A Southern classic, fresh summer squash is combined with onion and cheese and fried in a hot cast iron skillet to make these delicious fritters. Served with softened basil butter, squash fritters are the perfect appetizer or side for your next cookout or fish fry.
You know those specific flavors and sounds and smells that can instantly transport you back to your childhood? This is my childhood: summers at the beach with fish frying or shrimp boiling and my mom standing by a large griddle frying up these pancake-like fresh squash fritters.
Every summer I asked my mom to make these and when I ate them last week I was instantly transported back to all those warm, happy, sun-filled days at the beach. I seriously love summer and this summer feels extra special and shiny with a toddler to share in all the joys.
There’s something a little bit magical about seeing things you’ve grown so accustomed to through your child’s eyes for the first time.
Sights and sounds and flavors and experiences – everything is new to our little guy and I’m grateful for all the “firsts” we get to have with him. We didn’t get to see him on his first birthday or the day he took his first step, but this weekend we were standing beside him when he saw the ocean for the first time and later that weekend when he ate his first bite of ice cream. We got to see him watch birds fly over the dock where he sat and feel the sand between his toes for the first time.
And, each week we are introducing him to new flavors and the foods that we grew up eating. I have found so much unexpected joy in cooking the recipes and Southern staples my mom and grandmothers made for me as a child. Fresh squash and okra, grits and tomatoes, pimento cheese, and all the pork products. It’s a joy to watch him discover what he loves and try new things.
Here in the South we love our squash and we have found many ways to cook it. Fried, boiled, sautéed, roasted, casseroled (!!!), grilled, you name it, we’ve probably cooked it that way. But my truly, very, actual favorite way to eat fresh summer squash from my grandparents’ garden is Squash Fritters.
My mom has been making squash fritters for us for so long she doesn’t have a recipe, just a list of ingredients and the time-tested knowledge of what the mixture in the bowl needs to look like. Since that doesn’t work great for food blogging, Merritt and I did a few rounds of testing last week to hammer out the ratios and find that perfect consistency. Squash fritters for breakfast and morning snack and lunch? Okay!
My favorite part? Merritt loved them! Could not get enough and that pleased my heart to no end. He may not love grits (yet), but this mama is happy that he’s gobbling down the squash fritters.
Basil butter, let’s discuss.
I am not suggesting that anyone’s Southern grandma or mother (mine included) would make basil butter to go with their squash fritters. And I am all for our classics staying classic. BUT. Let’s make an exception and whip up some fresh basil with softened butter and watch that butter melt all over a piping hot fritter and smell the basil as it warms up slightly and taste the squash and basil together.
I think we’ll all agree that sometimes a little modern update is a good thing.
If you can make pancakes, then you can definitely make squash fritters. Shredded squash, onion, cheese, flour, and a little salt and pepper are all mixed together into a deliciously sweet and savory batter and then lightly fried in melted butter in a hot cast iron skillet. The outsides will brown and crisp and the insides will be deliciously tender and fluffy.
Listen. I don’t even want to hear about your coconut oil or your fancy olive oil spray. You need to break out the butter and fry these in hot cast iron the way the Lord intended.
This is a great appetizer to make while you are waiting for fish to fry or shrimp to boil. Your folks can eat them as they come off the griddle while everyone stands around chatting and drinking cold beer. They are best hot, but also delicious at room temperature or even right out of the fridge.
- 3 squash, shredded
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 4-5 tbsp flour
- 3 tbsp butter
- 4-5 basil leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup salted butter, softened
- SQUASH FRITTERS:In a small bowl whisk together eggs and salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl, mix together shredded squash, diced onion, and shredded cheese. Stir in egg mixture and make sure everything is well combined. Add flour one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition. You should need about 4 tablespoons to bring the mixture together, but you may want to add the fifth tablespoon if the batter still seems too loose.
- Heat a cast iron pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and melt.
- Using a large cookie scoop or spoon, add squash fritter mixture to pan. Press down gently to Work in batches to ensure they have plenty of room to cook. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until outside is brown and crunchy and middle is cooked through. They will have the fluffy, bouncy feel of cooked pancakes. Add more butter to pan as needed between batches.
- Remove to a plate and serve with basil butter.
- BASIL BUTTER: In a small bowl, combine softened butter and fresh basil. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve with squash fritters.
Start with 4 tbsp flour and add a little more by tablespoons if you need it. You are looking for the mixture to thicken slightly and hold together. 4 tbsp should be plenty, but you may need more depending on how moist the squash is.