Already have an account?
Get back to the
Food & Recipes

Air Fryer Hush Puppies Recipe for a Healthier Bite That Cooks Up Fast + Mess-Free

Pro chefs reveal the best type of cornmeal to use to make 'em extra delicious

There’s something about Southern food that just keeps us coming back for more. One of our favorites that we can’t ever resist? Hush puppies. These bite-sized balls of fried cornmeal goodness have become a staple at fish fries and celebrations throughout the South. But who says you need a vat of oil to enjoy them? Turns out, you can make a delicious batch using the air fryer. We found an easy air fryer hush puppies recipe that’s healthier (no grease splatters!), easier and still gets that perfectly fried exterior in 20 minutes. Plus, we share the best cornmeal to use and other expert cooking tips. Also, stick around for some delicious dipping sauce ideas you’ll want to serve with your batch. Here’s how to make air fryer hush puppies.

What are hush puppies?

A staple of Southern cuisine, hush puppies are small balls of fried cornmeal dough. Some trace their origins back to frybread and are traditionally served alongside fried fish or seafood boils.

Made with simple ingredients like cornmeal, flour, eggs and milk (or buttermilk), hush puppies boast a crispy golden exterior and soft, fluffy interior. The batter has a thick consistency, like pancake better, that gets dropped by the spoonful into hot oil. Some variations of the recipe also include other flavorful ingredients. Brie Golliher with The Pie Queen of Bowling Green says that you can “grate onions, add diced jalapeños and, if you’re feeling adventurous, combine with whole kernel corn to add a nice texture.”

The benefits of air fryer hush puppies

While traditionally deep-fried, making hush puppies in the air fryer offers a healthier and more convenient way to enjoy this Southern classic. Air fryers use circulating hot air to achieve a crispy texture, significantly reducing the amount of oil needed. This means far less calories and fat. Additionally, air fryers cook food much faster than the deep fryer, allowing you to enjoy your golden bites in no time. Not to mention you don’t have to worry about grease splatters or a kitchen cleanup after you’re done cooking.

Have a dirty air fryer? Here’s how to clean it in 3 easy steps!

How to make the best air fryer hush puppies

air fryer hush puppies recipe: hush puppies with parsley on wooden board with dipping sauce

The key to achieving perfectly golden and crispy air fryer hush puppies lies in a few simple steps. From the type of cornmeal you use, to forming your dough balls, you can transform your air fryer into a hush puppy haven. Below, you’ll find some essential tips to help you out.

1. Opt for this cornmeal

Chef Golliher recommends using yellow cornmeal for hush puppies for visual appeal as well as a more pronounced corn flavor. Additionally, you’ll want stone-ground cornmeal for its ideal, coarse texture. But avoid pre-cooked cornmeal, as it won’t achieve the desired fluffy texture.

2. Check your batter

The consistency of your batter can make or break your end results. “Make the hush puppy batter thick, like the consistency of cookie dough,” says Chef Golliher. It should be thick enough to hold its shape but still be scoop-able. But if you want that expansion, she says to “add baking powder for extra puff and fluff.” If the batter runs dry, they will turn out crumbly. Add a splash more of milk or buttermilk to achieve the right consistency.

3. Form your hush puppies

For perfectly shaped hush puppies, use a greased spoon or wet hands to create small balls of dough. Additionally, aim for a slightly flattened shape to ensure even cooking.

4. Get your air fryer ready

Preheat your air fryer for optimal results. Don’t overcrowd the basket, as this can prevent proper air circulation and lead to uneven cooking. For an extra crispy exterior, lightly spray the tops of the hush puppies with cooking oil before air frying. They should be golden brown and cooked through when done. 

Easy air fryer hush puppies recipe

Ready to get cooking? This 20-minute recipe from Mommy Hates Cooking features traditional flavors with yellow cornmeal and chopped onion, as well as onion powder and garlic powder.

Air Fryer Hush Puppies

air fryer hush puppies recipe: halved hush puppy next to others in basket with dipping sauce


  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk


  • Active Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  1. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl. Then, mix in the onion. Whisk in the egg and milk, and let batter sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. After, form small balls of dough and place them inside the air fryer. If preferred, spray the bottom with non-stick cooking spray or you can line it with foil. Then, spray the hush puppies with oil.
  3. Cook in air fryer at 390°F for 5 minutes. Then, carefully turn them over and spray them with oil and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove, let cool and serve warm.

Note: Different air fryers have varying cook times, so check your hush puppies periodically while cooking.

Storing and reheating

While we recommend enjoying your hush puppies fresh and hot, you can store and reheat any leftovers for future snacking. Let them cool completely first, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. To reheat, preheat your air fryer to 350°F and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through. Note that they may not be as crispy as when fresh.

Tasty dipping sauces to pair with air fryer hush puppies

Air fryer hush puppies shine on their own but dipping them in a flavorful sauce elevates them to a whole new level. Especially if you plan on serving them for a Kentucky Derby party, having a spread for your guests will come in handy. Here, some tasty sauce ideas to dip your hush puppies into.

1. Benedictine Dip

Recipe developer Brian Theis with The Infinite Feast shares his recipe for Benedictine Dip, a Louisville classic. “I add fresh tarragon which, with its licorice-like taste perfectly complements the cucumber,” says Theis. This recipe makes 2 cups, but you can store any leftovers.


  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and grated
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh tarragon
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp. salt (don’t over salt)
  • 4-5 dashes green Tabasco sauce
  • 3-4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts


  1. Firstly, wrap grated cucumber in a paper towel, squeeze out excess liquid. 
  2. To a large mixing bowl, add cucumber, cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, tarragon, lemon zest, salt and Tabasco. Then, with hand mixer, blend, retaining a bit of texture. Fold in the scallions. 
  3. Refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight so flavors can meld. Let stand out of fridge for 30 minutes to soften before serving.

2. Spicy comeback sauce

For a fiery kick, whip up a zesty comeback sauce. In a bowl, whisk together ½ cup ketchup, 2 Tbs. mayonnaise, 1 Tbs. white vinegar, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and ½ tsp. prepared horseradish. Then, add a few dashes of hot sauce and a pinch of paprika.

3. Tangy tartar sauce

A cool and refreshing option, tartar sauce cuts through the richness of the hush puppies with its creamy texture and delightful tang. “Homemade tartar sauce is always an excellent idea,” says Chef Golliher, but you can also buy the store-bought version. Simply combine ½ cup mayonnaise with ¼ cup dill relish, 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard, 1 Tbs. lemon juice and some dried dill.

4. Honey Butter

Craving a touch of sweetness? whip up a simple honey butter sauce by creaming together ¼ cup softened butter, 2 Tbs. honey and a pinch of ground cinnamon until smooth.

For more air-fried treats, make some of these recipes:

These Air Fryer Chocolate Chip Cookies Are Perfect for When A Craving Hits — Ready in 15 Minutes

Chickpea Fries Are the Perfect Crispy Snack That’s Packed With Protein — So Easy to Make in an Air Fryer

These Air Fryer Steak Bites Are Full of Fancy Flavor, Yet So Easy to Make in 20 Minutes

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.