The beautiful, talented, and trailblazing Dorothy Dandridge is the inspiration behind these vegan hush puppies.
For more about Dorothy’s amazing life and tragic end, be sure to listen to Episodes 25-28 of my podcast, Vanguard of Hollywood.
Dorothy’s stunning beauty, stylized singing performances, and dramatic abilities demanded attention. And in 1954, with her electric and timeless performance in Carmen Jones, Dorothy Dandridge became the first black woman to attain undeniable leading lady status. Dottie’s portrayal of the film’s title character earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, making Dorothy the first black woman to achieve the honor.
But behind her glamorous image and trailblazing achievements, Dorothy Dandridge loved to cook. Among her friends and family, Dottie was known for the spotless homes she owned and the delicious meals she prepared.
A Movie Star in the Kitchen
As a girl, Dorothy learned how to cook soul food from her mother Ruby. Even after she became one of the most popular nightclub performers of the 1950s, Dorothy Dandridge never forgot those flavors from her youth.
As Dottie shared in her autobiography, after a long night of performing, she loved nothing better than
“to stop being the elegant lady up on the platform singing…When I get into my own kitchen, I can find corn bread and hush puppies and rice, and it helps me to get my footing again.”
For Dorothy Dandridge, cooking was a way to stay connected and true to her roots, even as she ascended the rarified heights of movie stardom.
Dottie’s other soul food favorites included collard greens and chitlins, though she was known to experiment with French recipes as well. In fact, as a Hollywood star, Dorothy’s parties were known for her elegant and unique way of serving both her soul food and European cuisine favorites.
Vegan Hush Puppies for Dottie
I wanted to develop a soul food recipe worthy of the amazing Dorothy Dandridge, to create my own take on one of the more unique dishes that Dottie specifically names as a favorite in her autobiography [aff. link].
I’m pretty sure the only way I’d ever even think about trying chitlins is if Dorothy Dandridge came down from heaven and made them for me herself. (Look chitlins up, you may find that you feel the same way.)
So I decided on hush puppies—those delicious, deep fried cornmeal balls that seem to melt in your mouth as you devour the whole plate of two dozen sitting in front of you…
(This obviously didn’t happen to me.)
I also decided to make my Dorothy Dandridge Hush Puppies vegan.
Studded with red onion, green chilis, and nutritional yeast, the only way to make these vegan hush puppies even more delicious is to serve them with my Sriracha Maple Sauce, and my Herby Ranch Sauce.
Vegan Hush Puppies: A New Favorite
Thanks to Dottie, hush puppies are a new favorite in our home.
I’d love nothing better than to sit down with Dottie over a big platter of these hush puppies and hear all about her amazing life and career. But enjoying these hush puppies while binging on Dorothy Dandridge movies [aff. link] is a pretty good alternative.
A Few Things!
One of the secrets to these vegan hush puppies is nutritional yeast [ aff. link]. Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor to it, and is so incredibly good for you. (Just 1/4 cup of this stuff has 8 grams of protein.) It really adds a nice, slightly cheesy flavor to these hush puppies, which really complements the green chilis.
If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, you can find my favorite brand on Amazon here [aff. link].
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My Favorite Fryer Skimmer
And you’ll definitely want a fryer skimmer for frying these hush puppies! A good fryer skimmer will help you lower the hush puppies into the hot oil, and get the hush puppies out of the hot oil safely and without a mess. Here is my favorite fryer skimmer set on Amazon [aff. link].
Dottie’s Hush Puppies
For the dry ingredients:
- 2 cups cornmeal
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp red onion, chopped
- 3 Tbsp green chiles
For the wet ingredients:
- 2 Tbsp butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, cold and cubed
- 1 flaxseed egg, (2 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp water)
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 48 oz canola oil
For the Sriracha Maple sauce:
- ¼ cup sriracha
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp garlic powder
For the Herby Ranch sauce:
- ½ cup Vegenaise, or mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp milk of choice, just don’t use a flavored milk, like vanilla or sweetened almond milk, for instance. It will add a sweet flavor to the sauce and be weird. I prefer to use unsweetened almond milk here.
- 1 Tbsp parsley, minced
- 1 Tbsp dill, minced
- 1 Tbsp green onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Pinch of salt
Make the sauces
- I like to make the sauces first so that the flavors can develop and deepen while I make the hush puppies.
Make the Sriracha maple sauce
- For the Sriracha maple sauce, simply whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. If it’s too spicy, you can add an additional tsp or two of maple syrup.
- Sriracha maple sauce is done, set aside.
Make the herby ranch sauce
- For the herby ranch sauce, whisk together the Vegenaise (or mayonnaise) and milk together in a small bowl.
- Now add in the diced herbs and garlic. Mix until well combined.
- Add a pinch of salt, mix until incorporated, and taste. If it’s not salted enough, add a little more.
- Herby ranch sauce is done, set aside.
Make the hush puppy batter
- Start by making the flaxseed "egg." In a small bowl, whisk together the water and flaxseed meal. Let the mixture sit until it gets goopy, about five minutes, while you prepare the rest of the batter.
Mix the dry ingredients
- Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until all the dry ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Add the butter/Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
- Now add the cubed butter/Earth Balance Buttery Sticks to the dry ingredients. Use your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients (as if you're making pie crust) until it is pretty well distributed and the hush puppy batter looks a little shaggy and clumpy.
Add the milk and flaxseed “egg”
- Now add the milk and flaxseed “egg” to the batter. Mix until completely combined.
- Hush puppy batter is done. Now it’s time to fry.
Heat the oil
- To a large soup pot, add all the canola oil. You want the oil to be at least two inches deep.
- Heat the oil over high heat until it looks like the oil is separating in the pot, about five minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-high.
Fry the hush puppies
- Each hush puppy should be about the size of 1 teaspoon.
- Using a 1 tsp measuring spoon, measure out 1 tsp of dough. With your fryer skimmer, lower the dough, loosely shaped like a ball, into the hot oil.
- Make two more hush puppy dough balls, and lower those into the hot oil as well. I prefer to fry 3-4 hush puppies at a time, but I lower them into the oil separately to avoid them sticking together in the pot.
Fry for 2-3 minutes
- Fry the hush puppies for 2-3 minutes, until they turn a golden brown color on the outside.
- Note: if the hush puppies are cooking faster than 2-3 minutes, simply lower the heat a bit to cool down the oil. And if the oil gets too cold, simply turn the heat back up. You will have to adjust the oil as you fry.
- Once the hush puppies turn golden brown, take them out of the oil with your fryer skimmer, and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
- If a cooled hush puppy is not cooked all the way through when split open, simply put the hush puppies from that frying batch back in the oil, and fry for a minute longer.
- Repeat the process until you've fried all the dough.
Serve and enjoy!
- Serve these vegan hush puppies and sauces as a snack or appetizer.
- You can also make them a meal by using one of the sauces as a dressing over a bed of spinach, and putting a few hush puppies and black beans on top.