk, eggs, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until nearly combined, and some dry pockets of flour remain; stir in cooked corn kernels.

Reheat cast iron skillet over medium, coat pan lightly with butter. Spoon batter by ¼ cup onto hot skillet, spreading into a roughly 3½-inch circle. Cook until bubbles form on surface and bottoms are golden brown, 1½–2 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until golden brown, 1½ minutes.

Transfer pancakes to prepared sheet pan and keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter. 

Serve with butter, blueberry compote and fresh basil, if using. 


The blueberry compote will last up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


  • Serving Size: 3 pancakes + heaping ¼ cup compote
  • Calories: 285
  • Sugar: 23g
  • Sodium: 198mg
  • Fat: 9.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 43g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 9g
  • Cholesterol: 111mg

Keywords: Johnny Cakes, Cornmeal Pancakes

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This recipe and article was originally published on August 22, 2016.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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