Veggie fritters are a bit of a mind game because they have a magical way of making you forget that you're actually eating vegetables. That's because the best fritters aren't just packed with veggies — they're also enhanced with cheese, herbs, and spices. Then there's the brilliant method of pan-frying them, making them nice and crispy. Everyone can agree on crispy.
Eat More Veggies
Vegetable fritters are an easy way to eat more veggies. They pack up great for lunch, either on their own or in a sandwich, and they even make a nice, light dinner when paired with a simple salad. But the best part about these fritters is that what you decide to put in them is really just determined by what you already have in your kitchen.
The Basic Formula
Boosting veggies with plenty of complementary flavors is exactly what makes fritters awesome. Cheese loves vegetables, so tossing a little into the mix doesn't hurt. Aromatics like garlic, fresh herbs, and spices also help keep things exciting. Once you know the basic formula, it's just a matter of experimenting with different combinations.
Veggies + Aromatics & Spices + Cheese + Binding Agent
Which Vegetable to Use
The beauty of fritters is that so many veggies work well. It's just a matter of what you have in your crisper drawer and knowing how to prep it to be fritter-ized.
- Carrots, parsnips, and sweet potato can all be grated and used as is. Don't forget corn, which can be cut right off the cob or even used straight from the freezer bag.
- Zucchini, however, should be drained after grating because of its high water content. Simply dump the grated zucchini in a colander that's set over a bowl, toss it with a big pinch of salt, and let it sit for 10 minutes. After, press down on the zucchini with a wooden spoon to push out more of the water and then wrap it in a clean kitchen towel to squeeze out even more liquid. Dry is the name of the game here.
- Cauliflower and broccoli also make great fritters. Cut the florets into small, one-inch chunks, then steam them until tender. Let the cooked florets cool a bit, then use a potato masher to mash them into smaller, chunky pieces before combining them with the rest of the ingredients.
- Finally, hearty greens — be it Swiss chard, spinach, or kale — are nice too. Blanch them, let them cool, squeeze out any liquid, and chop.
Oh, and don't be afraid to mix and match vegetables — no one ever said you just had to choose one!
The Flavors: Cheese, Aromatics, and Spices
Once you've picked the vegetable, it's time to pick the flavors. My favorite cheeses are the crumbly ones like goat and feta, but shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and Gouda are also great. Even grated Parmesan works well.
Garlic is great, but try swapping it out for a few chopped scallions, a handful of chopped chives, or a small minced shallot or onion.
Then there are the herbs and spices. I like adding a big tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, or dill. Or try using a teaspoon of a ground spice like cumin or a spice blend like za'atar or curry powder.
5 Favorite Combinations
- Zucchini + scallions + feta + fresh dill
- Cauliflower + garlic + goat cheese + cumin
- Corn + shallot + Parmesan + fresh parsley
- Sweet potato + chives + cheddar + chile powder
- Kale + red onion + mozzarella + Aleppo pepper
Frying vs. Baking
While baking the fritters may seem like a more wholesome choice, I encourage you to fry them. Frying ensures you'll get that extra-crispy exterior, which is the sign of a great fritter. Plus, these are shallow-fried, rather than deep-fried, in just a couple of tablespoons of oil. Either olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil like grapeseed works well — reach for whichever you have on hand and bask in the lacy crispiness that results.
How to Keep the Fritters Gluten-Free
Adding all-purpose flour to the fritter batter prevents them from being gluten-free, but you can change this by simply swapping in an equal amount of chickpea flour. The flour, made of ground raw chickpeas, is not only gluten-free, but also filled with good protein and fiber, which will also give the fritters a staying-power boost.
Don't Forget a Sauce!
Vegetable fritters love a dipping and dolloping sauce, especially a creamy one. I usually start with Greek yogurt and go from there. Sometimes I stir in a little pesto or harissa; other times I keep it simple with just a little lemon juice and salt.
How To Make Fritters Out of Any Vegetable
What You Need
1 1/2 pounds vegetable(s) of choice
1 large egg
1/2 grated or crumbled cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or chickpea flour, if gluten-free)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs, or 1 teaspoon ground spices
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
Dipping sauce (optional)
Box grater or food processor with grating disk attachment
Large skillet or frying pan, preferably nonstick
- Prepare the ingredients: Grate root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and sweet potato on the large holes of a box grater. Grate and drain zucchini and summer squash. Chop and steam cauliflower and broccoli florets. Cut corn off the cob.
- Blanch leafy greens: If using leafy greens like Swiss chard, add the chopped greens and their chopped steams to salted boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once blanched, drain and chop the greens.
- Whisk the egg: In a large bowl, whisk the egg thoroughly.
- Add the vegetables: Squeeze handfuls of wet vegetables, like blanched leafy greens or grated zucchini, to remove excess liquid before adding them to the bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients: Add the cheese, 1/4 cup of flour, herbs, spices, garlic, salt, and pepper to the bowl.
- Mix the batter: Use a spatula to mix everything together so that it's evenly combined.
- Test the batter: Check to see if you can form a patty in your hands and it holds together. If not, add a little more flour to the mixture.
- Heat the oil and add the batter: Heat the oil in a large skillet or frying pan, preferably cast iron or nonstick, over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, flatten it slightly with a flat spatula, and continue dropping more batter, leaving about 2 inches of space between the fritters and being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
- Fry the fritters: Let the fritters cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the patties with the spatula and cook until browned on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Drain the fritters: Remove the fritters to a paper towel-lined large plate. Repeat making the fritters.
- Serve the fritters: Transfer the fritters to a plate and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold with a dipping sauce of your choice, if using.
- Storage: Fritters will last in the fridge for about 1 week. They also freeze well. To reheat frozen fritters, place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and heat in a 400°F oven until warmed through and crisp again, 10 to 15 minutes.