Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called johnny cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food brunch classic!

a stack of cornmeal pancakes, or hoecakes, with cherry sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup

This recipe was first posted in August 2017 and was updated for clarity and with new photos in June 2019.

Admit it, when you read the recipe title “Black Cherry Hoecakes” your mind immediately went to the gutter.

I’ll confess mine did the same the first time I heard the term “hoecakes” when traveling in the American South as a young college student. It sounded like the perfect insult to use on my sisters the next time I saw them.

But while the word “hoecakes” may be a great way to annoy your siblings, the dish “hoecakes” carries anything but a bad connotation. Cornbread pancakes, cornmeal pancakes, Johnny cakes, or hoecakes – whatever you want to call them, pancakes made with corn flour are seriously delicious.

If hoecakes are new to you, let me enlighten you on a wonderful Southern tradition: hoecakes are pancakes made from cornmeal, plain and simple. But they are anything but plain and simple, as making a pancake from sweet cornmeal is an incredible way to spice up a traditional buttermilk hotcake breakfast.

In my opinion, cornmeal is an underutilized ingredient in baked goods and breads. It is a versatile grain that lends a mild sweetness and reduces the need for additional sugar in pancakes, breads and sweets. It lends a meal-y, grainy flavor that I love and wanted to recreate with these Black Cherry Cornmeal Hoecakes.

a stack of pancakes with cherries on top on a white table with flowers and maple syrup

How to make Hoecakes

The first step of making hoecakes from scratch is to mix together your dry ingredients, which includes the corn flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well combined and then set aside.

Next, add your eggs and about half of the milk to the dry ingredient mixture and whisk well. Add more milk slowly until the batter is thoroughly mixed, but still thick. If mixture is too wet, set aside for a few minutes while you heat the pan.

Heat a pancake griddle, cast iron skillet, or other large pan over medium-high heat until water sizzles when dripped on the pan. Add your oil or butter to the pan, making sure to coat the pan evenly.

Next, add about 1/2 cup of the hoecake batter to the pan and let cook until the top of the batter begins to dry and bubble, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side about one minute more and set aside until all pancakes are cooked.

two hoecakes on a black cast iron skillet with cherries and flowers on a white table

How to make Black Cherry Sauce

Making a black cherry (or bing cherry) sauce is super simple and only requires two ingredients: cherries and a small amount of your choice of sugar (I like brown sugar).

Here’s what you’ll do: in a medium pan, heat pitted cherries and brown sugar over medium-low heat until the cherries soften and release their liquids and the sugar is dissolves. This usually takes about 10 minutes, but be careful the heat is not too high or else you’ll evaporate some of the cherry juice (and we need that for the pancakes!).

When the cherry sauce is done, simply drizzle over the hoecakes and enjoy!

a closeup of cherries and brown sugar in a white saucepan

Black Cherry Hoecakes: Tips, Tricks & Tools

Have you ever noticed everyone has a different style of pancake and they’re all perfect in the their own way? My dad is a pancake master and after years of trying to recreate his magic I’ve realized it’s not me, it’s not the mix…it’s his griddle. My grandmother, on the hand, was the master of a thin flapjack with crispy edges. My own hotcake style is somewhere in the middle, a medium size with medium thickness. I have a few little tricks that help me achieve this uniformity and a few mix and pan recommendations below.

  • The best pancakes always start on a hot griddle. Have you noticed that your first pancake is so-so, your second is good, but your third is great? It somehow took me years to figure out that the hotter the pan, the better the cake. The key to great pancakes from the start is to preheat your griddle to medium-high heat before making your first cake.
  • You need quality mixes or corn flour. I’m not here to hate on pancake mixes, in fact I cook with them regularly. For this Black Cherry Hoecake recipe, however, I started from scratch with Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour.
  • You need a good pancake griddle. While a pan or cast iron skillet will do the trick, the best pancakes always came from a pancake griddle. This large 2-burner griddle is one like my father uses or this Lodge griddle is another type I’ve cooked on before. Or, if you want a uniform size and shape, use this pre-formed “silver dollar’ griddle.
a stack of pancakes with cherries and a gold fork on a blue plate

I hope you enjoy these Black Cherry Hoecakes, they’re:

  • A simple from-scratch recipe that can be easily whipped up on lazy Sunday mornings
  • Great with a simple black cherry compote, but also with whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand
  • Easy to freeze and then reheat on a pan or by popping in the toaster on busy mornings

Love this simple cherry cornmeal pancake recipe? Check out our other summer brunch recipes, like these sweet Pluot Brown Sugar Pancakes or a savory Smoked Salmon Breakfast Bowl.

Did you make this Black Cherry Hoecake recipe? Leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it turned out. Save this pancake recipe for later by pinning to your favorite breakfast Pinterest board and make sure to tag me on Fork in the Road’s Instagram to show me your cornmeal pancake creations!

Yield: 8 pancakes

Black Cherry Hoecakes {Cornmeal Pancakes}

a stack of pancakes with cherries and maple syrup drizzling

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called johnny cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

HOECAKES

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.25 cups milk (plant-based milk or water)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or 1 pat butter

BLACK CHERRY SAUCE

  • 4 cups black cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, agave or brown sugar

Instructions

HOECAKE INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix together cornmeal flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined and then set aside.
  2. Next, add eggs and about half of the milk to the dry ingredient mixture and whisk well. Add the remaining milk slowly until the batter is thoroughly mixed, but still thick.
  3. .Heat a pancake griddle over medium-high heat until water sizzles when dripped on the pan. Add your oil or butter to the pan, making sure to coat the pan evenly.
  4. Next, add about 1/2 cup of the hoecake batter to the pan and let cook until the top of the batter begins to dry and bubble, about 3 minutes.
  5. Flip and cook the other side about one minute more and set aside until all pancakes are cooked.

BLACK CHERRY SAUCE INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium pan, heat pitted cherries and brown sugar over medium-low heat until the cherries soften and release their liquids and the sugar is dissolves, about 10 minutes.
  2. When the cherry sauce is done, simply drizzle over the hoecakes and enjoy!

Notes

  • Cooking tip: For a thicker pancake, make batter and let sit a few minutes before pouring on griddle. Or alternatively, pour milk in slowly until batter is mixed well but still thick. A thicker batter means a thicker pancake.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 pancakes with sauce

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 362mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 2gSugar: 18gProtein: 5g