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Hush Puppies Recipe: Is This The Very Best BBQ Side Ever?

This hush puppies recipe is the kind of dish that knows how to steal the spotlight or play it cool as a sidekick. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, it’s like the Smoked Mac and Cheese’s easygoing cousin, no fuss, all flavor. Kids, grown-ups, everyone’s on board with these golden nuggets of joy. And, they’re not even difficult to make!

MAKES

Approximately 24

SERVES

4 to 8

PREP

10 minutes

COOK

20 minutes

Hush Puppy Recipes

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Is there anything that compliments a piece of perfectly smoked meat better than a side of crispy hush puppies?!?

If you’ve never tried cooking hush puppies at home, they’re easier than you’d expect. You’ve probably even got most, if not all, of the ingredients in your cupboard already. Less than 10 minutes prep and you’re ready to fry your first batch.

Each time I’ve made these, I’ve found that I need to adjust the consistency a little by adding extra milk or flour. The ideal consistency is thick and stiff while still being a little sloppy. If it’s looking like pancake batter, just add a little more flour until it thickens up. However, if it’s too dry, mix through a tablespoon of extra milk.

If you don’t have a deep fryer, don’t worry, you don’t need one to make this recipe.

Instead, just use a pot with reasonably high sides and a metal slotted spoon to flip and remove the hush puppies once they’re cooked. If you don’t have a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil, simply drop a very small piece of batter into the pot. It should start bubbling straight away. If not, wait a little longer before retesting.

While hush puppies are best served straight away, they do keep quite well in the oven on a low to moderate temperature if you’re not quite ready to serve.

Perfect to serve as an appetizer or a side at your next barbecue, this hush puppies recipe is a total crowd-pleaser!

Table of Contents

Hush Puppy Ingredients

  • Oil for deep-frying
  • 1½ cups instant cornmeal
  • ⅔ cup plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 2 eggs (sub 2 tbsp any oil plus extra 1 tsp baking powder for egg-free version)
  • ½ cup milk (sub non-dairy milk for dairy-free)

How to Make Delicious Hush Puppies

  1. Fill a pot with at least an inch of oil and put on medium-high heat to warm. Or, prep your deep or air fryer.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add corn and onion, stirring well to combine.
  4. Mix in eggs and milk, adjusting the flour and/or milk if necessary to get a thick and stiff consistency.
  5. Once oil’s reached a good temperature, use a teaspoon to drop a small lump of the mixture into the hot oil.
  6. Let the mixture cook until golden on the outside, adding more balls until all the batter is cooked.
  7. Use a metal slotted spoon to scoop the cooked hush puppies out of the mixture and serve by themselves or with your favorite dipping sauce.
Burning Brisket Hush Puppies Recipe

Variations of This Hush Puppy Recipe

This hush puppies recipe calls for onion and corn which gives them a bit more balance and a little extra nutrition.

But, you could easily add or subsitute any of these ingredients for a more unique take on this classic barbecue side:

Red or green bell peppers would add a spot of color to these hush puppies while complimenting their flavor and texture.

Shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese can bring a rich and gooey element to these hush puppies.

For a slightly smoky and more hearty taste, throw in some chopped bacon pieces into this hush puppy mix.

Of course we’re going to suggest using some of your leftover brisket to dice and add to your hush puppy batter.

It adds a bit of protein content and my kids aren’t wrong when they say it’s a meal on it’s own with carbs, protein, and some vegetables.

For a spicy kick, mix in finely chopped jalapeños. Simply adjust the quantity based on your heat preference.

Experiment with spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, or Old Bay seasoning to give these hush puppies a flavorful kick, especially if you’re serving them without a dipping sauce.

But, feel free to mix and match whatever you want with these hush puppies. With the basic recipe sorted for you, you can go with what’s in the cupboard or let your creativity shine.

What Type of Cornmeal is Best for Making Hush Puppies?

We use a medium-grind, yellow, instant cornmeal in this hush puppies recipe. We find this gives a great texture, makes them quick to cook, and gives that classic flavor.

But, you can use a finer or courser grind if you prefer it.

White cornmeal works just fine too and will give a sweeter taste.

We do, however, recommend sticking with instant cornmeal over regular because it’s cooking time is better suited to deep-frying.

The Key to Non-Oily Hush Puppies

If your hush puppies are turning out too oily, it usually means that your oil wasn’t hot enough when you dropped your batter in.

If you don’t have an instant read thermometer to check it, drop a very small bit of batter into the oil before you start cooking. If it sizzles quickly, it’s hot enough. If the batter just sits there, give it more time to heat up.

What Do You Eat Hush Puppies With?

Hush puppies work well with a lot of different dishes. Here are some classic and popular options:

Hush puppies are often served alongside fried fish, shrimp, or other seafood dishes. The combination of the savory hush puppies with the crispy texture of fried seafood is a classic and tasty duo.

Hush puppies are the ultimate side to any grilled or smoked meat. Whether you’re enjoying pulled pork, ribs, or brisket, hush puppies add a delightful contrast in texture and flavor.

Double deep fried. It’s a Southern comfort food match made in heaven.

I really love pairing hush puppies with a warm bowl of chili. The contrast of the crispy hush puppies with the hearty, flavorful chili is oh so satisfying.

These puppies are seriously so good you can, and I have, served them by themselves many times before.

With a simple dipping sauce like mayonaise, tartar sauce, remoulade, honey mustard, or a spicy aioli which is my favorite, they make an equally good starter as well as a side.

Sticking with the Southern theme, coleslaw is my favorite vegetable to serve alongside these hush puppies.

The crunch of the slaw complements the texture of the hush puppies and gives your mouth and stomach a break from the richer, oiler texture of these and your smoked meats.

Adapting this Hush Puppies Recipe for Specific Dietary Requirements

Because no one should have to miss out on these!

Dairy-Free

This hush puppies recipe works out virtually the same if you sub regular cows milk for a dairy free milk.

I have tested it with almond milk which is my preferred choice because the light flavor goes unnoticed. But, I’ve also cooked it with coconut milk. You can definitely pick up on the coconut flavor. And, while I like the tropically taste, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

My advice is just choose your favorite dairy-free milk alternative and sub one for one.

Gluten-Free

Cornmeal is naturally gluten-free. But, you will need to sub out the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free version.

I don’t recommend using only cornmeal because the flour gives these hush puppies a softer texture than the grittiness you get from a full cornmeal recipe.

Vegan

For a vegan hush puppies recipe that’s allergy friendly and will keep the non-meat eaters happy, swap out the milk for a dairy-free alternative and substitute the two eggs for 2 tablespoons of any oil plus 1 extra teaspoon of baking powder.

Your hush puppies will turn out slightly different to the egged up version. But, it’s really not too noticable and this bbq side is still 110% worth it if you’re out of eggs!

FAQs About Hush Puppies

A hush puppy is only, in my opinion, the absolute best thing about barbecue besides the meat.

They’re basically a deep-fried cornmeal ball that often contains vegetables and/or small hunks of meat.

Hush puppies are one of the most popular sides to serve up alongside smoked meat. You’ll find them on the menu at leading bbq joints around the USA. But, this southern staple is also commonly served beside a shrimp basket or fried catfish plate.

Regardless of what you serve them with, hush puppies are absolutely delicious. If you’ve never tried them before, they’re a total must and not that hard to make!

No, you don’t need a deep-fryer to make hush puppies. A simple high-sided pot with frying oil and a slotted spoon will do the job just fine.

You can cook this hush puppies recipe in an air-fryer for a healthier, less oily version.

To do so, follow the recipe as it’s written to make the batter. Then, you’ll scoop a spoonful onto a baking sheet inside your pre-heated air-fryer and spray the top of each hush puppy with a little bit of oil.

This will make sure the outside is crisp but the finished product won’t taste so oily.

You can store any extra hush puppies in the fridge in an air-tight container. They heat up alright in the oven or air-fryer.

But, our best advice is don’t store them, eat them. Hush puppies are definitely best fresh.

There are a lot of people claiming up these delicious, deep-fried balls. So, truth is, no one is quite sure where hush puppies come from.

If you want to read more, check out Serious Eats deep dive into the history behind the hush puppy.

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is commited to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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