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. Chris Borders says

    Christy, I pratically lived on this growing up at my Granny’s house! I’ve done your recipe for it and it’s as good as my Granny’s! My husband requests this A LOT and I’m more than happy to make it for him. Thanks for keeping “Granny” memories alive for me!

  2. Allison says

    Oh my gosh! Thank you for posting this. This looks just like my Grandaddy’s recipe – which I have yet to perfect. I can’t wait to try it and see how close it comes to my memories. I’ve been working off and on for years now to try and reproduce it. As a young teen with (what I thought at the time) was far more important things, I failed to have him teach me. He passed away before I recognized my mistake. My grandmother remembered basically how he made it, but without him here to guide me, it just hasn’t been quite right.

  3. channelle johnson says

    I’m so glad to have found this recipe. My brother and I have talked about this bread recipe for about the last 20 years. My auntie use to make this for breakfast and dinner everyday for my grandfather. This was his favorite thing. My auntie always called it “flour bread”. Thank u so much for this recipe and I know my brother will be very excited to know I finally found the recipe.

  4. Erica says

    I just made this with the slow cooker chili recipe from this website and it is very good. I had to use butter since I didn’t have any shortening. This will definitely become a staple in my home.

  5. Diane says

    Christy, when my mom made these the dough/batter was a bit thicker, more like biscuit dough. She formed it into large “patties” and cooked them in some grease in a cast iron skillet on the stove top. I believe she covered it so it would rise. They were so wonderful and I miss them (and her, of course) so very much. I think I’ll try your version, then may add a little more flour to made a thicker batter and try it her way, too. Oh, will it matter if I use Gold Medal flour? I live in a small town and White Lily flour isn’t available here. Thank you.

  6. Vonda says

    Thanks for solving a mystery… This is what my mother called “drop biscuits” because she dropped big spoonfuls into the pre-heated skillet, instead of pouring it in like cake batter. I always knew her biscuits were different than any others. Now I know… she had a lot of go-to recipes most of my southern friends’ families didn’t have!

  7. says

    My Mom used a hoe cake in her Thanksgiving dressing, along with cornbread. I always thought she made up the term because I had never heard of it anywhere else, other than her recipe. Today I decided to google “hoe cake” and found this recipe. Mom is probably laughing at me right now in Heaven. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m making her dressing, which has now become MY signature dish for the Holidays. :-)

  8. Larry Black says

    My mom made it too. But after cooked, it would resemble more like a huge pancake. I think she got here a tad more like pancake batter. But used the same ingridients. She cooked on top of the stove in an iron skillet, sorta like the old farmers used to do using their ‘hoe'(ie hoe cake). After cooked and still hot put butter in middle like a bisquit. Yum, good…

  9. Meka says

    Bless you for sharing this recipe. My grandmother used to make it for me (at my request) every time I was over for a visit. The only variation is that she fried it on low heat in her cast iron skillet with a little butter. I LOVED IT and have been looking for the recipe for quite some time. Many thanks.

  10. Trudy Dunn says

    Most people don’t know what a Hoe Cake Is my Mama taught me how to make hoe cake when I was a little girl I still make them and I cook homemade fatback go alone with it ……… Mmmmmmmm I am making me hungry : )

  11. Trudy Dunn says

    My Granny and Mama taught me to make dressing using Hoe cake and Cornbread(((((((((( NO SUGAR IN MY CORNBREAD!!!!!) AND EVERYONE LOVES MY DRESSING . I THINK I COULD REALLY SALE IT CAUSE IT IS SOOOOOOOO GOOD …..JUST SAYING .

  12. Bucky Buck says

    I grew up on Southern cooking and beg to differ with your commentary. Hoe Cake batter should be a cornmeal batter and a consistency thick enough that you could be able to cook it on a hoe blade over an open flame or drop into a skillet of oil or grill pan and fry like a pancake.. The recipe you have given for a Southern Hoe Cake is a drop biscuit recipe minus one tablespoon of sugar for each cup of flour. Because this recipe is cake batter consistency, a drop biscuit pan, cake pan, cup cake pan or skillet with sides is needed. If the liquid is reduced to make the batter thicker so it can hold its shape, it can be dropped by a spoon full onto a cast iron skillet and baked which will yield individual sized biscuits that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. With the cake batter consistency (drop biscuit) recipe, add one cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the dry ingredients before adding the liquid. After baking brush with melted garlic butter,. and you will have the biscuits that Red Lobster serves. If with your recipe, the liquid is reduced further for a dough consistency, the dough can be pressed into an appropriately sized cast iron skillet and baked, then you have a johnny cake or journey cake. Hoe cake batter should be of a consistency that is thick enough (not soupy) that it can hold its shape on the blade of a hoe and cooked over an open flame, hence, the name hoe cake. Just saying.

    • says

      You actually didn’t differ with me, but thank you for taking the time for such a well thought out comment. If you’ll notice in my introduction, I mentioned the traditional hoe cake you went into detail about. I also have several variations on this recipe on the site as well. As you demonstrated, just about any recipe (including a hoe cake made with corn meal) can be added to, modified, and altered to make limitless options – one of the joys of cooking!
      I always say (and have entire posts about it) that how your Mama did it was the “right” way so while this is the only “right” hoe cake for me, yours can still be the only “right” hoe cake for you. It’s wonderful to live in the land of the free!
      While you’re at it, you’ll find that life is so much better once you kick the “should”, “need to” and “supposed to”‘s out of your kitchen. Your kitchen = your rules :)
      Have a wonderful day Bucky Buck!

      • Sara says

        Christy your comment to bucky buck was well said, you said it in a much nicer way than what I would’ve. Some ppl are negative. Now as for this recipe I’m fixing to go make it, it sounds a lot like my grandma’s recipe except I think she put vanilla flavor in it, either way i’m gonna try it your way. I’ve been trying to find this recipe forever, well since my grandma passed away. Thanks for the recipe. Your right the kitchen should be limitless!

      • Ann says

        My grandmother and mother always made the flour version of “Hoe Cake” and I do too! I agree that what ever version you grew up on is the right version to you! We all have different variations on recipes, it does not make it wrong! I think everyone holds true to what they grew up with!

    • Geraldine Woodiel says

      In regards to the “hoe cake”, my mother made a similar bread on wash day if there was no corn meal for cornbread or she did not have time to make biscuits. She called it “Batter Bread”. Making biscuits was too time-consuming on wash day, an all day’s job. On that day, dinner was cooked and pushed back on the wood-heating little green and ivory cookstove and we served ourselves directly from the pots and pans. She made up the batter and poured it into a hot medium size oblong “biscuit pan”. I am sure my mother learned to make Batter Bread from her mother, Sarah Elizabeth Bullock Moseley and from her grandmother Susan Haskins Bullock who settled in White County Arkansas, circa 1855 before the Civil War from North Carolina. (Some of my cousins still own part of their original land purchase along Stevens Creek near Bald Knob. I had no idea others made this type of bread, now, I must make some for myself. Most people in early days “made do” with what they had; no flour? No biscuits. Home -grown cornmeal? Then it was some type of bread made with cornmeal. People used iron kettles and iron Dutch ovens in, or hanging in the fireplace. I have really enjoyed reading this blog and your experiences. I can identify with a lot of what I have read here. Thank you, Christy, for letting me chime in. I must look you and “Mamma” up when and IF I ever get to visit my daughter in your general area. Can’t wait!

  13. GJM says

    Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! My husband has been telling me for years about the Hoe Cakes he had growing up in Virginia. I searched and searched for some recipe that would come close, but none did. He kept telling me it was like a great big biscuit, but the only recipes I could find had cornmeal in them and he was insistent that they were not like cornbread, they were like biscuits! He will be enjoying this recipe this evening along with the pot of pinto beans that are cooking as I look at your wonderful website!

  14. says

    Christy ,I was delighted to read your comments about hoe cake.
    My Mother use to make hoe cake for us all the time and I make it occasionally now Reading this makes me want to make one right now!
    None of my friends have ever heard of it either so I felt a kindred spirit with you.
    i also make my the same way with flour..
    Thanks for all you do and your wonderful website! Love it!

  15. Andrea says

    I made this tonight for my husband (along with your chicken fried steaks and gravy) and my husband loved it!! I will definitely be making this…for the rest of my life! Thank you for this great recipe!

    p.s., I’m also from Alabama :)

  16. Burr says

    From the civil war diary of Edward Hoyt, Delaware County, NY:
    Virginia June 19, 1863
    A very rainy morning began to rain before day light and drizzled till near noon and then broke away and is very fine with a cool breeze and pure air. We got our two months “Greenbacks” this forenoon & glad to get it. The same paymaster paid us as at Suffolk, Maj. Austin. Cook & I got a woman here to make us a Ho’cake for dinner and it was not bad to take. We are having pretty easy times here. I hear that they are going to bring our things up here and I am glad of it for we like it quite as well as at camp.

  17. Tracy says

    I never had hoe cake growing up…my Mama made either biscuits or cornbread at nearly every meal (the BEST in the world and I can’t make either one like hers no matter how hard I try) :( Anyway…I made this hoe cake and it was just wonderful! My dearest doesn’t like biscuits (horrors!) but I love them and can’t bake a decent one to save my soul (even though my soul doesn’t need saving…that was done years ago!). But when I baked this hoe cake, I just stood in awe of it when I turned it out of the pan….and then I sliced myself a big ‘ole piece and ate it plain….and then I sliced another and slathered a little butter on it….and then I sliced one more and put a little butter with some strawberry preserves…my oh my oh my. And best of all…I didn’t have to share a single morsel with anybody!! Thanks Christy!

  18. CJD says

    Ran across this just web surfing got flooded with childhood memories my father who raised 7 kids alone use to make this for us kids coming up we would have it for breakfast with syrup .never figured out his recipe he was one of those great cooks that just dumped stuff in to a bowl and good things happened gonna give this a try my father cooked his on top of the stove in a cast iron skillet turning it over and over until it was cooked threw gonna give this a try thanks for the trip down memory lane

  19. Shelly says

    Thank you Christy for this recipe. My mid-atlantic/east coast husband LOVES hoe cake! It was kinda funny when it was baking. He came out into the kitchen…(which he never does when I am cooking, he usually hollers from the living room)…and asked..”what smells so good?” When I replied “hoe cake!” the look on his face was priceless, wish I had a camera. He said…”that’s not very lady-like” and honest to goodness I almost wet myself laughing at him. [he’s either very old-fashioned or has a potty mind] After eating the ENTIRE pan by h.i.m.s.e.l.f except for 2 small pieces my daughter & I were able to put on our plates, (and within 8 days time he begged for & got/ate a total of 3 pans of hoe cake) he asked me why I called something so good such a ‘terrible’ name. I said…”I didn’t make up the name, CHRISTY DID!” (sorry girl) I could see his mind flipping the through the pages of my friends faces looking for “Christy” – but I don’t have a friend named Christy. “Who?” he asked. “Christy! The lady who brought this yummy recipe to YOUR tummy!” “Well SHE probably didn’t mean to name it something so ugly!” Hmmph, I get in trouble but you get a pass! He was telling his daddy about the “corn bread” I have been making for him. Whaaaaa—??? I corrected him loudly & proudly telling his daddy it is not cornbread, it is hoe cake. His daddy got the same look as my husband soooo I must ask…why is it called “hoe cake?”

  20. Bw says

    My, grandmother and mother use to make this and my mother passed the recipe down to my wife. I have loved this since I was a kid, and we’ve always called it hoe cake. I could eat a pan everyday, I mean you can use it at breakfast with jam or preserves or Jelly, or coat it butter and spread peanut butter on it. You can eat it anytime of the day. Thanks for keeping it alive and well.

  21. Debra originally from Franklinton NC says

    Thank You for sharing this recipe for Hoe Cake. I remember my Grandma Eva May Hicks, in North Carolina would cook Hoe Cake every morning in her wood stove, when done we would make what we called Coffee and Bread with it.
    We would break off small pieces of the bread, place them into cup of coffee and then sprinkle sugar on the soaked bread and eat with a spoon. It was so good.

  22. Rae Hall says

    I have looked for years for this. My grandma layered this for a strawberry shortcake (about 4 or 5 cakes layered between strawberries w/sugar) No one in the family had this. My home burned 25 years ago and I lost this. Had on idea no one knew how to make this. I can’t thank you enough!!!

  23. Adeline says

    I just made these—ok—so I was sorta half asleep and I got them alittle toooooo wet….but….other than that they turned out good. I just stuck them back in the oven to dry out alittle more. Next time I’m going to add a wee bit of sugar and watch the milk. OH YES….there will be a next time for sure !

    Thanks for another yummy easy reacipe

  24. Alisha says

    Hi!! I’m so glad i found this recipe and I can’t wait to try it!! I just wanted to let you know some of the pictures aren’t working for me? It might just be me I guess but I would love to see the pics about texture and stuff. Thanks so much!!!!

  25. Jamey says

    I make a version of this using Biscuit mix and milk. I fry them in 3 or 4 inch circles until crisp on both sides. My mother called it Hoe cakes but my children call it Fried Bread. They love it with Nutella spread on the top

  26. stinkypie17 says

    My grandma calls it flour bread. I’m so glad I found a recipe because she usually jus throws it all together. She would make it for breakfast and give me honey and butter. Omgeeee its so good. I can’t wait to have it with my soup.

  27. Rose Overcash says

    I was first introduced to this hoe cake by my mother-in-law 30 years ago. She is from Statesville, NC and this is a staple at her house.
    However, she didn’t have a recipe, it was just a handful of this, dab of that.
    So thank you for a recipe I can follow. My husband was so excited when I found your recipe. It tastes just like his momma’s hoe cake.

  28. Karla Keiser says

    I grew up in the north but have lived most of my life in the South. My son married a Alabama girl and that opened up new horizons on southern cooking. The first year of their marriage I was introduced to boiled custard and we introduced her to Yorkshire pudding. Your hoe cake makes me think about the Yorkshire pudding we make every Christmas with our roast beef. I make it in grandma’s old cast iron pan. If has of course eggs and an “eggy” taste. I wonder if they have some similar origins.

  29. Andrea says

    Hello Christy. I need a little help from you. I have made this recipe for the last couple of years the exact way that your recipe says and the hoe cakes have come out nice brown, ligt and fluffy just like your pictures. BEAUTIFUL. However, something has happened…. the last 5 attempts that I have tried to make the hoe cake it has come out heavy. All the way done and brown on the outside and undone mushy, doughy on the inside. The inside is not done and fluffy. I don’t know what the problem is because I am following the same recipe that I always have. I thought that it may be my oven so I took it to my sister’s house to mix it there and bake it and it still came out done and brown on the outside and undone, wet and doughy on the inside. It was in the oven longer than the recommended 20 minutes each time because it was not ready to come out of the oven at that time. I love this hoe cake recipe. Please help me get back to the better days of making the fluffy hoe cake. Any ideas?

    • Walt from Knoxville says


      Sounds to me like your oven temp may be a bit hotter than the setting. Try dropping the temp to say 375 to start with and then after maybe 15 minutes turn it up to 425 and continue until browned. I know my oven temp does this with corn bread so after a few times of having to put it back in the oven and wait until it was done in the middle, I figured it out. Hope this helps.

  30. Neltha Adkins says

    The hoe cake is believed to begin with slaves working in the fields. As lunch time approached, workers would mix corn meal and water into dough, place it on the flat surface of the hoe and cook over hot coals. Thus the “hoe cake”.

  31. Cinque Freeman says

    According to Harriet Tubman ‘ s bio, she had 1 hoecake browned in the fireplace for breakfast, and for lunch, if there was time, she would be given another hoecake and for dinner salted pork. The next time you have a hoecake remember that slaves lived off just 1 or 2 a day. Thanks Willie Lynch for providing the blueprint for all Slave Masters and Slave Mistresses to follow.

  32. Donna Cummings says

    I have been making this ever since I found it on your site about a year and a half ago. It is absolutely the best!! I took it to a quarterly luncheon at church,and a man told me it was the best cornbread he had ever had! Was he surprised when he found out there was no cornmeal in it! He had his wife get the recipe! Thanks for all of your fantastic recipes!!!

  33. tim pittmanq says

    Christy, Thank you for sharing, my mom made these with flour as you did. I remember once when I was sick, she made hoe cakes with tomato gravy. This was the best meal I had ever eaten. I made these tonight for my family with a tomato gravy and it was a hit. I hope my Mom is smiling down from heaven tonight!!! Thank you!

  34. Lunette says

    When I was little, my grandmother in Carolina made this on top of a wood stove in an iron skillet. I never knew what it was called but it was so good hot or cold. I make fried bread for my family and they all love it! Will have to try this on top of stove! Thanks for the recipe!

  35. Cicely says

    Just thought I’d put in my two cent’s worth. My mom’s family is from Kite, Georgia and her mother “Mama” always made hoe cake from White Lily self-rising cornmeal, salt and a some water to hold it together. This soupy batter is poured into a cast iron skillet with oil and fried until they are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside “pancakes”. Like others commented before, this was cooked over a fire on a hoe (cleaned off I’m sure!) We use this instead of bread for supper. I had never seen this type of recipe for hoe cake and it looks great! I’ll have to give it a try this week. Thanks for the recipe!

  36. Angie McGowan says

    When I was a young girl spending time with my grandparents and family in Pineville, MS, my grandfather would tell us about making hoe cakes for the family because there was never any
    money after the Civil War in the South for flour to bake biscuits daily. During the week the
    family would have Hoe Cakes made with Cornmeal. Sometimes on Sundays or holidays or
    special family gatherings biscuits would be made. This was a special treat because there was
    never in extra money during Reconstruction in the South for families to purchase flour. My
    grandfather lived during Reconstruction on a farm. Thank you for sharing your version of Hoe cakes. I willing be surprising my family with your recipe this Sunday.

  37. Billie DeVoss says

    My Daddy made something he called “hoecake” when I was growing up in Alabama in the 30’s & 40’s. His were the flour version, and he cooked them on top of the stove. They were like large pancakes and we ate them with butter & syrup. I haven’t had them since that time. I’m going to try this version in the oven and then next time on top of the stove. I’ll try different ways of serving them too. Thanks for sharing your version!

  38. Esther says

    I have made this 5 or 6 times since I found the recipe (only 2 weeks ago) and we love it! It’s quick and easy to make and super yummy! The best moment was when my 17 year old son asked what I was making and I said “hoe cake”! The look on his face was priceless! Thanks so much for sharing this, I know it will be a often used and requested item.


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