The Secret Ingredient to the Best Cornmeal Pancakes Ever

If you’ve never tried them, you need to. And if you’ve had them before, it’s time to again.

<p>Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm</p>

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

I have strong feelings about what makes pancakes good, so it’s surprising that the best cornmeal pancakes I’ve ever had came from a mix. They couldn’t be easier to make, and of course, I found out about them from my mom.

Mom started making Jiffy corn muffin mix pancakes long after I’d grown up and left home, but she served them a few times when I was around for holidays and visits. Recently, while researching corn pudding—some versions of which rely on Jiffy corn muffin mix—I remembered mom’s pancakes and decided to make them myself.

A Restaurant Secret

Mom pulled the recipe from her files for me. She’d cut it out from the side panel of a Jiffy mix box. “You can’t count on those recipes always being on the box, you know,” she said. Indeed, the current Jiffy mix boxes at my store didn’t include the recipe. I asked mom where she came across it in the first place. She’s not a big breakfast eater, nor a pancake eater, so her fondness for those cornmeal pancakes always puzzled me.

“Your father and I were in Columbus for some reason I forget, and we stopped at the Tee Jay’s on the west side.” She means Tee Jay’s Country Place, a small chain that’s known for its breakfasts. If you know about Tee Jay’s, you are for sure from central Ohio.

“I ordered cornmeal pancakes and was surprised to like them so much! When I told our waitress how good they were, she laughed and told me they were made from Jiffy corn muffin mix. I started keeping a few boxes on hand in the freezer.” By the way, it’s not necessary to store Jiffy mix in the freezer. My mom freezes everything.

<p>Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm</p>

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

What Makes These Pancakes So Good

Cornmeal pancakes are still on the Tee Jay’s menu, but I’ve not verified if they are, or ever were, made from Jiffy mix. In any case, pancakes made from Jiffy corn muffin mix are good: light, fluffy, and sweet as cupcakes. The cornmeal in Jiffy mix is quite fine, lending the pancakes a delicate texture. They’re just as simple to make as pancakes from any other mix, but I like them a whole lot better.

I griddled up a batch the other weekend and my daughter quickly became a convert. She drowned them in maple syrup, but I had mine with apple butter, and it turns out mom likes them that way too. “I used to serve them on Christmas or Valentine’s Day with raspberry sauce,” she told me.

Perhaps your family has made these pancakes for years, too, and you have your own way of making them. Whether it’s your first time or thirtieth, though, I recommend you make a batch soon. You just may start stocking your own freezer with those little blue boxes.

How To Make Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix Pancakes

This is the recipe my mom cut from the Jiffy mix box maybe 20 or 25 years ago. Note that original Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is made with lard and therefore not vegetarian, but they do make a vegetarian version of the mix.

To make eight to 10 pancakes that serves four people, you'll need:

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 egg

  • 1 (8.5)-ounce box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

  • 1/4 cup milk, plus more as needed

  • Butter and maple syrup or apple butter for serving

Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. I do this on the griddle I’ll be using to cook the pancakes (you can brown the butter if you like). Set aside to cool a bit.

Meanwhile, beat an egg (any size will do) in a medium bowl. Add the corn muffin mix and 1/2 cup milk and stir just until combined. Then stir in the melted butter; do not wipe off the griddle or skillet. It’s okay if the mix has some lumps. If it’s quite thick, add a tablespoon or two more milk.

Return the skillet or griddle to the burner and heat over medium heat until a few droplets of water flicked from your hand sizzle and dance on the griddle. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle. The pancakes are delicate and easier to handle when they are smaller, so resist the temptation to make them larger. 

Cook the pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, flipping once the edges begin to dry out and bubbles appear in the center. Then cook a few minutes on the other side until lightly golden brown.

Repeat, griddling the pancakes until all of the batter is used up. I find the batter thickens as it sits and I need to add more milk bit by bit as I make my way through the bowl. You’ll probably need to gradually turn the heat down to medium-low as you cook subsequent pancakes. My griddle is very well-seasoned and I don’t grease it in between batches, but you may need to keep your pancakes from sticking.

Serve hot, with whatever accouterments you like.


I keep the pancakes warm on a baking sheet in a 180°F oven for up to 30 minutes.

<p>Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm</p>

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

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