Charred Corn Fritters are cheesy, smokey, a little bit sweet, golden brown, and so delicious. Grab this recipe and have a cheese filled, savory meatless meal on the table tonight!
This recipe was originally published on February 17, 2018. It has been updated with new content and photos. Enjoy!
I know I know, I’m like a broken record. But it’s still summer which means I’m going to be hoarding all of the peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, and crisp, golden corn I can get my grubby little hands on until it’s officially sweater weather. So here’s a throwback to an early recipe that’s corny in the best of ways, and with a healthy dose of cheese for good measure.
Charred Corn Fritters
These are cheesy, spicy, golden brown, and so so savory. They make an indulgent appetizer or a light vegetarian main. And better still, even though they feature seasonal summer corn, frozen is a perfectly good stand in making this delicious dish totally doable all year round!
How to Char Corn
I know we’ve been down this road before, but I just can’t help myself. A little hint of char takes that sweet sweet corn to the next level. In this case I forgo the entire cob and pat all those kernels into one flat layer in a cast iron pan. Then turn on the heat and let the popping begin. Of course it’s not like actual popcorn, but do watch out for the occasional airborne kernel. Once you start to get some good color on one side, give everything a stir, pat it down and repeat.
Alternatively you can also spread the kernels out on a baking sheet and toss them under the broiler for a few minutes – but keep a close eye on them, because “extra charred” just means burned in any other language.
Pro tip: you don’t need to put a super heavy char on this, as the corn will continue to pick up color when you fry the fritters.
Oh, and if you’re a meal prep type you can totally char this stuff ahead of time and mix up the patties whenever the mood strikes.
How to Make Charred Corn Fritters
What is a fritter anyway? It’s really just a collection of stuff, bound together with some egg and flour and then fried until crisp and golden. In this case it’s corn, but not JUST corn. To complement the main player’s sweet and subtle smokiness I added some sweet red bell peppers, fiery jalapenos, warm spices, a little bit of coarse polenta to drive home that corny flavor, and both a melty cheddar as well as a salty hit of pecorino. Bring them all together with the eggs and a little flour and you’re halfway to dinner.
1. Char your corn – as we discussed above, using a cast iron skillet until the kernels are lightly brown and beginning to pop.
2. Hydrate your polenta in just a little bit of milk. This is an optional ingredient, but it totally amps up the corn flavor.
3. Add your bell pepper and jalapeno. Then saute just until the veggies are beginning to soften.
4. Throw in the spices and season to taste – never forget the good old S&P!
5. Now let this mixture cool for a little bit, as you don’t want to accidentally scramble your eggs with all that hot veg.
6. Combine your slightly cooled veggie mixture with the milk-soaked polenta, eggs, cheese, and flour. Mix thoroughly.
7. Heat a layer of oil in your cast iron (or whatever pan you used to char your corn and cook your vegetables) and begin frying your fritters over medium low heat, until they are beautifully browned on one side. Then flip and repeat. This usually takes me about two minutes per side.
8. Serve with easy as anything avocado yogurt sauce and watch them disappear.
Tips for Making Charred Corn Fritters
So that seems actually pretty simple, right? That’s because it totally is. No hidden secrets here. But if you need some hand holding, no worries – it’s definitely tip time.
- If you’re using it, make sure to buy “polenta” which is also sold as coarse ground cornmeal. It should be about the same texture as kosher salt – not fine like a flour.
- If you’re not using the polenta, you’ll need to sub in a little bit more flour. Just add a couple teaspoons at a time, and mix until you have something that holds together nicely and is a little looser than cookie dough.
- Use a ¼ cup measure or an ice cream scoop to dollop out your fritter mixture into the hot oil. This will help keep them roughly the same size. I also like to pat mine out a little with the back of a spoon.
- Avoid the temptation to fry these hot and fast. They need time to firm up all the way through before flipping.
- And speaking of flipping – use a thin spatula (I prefer a fish spatula) to get under those little fritters. They can be a little bit fragile, but they’re supposed to look rustic – so no worries.
- You can keep these warm on a cooling rack set in a low oven (250 should do it) for about 20 minutes. That should give you just enough time to fry up the entire recipe.
How to Serve Charred Corn Fritters
I originally conceived this recipe as a meatless meal, and it has definitely lived up to that name. But I also love making mini versions (using about a tablespoon of batter per fritter) and serving them as hors d’oeuvres with a little avocado yogurt sauce on top, or even this ridiculously good peach jalapeno chutney. Bonus points for the minis being even easier to cook, flip, and serve.
But regardless of how you eat these I’m willing to bet they’ll be a hit. And if you need some more meatless options for the week, check these out.
- Vegan Roasted Garlic Rigatoni
- Brown Butter Spiced Chickpeas with Creamy Polenta
- Baked Crunchy Cauliflower Lettuce Wraps
- One Pan Veggie Fried Rice
Charred Corn Fritters
Charred corn fritters are smokey, cheesey, spicy, and a little bit sweet. Grab this delicious vegetarian recipe today!
- Prep Time: 20 Minutes
- Cook Time: 25 Minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 12 fritters 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Cuisine: Mexican
For the fritters:
2.5 C fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (or other neutral tasting oil) plus more for frying
1 jalapeno, diced small (leave the ribs and seeds in if you want it spicier)
3 sliced scallions, white and green parts separated
1 red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup milk
2 Tbsp polenta or coarse ground cornmeal
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1/3 C all purpose flour
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated pecorino cheese
For the avocado yogurt sauce:
1 ripe avocado
½ cup plain or Greek yogurt
Juice of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste
In a cast iron skillet (preferably, but nonstick is fine too, you just won’t get as much browning) heat oil over medium-high heat. Add corn and press into one even layer. Cook, undisturbed for 5 minutes or until the kernels begin to turn brown.
Add the jalapeno, scallion whites, and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. While vegetables cook, combine polenta and milk in a large bowl and set aside. Once vegetables are spotty-brown transfer to a plate and put in the fridge or freezer to cool down (they don’t have to be cold, just not piping hot – this takes about 5 minutes in the freezer, 15 in the fridge).
Add the cooled vegetables, egg, spices, salt, pepper, flour and cheese to the bowl with the polenta/milk mixture. Stir to combine, adding more flour if necessary. You should have a sticky but cohesive mixture.
When you’re ready to fry, heat your skillet back up over medium heat and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. I used about 3 tablespoons for a 10 inch skillet. Heat until shimmering.
This step is optional, but it’s a good idea to both test the oil temperature and the seasoning. Take a teaspoon of the fritter batter and place it in the hot oil, if it sizzles gently you’re in good shape. Cook for about one minute on each side and then taste it. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and continue.
Scoop out ¼ cup measures of the batter and place in the hot oil. Use the back of the measuring cup or a spoon to pat down the batter forming ½ inch thick patties. Mine were about 4 inches in diameter. Fry for 4-5 minutes per side, flipping when the first side is a deep, golden brown. The first batch usually takes the longest to brown, in my experience. Drain on a paper towel lined sheet pan or plate. You can keep these warm in a 250° F oven while you fry the rest, but I didn’t find it necessary.
Serve with sour cream or avocado yogurt sauce and garnish with scallion greens.
The polenta and milk step is optional, but I love the extra hit of corn flavor it adds. If you omit it, you may need a little extra flour.
It’s not necessary, but chilling this batter in the fridge for a bit will make it easier to work with.
You can char the corn and cook the veggies ahead of time, but I wouldn’t assemble the batter more than 30 minutes in advance.
These need to fry a moderate to low temperature and will take a little longer than you think. They will get pretty dark and will be a little fragile at first. Use a thin spatula to flip these.
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