Hush Puppies


No shrimp basket, barbecue sandwich, or fried catfish plate is complete without these hush puppies.

Every Southerner knows that a plate of fried shrimp or fish is not complete without a basket of hot hush puppies. Hush puppies are such a beloved tradition that they can be found in divey barbecue joints and even in upscale Southern restaurants, made with artisanal cornmeal and additions like fresh herbs or pork belly.

Hush Puppies. on a plate with coleslaw beside

Why Make Hush Puppies at Home?

You may be so accustomed to eating hush puppies in restaurants that you have not made them at home. That's a shame, because fresh, crispy homemade hush puppies are easy to make, with a few tips from the Southern Living Test Kitchen. We've even included some fun additions, if you want to jazz up your hush puppies with bacon and caramelized onions, or jalapeños and corn.

The Secret to the Best Hush Puppies

To avoid making heavy, greasy hush puppies, you need to learn the secret to successful frying: The most important element in frying is the temperature of the oil. A deep frying thermometer is an inexpensive way to guarantee success. Set up a cast iron Dutch oven or a deep cast iron skillet on the stovetop, and attach a thermometer to check your oil temperature as you adjust the heat.

Electric deep fryers have a thermostat built in, so you can set it to 375°F, and the fryer will make all the adjustments for you.

Ingredients for Hush Puppies

ingredients for hush puppies in bowls on a wooden table
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

You might already have everything you need to make these savory hush puppies. All-purpose flour and cornmeal, baking soda, salt, and pepper make up the dry mix. If you want to try a stone-ground cornmeal for a more toothsome bite, check out the varieties made by Anson Mills or Bob's Red Mill.

Buttermilk, an egg, and some minced onion complete the batter.

Your choice of oil for frying does matter. Clean, neutral-tasting vegetable oil or canola oil is a good, inexpensive choice. Some deep-frying enthusiasts swear by peanut oil, too. Once you have used your oil for frying hush puppies, you can let it cool, then strain it through a coffee filter into a clean jar, and use it once or twice more.

How to Make the Best Hush Puppies

Before you start, set up for frying. Put your pot on the stove and pour in the oil. Get your slotted spoon or frying tool, and line a sheet pan with a double layer of paper towels for draining. Select a pair of soup spoons, or a small cookie scoop for portioning the batter.

Step 1. Make the batter

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, and whisk to mix.

dry ingredients for hush puppies in a white bowl
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk.

milk mixture for hush puppies
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture, just until combined. Then, fold in the onion.

hush puppies batter
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Step 2. Scoop and fry

Then, heat your oil to 375 and prepare to fry. Scoop tablespoon-sized portions with one spoon, then use the second spoon to slip the batter gently into the hot oil, or use your cookie scoop. Fry the hush puppies in batches, 3 minutes or until golden brown.

frying hush puppies in a cast iron skillet
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Step 3. Drain

Use your slotted spoon to turn them in the oil so they fry to golden perfection on all sides.

fried hush puppies removed from grease
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Then, transfer to the paper towel-lined pan to drain.

hush puppies in a paper towel-lined baking pan
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

How to Serve Hush Puppies

Hush puppies are best eaten as soon as they are cooked. They are an essential accompaniment to fried fish and other Southern favorites. You might enjoy them with a dip in Come Back Sauce, Buttermilk Ranch Sauce, Cajun Sauce or Cocktail Sauce.

What to Do With Leftover Hush Puppies

Store any leftover hush puppies in an airtight bag or container for one day. These fried balls of cornmeal lose a little something after a day, however. Their texture will grow a bit dense and gummy. To revive them, heat them in the oven or an air fryer just before eating.

Editorial contributions by Robin Asbell.


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