Appetizer Side dish

Jalapeno corn fritters

Jalapeno corn fritters | Homesick Texan

On the way to DFW airport a few years ago, I stopped at a restaurant to grab one last bite before I flew back to New York City. While ordinarily, I’d eat Tex-Mex, my grandma had been talking about fried chicken and all the accoutrements, so I had a craving for that instead.

I chose a spot that specialized in Texan comfort food, and ordered a two-piece chicken plate with dark meat. Biscuits were included and I had a choice of a side. One of the options was corn fritters, which I wasn’t familiar with at all, so in the name of research, I included those with my dinner.

The chicken was juicy and the biscuit was flaky, so I was a happy customer. But the true revelation was the corn fritter with its sweet pops of fresh kernels snuggled into a crisp and savory pastry. While I had the option to dip them in cream gravy or buttermilk dressing, they were equally satisfying on their own.

When I returned to New York, corn fritters were not on local menus, and in time I forgot about them. But recently, I was making fried chicken in my new home in Dallas, and saw I had several cobs in my refrigerator. Thinking back to that pre-trip meal, I decided a batch of fritters would be welcome and ideal.

First, I called my grandma and asked her if she had ever prepared corn fritters. She replied that while they were not in her repertoire, her mother had cooked them often when my grandma was growing up in in the 1930s. She explained that my great-grandmother would take corn that the family had grown and canned at their farm, and she would mix it with egg, seasonings, and flour to form a batter.


My grandma noted that my great-grandmother didn’t deep-fry her battered corn but instead formed them into discs and cooked them in a shallow pool of hot lard or shortening in a skillet much like salmon patties or pancakes. As such, she called her rendition corn cakes instead of corn fritters. Semantics aside, however, the concept and result was the same.

As I began to research, I learned that my great-grandmother’s method was common, though many submerged their batter completely into boiling fat instead. Other variations included either separating the egg or using baking powder for loft; going with fresh or canned corn; and keeping the batter thick or thinning it with milk.

Most of the recipes I found in the Texan press were from the earlier part of the 1900s, with media coverage dropping off in the latter part of the century. Had they fallen out of fashion? I didn’t think so as they not only still appear on menus at spots that specialize in country cooking, but also, when I mentioned them to others most people expressed how much they were a fan.

For my version, I used fresh corn scraped straight from the cob, though frozen corn that has been thawed would work, too. For the batter, I followed my great-grandma’s method. This batter called for egg, baking powder, and flour only, though I livened up my corn with the tangy pop of pickled jalapeños along with garlic, cumin, green onions, and cilantro.

Jalapeno corn fritters | Homesick Texan

After a quick fry in the skillet, they came out savory and zesty. And while excellent on their own, they ware also a fine vehicle for buttermilk dressing livened up with roasted chiles. I enjoy them as a snack but they also go well with the main dish. In fact, they are so light, crisp, and delicious it’s hard to stop eating them. Doubling the recipe may be advised.

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Jalapeno corn fritters | Homesick Texan
4.67 from 6 votes
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Jalapeño corn fritters

Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 10 fritters
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (2 cobs)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 green onion, green part only, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pickled jalapeño, seeded and diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño pickle juice
  • Safflower or oil with a high smoke point, for frying
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease (optional)
  • Poblano buttermilk dressing, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter on medium-low and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 30 seconds, then add the corn. While stirring, cook until the corn is fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, green onion, salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne, then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Turn off the heat.

  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in the flour, baking powder, jalapeño pickles, jalapeño pickle juice, and the corn. Stir until everything is well combined. The batter will be sticky and thick.

  3. Line a large plate with a paper towel. Wipe out the skillet and then add 1/2 inch of oil, enough to generously coat the bottom, but not so deep that the fritters will be submerged. Add the bacon grease if you're using, too. The bacon grease is to more add flavor but can easily be omitted.

  4. Heat the oil on medium and when a thermometer reads 350°F or the oil bubbles around an inserted wooden spoon (it should take around 3-5 minutes to reach this point), working in batches, using a long-handled spoon, gently spoon the batter into the skillet, about 1 tablespoon in size, giving each spoonful space. You may want to stand back and wear an oven mitt over your hand, as the fritters could make the oil pop.

  5. Fry the fritters for about 3 minutes, turning once when browned. Remove with a slotted spatula and place them on the plate to drain. Repeat until all have been fried.

  6. Serve warm with the poblano buttermilk dressing, cream gravy, or the dipping sauce of your choice.

Recipe Notes

While I like the tang of pickled jalapeños, you may use a fresh jalapeño if you prefer. If so, I'd substitute freshly squeezed lime juice for the pickle juice. 

  1. Your Salsa Tatameda is absolutely scrumptious. The best salsa I have ever eaten. As a DFW resident of 45+ years all I have ever eaten was the bright red style. It is also great but the Tatameda is even better. I have made the recipe a number of times already and each time it disappears in a hurry and I a widower. I think I could drink it straight and save the cost of chips.
    Thank you so much. I have been a fan of your blog and recipes and own or have owned most of your books.

    • Lisa Fain

      Paul–Thank you for the kind words! I’m so pleased you love the salsa! It’s definitely a favorite of mine and I concur that you could drink it straight from the jar.

  2. Ted Arbuckle

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this.

  3. Joe and Betty

    Hi Lisa. Not sure what we did wrong, but we had a HUGE mess! The oil was popping violently. Not like bacon at all – we weren’t safe feet away, even with a screen. Might the corn kernels cause this if they are under cooked?

    • Lisa Fain

      Too much water will cause oil to pop, but I’m not sure what went wrong with yours. I’ve made them with uncooked corn before, and haven’t had this issue. Were you using frozen corn? If so, perhaps if it was undercooked and still frozen, this may happen.

      • Joe & Betty

        It was fresh corn. They were dang good, but I’m not sure worth the scars. On us and the kitchen!

        • Lisa Fain

          That’s so curious! I’ve made them with uncooked fresh corn before and haven’t had that happen. It’s the release of water that makes hot oil go wild, and corn doesn’t usually release too much liquid. In any case, I’m sorry you had such a messy and rough experience, but I’m glad you enjoyed them, otherwise.

  4. Brianne Knierman

    Any chance you remember the name of the restaurant you stopped at on the way to the airport? I’m always looking for a new place to get good fried chicken

  5. Same problem as Brianne. I just made these an hour ago. The first batch behaved and fried up nicely. The second batch popped violently at me and I’m now soaking my hand in water. Only difference was the amount of oil. During the first batch I could tell the fritters were almost completely submerged so I ladled out some oil before the next batch. Could that have done it? I want to try these again soon since the first batch is so good!

    • Lisa Fain

      K–I’m so sorry about your hand! I’m not sure what happened, though, as I’ve never had them either submerged or violently splatter when frying. Water is what causes oil to go wild, but there shouldn’t have been any variation in liquidity from the first or second batch, I would think. Are you using a thermometer? Perhaps the oil was too hot in the second batch. Also, what kind of oil were you using?

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