Southern Hoe Cake Recipe


Hoe cake seems to be a rather elusive recipe, even among southerners. Apart from my own, I have only one friend whose family still makes it.

Even among us though, the variations are vast. His family makes it using corn meal as seems to be the custom among recipes found on the web. My family’s version uses flour and produces a bread much like buttermilk biscuits in flavor only with a lighter and fluffier texture and crispy outsides.

Either way you look at it, hoe cake is revered by those who know of it. I am sure its origins sprang forth much like the rest of our southern dishes – too little time and too few ingredients. It is a simple food to make but will easily take over the starring role at your dinner table. Once you see how simple it is to make, it will take a starring role in your dinner preparations as well!

I made hoe cake for my in laws for the first time this past weekend. Even though they are from Georgia, they had never had it either! It was requested and made the following meal as well, where a pint and a half of fresh apple butter was ate along with it!

I can honestly say that this is a rare recipe, having searched and not found it anywhere online. I do hope you will try it and guarantee that if you like biscuits, you’ll LOVE hoe cake.

Ingredients for this are a cinch. Self rising flour (White Lily, of course!), vegetable shortening, and whole milk. If you don’t have self rising flour where you are, go here for the formula of how to make your own.

To two cups of self rising flour, add 1/2 cup of shortening.

Cut it in with a fork.

Until it looks like this.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil in the bottom of a cake pan. This is where the old folks use a cast iron skillet but at the time of this tutorial Mama had yet to hand down a cast iron skillet to me so I figured a cake pan with a wee bit of wear on it is just as good ~grins~. Either way, you’re going to add enough oil to cover the bottom of your cake pan and then stick it in the oven while it preheats.

*I am happy to report that I now have a cherish cast iron skillet from my Mama but I still go back and forth between a cake pan and cast iron when making this (whichever on I grab first)  so don’t you dare go feeling bad for whichever one you choose to use.

You want this oil to be good and hot.

Add one cup of milk to your flour mixture and stir with a spoon until all wet.

It should look like this. You can add about a fourth of a cup more of milk if need be. What we are making here is soupy biscuit batter.

Pour into hot pan. The oil should sizzle a bit when you put your dough in it.
Bake at 425 degrees until browned on top, fifteen to twenty minutes.

Remove from oven when it looks like this and turn out onto a plate so it is upside down.

All that brown is the crispy bread. This is SO GOOD! Cut it any way you choose and dig in!

Southern Hoe Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Pour a thin layer of oil to cover the bottom of an eight inch round cake pan and place in oven to heat.
  2. Cut shortening into flour well. Pour milk in and stir until wet.
  3. Pour into well heated pan and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes or until browned.
  4. Invert onto plate.

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  1. Helen says

    Thank you for posting! I grew up in Tallapoosa Ga with my dad being from Alabama. This was something he taught us to make at an early age. We had it most mornings.
    It was nice seeing the Hoe Cake I grew up with, as most people think cornmeal when they hear the name.

  2. Penny says

    We have this just about every weekend. My mom (86 years old) makes it for breakfast. We never called it hoe cakes. She makes it the same way except she uses about 2/3 buttermilk and 1/3 sweet milk……and she bakes it in a hot iron skillet ;) yum, yum……there is nothing better, except when she fries up some sausage and eggs to go with it. I LOVE your recipes

  3. LauraLS says

    My Daddy made hoecake also for us. Was one of my favorite things as a kid and when he passed away I made sure I made them over and over till I got mine just like his were. My recipe is almost exactly like yours I use a lil less shortening but not by much! Sometimes we would even have it just for supper with butter and molasses. Like the other person that commented I see people calling fried cornbread hoecakes a lot but I’m from South Carolina and it was more like a giant biscuit in our house. My Daddy’s family was from North Carolina and evidently to them wasn’t fried cornbread like either. =) I still make it and now my grown daughter makes it also for her children. Also I love that you have White Lily flour in the picture its my favorite flour.

  4. Heather in VA says

    Thank you so much! I’m from Pensacola, FL with my grandmother being from Alabama. This is how she made hoe cake except she made hers on top of the stove. So delicious. She always let me eat mine with honey or syrup. She had the perfect caste iron pan to make it in. Have never been able to find one like it. She’s still with us but unable to cook any longer. Making this for her tonight.

  5. Paula Preston says

    I grew up in Selma,Alabama and I remember my Dad making this same recipe in a black cast iron skillet on top of the stove. This was about sixty years ago. I love how recipes are passed down through the generations.Thank you for keeping these memories going.

  6. Robin says

    This is very similar to the hoecake that I make. I was taught to use vegetable oil instead of shortening, and canned milk instead of fresh.

    As for its origins, my grandfather learned to make it when he worked on a shrimp boat as a teenager during the Depression. They didn’t have an icebox, so they had to use ingredients that didn’t need refrigeration, thus the need for the canned milk. He was from eastern NC, Beaufort County, to be precise.

  7. Joel says

    Great to find others that know of hoe cake. What a great simple tradition that has been passed down the generations. My grandmother made it for her grandkids, Dad made it my kids and I get to make it for my grandchildren. Our family (originally from Alabama) makes it with Martha White flour, water or milk (pancake-type texture) then fry it in bacon grease in an iron skillet. I’m not selling the products,but these are the brands Grandma and Dad insisted we use. Thank you for sharing the other recipes. I can’t wait to try different traditional family hoe cake recipes.


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