Food on Fire

Fantastic fritters from the fairground of my childhood

Simple batter is the base for myriad fritters

Plate of fritters and dishes of sauce.
My family devoured these corn and zucchini fritters before they cooled. — Timothy Fowler photo

Pleasurable memories of summer deep-fried extravagance come gurgling back when I spoon fritter batter into hot oil. Who doesn’t find some guilty pleasure in fairground corn dogs, mini doughnuts and funnel cake? Every time I deep fry something, I ask myself why I don’t do this more often. The process is fairly straightforward: simple batters are easy to whip up and the results are hoovered by our guests asking for more.

A steady diet of fairground food isn’t sustainable, but a fritter treat from time to time is fine, especially when you are camping and will hike those extra calories away with ease.

Here are directions to make two simple fritter batters. Think of the recipes as thought-starters for your pantry. These corn and zucchini fritters are a great place to start, but you can make fritters with nearly anything. Options for crispy fritters are peas and chopped chives, chickpeas and parsley, or shrimp and green onion. If you want sweet instead of savoury, add two tablespoons of sugar to the batter and try diced peaches and nutmeg, or shredded apples and cinnamon. 

Spicy dip is at least half the fun of these fritters. The sweet fritters would do well with a sprinkle of sugar and nutmeg or cinnamon. 

I use canola oil for frying and am hypervigilant with the fryer and temperature. A surprising number of 9-1-1 calls are related to deep fryers on the stove that got out of hand. Use an electric deep fryer with a temperature control, or deep fry on your outdoor stove away from buildings, children and pets. Keep the fire extinguisher within reach, use a thermometer and don’t turn your back on the fryer, even for a moment.

Your guests will line up and ask for more of these fritters. Don’t be surprised when you run out.

Array of herbs and vegetables.
Fresh herbs and garden produce make perfect fritters. — Timothy Fowler photo

Tools required

  • Electric deep fryer with temperature control (turkey fryers work well with the optional short fryer pot, or use a cast iron dutch oven on an outdoor stove.)
  • Fryer thermometer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cup and spoon measures
  • Two dessert spoons for scooping batter
  • Wire skimmer or long-handled tongs (to remove cooked fritters from fat)
  • Paper towel-covered plate to receive cooked fritters
  • Long-sleeved shirt, apron and safety glasses

Basic Fritter Batter

  • 112 grams (¾ cup or 4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 3 ml (½ teaspoon) salt
  • 1 large egg
  • About 375 ml (1 ½ cups) goodies, such as corn kernels, peas, shredded zucchini and so on
  • 125 ml (½ cup) whole milk
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sweet or smoked paprika or other spice of your choice (choose from onion or garlic powder, curry powder, celery salt, black pepper, cumin or coriander)
  • 15 ml (2 tablespoons) fresh herbs (choose from celery leaves, parsley, chives, cilantro, thyme, oregano, basil or tarragon––if it smells good to you, give it a try) 

Corn Fritter Batter

  • 375 ml (1 ½ cups) cooked corn kernels (I cut the kernels off a leftover cob of corn)
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) chopped fresh parsley
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) chopped chives
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) chopped celery leaves
  • For spices, I substituted 3 ml (½ teaspoon) of alder-smoked salt for regular salt, and I used hot smoked paprika.

Zucchini Fritter Batter

  • 375 ml (1 ½ cups) shredded zucchini
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) lemon zest
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) fresh thyme
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) chives
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed 

Chili Dip

  • 125 to 180 ml (½ to ¾ cup) mayonnaise (I use Kew Pie Japanese mayo, if you can find it)
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) fresh lemon juice
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) grated lemon rind
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) Sriracha hot sauce or more (if you want to go to the trouble to find Korean Gouchujang fermented chili paste, your taste buds and your guests will thank you)

Curry Dip

  • 125 to 180 ml (½ to ¾ cup) mayonnaise (I use Kew Pie Japanese mayo, if you can find it.)
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) fresh lemon juice
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) grated lemon rind
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) hot curry paste (or yellow curry powder) 
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) turmeric 

Dip options

  • Substitute yogurt for mayonnaise if you want a lighter and tangier dip.
  • Add any herb you like the smell of.

Or take the easy way out and crack a bottle of your favourite salad dressing, anything from Russian or blue cheese to Thousand Island or ranch would work just fine. 


  • Prepare dips and set up a platter to serve the fritters. You want your guests to tuck into these delights as soon as the fritters clear the oil.
  • Select, prepare and measure all of the ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients, but keep the wet ingredients and the “goodies” separated until the oil is hot. 
  • Heat 5 to 7 centimetres (2 to 3 inches) of canola oil or other high smoking-point oil in a safe place. 
  • Use a deep fry thermometer to monitor the temperature. The maximum temperature should be 175 C (350 F).
  • As the oil begins to heat, combine the dry and wet ingredients and beat with a few quick strokes of a wooden spoon until it comes together like muffin batter.  
  • Add the “goodies” from either the corn or zucchini batter and stir gently, just enough to combine all the ingredients.
  • As soon as the oil hits 175 C (350 F), add spoonfuls of batter. Use one spoon to scoop up the batter and a second spoon to slide the batter into the hot oil.
  • Almost immediately the fritters will float in the bubbling hot oil.
  • Monitor the heat of the oil and ensure the temperature does not exceed 175 C (350 F).
  • When the lower half of the fritter is the colour of light toast, use tongs or a fork to turn the fritters over to cook the second side. When you think the fritters are done, pull one out with long-handled tongs and set on a paper towel-covered plate. Cut it in half and see if the batter is fully cooked. 
  • When the fritters are cooked, remove them to a paper towel-covered plate and fry the next batch.
Close-up of inside of fritter.
Corn fritters and Sriracha mayonnaise are a new family favourite. — Timothy Fowler photo

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