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One of my absolute favorite foods (ahem)… is corn dogs. I've loved them from that first fateful moment I had them in middle school in the school cafeteria on my designated once-a-week hot lunch day.
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However, most of the store-bought varieties are laden with unhealthy fats, trans fats, poor quality meat, and preservatives galore to keep them fresh for years on end.
Thankfully, making them at home is simple. It's no more difficult than whisking together a cornbread batter, dipping your favorite hot dogs, and deep-frying them in traditional, nourishing fats until golden.
In fact, if you want to have corn dogs in the freezer as if you had store-bought ones, you can even make a large batch and simply freeze them, then bake to reheat, just like the ones I used to buy by the triple-dozen at Costco. (Egads.)
And the beauty of this recipe is that you can use any hot dog you like – whether you prefer a veggie dog, a grass-fed beef dog, a kosher dog, a turkey dog, or some other variety you love. They'll all work. You can also substitute a gluten-free or grain-free cornbread batter if needed, although you may have to play around with the ratios a bit, as you want the batter to be fairly thick and cling to the hot dog.
2 cups palm shortening, lard, tallow, or high-temperature frying oil
Line a baking sheet or cutting board with paper towels and set aside. Have a quart-sized mason jar or tall, narrow drinking glass at the ready. Pour the cornstarch into a low bowl or plate and set aside.
Prepare the batter. In a bowl with a pour spout (preferably), whisk together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center, then add the eggs to the well and beat them gently, followed by the milk. Stir again, then slowly begin incorporating the dry ingredients into the wet until the mixture is completely mixed and homogenous. Let sit while you heat the oil and prepare the hot dogs so the cornmeal softens slightly.
Melt the palm shortening in a deep pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until completely melted and a drop of water bubbles vigorously when dropped into the oil. If you have a candy thermometer, this should be about 375°F.
Meanwhile, skewer each hot dog and set aside.
When the oil is hot, pour batter into the mason jar until it's at least the depth of the your hot dogs, then dredge 4-5 hot dogs in the cornstarch and shake off the excess, dunk them quickly into the batter in the jar, then add them to the oil. Fry until they're golden brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes, then remove them with tongs or a Chinese spider and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Serve hot with mustard and other favorite condiments.
You can also bake them instead of fry them, if you prefer, but the shape usually doesn't stay nearly as nicely cylindrical - the sides tend to droop down. Still delicious, but not the same.
To bake, preheat the oven to 375°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Right when you're ready to put them in the oven, dredge and dunk all the hot dogs and place them on the prepared baking sheet, then bake until the coating is golden-brown, 18-22 minutes.
To Make Ahead
Make the entire batch and let cool completely. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until the corn dogs are frozen through, then remove to an air-tight container and store for up to 1 month.
To reheat, preheat the oven to 375°F and bake until heated through, 16-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your hot dogs and the breading.
I've sized this recipe for 1 dozen hot dogs because we usually use a brand which comes six to a pack. I apologize to those of you who use packages with eight hot dogs, but in my experience, those hot dogs are slightly smaller anyway, so this amount of batter should still work to cover two packages. Hopefully....
For skewers, I prefer flat, wooden skewers, as they're sturdy and easy to hold onto. However, just make note of how far your skewers stick out of the hot dog, as the whole thing will need to fit in the pan as they cook.
Kresha is the mother of four young children, the wife of one handsome organic farmer, an opera singer, a cloth diapering instructor, and an avid researcher. She and her husband share a passion for living life thoughtfully and intentionally in response to God's grace in their lives and she loves to share good meals (and good wine) around a very large table.