If you’re having a fish fry, serving fried chicken, or serving just about any Southern-style dish, these tasty fried Southern hush puppies are a must! Fluffy and savory with the perfect golden brown exterior, completely homemade.
Lately, I’ve been wanting to go to a real fish fry. You know, those kinds of fish fries with all your family, people (not so) secretly trying to outdo each other’s fried catfish recipes. The kind of fish fry where everyone sits around a table eating crab and shrimp all day, gossiping while you drink ice-cold Southern sweet tea. Ohhh yeah, Cousins, I can’t wait for fish fry season! I intend to have several fish fries when the sun starts shining our way.
Spreads like this—plates of deep-fried catfish, bowls of seafood boil, and collard greens—aren’t complete without homemade Southern hush puppies! You gotta have those crispy, golden brown, deep-fried hush puppies if you’re having a fish fry (or really, any Southern spread).
What Are Hush Puppies?
In my humble opinion, Hush puppies are one of the quintessential Southern favorites. They’re small, golf ball-sized bites of fried dough. Hushpuppy batter can be sweet—with sugar and sweet mix-ins, but they’re usually savory, with spices, onions, cheese, or jalapenos.
Many people buy boxed hush puppy batter, but to be completely honest with you, nothing beats homemade hush puppies. I’ve tried boxed hush puppy mix before, and I wasn’t pleased AT ALL. Boxed, store-bought hush puppies are either too bland, salty, or just flat-out yuck. Making this homemade Southern hush puppies recipe is a breeze; you won’t ever think of using a boxed mix again!
How did hush puppies get their name?
Hush puppies are one of those Southern favorites that have a mysterious history. There are myths about how these crispy cornmeal dough balls got their name—from Civil War Confederate soldiers tossing them to their dogs to “hush” them to old-time Southerners gathering around the fire after a long day of fishing, frying hushpuppies over the open flames. Serious Eats gives a run-down of the history of deep-fried hush puppies.
Before they were called hush puppies, they were called red horse bread and have always been paired with classic Southern cuisine, but especially fried fish dishes. The basic recipe of cornmeal with water, salt, and eggs has been around for generations, and no matter what the true history is, one thing is for sure: Southerners (and just about everyone else) are thankful for their invention!
Ingredients for Homemade Southern Hush Puppies
You only need a few simple ingredients to make delicious homemade hush puppies! It’s super easy to whip up a few batches in no time. If you want the complete ingredient measurements, scroll on down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Cornmeal: I use yellow cornmeal, but white would work as well, too. You’ll want a finer grain so the hush puppies don’t have too grainy of a texture.
- Self-Rising Flour: this is key to getting perfectly light and fluffy fried hush puppies; you don’t get the same texture with all-purpose flour!
- Seasonings: salt and garlic powder are your savory flavors, cayenne pepper adds just a touch of heat, and sugar gives the cornmeal batter a slight sweetness.
- Yellow and Green Onion: the combination of yellow and green onions adds so much flavor to the hush puppy batter. You want them diced or minced as finely as you can get.
- Buttermilk: the liquid for the batter.
- Egg: acts as a binder in the batter.
- Oil: you need an oil with a high smoke point; peanut oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil are all good options.
Hush Puppy Ingredient Tips & Substitutions
- If you can’t find self-rising flour, substitute it with AP flour with an added leavening agent. Mix 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 ½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp of salt.
- If you don’t have or can’t find buttermilk, you can make your own by combining 1 cup of regular milk with 2 tsp distilled vinegar.
- If you have a food processor, use that to mince the onions—this will ensure they’re finely chopped for the best texture.
Equipment Needed to Make Homemade Hush Puppies
You don’t need anything fancy to make Southern hush puppies at home! Here’s what I use:
- A large cast iron skillet for deep frying. If you have a deep fryer or large Dutch oven, you can also use that. You only need about 2 inches of oil to fry your hush puppies.
- A small cookie scoop gives me the perfect-sized dough balls.
- A slotted spoon for turning and removing the hush puppies from the hot oil. I just use my good ol’ fashioned plastic slotted spoon, but a wire “spider” strainer is also great to have on hand, especially if you’re working in a deep fryer.
- You will also need a paper towel-lined plate or cooling rack to drain the hush puppies once they’re out of the oil.
How to Make Homemade Southern Hush Puppies
This hush puppy recipe could not be easier! To start, begin by mixing the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, add the wet ingredients and mix well so there are no lumps. You’ll want to use a whisk for best results. Pro-Tip: let the batter sit for a few minutes while the oil heats before frying the dough. This will help with that light and fluffy consistency as the baking powder has time to activate.
Next, heat about 2 cups of oil in a deep, large skillet or Dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, start dropping scoops of batter into the cooking oil, working in small batches to not overcrowd the skillet. Pro-Tip: to test the temperature of the oil, drop a few little droplets of batter into the oil. If they bubble and brown up quickly, the oil is ready.
Fry the hush puppies until golden brown, flipping them in the oil halfway through cooking. Remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain any excess oil.
Southern Hush Puppies Recipe Video Tutorial
Below, you can watch my short video tutorial to see exactly how I make my homemade Southern hush puppies. Y’all already know I want you to subscribe to I Heart Recipes on YouTube to catch all my recipe videos as soon as they’re uploaded!
Tips & FAQs About Making the Perfect Homemade Hush Puppies
Southern cooks all have their own recipes for Southern hush puppies, but the base of the recipe remains the same. If you have questions about how to make the perfect Southern hush puppy recipe, I’ve got some tips for you. But first, let’s talk flavor variations.
- Southerners love a savory hush puppy. You could knock these tasty treats up a notch with extra mix-ins like scallions, minced jalapeno peppers, or cheese. You could also add sweet onion or corn for an extra hint of sweetness (but don’t add too much corn, or you’ll be bordering on corn fritters!).
- Don’t overmix the batter. An overworked batter will result in a tough, dense hush puppy, which is the opposite of what we want!
- Hush puppies are delicious on their own, but a dipping sauce knocks them out of this world. Serve with tartar sauce if you’re serving them with fish, sour cream, and onion sauce for a cool and refreshing, or a zesty Remoulade sauce for a classic Southern flavor. Of course, they’re just as good with a pat of salted butter!
- You can store leftover hush puppies in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 2 days at room temperature or up to 4 days in the fridge. The best way to reheat hush puppies is in the air fryer, so they get that nice crisp exterior.
Why are my Hushpuppies dry?
The most likely culprit for dry hush puppies is overmixing the batter. Also, buttermilk is key for moist, tender hush puppies. If you don’t have buttermilk, I don’t suggest skipping it. You can easily make your own with regular milk and vinegar.
Are hush puppies and cornbread the same recipe?
Hush puppies and cornbread have very similar ingredients, but the addition of onions to the cornmeal-based batter is what sets hush puppies apart from cornbread. Cornbread is also classically sweeter. If you want an easy cornbread recipe, check out my classic Southern cornbread, honey jalapeno cornbread, or cheesy garlic and herb cornbread recipe.
What to Serve with Southern Hush Puppies
We’ve already talked about how perfectly homemade hush puppies pair with fish fries and seafood boils. But what else could you serve them with? I’ve got some ideas for you, darlings!
- Hush puppies pair perfectly with Southern BBQ—try grilled BBQ rib tips, BBQ ribs, slow cooker BBQ chicken, pulled pork, or as a side with a BBQ charcuterie board.
- Soul food and Southern hush puppies? Yes, please. Hush puppies can soak up a hearty Southern stew. Try stewed chicken, jambalaya stew, oxtail stew with red sauce, or hearty slow cooker beef stew.
- Serve hush puppies with other Southern classics like skillet-fried cabbage, flavorful salmon croquettes, or Southern black-eyed peas.
Ready to make Southern hush puppies? Print out the recipe below! If you loved this recipe, be sure to share and save the recipe on Pinterest! Keep up with Rosie and I Heart Recipes on social media—you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and check out my cookbooks!
Southern Hush Puppies Recipe
- Combine the cornmeal, self rising flour, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic in a large bowl.1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 cup self rising flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tsp garlic powder
- Whisk until everything is lump free then toss in the diced onions.1 small onion, 3-4 green onions
- Add in the buttermilk and egg.1 cup buttermilk, 1 large egg
- Mix the ingredients until well combined, but don’t over mix.
- Pour the oil into a large pan, and heat the oil over medium heat.2 cups oil for deep frying
- Once the oil is nice and hot, start spooning it the batter.
- Fry the hush puppies until the are nice a golden brown.
- Remove the hush puppies from the oil, and place them on a paper towel lined plate.
- Serve and enjoy!