What is Corn Pone?

Cornmeal-based breads can take many forms. While most people are familiar with cornbread, a favorite golden-brown baked treat, others may prefer other versions of cornmeal dishes, such as fried hush puppies or Johnnycakes. But have you ever tried corn pone?

Although corn pone shares a lot of similarities to these other breads, it is a simpler version, typically made from just cornmeal, water, salt, and bacon fat or other type of oil. According to the official definition on Merriam-Webster, corn pone is "cornbread often made without milk or eggs and baked or fried." According to Wikipedia, it's also called "Indian pone," and is "cooked in a specific type of iron pan over an open fire," like a cast-iron skillet or other oven-proof skillets.

Ingredients Found in Corn Pone

Although corn pone is most often cooked with bacon grease, you can also use butter, margarine, shortening, or cooking oil. Original recipes for the dish online lean on a variety of different ingredients like bacon drippings, canola oil, yellow cornmeal or white cornmeal, a teaspoon salt, cold water, butter, honey, baking powder, baking soda, and occasionally buttermilk if you don't mind skipping the "no milk" part of a corn pone recipe.

When it comes to corn pone or bread recipes, a lot of the basics are the same, but people have their own preferences. Sometimes a family will have a secret ingredient to make the perfect pone — say, lard or a particular spice — or some recipes might try to reduce the carbohydrates or cholesterol in the dish.

How to Make Corn Pone

Cornmeal over flour in a mixing bowl

Although corn pone is a delicious sibling of cornbread, in the twenty-first century, it's often considered an outdated dish from another time. (Fun fact: Supposedly corn pone was one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite foods!) But the perfect crispy corn pone isn't hard to make at all, and if you're looking for a quick bread to make as part of your evening meal or for a potluck, it's not a bad choice. If you've got some cornmeal sitting around you need to use up, get out your skillet and get to cooking!

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, and hot water and stir until a thick dough forms. Let rest while you heat up a large cast iron skillet with bacon grease over medium heat. When shimmering, add the cakes and fry until golden-brown, around 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and serve topped with fresh butter.


READ MORE: What Are Grits, and How They're Different from Cornmeal and Polenta