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West Bay jonnycake recipe {vegetarian, gluten-free}


Thin and lacy, or thick and crusty? If you're not from Rhode Island, you might never understand the fierce allegiance people have to jonnycakes, our indigenous white cornmeal pancakes. Those who live east of Narragansett Bay prefer thin cakes made with milk. On my side of the Bay, we like them thick, made with water, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Both types taste best with a pat of real butter and a splash of pure maple syrup, though you can go in a completely different direction with the addition of some roasted green chiles or sun-dried tomatoes. Jonnycakes are a popular fixture at church breakfasts throughout Rhode Island, and a delicious gluten-free alternative to pancakes. Use yellow cornmeal if you can't find the "real" thing, Kenyon's white cornmeal ground right here in the Ocean State.


West Bay jonnycake

From the pantry, you'll need: cornmeal, sugar, kosher salt, butter, maple syrup.

Makes 12 thick 2-inch jonnycakes, or 3-4 servings.


1 cup white cornmeal
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp butter, plus extra for serving
Maple syrup, for serving


Preheat a frying pan or griddle over low-medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the corn meal, sugar and salt. In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, or on the stovetop, bring 1-1/2 cups of water to a boil, and pour into the cornmeal mixture. Combine with a whisk; the mixture will be very thick, like white polenta. Melt the butter in the preheated pan, and drop the cornmeal mixture by tablespoon into the pan. Flatten each one slightly with the back of the spoon.

Let the jonnycakes cook, undisturbed, for 6 minutes, until they're browned and crispy on the bottom. Flip, and cook for 5 minutes more to crisp the other side.

Serve hot, with butter and maple syrup.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Polenta with wild mushroom ragout
Polenta, squash and cheese loaf
Cinnamon and vanilla challah French toast
Lemon waffles
Pao de queijo (cheese-y cornmeal bread)

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Maple sugar white cornmeal muffins, from Culinary in the Country
Old fashioned cornbread, from Never Enough Thyme
Creamy white polenta with mushrooms, from Smitten Kitchen
Honey cranberry cornmeal quick bread, from Joy the Baker
Arepas, from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Which way? I usually go for thin. And yes, I'm from East of the bay. But in order to properly choose I must try both. Are you hosting a johnnycake taste testing any time soon? (These look scrumptious!) xox

I love these - I am thinking I could make some, cool them, freeze them and reheat in the toaster at work?? what do you think??

p.s.-like the new look up top!

Dinner! with your hoisin baby bok choy.
I love the new incarnation of the header.

Blasphemy! Green chiles and sun-dried tomatoes!

I've heard of Johnny cakes but never had them. The cornmeal texture looks delicious.

I vote for West Bay style.

Karina, if you'll come to my kitchen, I promise to make jonnycakes for you -- both ways!

Carol, I've never tried freezing them. If you do, please let me know how it works out.

Susan, what a great combination. (And thanks -- I had fun working on the new banner during the snow storm this week.)

Pauline, I actually had sun-dried tomato jonnycakes at a summer fair at Kenyon's, the mill that grinds our local white cornmeal. If it's okay with them, it's okay with me!

D&D, these are like pancakes, but not like pancakes. Hard to describe, so you'll just have to try them!

Mimi, me too.

I vote for thick! I know a friend who struggled with the thin, lacey version, but I'm partial to the hearty West Bay "country style!"

I'm way "East of Bay" and haven't had Johnnycakes since we moved.Time to make some. I like both thick and thin -- both are unique.

West Bay style here. I just like the way it is. It's funny but I think its simpler.

I'd forgotten all about Johnnycakes until I saw them on a menu last month, here in NY and had to try them. Not the same (thick) as my childhood, but good. Now I'm going to make my own. Thanks for the recipe.

WOW..jumped on your site via twitter.Love Love it.The cornmeal texture cakes look yummy...love them with maple.

TW, when I was writing for the magazine here, I felt I had to be fair-minded about jonnycakes. But now I can say that I'm firmly in the West Bay camp on this.

Mary, before I moved here, I'd never tasted jonnycakes. I think it's a very local (to Rhode Island) thing. I never make the thin ones, but I do like them.

Jerry, yep. I agree.

Anne, if you have a hard time finding the Kenyon's cornmeal, I'm happy to send some.

Tanvi, glad you made your way here!

I've never heard them called "Johnnycakes". Where's the name come from? They look delish! Do you ever mix in a few corn kernels? I have a recipe that's loosely related, Cornmeal Pancakes with Honey, Salt and Cracked Pepper.

Wow, these look very good!
I haven't seen white cornmeal here in Australia, so might give it a try with some fine yellow cornmeal - and plenty of maple syrup!!

Laura, they get their name from the original "journey cakes".

Amanda, I'm always happy to send ingredients, if you'd like to try these.

I think I like em both ways.I'd love to try it this weekend. My son is crazy about pancakes.

they look wonderful !! wish I could grab one !!

Here in the South, we make something very similar that we eat with turnip greens, collards, cabbage, etc. We call it hot water bread. The batter is thicker so that it can be shaped,and of course we fry it. It is absolutely one of my favorites.

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