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This Southern Hush Puppies recipe creates the most tender and flavorful little balls of fried cornmeal batter. The popular side dish is perfect alongside fried fish or other seafood, fried chicken, or just about any of your summer favorites from the grill. Best of all, it’s easy to make an entire batch at home in just 30 minutes!

Close side shot of a tray of homemade Southern hush puppies served with lemon wedges

Homemade Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies are little round golf ball-sized savory, deep-fried fritters made from a cornmeal-based batter. Hushpuppies are a classic side dish typically served in the South alongside fried catfish, other fried seafood, or barbecued meats. While they’re popular at just about every seafood restaurant in the South, it’s also very easy to make hush puppies from scratch at home. They taste just like little balls of fried cornbread, making hush puppies the perfect addition to any summertime meal!

Hush Puppies Origin:

There must be a good story behind a dish with such a funny name, right? Hushpuppies originated with the Native Americans, who had been using ground corn (maize) for thousands of years. European settlers in the Southern colonies learned the original recipes and processes for corn dishes from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek, and soon created their own recipes for using cornmeal in breads similar to those that were familiar in Europe (source). Cornmeal-based recipes like cornbread and hoe cakes were especially popular during the Civil War because the ingredients were inexpensive and readily available.

Where does the name “Hush Puppies” come from?

The name “hush-puppy” dates back to at least 1899, which was the first recorded use of the word. The name is often attributed to hunters, fishermen, or other cooks who would fry some basic cornmeal mixture and feed it to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook-outs or fish-fries. Other legends date the term to the Civil War, when Confederate soldiers may have “hushed” their barking dogs with bites of fried cornbread.

The name may also come from the slaves that ran away from their slave masters. When the dogs barked to alert their masters of the runaway slaves, the slaves threw bread at the dogs to keep them quiet, saying “shh, hush puppy,” so that the slaves could escape.

Overhead image of an easy hush puppies recipe made at home

How to make Hush Puppies from Scratch:

This simple recipe requires just a handful of basic pantry staples. The process is also very quick and easy — just like making cornbread! You’ll stir together the batter, and then instead of baking it in the oven, you’ll drop the little balls into oil to fry them for a few minutes. That’s it!

Ingredients for Homemade Hush Puppies Recipe:

  • Yellow cornmeal
  • Baking powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Buttermilk
  • Eggs
  • Vidalia onion
  • Oil, for frying

Step 1: Whisk together Dry Ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Dry ingredients for hush puppies recipe in a glass mixing bowl with whisk

Step 2: Whisk together Wet Ingredients

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and onion.

Whisking together the wet ingredients for an easy hush puppies recipe

Step 3: Stir together Batter

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, just until combined. The mixture should resemble wet sand.

Cornmeal batter for hush puppies recipe in a glass bowl with a scoop

Step 4: Fry in Hot Oil

Scoop the batter into golf ball-size balls and drop in about 2 inches of hot oil. Working in batches of about 3-4, fry the hush puppies until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes per batch). Drain on a paper towel-lined rack and continue with the remaining batter.

Draining hush puppies on paper towels before serving

What to Serve with this Easy Hush Puppies Recipe:

Serve your homemade hushpuppies with a creamy dip (like homemade Buttermilk Dressing) or a hot pepper jelly for a little bit of sweet heat. They’re also great with a Cajun remoulade, tartar sauce, honey mustard or honey butter.

Hush puppies are typically served with fried seafood, but they go well with just about any Southern-inspired entrée. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Fingers picking up a hush puppy from a basket

The Best Oil to Use for a Southern Hush Puppies Recipe:

I recommend either peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying hush puppies. You want a neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point.

A deep-fry thermometer is the key to making sure that your oil is at the correct temperature — 350 degrees F. If it is too hot, the outside of the hush puppies will become too dark, while the inside is left undercooked. If the oil temperature is too low, the hush puppies will absorb too much oil and have an unpleasant, greasy taste. It’s important to fry the hush puppies in small batches of just 3-4 at a time so that you don’t bring down the temperature of the oil by overcrowding the pan.

A Helpful Tip if you Don’t Have a Deep-Fry Thermometer:

Place the end of the handle of a wooden spoon in the hot oil: if bubbles form around the wood, the oil is ready. If it is bubbling vigorously, the oil is too hot. If you don’t see any bubbles at all, the oil needs more time to warm up.

How to make Buttermilk at Home:

If you don’t keep buttermilk in your fridge, you can prepare your own buttermilk at home to use in this recipe. To make 1 cup of homemade buttermilk, pour 1 cup of regular milk into a small bowl. Add either 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Give it a stir, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then use it in the recipe as directed!

Close overhead image of a basket of the easiest homemade hush puppies recipe

Preparation and Storage Tips:

  • How to Keep Hush Puppies Warm: Since you’ll need to fry the hush puppies in batches, you can keep the cooked, drained hush puppies warm by placing them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven while you finish the batter.
  • Use a cookie dough scoop to easily drop even round balls of batter into the hot oil.
  • Hush puppies are best when served immediately while still warm. If you have leftovers, the hush puppies will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  • To reheat hush puppies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If the hush puppies are thawed, they will only need about 5 minutes in the oven to warm through and become crisp again. If reheating the hush puppies directly from the freezer, bake for about 10 minutes to warm through.

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • You can omit the diced onion, substitute with a pinch of dried onion powder, or use sliced green onion or chives instead.
  • Sweet Hush Puppies Recipe: Hush puppies are typically savory (not sweet); however, you can increase the sugar to 2 tablespoons for a sweeter taste. Try serving the hush puppies with honey butter, honey mustard or pepper jelly for an added sweet touch.
  • Hush Puppies with Corn: try adding ½ cup – 1 cup of corn kernels to the batter for more texture and flavor.
  • Cajun Hush Puppies Recipe: try adding diced bell peppers or pimentos to the onion in the batter. A little bit of Cajun seasoning adds great spice!
  • Other seasonings to add to the batter: we keep it simple with salt, pepper, onion and a touch of sugar; however, you can also add garlic powder, paprika, or herbs such as thyme, parsley or rosemary.
  • For some added spice, try stirring minced jalapenos or red pepper flakes into the batter.
Side shot of a basket of hush puppies

More favorite Southern side dish recipes that you might enjoy:

Close side shot of a tray of homemade Southern hush puppies served with lemon wedges

Hush Puppies Recipe

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings 30 fritters
Calories 52 kcal
This Southern Hush Puppies recipe creates the most tender and flavorful little balls of fried cornmeal batter. Perfect for serving alongside your favorite seafood!

Ingredients
  

  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup very finely chopped or grated Vidalia onion

Instructions

  • In a large cast iron Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat about 2 inches of oil over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer.
  • To make the batter, in a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. In a second bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and onion. Season with additional salt and pepper.
  • Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. The mixture should resemble wet sand, so add more buttermilk, as necessary.
  • Line a wire cooling rack with paper towels and set near the stovetop. To fry the hush puppies, use a small cookie dough scoop or large spoon to drop the batter into the oil. Fry in batches of 4 at a time until golden and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per batch. Set on the paper towel-lined rack to drain. Serve warm.

Notes

  • You can omit the diced onion, substitute with a pinch of dried onion powder, or use sliced green onion or chives instead.
  • Sweet Hush Puppies Recipe: Hush puppies are typically savory (not sweet); however, you can increase the sugar to 2 tablespoons for a sweeter taste. Try serving the hush puppies with honey butter, honey mustard or pepper jelly for an added sweet touch.
  • Hush Puppies with Corn: try adding ½ cup – 1 cup of corn kernels to the batter for more texture and flavor.
  • Cajun Hush Puppies Recipe: try adding diced bell peppers or pimentos to the onion in the batter. A little bit of Cajun seasoning adds great spice!
  • Other seasonings to add to the batter: we keep it simple with salt, pepper, onion and a touch of sugar; however, you can also add garlic powder, paprika, or herbs such as thyme, parsley or rosemary.
  • For some added spice, try stirring minced jalapenos or red pepper flakes into the batter.

Nutrition

Serving: 1hush puppy (not including any oil absorbed during the cooking process)Calories: 52kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 13mgPotassium: 80mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 29IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 24mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: homemade hush puppies, hush puppies recipe, southern hush puppies recipe
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. I like the recipe which is close to mine, but your history to where the name “hush puppy” came originated isn’t fully correct. It came from the slaves that ran away from their slave masters, and when the dogs barked when they were found the slave threw bread at the dogs to keep them quiet and they said, “shh, hush puppy,” so the slaves could escape. This is another narrative to keep black history and the true of black history hidden.

    1. I’m glad to know that! Thank you for sharing the story — I’ll update my post to reflect that. 🙂