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Home recipesparty food Johnny Cakes – authentic recipe from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao
Johnny Cakes johnnycake recipe Aruba bonaire Curaçao Antillean recipes authentic Johnny Cakes

Johnny Cakes – authentic recipe from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao

by jurinoignacio

Johnny Cakes are perhaps the #1 snack on the islands of the Dutch Caribbean. On Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire they are widely available… and for good reason!

These delicious Johnny Cakes are easy to make and absolutely scrumptious filled with cheese, saltfish or just about any other filling!

What are Johnny Cakes exactly?

The Antillean Johnny Cake is a world famous snack. These Johnnies are small, fried buns made of soda-dough. Because they do not contain any yeast, you can make them in relatively little time.

Fill them with whatever you like… cheese, sandwich meats or baked saltfish. Make your own Johnnies by using our recipe below:

History of the Johnny Cake

The original recipe for our Johnnies (or ‘bakes’, as they are called in Jamaica) might have originated around Trinidad & Tobago, but these delectable buns are eaten in the entire Caribbean region. They’re ideal to take with you while traveling.

Because of the oil they’re baked in, they keep their freshness for quite some time. The name ‘Johnny Cake’ is most likely a twist on the English ‘journey cake’.

Johnny Cakes johnnycake recipe Aruba bonaire Curaçao Antillean recipes authentic Johnny Cakes

With this recipe, you can bake around 15 Johnnies


  • 500 gr all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp castor sugar
  • 120 ml water
  • 100 ml milk
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Making Johnny Cakes

Mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar and salt) together with a spoon. Make a well in the mixture and add the butter.

Now add the water and milk to the mixture and stir with a spoon until the dough sticks together. Knead the dough by hand or with the help of an appliance until it becomes soft and smooth.

Leave the dough for about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in 10 to 15 parts, depending on what size Johnny Cakes you’d like. Roll out the pieces of dough, until you have circles of around 1cm high.

Heat the oil until it reaches a temperature of 170 degrees Centigrade.

Fry the Johnny Cakes until they are golden brown in color and nicely puffed up. (This takes around 3-4 minutes)

Let the Johnny Cakes cool down on some absorbent paper before slicing them open. Fill the Johnny Cakes with your favorite filling. (Cheese, sandwich meats, saltifish, vegetables, etc.)

Troubleshooting while making Johnny Cakes

If it’s your first time trying to make Johnny Cakes, let me help you a little by pointing out some commonly made mistakes. Obviously, your objective is to make nicely colored buns that have puffed up and are well done on the inside.

They need to be nice and airy as well, as nobody likes flat Johnnies.

To ensure the best possible result in making these delicious bakes, we’ve written this article for you. In there, you’ll find the 5 most common mistakes (and, of course, their remedies!) when making this authentic Antillean dish.

In the article, we wrote about things like letting the dough rest, using the right temperature and rolling out the dough until you reach the right size.

Even the time spent kneading has (a lot!) of influence on the end results. Naturally, I would like to teach every reader personally how to make the best Johnnies possible, but for lack of time and location-problems, the article is a nice help.

Tradition: Sunday is Johnny Cake day!

On the Dutch Antilles, it’s a tradition to eat Johnny Cake on Sundays. On Curaçao, the buns are made especially for that day. Since people have more time to eat a hearty breakfast in the weekends, Johnny Cakes have filled that spot nicely in our traditional Sunday repertoire.

If you attend church, you’ll find many people bringing their own Johnny Cakes to service, all nicely wrapped in aluminum foil. When service is over, the party may begin!

Many people buy Johnny Cakes from friends or family. On this particular day, you’ll find lively trade in Johnny Cakes by people who make them by the dozens and sell them to their loved ones. Filled or ‘plain’, every Sunday will see a LOT of Johnny Cakes sold.

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