Rare Southern Hoe Cake Recipe

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If you like biscuits, you’re guaranteed to love this rare but delectable recipe for southern hoe cake.

Hoe cake hero

Hoe cake (also known as a Johnny 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 their cornmeal hoe cakes using cornmeal and buttermilk, as seems to be the custom among recipes found on the web. While this style of hoe cake generally resembles a pancake, a pancake is typically fluffier and doesn’t include cornmeal. Meanwhile, my family’s version uses flour and produces a bread that looks like buttermilk biscuits, but with a lighter and fluffier texture and crispy coating.

Either way you look at it, hoe cake is revered by those who know of it. I am sure its origin sprang forth much like the rest of our classic southern dishes – too little time and too few ingredients. While it is a simple food to make, it will easily take over the starring role at your dinner table. 

I can honestly say that this is a rare recipe for Southern hoe cakes, 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 our southern hoe cake recipe. Serve your hoe cake as a side dish with maple syrup, apple butter, or butter with a drizzle of honey or sprinkle of sugar. It tastes best accompanying your favorite Southern-style main meal. I recommend fried chicken, chicken and gravy (use the hoe cake to soak up the gravy, yum), North Alabama-style pulled BBQ chicken, or pork chops.

ingredients hoe cakeRecipe ingredients

  • Self-rising flour. If you don’t have self rising flour where you are, go here for the formula of how to make your own.
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Whole milk

Helpful Kitchen Tools

Combine two cups of self-rising flour and 1/2 cup of shortening in a large bowl.

cut it with a fork

Cut it in with a fork until it looks like this.

pour oil into pan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil into the bottom of a cake pan.

This is where the old folks use a cast iron skillet like you would make cornbread. However, 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. 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.

You want this oil to be good and hot.

add one cup of milk to batter

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

add more milk if need be
It should look like this.

You can add about a quarter of a cup more of milk if need be, but what we are aiming for here is soupy biscuit batter.

pour into hot pan

Pour the batter into the hot pan. The oil should sizzle a bit when you put the wet ingredients in it.
Cook until it is browned on the top
Bake at 425 degrees until browned on top, or about fifteen to twenty minutes.
Remove from oven when it looks like this and turn out onto a plate so it is upside down.

turn over on the plate so bottom is facing up

All that brown is the crispy bread. This is SO GOOD!

Stack of three slices of hoe cake.

Cut it any way you choose, add some apple butter and dig in!

Recipe Notes

  • If you want to make this southern hoe cake a savory side dish like fried cornbread, you can easily add in jalapenos, grated cheese, or chopped fried bacon with a drop of bacon grease.


  • If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
  • Otherwise, you can freeze hoe cake in a sealed container or bag for up to three months.
  • When you need to reheat the hoe cake, it’s best to place the slices on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for five to 10 minutes.

Recipe FAQs

What do you serve with hoe cake?

Serve your hoe cake as a side dish with maple syrup, apple butter, or butter with a drizzle of honey or sprinkle of sugar. It tastes best accompanying your favorite Southern-style main meal. I recommend fried chicken, chicken and gravy (use the hoe cake to soak up the gravy, yum), North Alabama-style pulled BBQ chicken, or pork chops.

Where does the name hoe cake come from?

Just like there are a few variations of hoe cake recipes, there are some variations in the explanation of how it got its name.  It appears to have first been recognized in print in 1745, according to the Oxford Dictionary.  But others have pointed out that the term hoe was used for cooking and it was similar to a griddle. And that my friends seems to be where the term hoe cake (or should it be griddle cake?) got its name.

Can you make hoe cake gluten-free?

Yes, you can easily make this southern hoe cake recipe gluten-free. Just simply use gluten-free self-rising flour instead and follow the below instructions. 

Southern Hoe Cake

I can honestly say that this simple and easy southern hoe cake recipe is rare. But I guarantee that if you like biscuits, you'll LOVE hoe cake.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake
Servings: 4
Calories: 480kcal


  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening


  • Preheat oven to 425. Pour a thin layer of oil to cover the bottom of an eight-inch round cake pan and place it in the oven to heat.
  • Cut shortening into the flour well. Pour milk in and stir until wet.
  • Pour into the well-heated pan and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes or until browned.
  • Invert onto plate.


Calories: 480kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

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  1. Made this for years. Difference is Milk or Water Self rising flour and cook in cast iron skillet on top of the stove like a pancake. awesome

  2. 5 stars
    Man I’m so happy to finally find this recipe. I’m making it tomorrow. The ones before me are gone, and I remember having this hoecake often as a kid. Grandpaw would whoop it up and cook it in one of his iron skillets. I guess it wasn’t that long ago, I’m still in my 40s, but everyone left so quickly. Find myself asking people how to make “this and that” and no one knows. My mother would make it too because of course being from South Alabama, she was raised on it too. She left too soon also. Anyway, from time to time as kids we’d also get this but with blueberries we picked in the woods, just hoecake with a bunch of blueberries cooked in it, and wasn’t sweet, I’m not sure sugar was even in it. I just remember fluffy, flour, bready biscuit-like with a bunch of blueberries doing the flavoring. Anyone ever had that as a kid from their previous family generation? Anyway, thanks fire having this available. I can’t wait to have it again.

  3. My grandmother made both cornbread hoecake & the biscuit type used above. She cooked hers on top of the stove & somehow managed to turn it over so that both top & bottom had a crust.

  4. 5 stars
    The reason they are called hoe cakes is because they were made in the fields. At mealtime the people working in the fields would clean their hoes off and make a fire and cook these cakes on the hoe over a fire. Originally they had cornmeal in them, but I’m sure the recipes were made with what people had.

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