A Charlotte Hushpuppy Throwdown
Five local barbecue joints were part of our taste test
HUSHPUPPIES—deep-fried balls of edible bliss—are barbecue’s faithful little sidekicks. When done right, they’re made with quality cornmeal, a good fat, and clean fryer oil.
Our staff taste-tested hushpuppies from five local barbecue joints to compare size, shape, and flavor, and we paired the pups with different condiments to find the tastiest combinations. Here’s what we concluded:
Midwood Smokehouse: Consistently the roundest shape, crisp crust, needs dipping sauce (either sweet or savory, depending on preference) for added flavor
Sauceman’s: The sweetest of the bunch, pairs best with a vinegar-based sauce
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue: Much smaller than others, thick crispy crust, and the most savory we tried; pairs best with a sweeter sauce
Queen City Q: Rounder and doughier than the others, elevated by the scrumptious honey butter
Sweet Lew’s BBQ: Inconsistent crusts, distinct cornbread flavor, no sauce needed
The winner? Bill Spoon’s.
“They’re not a sweet hushpuppy,” Steve Spoon explains. “A sweet hushpuppy is better with fish and cocktail sauce, but it shouldn’t be as sweet for barbecue.” His recipe uses onions for “extra bite,” and Bill Spoon’s fries them in peanut oil for a crispy crust. They come out shaped like “mini hotdogs, but no two are alike,” Spoon says.
They’re not the prettiest pups, but we know they’re made with love. And for that, Bill Spoon’s, we thank you.
From top: Sauceman's, Sweet Lew's, Midwood Smokehouse, and Queen City Q.