Making fresh summer corn into crisp corn fritters is one of the fastest ways to turn corn on the cob into a hearty dinner (or breakfast or a snack, really). Corn fritters are essentially a quick corn cake batter studded with fresh corn, jalapeños, and chives that's gently fried in a slick of oil. The resulting fritters have a thin, crispy exterior with a soft and moist center that's full of crisp-tender vegetables.
This classic recipe also makes a fine fritter from frozen corn too. These corn cakes can serve as a meal on their own with a sauce for dipping, as a side for grilled or roasted meats, or as a vehicle for fried eggs for breakfast. What I'm saying here is that this corn fritter recipe is one you'll want to know by heart so you can make it any time the craving strikes.
The Keys to the Crispiest Corn Fritters
Two things will guarantee you crispy corn fritters: a wide, heavy-bottomed pan (I like cast iron) and hot oil. These fritters aren't deep-fried, but you want at least 1/8th of a inch of oil to cover the pan. Heat the oil for several minutes before adding the fritter batter to the pan. And don't overcrowd the pan! You'll get crispier corn fritters frying fewer at a time. Don't worry — those first few will stay plenty crispy while you fry the rest of the batter.
What Are Corn Fritters?
Fritters are small fried cakes that can be sweet or savory and almost always include chopped vegetables held together by a thick batter. Corn fritters are often confused with corn cakes, hoecakes, and hushpuppies — although each as its own distinction. Corn cakes are often sweet and can be baked or fried. Hoecakes are closer to a cornmeal pancake and do not often include whole corn kernels. Lastly, hushpuppies should be made entirely with cornmeal and deep-fried in a spear shape — they rarely include corn kernels, but often have minced jalapeño.
Corn Fritter Pointers
- Spice 'em up: You want a fine crumb in the finished fritters, so reach for a fine cornmeal and all-purpose flour for the fritters. This is the best time to add dried spices. I like cayenne, but smoked paprika, cumin, or even garlic and onion powder taste great too.
- Your fritters, your flavors: Toss the vegetables with the dry mixture now, which prevents overmixing later. Frozen corn kernels can go directly into the batter — no need to thaw first. Again, you can skip the jalapeño or swap it for a shallot or other crisp vegetable.
- Minimal mixing: Whisk together milk and eggs and add these to the dry ingredients. Do you best to avoid overmixing. The batter is going to sit while you prep the pan and it will thicken slightly as it hydrates.
- No overcrowding: Working in batches of four, fry the batter in hot oil. I like a big cast iron skillet for this, as there is plenty of room to work in. The batter will sort of sit up a bit when dropped in the pan, so gently press the batter out to flatten with a spoon or spatula; this helps the fritters cook more evenly.
- Salty finish: Move the fried fritters to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once finished, sprinkle with more salt and serve warm or at room temperature.
Cut your corn: 3 Mess-Free Ways to Cut Corn off the Cob
The batter for fritters can be made up to day in advance and stored in the fridge. Finished fritters freeze well. I like to reheat them for about five minutes in the toaster oven, but you could also thaw them for about an hour on the counter and quickly reheat in a pan. Reheating in the microwave will zap the fritter's signature crispness.
How to Enjoy Corn Fritters
Fresh corn fritters are best eaten out of hand with a little sauce and a cold beer, but they are also a great base for appetizers. Dollop with a little sour cream and snipped chives for a more formal affair, or turn them into a game-time treat with salsa and avocado.
You can also use two to create a hearty stacked sandwich or to serve as the toast for your morning avocado fix or as a base from scrambled eggs. My family really loves these as a side to chili or Brunswick stew. I like to eat the leftovers at room temperature with juicy sliced tomatoes and crunchy salt and a little sparkling wine.
How To Make Crispy Corn Fritters
Makes 15 (3-inch) fritters
What You Need
1 1/2 cups
fine white cornmeal
fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 3 cobs)
medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
finely chopped fresh chives
Measuring cups and spoons
Large cast iron skillet
Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl.
Toss corn, jalapeño, and chives with the dry ingredients. Add the corn, jalapeño if using, and chives. Toss with your hands or a spatula until the vegetables are coated.
Prepare the batter. Mix the milk and eggs together in a measuring cup until incorporated, then pour into the flour and corn mixture. Stir with a spatula until all of the flour is moistened. The batter will be quite thick, but do not overmix. Set aside while you heat the oil.
Heat oil and fry the fritters. Heat the oil into a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Drop 4 (1/4-cup) portions of the batter evenly around the pan and flatten each slightly with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip with a flat spatula and cook until puffed, brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. If using frozen corn kernels, they may need 1 to 2 minutes more cook time per side.
Drain and serve the fritters. Transfer the fritters with a spatula to a paper-towel lined plate. Continue making fritters with the remaining batter. Transfer finished fritters to a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature.
No spice version: For a kid-friendly version, simply omit the cayenne pepper and jalapeño.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for 1 month. Reheat in a 400°F oven until warm and crisp, 5 minutes if refrigerated and 10 minutes if frozen.