Caribbean Johnny Cakes

May 24, 2021
9 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

My tasty Caribbean johnnycakes are a must-have on the islands of the blue sea; they're one of the most beloved dishes. This yummy, simple recipe can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Mason Cash In The Forest Mixing Bowl Set
- Organic Sifted Wheat Flour
- Staub Enameled Cast Iron Skillet

Moria T

Test Kitchen Notes

This fried flatbread recipe requires no yeast for proofing, so there's no need to wait hours for the dough to rise. These breads are perfect on their own with a little sea salt, honey, and butter for breakfast, or for dipping into soups, stews, and sauces. Also, try serving them as a side dish at your next barbecue or as the base for an open-face sandwich if you ever run out of bread. You simply won't be able to resist the crispy outside and soft, buttery, flaky inside. Made with all pantry ingredients, you'll find yourself reaching for this versatile, fun recipe over and over again.

Different versions and stories about the history of johnnycakes can be found throughout the Caribbean, as well as the American South (where they're also called hoecakes) and New England, and they were also made by Native Americans, though the American versions tend to incorporate cornmeal into the dough and are known as "cornmeal pancakes." Reportedly, johnnycakes were originally called "journey" cakes because of their durability and were easy to make on the road and take on the go.

The recipes for johnnycakes are as varied and diverse as the many countries and people that continue to enjoy making them. And the more you make them, the more you'll want to experiment, using this recipe as a base. Try mixing in some cornmeal with the flour, as the Southerners do; or adding milk, buttermilk, or coconut milk instead of water; or baking instead of frying; you can even stuff them with meat, cheese, or fish. You'll soon discover why these sweet treats are a staple all throughout the Caribbean. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the surface
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying, plus more as needed
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingertips.
  2. Add 1 cup of water to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and knead with your hands, sprinkling the surface with more flour as needed, until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a towel. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.
  5. After dough has rested, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil.
  6. Form small balls of dough with your hands. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into circles with a rolling pin or the palm of your hand. Be sure to not make them too thin.
  7. In a small pot, heat the oil. Fry the dough, adding more oil if needed between batches, until golden brown. Let drain on napkins or paper towels.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Francoise C Timoll
    Francoise C Timoll
  • Whattime Isit
    Whattime Isit
  • Natalie Martin-Martin
    Natalie Martin-Martin
  • Ingrid Berridge
    Ingrid Berridge
  • Walter G. Edwards III
    Walter G. Edwards III

53 Reviews

jaym20 April 16, 2023
Amazing. I am of Limonese decent (Limón a city in Costa Rica with Jamaican ancestry), and I grew up Eating my families
Version of Johnny cakes. So today I wanted to make it and did not have time to call mom and I stumbled upon this recipe! It’s honest as close to how my family makes it so I chose to follow the instruction until I got to the kosher salt portion. That’s the only tweek I made. I removed the salt. I used 2 tablespoons of countryside creamery spreadable Irish butter with canola oil and 1/2 a tablespoon country crock original butter as my butter. And I fried half the batch in coconut oil and another batch in crisco oil. They both came out amazing!
Vader66 November 30, 2022
This is s recipe for fried dumpling. Jonny cake is make with pure cornmeal flour not a combination of the two.
jaym20 April 16, 2023
Every Carribean country has another name for it.
Alice December 10, 2021
Thank you for sharing this. I went to St Martin and I absolutely fell in love with their local Johnny Cakes. I'm going to try these now. I liked them plain, but they also served them sliced in half and stuffed like a sandwich, with ham and cheese.
Razor1 January 24, 2021
First time making Johnny Cakes, husband rated it a solid 8. I’m going to try again next weekend for a solid 10. Any ideas on frying times.
Francoise C. January 4, 2021
In Jamaica, they are also Johnny cakes. I made two batches, one with butter and one with olive oil. Both were perfect and delicious. Don't skip the dough resting time! I rested mine for an hour. Yum!
Bob F. December 24, 2021
How much oil did you use, relative to this recipe's amount? I always wanted to try doing it that way but thought shortening or butter was the only way.
Whattime I. October 4, 2020
Thank you for sharing this recipe. My husband and I first had Johnny cakes at La Reine’s chicken shack in St. Croix. Yummy, yummy, yummy 😋.
Ayakasxm21 August 4, 2020
I am born in St.Maarten and they would be called Johnny cake and would be eaten plain.
Ayakasxm21 August 4, 2020
I am born in St.Maarten and they would be called Johnny cake and would be eaten plain.
Natalie M. May 21, 2020
I thought this recipe was great! We served these with Garlic Fried Chicken and honey like at Vie's Snack Shack in St John! They were awesome! The consistency was great! I would love some better qualifiers on how long to fry, thickness of roll out, and kneading time, but it worked out.
Ingrid B. May 17, 2020
Lovely recipe made it for the first time, I just replaced the water with milk.
I was told by my Kittitian husband that the original name came from 'journey cake'
Lockdown keeps us busy with cooking😊
Razor1 January 24, 2021
How long did you fry them? Can’t wait to try the milk.
Adam M. March 9, 2021
True story—my family is Jamaican. They are called Johnny Cakes, which is the pronunciation of Journey Cakes in patois. They are dense and filling, but cheap to make. Perfect for a journey away from home. :)
NN3#21 April 18, 2023
Hi Ingrid!, I read your husband is Kittitian, I stayed in St. Kitts back in 2003 for a month for a friends chef internship. It was not a tourist destination yet and we stayed in The Angelas as it was being finished. Have you visited recently?! I would love to go back soon. If you have any trip highlights to share I would be grateful for your recommendations! Curious if the green bellied monkeys are still around:).
Walter G. May 3, 2020
In Antigua they call these Johnny Cakes. Other islands have different names. In Nigeria they make something very similar (if not the same) and call it Puff Puff.

Who cares about the stinkin' name! I followed this recipe and the result was good!
Glenz February 6, 2019
Isn't it silly to argue about what a particular food is called? The main thing is, that they're ALL delicious!
Deborah March 30, 2018
Wow, so many of the comments are so rude. From the recipe, look and taste this cakes they appear to be "Virgin Islands Johnnie Cakes", in all its golden glory and sweetness. I have worked and lived on various islands in the Eastern and Western Caribbean. There are almost as many recipes and optional names for johnnie cakes as there are Caribbean islands. Some Johnnie Cakes or Bakes have little or no sweetness to as sweet as cake. All or good in there on way and purpose. Funny thing, these cakes are very similar to fry cakes that I've eaten from the Pomo Native American Reservation in Clearlake, California. Fried or baked, salty or sweet, I love Johnnie Cakes from breakfast to dinner, to topped with ice cream for dessert. Ladies, be nice. It cost nothing.
Patrice F. December 10, 2018
I agree with you on this. Differernt countries call things differernt names and anyone can change a recipe based on their individual influences. lets just eat and be merry :)
Razor1 January 24, 2021
Well said, I had them in the Caribbean any name is good with me they are incredible can’t wait to try it again next weekend.
elaisha March 19, 2018
girl plzz i dont know where you from but i am from St.John which is in the caribean and they call it johnny cake i whant to know what is friend bakes you need to get it right check my culture properly because people call certain things differently
Abby135 September 4, 2017
What type of johnny cake is this and from what country/islands?
My mother is from the Dominican Republic and they don't make johnny cakes like this and it doesn't look like that either.
Nicole November 3, 2017
My best friend is from St. Kitts and I make these for him - he said they are the closest to his Grandma’s that he’s ever had! I don’t stick them with a fork before frying them though - that takes the puffyness away.
Nicole November 3, 2017
My best friend is from St. Kitts and I make these for him - he said they are the closest to his Grandma’s that he’s ever had! I don’t stick them with a fork before frying them though - that takes the puffyness away.
Aqua M. March 5, 2017
I am 19, born and raised on St. Thomas, Virgin Island and I love johnny cakes. Good recipe!!
Tony E. February 12, 2017
Yes this good recipe which can be adjusted to your liking.
I've been making this since I was a kid and now my children love it when I make Johnny cakes for them.
Dillon J. January 22, 2017
Thank you for this recipe, mines turned out perfect.
Lauryn January 13, 2017
And I'm 11
Lauryn January 13, 2017
I am a island girl too ,I was born in st.croix virgin island