Old-Fashioned Hot Water Cornbread

Old-fashioned hot water cornbread recipe

The Spruce


Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Cool Time: 5 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yields: 4 cakes
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
167 Calories
7g Fat
23g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 167
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 10%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 593mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 2g
Calcium 7mg 1%
*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.)

Hot water cornbread is an old-fashioned Southern recipe that's a staple at dinner. Rather than baking cornbread in a pan, the batter is shaped into cakes and fried in a skillet. The hot fat can be shortening or vegetable oil, but bacon drippings add a very nice flavor.

Hot water cornbread is also known as corn pone, hoecakes, or corn dodgers. Some people use a self-rising cornbread mix to make the corn cakes, and some add a small amount of flour or sugar. This version is very basic. No flour, no baking powder—just cornmeal, water, and salt. It cooks up in about half the time of regular cornbread, so it's a perfect last-minute addition to any meal. While the recipe makes just four cakes, it's easy to double or triple it if you need more.

Serve the cornbread cakes with maple syrup or cane syrup. They're great with sorghum molasses, as well, and work wonderfully as a side bread with chili or beans.


  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (or oil; for frying)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for hot water cornbread
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  2. In a heavy iron skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of shortening.

    Melted butter in an iron skillet alongside a bowl of cornmeal
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  3. Place the cornmeal and salt in a bowl.

    Mixing cornbread and salt in a bowl
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  4. Pour boiling water over the cornmeal and salt.

    Boiling water to cornmeal and salt
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  5. Add the melted shortening and stir well.

    Butter is added to the bowl with the cornmeal and then stirred
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  6. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, after about 5 minutes, divide it into four portions.

    Mixture is formed into four cornbreads on a plate
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  7. Shape each portion into a cornbread cake about 3/4-inch thick.

    Four cornbread patties, 3/4 inches thick
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  8. Heat about 3 tablespoons of vegetable shortening or oil in the skillet over medium heat.

    Heating the shortening in a skillet
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  9. Place corn cakes in the hot oil and fry until browned, turning to brown both sides every 2 minutes, about 8 to 12 minutes total.

    Hot Water Cornbread

    The Spruce


  • Regular or self-rising cornmeal mix may be used in the recipe.
  • Vegetable and canola oils are good for frying, and lard is a classic choice for this recipe.
  • If you have it, fry the corn cakes in bacon drippings for an extra hint of old-fashioned flavor.

How to Store and Freeze

  • The cornbread cakes keep well for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature. Warm them up in a microwave or oven.
  • You can also make a large batch and freeze some of the cakes. Let them cool completely before wrapping tightly in foil, then place in a freezer bag. Eat within a few months, and reheat in the oven wrapped in foil.

Recipe Variations

  • For fluffier corn cakes, replace 3 to 4 tablespoons of the cornmeal with self-rising flour.
  • Add a few tablespoons of chopped green chile peppers to the cornmeal mixture.
  • Add a few tablespoons of crumbled cooked bacon to the cornmeal mixture.
  • If you enjoy fluffy corn cakes, try these corn oysters or cornmeal pancakes.