With Independence Day falling on a Monday this year, there’s going to be a lot of celebrating over the weekend. If you dance around the foodie blogosphere, you’ll find lots and lots of sweet 4th of July treats out there to choose from, and yes, I’ll be posting one or two as well, but today I wanted to post something a little more savory.
Most people like to grill out to celebrate the Fourth, but sometimes it’s too rainy, or maybe even too cold (after my time in Minnesota, I definitely believe it’s possible to have a cold 4th of July). Obviously, you can still make the requisite burgers and dogs, but why not have something a little more fun and a little more impressive, for hardly any extra work?
Homemade corn dogs are a regular at my house. I made them the first time several years ago after reading the label on the store bought, frozen kind. Have you ever read those labels?! If you want to keep eating them, I suggest you skip the label and continue on in blissful ignorance. I, however, can’t forget what I read. In fact, this came about during a purging period in our lives. We reached a point where we were sick of boxed, preserved, and chemical laden food, and were changing our lifestyle to one that involved more whole, natural, and organic foods. Now, we rarely use anything from a box (unless it’s organic), or that has preservatives or other chemicals. One of the few places I make an exception is with food coloring, and occasionally flavorings for baking, and even those are possible with natural ingredients most of the time. We try to buy as many organic products as possible, and the hubster and I have truly seen a difference in our health because of it.
Back to those corn dogs, though… Like I said, I made them for the first time several years ago, and they have become a pretty regular staple in our menu rotation (that’s how easy they are). Our boy asks for them for his birthday dinner almost every year, and everyone I’ve had the opportunity to share them with loves them. Most people are completely intimidated at the idea of making homemade corn dogs, but they really are easy. No, no…of course they’re not as easy as popping one in the microwave for a minute or two, but the difference in taste that you get is so far superior that it makes every extra step well worth it.
First and foremost, you gotta have a good batter. You can tweak this to be more or less sweet than I have it here, which is pretty middle of the road. I like them a little more on the sweet side, so I tend to add some extra sugar or honey. The dry components of the recipe include all-purpose flour (which can be substituted with gluten free flour to make this a GF recipe!!!), corn meal or flour (remember to make sure it’s GF), black pepper, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
It doesn’t matter if you use corn meal or corn flour, they both work equally well, giving you slightly different textures. Corn meal will give you an ever-so-slightly dryer corn dog that is just barely crispier on the outside. Corn flour, on the other hand, gives you a softer, fluffier result, that’s still crisp on the outside, but slightly less so. I prefer corn flour to meal, although sometimes I’ll do half and half.
While you’re mixing up the batter, your oil should be preheating to 375 degrees and preheat the oven to it’s lowest temperature (usually 150 to 200 degrees). Line a wire cooling rack or baking sheet with clean paper towels and place it in the oven.
Before coating the dogs in batter, roll them over clean, dry paper towels to dry them off. This will help the batter stick to them better. At this point, you can go ahead and skewer the dogs on sticks. We actually skip this step for a number of reasons:
1. You have to put the batter into a deep container to allow for dipping that won’t get on the stick. We’ve tried using a shallow container and just spooning batter over them until their coated, but the results weren’t good. At all. That means you need to try to mix the batter in the deeper container, which is usally a pain in the neck, or dirtying an extra container after mixing.
2. You also have to use a larger pan, which requires a lot more oil. You can either use a deep pan and hold the dogs by their sticks, upside down, in the hot oil (yikes), or use a very wide pot so that the dogs with sticks will fit entirely into the pan.
3. Dogs fried on sticks tend to lose some of their coating from dripping, and also end up being pretty weird shaped when all is said and done. True, they’ll taste just as great no matter how they’re shaped, but it’s nice when they look good too.
Place a couple of dogs in the prepared batter and use a fork, chopstick, or your clean hands to roll it around and get it coated. Or, if you’re using sticks, dip the dogs completely into the batter to coat them.
If you’re not using sticks, toothpicks work wonders. Use them in the ends (like corn holders) to lift the dogs out of the batter and place them in the hot oil. Hubs has gotten so good at this that he tends to just use one.
Fry the dogs, turning them in the oil regularly, until deep golden brown. If they’re not deep golden, then the batter probably won’t be cooked all the way through, so be sure that you don’t pull them out too soon. We usually fry them for about three to five minutes, and will cut the first one open to check for doneness.
Place the dogs in the preheated oven on the prepared rack or pan. I usually prefer to place the paper towels either directly on the oven rack or on top of wire cooling racks placed in the oven. This allows some airflow to reach the bottom of the dogs keeping them slightly crisper. Placing them on a baking sheet also works great, but they may soften a very slight amount (they won’t get soggy, though).
We really never use sticks on our dogs. I eat mine with a knife and a fork while the hubster and kiddo just use their hands. Occasionally, we’ll add sticks after the dogs are done cooking, but it’s rare. They’re just as delicious either way, and at least without them, I don’t have to worry about biting the stick and hurting my teeth!
You may be wondering about those adorable fast food trays that I’ve placed everything in. Well, those originally came from the always brilliant and creative Bakerella. She created them a couple of years ago for an adorable Father’s Day treat. I slightly tweaked them by enlarging them a bit. Now they’re large enough to hold the corn dogs and puppies, plus some yummy french fries or chips. Best of all, you can use them too! I’ve included a link below so that you can download and print them for yourself.
If you’re a corn dog fan, then these are definitely a can’t miss. They only take about 30 to 40 minutes from mixing up the batter to having fresh, hot corn dogs (and you can make the batter ahead of time, if needed). These have fantastic flavor, and can be tweaked and changed to suit you. For example, you could add season salt instead of regular, or throw in a little garlic and onion…whatever your taste buds are asking for. Add a little ketchup and/or mustard, and you’re all set. Enjoy!
Homemade Corn Dogs
(with Vegan/dairy free and gluten free substitutions)
Makes 8 to 10 corn dogs and about 1 dozen corn puppies
1 cup yellow corn meal or corn flour (for gluten free cooking, be sure that you have a GF brand)
1 cup all-purpose flour (you can substitute GF flour without changing anything else in the recipe)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar, depends how sweet you want it, but I tend to go with 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg (1/4 cup egg substitute for vegan)
3/4 to 1 cup milk (soy or almond [plain] for vegan) *sometimes, using a whole cup makes the batter too runny, use your judgement
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, again this depends on how sweet you want it (agave nectar for vegan)
8 to 10 hot dogs (tofu dogs for vegan)
To make the batter: Preheat oil to 375 degrees. Preheat oven to lowest setting (around 175 degrees). Line a wire cooling rack or baking sheet with clean paper towels and place it in the oven.
In a medium bowl, combine the corn meal (or flour), all-purpose flour, salt, pepper, sugar, and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add the egg, milk, and honey. Mix until thoroughly combined, adding more milk, as needed.
To make the corn dogs: Dry hot dogs off by rolling them on clean paper towel. Place a couple of dogs in the prepared batter and use a fork, chopstick, or your clean hands to roll it around and get it coated. Or, if you’re using sticks, dip the dogs completely into the batter to coat them. Fry the corn dogs for 3 to 5 minutes, until deep golden brown. Place the dogs in the preheated oven on the prepared rack or pan. Once all of the dogs are cooked, serve immediately.
To make corn puppies: Using a table- or soup spoon, drop excess batter into the hot oil and fry for about 4 minutes, until deep golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
Click on the link(s) below, then click File > Save as or Print. Print on heavy, bright white card stock, cut along guidlines, fold along lines, and glue tabs in place. Do not scale, print at 100%.
Recipe by Darla, Trays originally by Bakerella, edited by Darla