Corn dogs may be an American classic synonymous with carnivals and school lunches, but crispy, golden corn dogs can also be made at home. The idea of making homemade corn dogs may seem intimidating at first, but with a few basic tools, you can have a fresh, hand-battered corn dog in 30 minutes. Now all you need is the funnel cake!
What is a corn dog?
A corn dog is a hot dog on a stick that’s dipped in a thick layer of cornmeal batter and deep-fried to golden perfection. Frozen corn dogs at the grocery store are fried and then flash-frozen, so you can bake them in the oven at home, or make air-fryer corn dogs. But when you’re making a a homemade hand-dipped corn dog recipe, you’ll deep-fry them yourself.
Several people have claimed to be the inventors of corn dogs. Brothers Carl and Neil Fletcher introduced “corny dogs” at the Texas State Fair in 1942, with rave reviews from fairgoers. While the brothers thought their idea to be original (and may have been the ones who turned corn dogs into mainstream fair food), they were not necessarily the first.
An earlier claim dates back to the 1930s. Married couple George and Versa Boyington operated a hot dog stand in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. As the story goes, a rainstorm destroyed the stand’s supply of hot dog buns, so the Boyington’s made “buns” on the fly by dipping the franks in a pancake-like batter and frying them, creating what they dubbed the “pronto pup.”
What is corn dog batter?
Corn dog batter is a light cornmeal-based mixture of wet and dry ingredients that, when fried, has a fluffy interior and slightly crisp exterior. Most recipes use a blend of cornmeal, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk. Sometimes, a pinch or two of sugar is added to the corn dog batter for a hint of sweetness.
So, what type of flour is best for a corn dog batter recipe? While many recipes use all-purpose flour, we find that self-rising flour works even better. It already has just the right amount of baking powder mixed into the flour. This means you don’t have to add extra baking powder to the recipe, and you get a supremely fluffy corn dog coating with less fuss.
What kind of hot dogs do you use for corn dogs?
Walk through the supermarket and you’ll see a million different hot dog brands and varieties. While you can use beef, pork, turkey or even vegan hot dogs for corn dogs, we find that a high-quality all-beef hot dog makes the best corn dog from scratch. In terms of size and shape (e.g., long, skinny, short or fat), that’s a matter of preference. Choose whichever you enjoy most!
Ingredients for Homemade Corn Dogs
- Hot dogs: This is the base of the corn dog. We like all-beef hot dogs for corn dogs, but you can use a different variety, like pork or turkey. Or, make the recipe vegetarian with a meat-free hot dog.
- Yellow cornmeal: Cornmeal is a key part of the corn dog batter.
- Self-rising flour: When it comes to corn dogs, we prefer self-rising flour, instead of all-purpose flour, because it already has baking powder in it.
- Egg: The egg helps the corn dog batter stick together.
- Milk: You’ll need milk to achieve the right consistency for the batter.
- Popsicle sticks: We believe the best fair foods involve a popsicle stick.
- Oil: Use a neutral oil (vegetable oil or canola oil) for deep-frying the corn dogs.
Step 1: Dry the hot dogs
Using a paper towel, pat the hot dogs until they’re completely dry. Don’t skip this step—the batter won’t adhere to a wet dog.
Next, insert a popsicle stick (or sturdy bamboo skewer) about two-thirds of the way into each hot dog. Set aside.
Step 2: Make the corn dog batter
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, 3/4 cups of the self-rising flour, and the egg. Add the milk and stir until a thick batter forms. Let the mixture stand for four minutes, then pour it into a tall glass.
Step 3: Dip the dogs
Roll each hot dog in the remaining 1/4 cup flour. This will help the batter really stick to the hot dog.
Then, dunk each dog into the batter, making sure to cover the whole thing. This is where that tall glass comes in handy.
Step 4: Fry and serve
Immediately after dipping the hot dogs, drop them carefully into a deep fryer or a Dutch oven filled with oil preheated to 350°F. Fry the corn dogs, a few at a time, until golden brown, six to eight minutes, turning occasionally. Drain the corn dogs on paper towels and serve warm with your choice of dipping sauce.
Editor’s Tip: Don’t overcrowd the fryer with corn dogs, and monitor the oil temperature while cooking. The oil temp will drop slightly when the corn dogs are added, so bump up the oil temperature a little, if necessary, after adding the corn dogs to ensure they’re frying at the proper temperature. If you’re new to frying, check out our guide to deep-frying.
How to Store Corn Dogs
Leftover cooked corn dogs can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container. Refrigerated corn dogs should be eaten within two to three days. Frozen corn dogs can be stored for up to two months. Defrost overnight in the freezer before warming.
To reheat refrigerated or defrosted frozen corn dogs, preheat your oven to 350° and bake for 10 minutes. Frozen corn dogs can be baked at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through completely.
Can you freeze corn dog batter?
We don’t recommend freezing corn dog batter. We don’t make the corn dog batter ahead or save leftover batter, either. Once mixed, the baking powder in the self-rising flour loses its effectiveness after a few hours, resulting in a less fluffy coating on your corn dogs once fried.
If you want to shave off some prep time, mix a 50:50 blend of cornmeal and self-rising flour and store it in an airtight canister in the pantry. Then, simply add eggs and milk to the mix when you’re ready to fry up a batch of homemade corn dogs.
Homemade Corn Dog Tips
Matt Robicelli for Taste of Home
Why is the batter falling off my corn dogs?
If the batter is not sticking to your corn dogs (or Korean corn dogs), there are two likely causes.
The hot dogs may not have been dried fully before they were dipped in the flour and batter. Any liquid on the hot dogs will create a barrier inhibiting the flour and batter from sticking, so don’t skip this crucial step.
The consistency of your batter could also be a problem. A thin batter will slide right off the dogs, while a thick batter will not flow evenly over the hot dogs when dipped. When in doubt, add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, to a thin batter, or additional milk, a tablespoon at a time, to a thick batter, until the desired viscosity is reached.
What are the best sticks to use for homemade corn dogs?
Our recipe calls for good old-fashioned popsicle sticks. However, you can also use sturdy bamboo skewers, caramel apple sticks or metal skewers. Just make sure they are long enough to insert at least two-thirds of the way into each hot dog.
Editor’s Tip: If using metal skewers, handle them with care since they will become hot while frying in the oil.
How do you keep corn dogs crispy?
If you hope to make your corn dogs ahead, but worry about them losing their freshly fried crispy exterior, never fear. To keep corn dogs crispy until ready to serve, arrange them 1 to 2 inches apart on a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Then, keep warm in a 200° oven until ready to serve.
What do you serve with homemade corn dogs?
Round out your fair-worthy spread with tasty side dishes, snacks, and dips.