Breakfast & Brunch

Johnnycakes with Cranberry-Maple Syrup

Topped with cranberry-maple syrup, this thin johnnycakes recipe from the Commons Lunch in Little Compton, Rhode Island, is an Ocean State classic.

By Yankee Magazine

Oct 05 2021

Photo Credit : Brian Samuels | Food and Prop Styling by Catrine Kelty

Though everyone can agree that Rhode Island’s iconic cornmeal pancakes taste best when made with stone-ground native whitecap flint corn, the debate over whether to serve them thin (East Bay–style) or thick (West Bay–style) rages on. Count George Crowther, who has owned the Commons Lunch in Little Compton for more than 50 years, fully on the thin side. And his customers approve: Over the course of a busy summer week, they gobble up hundreds of orders of johnnycakes. “We go through as much as 150 pounds of cornmeal from Kenyon’s in West Kingston,” he says. Crowther sometimes cooks his johnnycakes in bacon fat for an extra boost of flavor, but butter will do just fine.

Note:Kenyon’s and Gray’s gristmills sell stone-ground white cornmeal online.


16 pancakes

For the Johnnycakes


2 cups white cornmeal
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Butter for frying


Heat oven to 175°. Combine all johnnycake ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine. Let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat two large nonstick skillets over medium heat.

Whisk batter again (the trick to thin johnnycakes is to keep stirring the batter—otherwise, the cornmeal tends to settle out).

Grease the skillets with butter. Ladle a scant ½ cup of batter into each pan, swirl to coat the bottom, and cook until the edges turn lacy and brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 1 more minute. Transfer to a warm oven as you cook the remaining batter, adding more butter to the pan as needed.

For the syrup


1 ½ cups pure maple syrup
1 ¾ cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)


When all the pancakes are in the oven, combine the maple syrup and cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until cranberries pop, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving atop pancakes.