« The Pantry Quiz #32 | Main | Recipe for roasted asparagus with Sriracha drizzle {vegetarian} »

Recipe for roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Mini roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan cheese johnnycakes, a gluten-free appetizer.

Until I moved to Rhode Island a decade ago, I'd never heard of johnnycakes (which are also spelled jonnycakes, so let's get that out of the way up front). Johnnycakes, made of cornmeal and gluten-free, are to Rhode Islanders what pancakes are to the rest of the world. Most often they're served just like pancakes, with butter and a glug of local maple syrup. These savory two-bite roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes fit nicely into the end of the day, as a cocktail party appetizer or snack at a barbecue. As with any recipe that has just a few ingredients, be sure to use the best cheese, basil and pepper you can find. Serve them hot off the griddle, and spell them whichever way you like.

Roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes (gluten-free), on The Perfect Pantry.

Roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes

From the pantry, you'll need: white cornmeal, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, roasted red pepper, fresh black pepper, olive oil.

Makes 24 small johnnycakes (serves 6 as an appetizer).


1 cup white cornmeal
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp minced roasted red pepper (store-bought is fine)
Large pinch of fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil


Set a large nonstick frying pan or cast iron griddle on the stove top.

Bring 1-1/2 cups of water to boil in a microwave (HIGH for 3 minutes).

While the water is coming to a boil, combine cornmeal, salt, cheese, basil, red pepper and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Stir the boiling water into the cornmeal mixture, until everything is well combined.

Turn the stovetop to medium heat, and add the olive oil in the pan. Swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan.

When the oil is heated, using a tablespoon measure, drop round spoonfuls of the cornmeal mixture into the pan. The cakes should be 1-1/2 inches in diameter, more or less.

Cook on medium for 6 minutes. Do not lift, peek, touch or fuss! Leave the johnnycakes to cook, undisturbed. After 6 minutes, flip them over and cook 4-5 minutes on the second side, until nicely browned.

Repeat until all of the mixture is used. You might need to add more olive oil for the second batch.

Serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
West Bay jonnycakes
Lemon buttermilk pancakes
Polenta, squash and cheese loaf
Polenta with wild mushroom ragout
Polenta mini pizzas

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Baked grape tomatoes with basil and gluten-free cornbread crumbs, from Guten-free Goddess
Baked polenta with tomato and basil, from Joy the Baker
Polenta casserole with fontina and tomato sauce, from Simply Recipes
Corn, tomato, and basil tart, from Leite's Culinaria
Herbed goat cheese polenta bites, from The Kitchn

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.


This looks like a delicious update on a classic. I've had mixed success with some Johnnycake recipes - it can take a little while to get the hang of cooking them, because the consistency is not quite like a pancake. But once you learn, they're delicious, and I love these as appetizers.

TW, for those of us who weren't born in Rhode Island, with a grandmother to teach us how to make johnnycakes, there's a bit of a learning curve! But really, it's easy, and these little johnnycakes are like blini, so good for a party starter.

I've never seen Johnnycakes or eaten them, and the cornmeal would make them not SBD friendly, but if you made some for me I would certainly have to try them! And I love the seasonings in this version.

Kalyn, johnnycakes are a very regional dish, I think. Here in RI, they're popular at May breakfasts (on May 1), held at many churches and town halls.

Brilliant idea to have them little as an appetizer, Lydia.
I'm trying this one on my kids.

Kirsten, I think this would be fun for kids -- who doesn't love something you can eat in one or two bites?!

I've never had johnnycakes before - these savory pancakes look and sound so good - I like the idea of making small ones as appetizers too. Love that they are naturally gluten-free so my youngest can have these.

Jeanette, come on over to Rhode Island and I'll make johnnycakes for you! They're usually served sweet, but I like these savory ones better.

Just an FYI, they were called "journey cakes" back in the day. http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Johnnycakes.htm

April, thanks for the link. Yes, "journeycakes" is the origin of the name jonnycakes. Or johnnycakes!

I would have to say these would be great with a poached egg and some pan-fried pancetta for brunch!
and of course for party app or snack too!

Carol, I love that idea for lunch! You can use the same recipe and make them slightly larger, for a lunch dish.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.