Seasonal Pantry: How to make versatile veggie fritters

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The other day, I read an article about meatless meatballs.

Why are we tying ourselves in knots trying to bridge the meatless divide? It seems advertisers believe people who want to avoid meat or eat less of it still want to think they’re eating something similar, at least in taste.

A little fried morsel is correctly known as a fritter or croquette. It may contain a bit of meat or seafood, but most of the ingredients will be from plants. If the source of the ingredients is an animal, it’s a meatball.

Zucchini, carrots, beets, spaghetti squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips all make wonderful fritters that can be served as appetizers, in soups and salads, over noodles and in stews.

One of the delightful qualities of a fritter is its lightness, a quality that blossoms as the round dough cooks in hot oil. When cooked in a pan with just a slick of fat, the dough doesn’t rise, a process that is additionally inhibited by pressing down on the dough with a spatula. Cakes are delicious in their own right, but a fritter must be round to reach its full flavor and texture.


These fritters are one of my most requested recipes; I’ve made thousands of them. They’re great in summer, with zucchini fritters, or in winter. .

Carrot Fritters with Honey Ginger Mustard

Makes about 18 2-inch fritters

— Peanut oil for deep frying

2 pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled and grated

3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon white mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 large bunch cilantro or 1 large bunch spring mustard

— Honey Ginger Mustard (recipe follows)

In a deep frying pan, heat about 3 inches of peanut oil to 360 degrees.

While the oil heats, mix the fritter batter. In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, cilantro leaves and fresh ginger. In a small bowl, combine the mustard seeds, cumin, flour, baking powder, a teaspoon of salt and several turns of pepper. Add the mixture to the carrots and toss together lightly. Pour the beaten eggs over the carrot mixture and mix quickly with a fork.

To make the fritters, use a small ice cream scoop or soup spoon to shape the fritters into rounds. Drop the uncooked fritters one by one into the hot oil, waiting until the oil simmers before adding each one. Work in batches and do not crowd the fritters. Turn the fritters after 1 minute and fry until they are golden brown, about 1 more minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to absorbent paper to drain.

Cover a serving platter with the cilantro or mustard and set the fritters on top. Enjoy, with the mustard alongside for dipping.

Honey Ginger Mustard

Makes about ½ cup

2 tablespoons Colman’s dry mustard

1 tablespoons ice water

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons candied ginger, very finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

— Black pepper in a mill

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves

In a small bowl, mix the dry mustard with the ice water to form a smooth paste and let sit for 20 minutes. Combine this paste with the Dijon mustard, honey, candied ginger, grated ginger, garlic and several turns of black pepper. Stir in the cilantro and store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.


If you make these fritters with all sweet potatoes, they will be quite sweet. In this recipe, I combine the sweet potatoes with potatoes to create a savory fritter.

Sweet Potato Fritters

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

1 pound German butterball, Yukon gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks

1 pound sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into chunks

— Kosher salt

¾ cup half-and-half, hot

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

— Black pepper in a mill

¼ cup snipped fresh chives

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups panko bread crumbs

— Mild olive oil or other mildly flavored oil, for frying

— Condiments of choice, see note below

Put the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover them with water by about 2 inches and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Drain thoroughly, return the pan to medium heat and evaporate whatever liquid is left in the pan so the potatoes are quite dry.

Press the potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill into a medium mixing bowl. Pour in the half-and-half, add the butter and mix with a wood spoon until smooth.

Stir in the chives, season with salt and pepper, cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To finish the fritters, put the beaten eggs in a wide, shallow bowl and the panko in a separate bowl. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper.

Pour about 2½ to 3 inches of oil into a heavy pot set over high and heat until the oil temperature is about 365 degrees.

While waiting for the oil to come to the right temperature, use a 1½-ounce ice cream scoop to shape the potato mixture into balls. After forming each one, turn it in the egg, coating it evenly and then in the panko, being sure it is entirely coated with the panko. Set on the wax paper.

Fry a few balls at a time, turning each one a time or two so that they brown evenly, until they are all golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer the cooked fritters to absorbent paper and continue until all have been cooked.

Enjoy right away, with a condiment or two alongside for dipping.

Note: Although these fritters are delicious neat, they are excellent with a range of dipping sauces, too. Melted butter with minced garlic and grated fresh ginger is an excellent option, as is honey mustard, maple syrup mustard, mayonnaise mixed with a sriracha or plain whole milk yogurt mixed with a bit of Dijon mustard.


I typically serve these fritters as an appetizer, but they are also delicious over pasta — spaghettini or something similar — with marinara sauce.

Spaghetti Squash Fritters

Serves 4 to 6

— Peanut oil or other mildly flavored oil for deep-frying

6 cups cooked spaghetti squash, strands separated (see note below)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and crushed

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

— Black pepper in a mill

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1 large bunch cilantro or Italian parsley

— Hot pepper jam, Dijon mustard, honey mustard or creme fraiche, for dipping

Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep fryer or other heavy deep pot and heat to 350 degrees. Set a brown paper shopping bag on a work surface near the pot.

While the oil is heating, quickly mix the fritter batter. In a large mixing bowl, combine the squash and ginger. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, flour, baking powder, salt and several turns of black pepper. Add the mixture to the squash and toss thoroughly. Take a little taste of the squash and correct for salt. Pour eggs over the squash mixture and toss quickly with a fork.

To make the fritters, use a small (1½-ounce) ice cream scoop or soup spoon to shape the fritters and drop them, one by one, into the hot oil, being careful not to crowd them. Turn the fritters after 1 minute and fry until golden brown, about 1 to 1½ minutes more or longer if your fritters are bigger than ping pong balls.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked fritters to the brown paper bag. Continue cooking until all the batter has been used and be sure to allow the oil to return to 360 degrees after each addition of batter.

Spread the cilantro or parsley over a serving platter and set the fritters on top, leaving room for a small bowl. Set condiments alongside and enjoy right away.

Note: You may cook spaghetti squash by steaming or microwaving it, but I prefer to roast it in a hot oven to concentrate the flavors. To do so, cut the squash into 2 or 3 pieces using a heavy chef’s knife and discard the seeds and fibers. Set on a baking sheet and put on the middle rack of an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Cook until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool and use a fork to scrape the flesh from the shell.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “More Than Meatballs.” Email her at

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