Sometimes I crave Southern comfort food, but I just don’t have the time to go through the whole process of a lengthy recipe. That’s where this easy fried Hush Puppies recipe comes in!
What are hush puppies?
Homemade Hush Puppies are delicious, light and fluffy fried cornbread. Sometimes you’ll hear them called corn dodgers. They are often served, just one or two, on the side or a whole pile in a basket.
The base hush puppies recipe consists of flour, cornmeal (white or yellow), a leavening agent buttermilk and eggs. It makes a sticky batter that is then dropped into hot oil.
These golden balls of deliciousness fry up with a crunchy outside and fluffy inside. They are sometimes served with dipping sauce and usually accompany other fried foods like fried chicken, fish fry or chicken fried bacon as a side dish.
Why are they called Hush Puppies?
So why are they called hush puppies and not fried cornbread?
Legend goes that hush puppy batter was leftover from battering other main dish items. While on cattle drives, hunts or working the ranch nothing is wasted, so it was fried up to feed to the dogs or “hush the puppies”.
So no, it is not after the shoes, boots or even an actual breed of dog.
This recipe is a fairly “pantry essential” type of recipe. You’ll need a few fresh items, but not many.
- Flour– Proteins that make up gluten and thus, structure and stability.
- Yellow Cornmeal– What sets these apart from just fried bread. Adds texture, flavor, color and structure.
- Baking Powder– a leavening agent.
- Sugar– Creates balance with the all the acidic flavors and helps to make them caramelize.
- Baking Soda– a leavening agent.
- Kosher Salt– Kosher salt is the least salty, make sure you use a large size grain. Smaller grains in the same quantity will make them too salty.
- Onion Powder– I love the flavor of onion in these, but you can also use garlic powder… or both!
- Buttermilk– The magic that makes these bad boys so moist and soft. Make your own or use one of my handy substitutions.
- Eggs- Creates structure and stability in the finished product.
- Peanut, Canola or Vegetable Oil – you can use other varieties, but for frying, you want a neutral oil with a high smoke point.
Many recipes use finely minced or grated onion or bell pepper. Generally speaking, I prefer to use onion powder. This is for two reasons.
The first is, let’s be honest, I am lazy and grating an onion when it is literally the only ingredient that is going to require a little TLC just isn’t in my cards.
The second is that I don’t like little bits in my hush puppies. I want them to be smooth, pillowy balls of gently fried dough. A crispy exterior with a soft interior.
I also don’t use paprika, cayenne or pepper. I like my hush puppies to be slightly sweet to balance out the rest of my savory dish. You can, however, add these if you think it will complement your food.
You can also add:
- Minced fresh jalapeno
- Corn kernels
- Minced roasted red pepper (make sure it is thoroughly dried)
- Green onions (scallions)
You can also make gluten free hush puppies by using a gluten free flour like almond or buckwheat flour.
Dipping sauces are also controversial. Hush puppy enthusiasts would argue that a good hush puppy needs no sauce and while they are correct, I am a woman who loves sauce!
Aiolis are always a good pick and can be creatively seasoned and flavored. Honey cinnamon butter or even my molasses butter (with a bite) are also good picks. The most traditional is probably tartar sauce or cocktail sauce.
How to Make Hush Puppies
The actually process is simple.
- Mix the batter in a large bowl, but do not overmix it. Overmixing can lead to tough, chewy hush puppies. Not one wants that!
- Refrigerating the cornmeal batter and allowing it to rest is imperative, so don’t skip this step! It won’t hold its shape well if you drop it into the oil at room temperature. One hour is the minimum, but I have made my batter up to 24 hours ahead and kept it chilled until ready to make.
- Pan frying without using an actual fryer can be tricky. I do recommend using a deep-fry thermometer to make sure you have the correct temperature, but even beyond that, using the right oil. See below for more on frying.
- Then, drop them into the hot oil in 1 tablespoon balls. I use a cookie dough scoop to make sure I have the right amount- about the size of a golf ball. Too much and the centers won’t cook into bread by the time the outside is browned, too little and you’ll have hard, crunchy nuggets inside and out. Work in small batches to not overcrowd the pan.
- Remove using a slotted spoon and let them drain on a wire rack with paper towels under. If you place them directly onto paper towels, the bottom with start to get soggy. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes before serving so no one gets burned.
- Some folks like to top theirs with sliced green onions or chives, personally I like a little green from parsley. Or just omit it- they won’t be around long enough for anyone to admire their beauty.
Frying at the right oil temperature is also important, simply saying medium-high doesn’t actually tell you much. Too hot will cook the outside, but not the inside. Too cool and it starts to lose its shape. We are aiming for a nice golden brown.
Oil temperatures will also change radically when you put cold dough in, much like putting ice cubes in boiling water, it takes a minute or so to bounce back to the original temperature.
Deep frying is between 325°F and 365°F. Use several inches of oil to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot and make sure your hush puppies are small so they cook thoroughly. Drop batter in and let the oil do its magic.
I highly recommend using a thermometer or actual deep fryer to maintain good temps. However, using a deep fryer also means a good amount more oil needs to be used. While you can drain it and let separate out any food particles, it is a lot more work than simply using a Dutch oven, deep skillet or cast iron skillet.
The oils with the highest smoke points (over 400 degrees) are avocado oil, almond oil, corn oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil. Peanut oil is actually your best bet since it doesn’t have any aftertaste and also a smoke point.
Baked Hush Puppies
Can you bake hush puppies? You won’t get the same crunch from baking as you will from frying. And of course you can just plop dough out on a baking sheet, it won’t hold its form. You’ll have pancakes instead of balls and they won’t even be read fried cornmeal cakes, just kinda blah.
But you can make them into cornbread muffins, which would actually just be a cornbread muffin since the whole definition of a hushpuppy is to be fried. 🙂
Storage & Freezing
A lot of people ask about making the easy hush puppies recipe ahead of time. I would advise making the batter in advance, but not actually frying them until you are ready to eat. Fried foods and bread always taste best fresh.
But if you do, allow them to cool fully and then store them (or any leftovers) in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Bread reheated in the microwave is usually gummy and chewy. Your best bet when reheating hush puppies is to wrap them in aluminum foil and reheat them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
If you want to freeze hush puppies, place cooked hush puppies in an airtight plastic bag, releasing as much air as possible, and then freeze for up to 6 months.
More Cornbread Recipes
Hush puppies are an excellent side dish for so many meals. They are super verstile and can accompany any sauce.
Crispy Hush Puppies
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, Kosher salt, and onion powder.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs.
- Combine the two, folding until just mixed. Do not over mix the batter.
- Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes, but up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat oven to “warm” setting.
- Pour oil to a depth of 2" in a 6-qt. Dutch oven or large sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°.
- Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into the oil. Continue, working in batches and being mindful to not crowd the pan.
- Fry until outsides are a crispy, golden brown, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Remove to a wire rack over paper towels. Transfer to a baking sheet in the warm oven to keep heat until all are fried and ready to serve.
- Serve with desired dipping sauce.
- If you've tried these, come back and let us know how you liked them in the comments or ratings!