Recently a Serious Eats reader requested a gluten-free adaptation of her mom's hush puppy recipe. She wrote, "The recipe makes 'plain jane' hush puppies. Since they are so light and fluffy, they remind me of a savory doughnut hole!"
A savory doughnut hole? Sign me up! As promised, the recipe was indeed "plain jane." The flour mixture was a simple blend of self-rising cornmeal and self-rising flour plus just a little onion and garlic powder. After combining with an egg and milk, the batter was dropped into a deep fryer. That's it.
I replaced the self-rising flour with white rice flour and added a little baking powder to make up for the self-rising cornmeal and self-rising flour. (Pre-made gluten-free self-rising flours aren't available.) I was disappointed to find that the hush puppies were dense and heavy. One teaspoon of baking powder wasn't enough to leavening. During testing, I increased the baking powder to two teaspoons and added a little baking soda, both for lift and to aid the browning.
It worked! Almost as soon as the batter hit the oil, the hush puppies puffed up nicely and then fried a deep brown. Since I was having fun with the recipe, I wanted to tweak the flavor a little. For me, a hush puppy is all about the onion. For a variation, I replaced the onion and garlic powder with freshly chopped onion and minced garlic and added a little chipotle powder. These small changes add both flavor and texture to these puppies.
Whichever variation you chose, this recipe makes classic crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside hush puppies.