Herby, crunchy fritters are just plain fun, and this recipe for spiced any-bean fritters with fresh herbs is guaranteed to satisfy your crispy-fried-foods craving. Perfect as a snack or as the anchor of a meal, the only thing to keep in mind is... can you bring yourself to share with your family?
Little tasty fritters come from all over, in all shapes and sizes...
You have probably heard of crunchy, herby falafel made from dried chickpeas. You might have heard of accara, fluffy black-eyed pea fritters popular in West Africa. Or perhaps Greek favokeftedes, fritters made from yellow split peas. Maybe acarajé, Brazilian black-eyed pea fritters? It's safe to say that bean fritters are well-loved all over the globe!
Obviously, you can (and should) seek out recipes for the many types of regional bean fritters. There's no "best" way to make fritters, and you can learn a lot from the varying techniques (and these examples don't even touch on the wide world of non-bean fritters!). But I do firmly believe that everybody, from home cook to professional chef, should have at least one go-to fritter recipe in their back pocket. This recipe is a tidy little formula that will help you satisfy flavor and texture cravings. It's designed to be a stress-free, simple, crunchy, fritter that is tasty as-is AND easy to customize.
This basic fritter recipe is the perfect canvas for all kinds of creative tweaking.
Any bean, soaked overnight, will give your fritters an incredibly satisfying crunchy texture. These fritters are gently pressed into thin patties, which maximizes crunchiness and minimizes the depth of oil needed for frying. Feel free to make thicker patties (or even round balls), which will give you a more tender fritter with a higher ratio of soft center. (You will need a deeper pool of oil, and may even need to deep fry if choosing rounder fritters).
As far as flavoring is concerned, the base recipe is quite simple. Onion adds a bit of moisture, but also tons of savory flavor that won't overpower other flavors, like spices and herbs.
Speaking of herbs... Fresh herbs are one of the fastest (and tastiest) ways to adapt the fritters' character to fit the rest of your meal. The fresh herb flavor will stay punchy, especially in the soft centers that don't get that surface browning. My two personal favorites are dill and cilantro, but pick based on what will pair well with the other elements in your meal!
Spices also play a big role in overall character. Pick specific spices (cumin and coriander are a delicious duo) or use your favorite spice blends (I'm a fan of Pok's all-purpose blends and Sonoko curry powder!). Also, the crunchy texture of fritters is a great opportunity to use coarsely crushed whole spices--like maybe some "Everything Bagel" seasoning, to serve with smoked salmon. (Dill would be a good herb choice there!)
Fritters are the star, no matter the meal.
Serve these fritters any way you like. They make an ideal base for a main course, either tucked into flatbread with pickled veggies and yogurt sauce, or as the main protein in a grain bowl. They're also fantastic substitutes for croutons in a dinner salad. If you're hosting guests, make these part of your party spread, or to simply have on hand as a protein- and fiber-packed snack. Serve with a tasty dip next to some crudités, or use them as a crunchy bite-sized base for a composed appetizer (like the smoked salmon bites pictured above!).
Notes for Success:
If you use a pre-made spice blend, make sure to check its salt content. The suggested 2 teaspoons of salt in the recipe is NOT tailored for blends that already include salt. If your blend is salty, decrease the amount of salt added to the batter!
Ideally you'd want to use a large skillet with tall sides, like a cast iron pan. I also often reach for a large sauté pan. But any large skillet is fine. The larger the surface area the more fritters you can fry without crowding the pan!
Make sure you don't skip chilling the raw mixture. It lets the flavors develop, but more importantly, it's much easier to scoop and smush the batter when it's cold.
A thin, slotted metal spatula is very handy: It's generally the best tool for loosening any fritters that stick to the pan. Its thin, sturdy structure makes it easy to slide under and lift, while the slots let oil drain.
When you go to flip, pair your spatula with a second tool like a chopstick or fork. Having that second tool to catch and lower each fritter helps to prevent splatter (and splatter burns!) when flipping in a large puddle of oil.
As usual, none of the above links are affiliate links. I'm just a genuine fan of the mentioned products.
Recipe: Spiced Any-Bean Fritters with Fresh Herbs
- 1 cup dried beans
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½ yellow onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 teaspoons paprika, other powdered chili, or your favorite spice blend, See Notes
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup fresh herbs, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped, Cilantro, dill, parsley, mint, etc
- Neutral frying oil, such as peanut oil
- Step 1In a large bowl, combine the beans and 1 tablespoon salt. Add enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Soak overnight (at least 12 hours), then drain well. Tip: Your beans will roughly triple in size. Make sure you use a bowl big enough!
- Step 2In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 cups of the drained beans, the onion, the paprika (or other spices), baking powder, 2 teaspoons salt (See Note), and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Process until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed. (You can add up to 2 tablespoons of water to help loosen things up.)Add the remaining beans and the herbs. Pulse until chopped, but not as smooth as the rest of the mixture, about 20 pulses. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Step 3Set up your frying station: Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Add enough oil to a large skillet or sauté pan to make a ½- to ¾-inch pool. Heat the oil over medium-high until about 350°F.Fry the fritters: Working in batches, drop rounded tablespoons of the fritter batter into the hot oil, then gently press each one to flatten into patties about ½-inch thick. Cook about 2 minutes per side, until deep golden brown. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining batter, letting the oil return to 350°F between batches.Fritters can be kept warm in a 200°F oven if not eating right away.