Fried Hot Water Cornbread Cakes

Fried corn cakes with sausages

The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Rest : 10 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 to 5 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
231 Calories
8g Fat
38g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 5
Amount per serving
Calories 231
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 238mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 140mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Southern hot water cornbread cakes are the perfect accompaniments to varied breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes, but also a delicious treat at any time of the day when served with butter and molasses syrup. A simple mixture of cornmeal and hot water with a few seasonings is all that you need to make these quick and easy cakes, great with collard greens, fried chicken, chili, stews, and soups. The mixture is shaped into cakes and fried in hot fat in a skillet. Bacon drippings add a smoky and decadent flavor, but melted butter, shortening, or vegetable oil can be used if you want a lighter version or a vegetarian or vegan-friendly version.

Sometimes called hoecakes or corn dodgers, these cakes go back many centuries and were a staple in Native American communities long before they were adopted by settlers. Easy to make, affordable, and nutrient-dense, similar recipes were also key in feeding many Americans in times of scarcity.

When you need a side dish and have very limited time, these cakes are a great option, as they are wonderful with savory and creamy preparations, but also delicious as a side to eggs, ribs, carne asada, or grilled chicken. Make ahead and keep in the fridge or make larger batches and freeze. To eat, warm up in a frying pan with butter if kept in the fridge, or if frozen, thaw overnight and warm up in a pan.


  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal

  • 4 teaspoons bacon fat drippings, or butter or vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon sugar, optional

  • Shortening, or bacon drippings, as needed for frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a full boil over high heat. 

  3. Remove the water from the stove and add the cornmeal, bacon drippings or butter, and sugar, if using. Stir until a stiff dough is formed. Let the mixture stand just until it is cool enough to handle, or about 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. Shape the dough into palm-sized cakes. Set aside.

  5. Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add enough shortening or bacon drippings to coat the bottom of the pan.

  6. When the fat is hot, place the cakes in the hot skillet. Fry until lightly browned on the bottom.

  7. Turn the cakes over and fry until brown. Repeat the process with all the cakes. Serve hot.

  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Variations

These tasty cornbread cakes are easily adaptable to your taste and needs:

  • Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the cornmeal mixture to lighten the texture. Instead of plain cornmeal, use a self-rising cornmeal mix for a more pillowy cake.
  • Add a few tablespoons of crumbled bacon and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the mixture, omitting the sugar.
  • Add 2/3 cup of thinly cubed ham and 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese to the corn mixture.
  • Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped green onions to the batter, or 1 teaspoon of onion powder.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh or pickled jalapeño peppers, 1/2 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and a dash of pepper. Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon of red chile flakes and 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Add 1 cup of well-drained cooked corn kernels to the batter and double the sugar for lightly sweet corn cakes.