These quick and easy Sweet Onion Hush Puppies are the perfect side for your fried fish. With just a hint of sweetness and tons of great cornmeal flavor, this recipe is crispy on the outside but tender and moist on the inside.For me, hush puppies are an absolute must with fried fish – along with some coleslaw and great tartar sauce. So after sharing my Lemon Pepper Fried Catfish earlier in the week, I knew I also had to share a delicious recipe for hush puppies. And this recipe for my Sweet Onion Hush Puppies is just that.
Now there are quite a few stories as to how these delicious little morsels of fried cornbread got their name. My grandfather always told me that hush puppies were called that because cooks started frying simple balls of batter to quiet barking dogs who were begging for food. Now, I’m not sure if that’s the truth, but since my Papa said it, it must be. And honestly, I don’t need another story to explain the name. That one works just fine for me.
When it comes to hush puppies, cornmeal is a must. A little flour and egg helps hold them together. Buttermilk gives them a bit of tang. And a little sweetness is good, too. And since onions add great flavor to an otherwise boring ball of fried cornmeal, adding in sweet onions makes them even better. So that’s how I arrived at my Sweet Onion Hush Puppies. Simple, delicious, and uncomplicated.
A few tips for perfect hush puppies:
Maintaining the correct oil temperature is super important here. A fry thermometer comes in super handy. I try to fry mine between 350°F and 360°F. This allows the outside to get golden brown and the inside to get cooked through. If the temperature is too high, it will cause the outside to get too dark and the inside won’t cook through all the way. If it’s too low, it can make for soggy or greasy hush puppies.
Just as when making cornbread, you don’t want to over-stir the batter. Just get it all combined and then stop stirring.
Giving the batter a little time to rest allows the leavening to start working which makes for lighter, fluffier hushpuppies. Just don’t stir it again after the rest. Just scoop it out and gently drop it into the oil.
A 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop or disher works great for keeping your hushpuppies of similar size and make getting them into the oil a little easier.
Southern Sweet Onion Hush Puppies
- 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
- 1/2 cup self-rising flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- Add about 3 inches of oil to the bottom of heavy bottom dutch oven or deep skillet - being sure the oil doesn't come more than halfway up the side of the vessel. Heat to 350°F.
- While the oil is heating, combine the onion, cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg into the buttermilk. Add to the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Allow the batter to rest for about 5 minutes.
- Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonsful carefully into the hot oil and fry for 5 to 6 minutes, turning over once, or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Working in batches, being sure not to cook too many at one time as the oil temp will drop and the hush puppies will end up greasy. Be sure to adjust the heat to keep the oil at about 350°F.
We add a little chopped jalapeño to ours. Sometimes we use chopped green onions instead of small sweet onion. Good recipe!
That little kick sounds amazing!
Can I make my batter ahead of time (like the night before)?
I wouldn’t recommend it as it will lose all its “lift” overnight.
Any chance of using an air fryer for these? They look delicious!
I think as the recipe is written, they would bee too liquidy for an air fryer.
Cornmeal in East Tennessee and Eastern North Carolina differ. Are you using a course or a fine ground meal?
That might be the case with locally milled cornmeal, but I just used White Lily brand. I would guess it more of a fine ground.
I have always heard that they got that name from men that were fishing and they had their dogs with them because some were also hunting and the dogs were barking as they were frying the fish and they would throw those little crunchy pieces of the meal that would fall off the fish after they were fried and would tell them-“now “ Hush Puppies “ and so they started calling them that. Your recipe sounds a lot like my grandmother cooked hers but way back then she would call them “ Red Hirse Bread” and I am not sure why but I believe she may have added a dash of cayenne pepper to her hush puppies which I always called them but I believe that may have been the only difference.
Thanks so much for sharing that, Brenda!
Read Robert Moss’s article on hush puppies and Red Horse Bread. He explains how and why hush puppies were called by both names.