You might say Johnnycakes are cornmeal pancakes. The simplest recipes call for nothing more than cornmeal, a little salt, and boiling water. The batter should be fairly thin so that when fried on a hot griddle, the batter is no more than a quarter of an inch thick. Southerners love a skillet of hot cornbread and we have heated debates over whether or not you can add sugar to the mix. Traditional Johnnycakes, the simplest form of cornbread, certainly have their place on the table, but this recipe adds a little more texture and taste and requires just 20 minutes of your time. Be sure you use either yellow or white cornmeal and not cornmeal mix, which contains other ingredients. Melt butter in whole milk over heat, and stir together and the cornmeal, sliced collard greens or turnip greens, and leek. Whisk in boiling water and add the warm milk and butter mixture. You can’t make Johnnycakes in anything other than a cast iron skillet or griddle. Heat your skillet and drop the batter, just as you would a pancake, and cook until the edges are browned and crisp. Then flip and cook the other side. Serve hot and serve with whipped butter. 

Steven Satterfield


Credit: Cedric Angeles; Prop Styling: Thom Driver

Recipe Summary test

20 mins
20 mins
Serves 8


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Combine milk and 1/2 cup unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted. Set aside.

  • Stir together cornmeal, greens, leek, and salt in a large heatproof bowl. Whisk in boiling water. Add warm milk-and-butter mixture. Whisk to combine.

  • Heat an ungreased cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high. Drop 1/4 cup of the batter, per cake, onto hot surface. Cook until lightly browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, and cook other side until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot with whipped butter.