Fried Cornmeal Mush

Southern fried cornmeal mush

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Chill : 6 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
119 Calories
7g Fat
12g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 119
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 274mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 4mg 0%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 44mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cornmeal mush is a Southern favorite—a combination of cornmeal and water or milk, cooked on the stove until it has a creamy consistency. According to true Southerners, it's sort of grits' distant cousin, but whereas grits are not to be eaten with a sweetener added, cornmeal mush needs a swirl of maple syrup, making it a comforting porridge. Cornmeal mush is also commonly served fried, as in our tasty recipe, can be served for breakfast or brunch, and makes a great way of repurposing the leftover mush you have in your fridge.

The trick to making the best fried mush is to either used chilled mush that you have from the day before or start from scratch, allowing your mush to chill at room temperature first and then in the fridge to achieve maximum firmness. Once properly set, simply cut into squares or rectangles, coat the pieces with cornmeal, and fry them in oil, bacon drippings, or butter. The mush remains creamy inside while developing a crispy exterior. What's not to like?

Similar to grilled polenta, fried mush is versatile, easy to make, and makes a great side dish to meaty foods. It's also delicious on its own with just some butter and syrup. Served with bacon and eggs for breakfast, it can become a sweet brunch treat dish with some fruit compote and a dollop of mascarpone on top. Naturally gluten free, it is a great alternative to French toast and pancakes and can be made vegan if you don't use milk in the porridge and simply fry it in vegetable oil or vegan margarine.


  • 3 3/4 cups water, divided

  • 1 cup cornmeal, plus more for coating the pieces

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 cup corn oil , or bacon drippings for frying

For Serving:

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup, optional

  • 4 ounces butter, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Southern fried cornmeal mush
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  2. Bring 2 3/4 cups of the water to a boil in a saucepan.

    Bring the water to a boil
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  3. Combine the cornmeal, salt, sugar, and the remaining cold water in a mixing bowl.

    Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl
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  4. Gradually add cornmeal mixture into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.

    Gradually add cornmeal
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  5. When thickened, cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

    Cover pot
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  6. Pour into a small loaf pan. Cool, uncovered, at room temperature for at least one hour, and then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours or overnight.

    Pour into a small loaf pan
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  7. To unmold the cornmeal mush, loosen edges with a spatula.

    Spatula in cornmeal
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  8. Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch slices.

    Cut into slices
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  9. Place some cornmeal on a shallow plate and dip each slice of chilled mush into it, turning to coat both sides.

    Place cornmeal on plate
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  10. In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil, or bacon drippings, over medium heat. Fry the mush for a couple of minutes and then turn to brown the other side. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup if desired.

    Flip cornmeal slices in the skillet
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  11. Enjoy.

Menu Ideas for Fried Mush

Although just some butter and a drizzle of maple syrup make these bites a delicious and easy meal, there are many ways in which you can transform this succulent fried cornmeal. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sausage gravy and poached eggs: Top with sausage gravy and some easy poached eggs. Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for a vibrant garnish.
  • Applesauce and ricotta: Top the fried mush with warm applesauce, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and crumbled ricotta cheese. Alternatively, add a dollop of whipped cream or full-fat Greek yogurt sweetened with maple syrup.
  • Shakshuka: Serve the mush with some flavorful and saucy shakshuka, top with fresh cilantro, and add crumbled feta or queso fresco on top.
  • Vegan mush: Fry the mush in oil, serve with fresh fruit on the side. Add your favorite vegan granola, a drizzle of maple syrup, and top with some tofu ricotta or full-fat coconut yogurt.
  • Dip and eat mush: Cut the mush in 1-inch-wide sticks. Fry in oil, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with different dipping sauces, such as honey, maple syrup, chocolate, caramel, or fruit sauce.