Hush Puppies are delicious, super easy, bite-sized cornmeal fritters with a beautiful crunchy exterior and a moist inner texture. Makes a fun appetizer or a side dish for gatherings and special occasions.
Why are They Called Hush Puppies?
If I were to choose between fries and hush puppies, I’d never give fries a second look. I’m all for the hush puppies, baby!
I could still remember the first time I tasted hush puppies. There was an instant connection. Perhaps it was because cornmeal is a staple in West Africa, and I grew up eating it like this Corn Fritters here.
And when I learned how simply easy it is, it became a go-to party appetizer, and it is always a 100% massive hit. On a recent trip to South Carolina, my mission was to sample as many hush puppies as I could. And boy, did I have fun eating them.
Why are They Called Hush Puppies?
So why are these deep-fried cornbread balls called hush puppies? Out of curiosity, I decided to research its origin, and here is what I found.
Well, according to most online sources, the word hush puppy was attributed to hunters, fishermen, and cooks. They would deep fry some cornmeal mixture and feed it to their dogs to keep them quiet during cookouts or fish fries.
Others would also claim that the American Civil War soldiers coined the term, in which they were said to toss some fried cornbread just to subdue their dogs’ barks. But one thing is for sure, these hush puppies here will knock your socks off.
- All-purpose flour is a base ingredient that helps hold the cornmeal together. Corn doesn’t have gluten, so it can fall apart if you don’t use wheat flour.
- Cornmeal is the star in this delicious hush puppy recipe. The delightful flavor of corn fried in little balls, yum!
- Baking powder gives a lift to the dough and creates light and irresistible rounds of delight.
- Sugar is not a sweetener in this recipe; it’s just a flavor enhancer that reduces possible bitterness from the corn and wheat flours.
- Salt, the staple flavor enhancer that is in everyone’s pantry.
- Garlic powder gives the wonderful flavor of garlic without adding moisture. Another advantage to powder in this recipe is being able to spread the flavor evenly with no chunks.
- Buttermilk gives zing to these hush puppies and improves the lift of the baking powder.
- Eggs are a binder that also gives a good rise and bulk to the dough.
- Unsalted butter adds a creamy richness that plain oil just can’t do.
- Onion kick up the flavor of these babies a notch or two. Many people are surprised that onions actually add sweetness to this delight.
- Oil for deep frying is essential. A neutral flavor and high heat resistance are a must. I usually use peanut, canola, or grapeseed. (NOT olive oil, it will burn and be bitter.)
- Flour – For those with gluten sensitivity, you can replace the flour with the same amount of all-purpose gluten-free flour.
- Baking powder – You can omit the baking powder and salt if you use self-rising cornmeal and flour.
- Buttermilk – You can use ⅓ cup of regular milk with a teaspoon of apple cider or white vinegar if you don’t have buttermilk. The acidity in the buttermilk reacts better with the baking soda. The vinegar takes its place. If you have a dairy sensitivity, you can use ⅓ cup of almond milk with a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice.
- Onion – If you don’t care for chopped onions in your hush puppies, you can use a teaspoon of onion powder instead.
- Cornmeal – You may swap this with regular polenta.
Although you can reheat them, they are definitely best enjoyed as soon as you make them. However, you can store the hush puppies in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two days. Crisp them up again by reheating them in the oven.
You can also freeze them in an airtight container for up to three months. Spread them out on a baking sheet so they’re not touching each other, and put them in the freezer. As soon as they’re hard, store them in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to eat them, spread them frozen on a baking sheet and bake them until crisp.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Adding buttermilk to this humble recipe ensures a moist and soft interior while being cooked through with a bit of tang that complements well to a spicy, garlicky, and savory cornmeal batter.
- You can add an extra tablespoon of flour if the batter seems too thin.
- Lumpy batter is better than over mixing your batter.
- For an easier way to drop the dough balls into the hot oil, sometimes I use a small ice cream or cookie dough scooper lightly sprayed with cooking oil. It makes nicely round balls, and you can drop them into the hot oil without using your fingers.
- Since hush puppies have to be cooked in batches, I like to have the oven barely warm (around 200℉/93℃) to keep the first ones that come out from getting cold. Just don’t forget them because they will overcook.
Hush Puppy Variations
You can jazz them up by either throwing in bacon bits, sweet corn, grated cheese, diced jalapeños, and diced shrimp. Or simply combine two or more of the ingredients.
What to Serve Hush Puppies With
Serve hush puppies over fried catfish, any meal that calls for cornbread sides (like coleslaw), or simply enjoy it on its own as a snack. Dip them in a tangy, sweet remoulade sauce, or whip up your own favorite dip.
More Incredible Southern Recipes
- Southern Baked Beans – The smokey flavor of bacon perfectly married with the sweetness of molasses and brown sugar makes this Southern specialty especially mouthwatering.
- Succotash – A Native-American-inspired dish that combines corn and beans into a satisfying meal. The flavor spike from bacon and my favorite creole seasonings make it a healthy and delicious side.
- Fried Okra – A Southern favorite that was popular in Africa long before it arrived in the New World. Cornmeal breading and awesome spices make this crispy veggie side a great addition to any meal.
- Red Velvet Cake – This iconic Southern dessert combines the richness of chocolate and the zing of buttermilk in a decadent cake. It will have the entire family asking if there’s anything wrong with having dessert first.
How to Make Hush Puppies
- Dry ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, and garlic powder. (Photo 1)
- Wet ingredients – In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk and lightly beaten eggs until well combined.
- Mix it all – Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated, then stir in grated onions and butter. (Photo 2 & 3)
Frying them up
- Heat up a large skillet or cast iron with oil coming up ½ an inch on medium-high (375℉/℃) until hot but not smoking.
- Scoop the batter with a spoon preferably and fry in batches, turning once, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pan (it will absorb excess oil, resulting in soggy hush puppies). (Photo 4)
- Done – Using a slotted spoon, remove the hush puppies and place them on paper towels.
- Serve warm! Happy eating!
Watch How To Make It
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- 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (120 grams) cornmeal
- ½ tablespoon (6 grams) baking powder
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
- 1 teaspoon (8 grams) salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons (40 grams) unsalted butter
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped or grated onion
- oil, for frying
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking powder, sugar, salt, and garlic powder.
- In another bowl whisk in, buttermilk, and lightly beaten eggs until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until fully incorporated, then add grated onions and butter.
- Heat up a large skillet or cast iron with oil up to ½ inch- medium-high heat (375) until hot but not smoking.
- Scoop up the batter with a spoon preferably and fry in batches, turning once, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pan (it will absorb excess oil, resulting in soggy hushpuppies).
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the hush puppies and place them on paper towels.
- Serve warm.
Tips & Notes:
- Do not overmix the batter. Stir around 8-10 times or until the dry and liquid ingredients are barely combined together. Overmixing results to a tough texture.
- Let the batter stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before shaping them into balls.
- You may use a Dutch oven or a deep cast-iron skillet to fry. Just make sure it's at least 5-6 inches deep or enough for the batter to be submerged in a 3-4 inches of oil.
- Be sure to fry in batches until golden brown, flipping several times using slotted spoon or frying utensil to cook evenly. Overcrowding the pan will result for the oil temperature to drop down and some greasy hush puppies.
- You may use a cookie scoop to make the dropping process a breeze. But if you don't have one, make sure to dip the spoon into a glass of water between each hush puppy to keep the dough from sticking.
- Drain on double layer of paper towels or on a wire rack.
- Hush Puppies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days and reheat them in the oven at 450 degree for about 8-10 minutes.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.