What Are Hush Puppies?
Plus, how to make homemade hush puppies and what to serve with them.
By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen
Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.
Perhaps you’ve seen hush puppies listed among the coleslaw and baked beans on the menu at a barbecue joint. Or you’ve had the golden orbs served as a side at fish fries, seafood shacks and seafood restaurants. Maybe you’re confused why there’s dish as well as a popular brand of brushed suede shoes that both go by the same name. But what exactly are hush puppies? We dive into all the details.
What Are Hush Puppies?
Hush puppies are golden fritters made from a thick cornmeal-based batter that are fried until crisp outside and tender-chewy inside. Hush puppies are common across the American South where they’re served as an accompaniment to fried seafood and barbecue. Hush puppies can be shaped into balls or oblong fritters.
Why Are They Called Hush Puppies?
There isn’t one definitive source, but the most widely known story goes that when a group of fishermen or hunters began cooking their catch, their dogs would inevitably start barking and making a racket in anticipation of the feast. To keep the dogs quiet, the outdoor cooks fried up a basic cornmeal bread to feed the dogs and “hush the puppies.” Another Civil War-era tale posits that one night when Confederate soldiers were preparing dinner over a fire, they heard Union soldiers approaching. To prevent being discovered, they fed their barking dogs fried cornmeal pieces and ordered them to “hush, puppies!"
What Are Hush Puppies Served With?
Hush puppies are commonly served as sides to barbecue platters and fried seafood, particularly across the American South. Hush puppies are a fine match for seafood dishes such as beer-battered fish, crab cakes, coconut shrimp and homemade fish sticks. They take the place of bread or biscuits to mop up saucy dishes such as slow cooker pulled pork and barbecue pulled pork. They are also excellent dipped into Jalapeno Tartar Sauce, Homemade Ranch Dressing and Hot Ranch Crab Dip, or teamed with sides such as creamy coleslaw.
How to Make Hush Puppies
Hush puppies are made from a basic batter consisting of yellow cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk or milk and eggs. Many recipes call for the addition of scallions or onions. The base lends itself to riffing, too, including the addition of spicy peppers, cheese, spices or even beer.
Ingredients to Make Hush Puppies
- 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt plus to taste
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Using a fine-meshed sieve over a large bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne. Stir in the buttermilk, egg and scallions using a rubber spatula until a batter is formed. (Be sure not to over-mix the batter or the hushpuppies will be dense.)
- Pour the vegetable oil into a cast iron skillet or a large heavy-bottomed pot to a depth of 2 inches. Heat pot over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 375 degrees F. Using a greased teaspoon, drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil and fry for two minutes, then turn once and fry for an additional 2 minutes, until the fritters are golden brown and cooked through. Take care to work in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pan and ensure a crisp exterior.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the hushpuppies to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Serve hot.
Check out Food Network Kitchen's Full Hush Puppy Recipe Here
If you'd like any more details on precisely how to make hush puppies, head over to our complete hush puppies recipe, created and tested by the Food Network test kitchen.
Hush Puppies Recipes
Hush puppies are one of those deceptively simple sides that come together with a just a few pantry staples. Even if you’ve never deep-fried anything before, hush puppies are an easy recipe for fry novices. It merits learning the basic recipe: hush puppies go with everything from barbecue to fried seafood and make a tasty snack to pair with dips such as ranch or tartar sauce.
Although the chain restaurant Long John Silver’s is known for seafood, one of the most popular dishes is hush puppies. The recipe is top-secret, but our take yields a perfect replica: golden and crispy outside, tender and fluffy within with a light chew. Although the recipe yields 30 hush puppies, you’re all but guaranteed to eat ‘em in one sitting.
The cornmeal-based batter comes together quickly, but take care not to overmix it to ensure a fluffy interior. Pro tip: use a spoon greased with vegetable oil spray to help release the batter from the spoon. To ensure a ball-shaped fritter, drop the batter off the tip of the spoon; batter dropped from the side of the spoon will yield oblong-shaped hush puppies.
A basic hush puppies recipe gets taken up a few notches with the addition of buttermilk, which imparts a subtle tang and keeps the dough moist, plus fresh corn kernels for a double dose of corn flavor. A duo of minced jalapeno and scallions pack a zesty flavor punch.
Ayesha Curry’s easy hush puppies recipe follows the basic formula, but they’re anything but basic. The recipe calls for using a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, ensuring that these fritters fry up crispy every time. Don’t forget to drain them on a paper towel and season with salt immediately after.
Guy Fieri pulls in packaged corn bread mix for the base ingredients, then soups it up with serrano and Anaheim peppers, grated pepper jack cheese, grilled corn kernels and, here’s the kicker, a half-cup of Pilsner-style beer. Be sure to let the batter rest for the allotted time to thicken and allow the flavors to mingle. And don’t skip making the spicy agave butter to pair with on the side.