Savory Masa Corn Cakes with Green Chile, Cheese, and Lime Crema

April  8, 2012
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 12 to 14 cakes
Author Notes

I was introduced to the wonderful world of savory pancakes via Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. I grew up in Los Angeles, and am always seeking to expand my cooking repertoire with the Mexican flavors that infused my childhood. —zora

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Zindc is an avid home cook from Washington, DC.
WHAT: A savory corn cake that would feel at home in every meal of the day.
HOW: Stir up a quick batter, then make like you’re flipping pancakes; top with a bright lime crema.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We don’t have enough savory pancakes in our lives, and these ones -- studded with sweet corn, rounded out with sour cream, cilantro, and cumin -- are the perfect way to start changing that. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Masa cakes
  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 ounces chopped green chile (1/2 a small can) or 1 roasted, peeled, and chopped poblano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Lime Crema
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Masa cakes
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. Put eggs, 1 cup of milk, sour cream, oil and 3 tablespoons of the corn kernels in a blender and blend on high until liquified.
  4. Combine with dry ingredients and add enough of remaining 1 cup of milk until batter is coming together but still fairly thick.
  5. Stir in grated cheese, chopped green chile, cumin, scallions and cilantro.
  6. Spoon onto heated griddle and sprinkle 1tablespoon of corn kernels on each cake before turning.
  1. Lime Crema
  2. Combine all ingredients and stir until combined. Serve with the finished corn cakes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • zora
  • Michelle Williams
    Michelle Williams
  • bobbe
  • Jeannette
  • JanetFL

27 Reviews

msmess December 5, 2020
I loved these as breakfast for dinner--delicious any time of day! The masa + chile give it a really "tamales, but pancakes" vibe.
Greg F. May 31, 2020
These were my first foray into savory pancakes and as such hold a special in my recipe box if you will. The ingredients are very well balanced for flavor and cooking ease and the lime sour cream is just he beginning of what you could serve with them.
jill December 10, 2018
Hi - can this batter be made 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated? Thanks!
zora September 12, 2017
I hadn't made them in a long time, but we had houseguests and I was inspired to put more effort than usual into breakfast this morning. I had some buttermilk in my fridge, so used half buttermilk and half sweet milk, and they were the best I've ever made, according to my husband. They were extra fluffy and light.
Michelle W. August 23, 2016
These were positively fantastic and addictive. This one is a keeper. YUM!
zora August 23, 2016
Glad to see that people are still discovering and enjoying my recipe!
bobbe June 11, 2016
Perfect timing to reintroduce this recipe.
judy June 11, 2016
This looks excellent. I have a bunch of masa I am still working through after making tamales at Christmas. This will fit the bill. I have been making cornbread with it as well, very nice and a very different flavor profile.
Kim R. May 4, 2016
What is masa marina?
zora May 4, 2016
Brands available in most grocery store are Maseca and Quaker masa harina. The difference between masa harina and corn four is that masa harina is made from nixtamalized corn: corn that has been treated with lime and then dehulled before grinding. It is what is used to make corn tortillas
zora August 20, 2014
I just heard from someone who is a manager at a hotel. He said that he had prepared this recipe for his hotel staff--close to 100 people--90% of whom are from Central America or Mexico. He reported that they LOVED them, and he is currently translating the recipe into Spanish for the many people who requested it. Now that's what I call validation!
Jeannette August 16, 2014
Just made these - delicious! Not to mention, pretty simple to make. Thanks!
zora August 17, 2014
So glad you enjoyed them!
bobbe July 7, 2014
So glad to have this recipe and loved your story!
Cafe42 June 15, 2014
Johnny Cakes! Add a little smoke salmon and some diced peperoncini to the base.and top with a garlic & lime sour cream/creme fraiche. Wife's favorite "appetizer".
zora July 14, 2014
While I'm sure that your wife's recipe is delicious, mine has a very different flavor profile than a johnny cake because of the masa harina--plain cornmeal does not have the flavor of nixtamalized corn.
elaine June 15, 2014
elaine June 15, 2014
Is the corn cooked first if it's fresh?
zora June 15, 2014
If the corn is young and sweet, there is no need to cook it first, just cut the kernels off the raw cob. The slight crunch of the fresh kernels that are lightly cooked while the cakes are in the pan, give a nice textural contrast. If you use frozen corn, it will have been blanched prior to freezing, so you won't get quite as much pop from the kernels. Maybe allow it to defrost before using in the recipe.
JanetFL June 12, 2014
Congratulations! Can't wait for our Olathe, Colorado, corn to come in!
mstv June 11, 2014
I made a half recipe of these for breakfast this morning, doubling the green chile, using pepper jack, chives for scallions, and just stirring the corn in at the end instead of sprinkling on top. Delicious! Skipped the lime crema but served with poached eggs.
mstv August 6, 2021
I make these often now, including for my toddler. I like to serve them with sliced avocado and a side of black beans.
dymnyno June 7, 2014
I can't resist the combination of green chile, cheese and lime.
Kathleen |. June 6, 2014
Congrats! These look delicious - and how creative!
AntoniaJames June 5, 2014
These look and sound so delicious! My family is going to love them. Not sure when we'll see corn at the farmers' market here in No. CA (I just got back from a long trip), but I can promise you, when I do, I'm going to be trying this recipe. And doesn't Crispini's clever suggestion to add chopped shrimp sound appealing, too? ;o)
Crispini April 18, 2012
I made these lovelies last night to raves from the guy contigent of the family. One of the attractions here is their delicious aroma while in the pan.The texture is very satisfying with the tooth of the surface and browned edges contrasting with the soft interior and the juicy corn kernels.
I converted them to gluten free by using Authentic Foods GF classical blend flour instead of wheat AP flour. And I also added some chopped shrimp- just poked the bits into the pancakes along with the corn kernels before flipping.
The lime crema added a bright contrast. A winner for a weeknight dinner!