Pioneer Cornmeal Pancakes Survival Recipe

When the wagons rolled west they were supplied with basics that would last for months like cornmeal, flour, and baking soda from which various meals were concocted to go with whatever the pioneers could hunt. Sometimes it was deer, sometimes a rabbit or some squirrels, and they foraged for various roots and berries and honey from wild hives.

The cornmeal pancakes provided a quick and easy to make accompaniment to a soup or stew and could easily be made over an open fire. They could also be served with a sweet toppings like berries.

Delicious cornmeal pancake

Many pioneers took along a cow for milk on the journey and some had a couple of chickens in coops for eggs. The pancakes don’t need sugar – if serving as a dessert rather than with a main meal the honey drizzled over them will be sweet enough.

The following recipe will provide 6 fairly large pancakes (six inches in diameter) to feed 6 people. Preparation time around 10 minutes. Cooking time per pancake will be around 2 minutes.

Cornmeal pancake ingredients
photo: Jeanie Beales

To the left is the flour and to the right is the cornmeal. We use Himalayan salt as it was laid down millions of years ago and is the purest form of salt.

According to this National Geographic article a study has shown that 90% of sea salt contains microplastics, definitely not something we want to be ingesting.

Pioneer Cornmeal Pancakes

The following recipe will provide 6 fairly large pancakes (six inches in diameter) to feed 6 people. Preparation time around 10 minutes. Cooking time per pancake will be around 2 minutes.


  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1 cup white corn meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 large eggs


  • Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.
  • In a jug mix the melted butter, milk and eggs, whisking gently to combine.
  • Pour the contents of the jug into the dry ingredients and stir until you have a moist batter that drops fairly easily from the spoon. You may need to add a little more milk at this point. You can either make 6 large pancakes that cover the base of the oiled griddle or do more smaller ones.
    Batter for cornmeal pancakes
  • Cook over moderate heat until bubbles form on the surface, then flip over and do the other side until a lovely golden brown.
    Cornmeal pancake on the griddle

Serve with stew or a savory dish or with fresh berries, cream, and honey or maple syrup.

The pioneers did take nuts and dried fruit with them and these may have been used to top the pancakes when used for dessert:

Cornmeal pancake with honey cream and berries
photo: Jeanie Beales

This cornmeal pancake is topped with some gooseberries from the homestead and some cranberries soaked in a little water and then boiled for just 5 minutes with a teaspoon of sugar, along with the gooseberries.

cornmeal pancakes pinterest

About Jeanie Beales

Jeanie Beales
Traveler, photographer, writer. I'm eternally curious, in love with the natural world. How people can survive in harmony with nature has fueled my food safety and survival gardening practices. At the age of 12, I found a newspaper advertisement for a 155-acre farm at a really good price and showed my parents one Sunday morning. They bought it and I happily started planting vegetables, peanuts, maize and keeping bees with the help of the local labor. Once I married wherever we moved it was all about planting food, keeping chickens and ducks, permaculture and creating micro-climates. I learned how to build wooden cabins and outdoor furniture from pallets, and baked and cooked home-grown produce, developing recipes as I went along. Over the years on numerous trips to wild places and cities I've learned all sorts of survival hacks, but there is always someone out there who can teach you a new trick so I remain an eternal student and forever humble.

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