Are Hush Puppies Vegan? Breaking With Tradition (2023)

Hush puppies are one of the most popular appetizers in Southern cuisine. The fried dough balls are delicious, crunchy, soft, sweet, savory, and filling. Unfortunately, Southern food has a reputation for being non-vegan. This has led many vegans to ask about their favorite appetizer… 

So, are hush puppies vegan? 

Unfortunately, hush puppies are NOT vegan. Traditionally, they’re made with milk, butter, eggs, and sometimes cheese. All of these are animal-derived ingredients.

Additionally, some hush puppies may also contain white sugar, which most ethical vegans avoid due to the fact that it’s filtered using animal bone char. 

Below, I’ll answer all of your vegan-related questions about hush puppies and give you a full breakdown of the ingredients, so you can see for yourself. I’ll also show you my favorite recipe for vegan hushpuppies

Can Hush Puppies Be Vegan? 

Can Hush Puppies Be Vegan

Traditionally, hush puppies are anything but vegan. Although the main ingredient is corn meal, the batter is loaded with dairy-based ingredients, and sugar, and may even contain animal fat. 

That being said, hush puppies can be made to be vegan. 

You’ll just have to get a bit creative in the kitchen. Luckily, they’re super easy to cook! You’ll just have to use a vegan egg replacer and plant-based milk in the batter instead of dairy and eggs.

If you do your seasoning right, they’ll taste just like real hush puppies and you won’t even be able to tell that they’re vegan! 

Here’s one of my favorite online recipes for vegan hush puppies: 

I’ve also had some really great-tasting vegan hush puppies in vegan soul food restaurants. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of vegan restaurants that make vegan hush puppies.

The last place that I tried vegan hush puppies was at a small vegan soul food restaurant called Dirty Lettuce located in Portland, Oregon

Do Hush Puppies Have Dairy In Them? 

Do Hush Puppies Have Dairy In Them

If you’re eating out at your average restaurant and see hush puppies on the menu, there’s a 95% chance that they’re not vegan. This is because almost all hush puppy recipes call for whole milk or buttermilk. 

Vegans don’t eat dairy due to the incredible cruelty behind today’s commercial milk industry. As it turns out, a growing number of humans are also lactose-intolerant, so there’s a growing number of people who simply can’t stomach dairy as much as previous generations. 

Do Hush Puppies Have Eggs In Them? 

Do Hush Puppies Have Eggs In Them

Like dairy, almost all hush puppies are made with eggs. Eggs are a very common ingredient used in fried foods, as they help hold the batter together and act as natural emulsifiers.

The eggs contain both fat and protein, which prevent the batter from separating while they’re being fried. 

Thankfully, eggs are a lot easier to replace in recipes than you may think. Since they serve as simple emulsifiers, there are plenty of plant-based vegan substitutes for eggs that have the same baking effect. 

Do Hush Puppies Contain Meat? 

Do Hush Puppies Contain Meat

No, most hush puppies are not made with meat. 

However, some traditional or homemade hush puppies may be made with animal fat. Some of the most common additives I’ve seen are lard or bacon fat. 

In times past, animal fat was often added to breaded foods to make them more filling. This was important when people were traveling long distances and food was scarce. Today, however, there’s simply no need for it. 

While the extra fat may add some flavor to the hush puppies, it also makes them non-vegan and makes them far less nutritious. 

Can Vegetarians Eat Hush Puppies? 

While vegans abstain from all animal products, vegetarians still consume animal by-products, such as dairy, butter, eggs, and honey. This means that vegetarians should have no problem eating hush puppies. 

The only exception to this would be if you came across hush puppies that contain lard or animal fat. However, hush puppies with animal fat are a bit rare, so this shouldn’t be an issue. 

What Are Hush Puppies Made Of? Analyzing The Ingredients

What Are Hush Puppies Made Of

Hush puppies originated in early New Orleans (or Nouvelle Orleans, as it was called back when it was a French territory). Oddly enough, they were created by a group of nuns. They mixed cornmeal, eggs, buttermilk, and sugar together before breading them and frying them in oil. 

The dish quickly grew popular throughout the city. It could be made with simple, affordable ingredients, and didn’t take a lot of time to cook. Today, hush puppies are more popular than ever and are sold at almost every Southern or soul food restaurant. 

Have you ever wondered what hush puppies are made of, though? 

While recipes vary from one restaurant to another, most hush puppies are made with the same base of:

  • Corn meal
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Dairy 

Below, I’ll break down these four core ingredients and show you some of the other common additives used in hush puppies! 

1) Yellow Corn Meal

Corn Meal

Yellow corn meal is the main ingredient used for all hush puppies. The corn meal is what gives the fried dough balls their iconic flavor, as it’s a sweet, rich-tasting flour.

Corn meal is similar to corn flour, except it’s more coarse and contains more of the actual corn kernel in it. This means it’s more filling and nutritious than pure corn flour. 

Yellow corn meal is 100% vegan since it’s a pure plant-based powder that comes from corn! 

2) Wheat Flour

Enriched Wheat Flour

Although corn meal is the primary type of baking flour used for hush puppies, many recipes also contain wheat flour.

Wheat flour contains gluten, which helps to hold the dough together and makes for fluffier hush puppies. Additionally, some hush puppies are rolled or dusted in wheat flour to give them a crispier texture. 

Like corn meal, wheat flour is always vegan. It’s a plant-based powder that’s made from dried, pulverized wheat fruit. While there are different types of wheat flour, all-purpose wheat flour is the most commonly used wheat flour in hush puppies. 

3) Sugar


Not all hush puppies contain sugar, but many of them do. Traditionally, hush puppies were known for being savory and fried. However, some restaurants like to add sugar to their batter.

This makes for sweeter-tasting hush puppies that many people far prefer to old-fashioned sugar-free hush puppies. 

The problem is that white sugar is not vegan-friendly. Unlike raw cane sugar, white sugar is filtered through animal bone char to make it more concentrated and remove the outer layer of brown-colored malt syrup. 

While no animal bones end up in the final sugar product, the fact that they’re used has caused many vegans to boycott white sugar in favor of unrefined cane sugar. 

4) Milk or Buttermilk


Dairy is an essential ingredient in hush puppies and is used in every non-vegan recipe. Milk is the most common type of dairy found in hush puppies. However, buttermilk is also used when the chef wants to give the hush puppies a more complex flavor. 

Unfortunately, both milk and buttermilk are non-vegan, as they’re derived from exploited cows. 

5) Eggs

Eggs & Egg Yolks

Eggs are another key component of all hush puppies recipes. The eggs not only act as an emulsifier that holds the hush puppies batter together but it also creates a crispier texture after they’re fried. 

Although eggs aren’t an animal themselves, they are animal products. Therefore, vegans don’t eat eggs. 

6) Baking Powder

Baking Powder

Baking powder is a natural powder that’s derived from organic compounds. The hush puppies are coated in a thin layer of baking powder and baking soda. These create a crispy outer texture when the hush puppies are dropped in the fryer. 

Baking powder is always vegan, so no worries there! 

7) Baking Soda

Baking Soda 

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is one of the most commonly used baking ingredients in the world. It’s used in lots of fried foods, like hush puppies, along with bread, crackers, and other breaded snacks. 

It’s vegan-friendly, as it’s just made from natural compounds, though! 

8) Spices


Depending on which restaurant you’re visiting, you’ll likely come across various hush puppies recipes that contain spices like paprika, onion, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and more. 

9) Cheese 


It’s rare, but some hush puppies contain shredded bits of cheese. These melted cheese bits are perfectly encased in the fried hush puppies and make for a more complex recipe.

That being said, cheese is off-limits for vegans, so don’t bother unless the recipe mentions that it uses vegan cheese. 

10) Butter


Butter is another common ingredient used in hush puppies. Some recipes use butter in the batter to make it fattier and more flavorful. Others simply serve their hush puppies with a side of whipped butter for dipping. 

Either way, though, butter is non-vegan since it’s a dairy product. 

The Verdict – Are Hush Puppies Vegan-Friendly? 

Are Hush Puppies Vegan-Friendly

Traditionally hush puppies are NOT vegan-friendly. They contain a number of non-vegan ingredients, such as dairy, eggs, cheese, and even animal fat. However, you can get your fix by making your own vegan hush puppies at home or by visiting a vegan soul food restaurant. 

If you’re looking for some other great-tasting vegan side dishes, be sure to check out my favorite vegan sides next

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Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you!

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