I know that upon reading the title of this post, some of you were probably a little skeptical (my husband included). I mean, pumpkin and corn dogs together in the same sentence? Will the madness ever end? I would like to preface this by saying that these corn dogs are not at all sweet. Whenever we think about pumpkin recipes in general, they tend to be desserts and so because of this we associate pumpkin with sweets, but pumpkin by itself, fresh pumpkin that is, actually leans more on the savory side. There’s a tinge of natural sweetness, much like some of the other squash within the same family, but that’s about it. I had this crazy idea to make a pumpkin cornbread a couple days ago, and when I was dreaming up the recipe, the idea to turn the batter into corn dogs hit me all of a sudden, and it just might be the greatest idea I’ve ever had…or the craziest, depends who you ask. I’ve played around with savory pumpkin recipes before like this vegetable pot pie from a few years back and let’s not forget this pumpkin pizza sauce! I might even say that savory pumpkin recipes are my new favorite, but I think that’s because I tend to gravitate more towards the savory rather than the sweet. Let’s be daring together and give this a try soon, you won’t regret it!
Let’s get started with preparing the hot dogs. Cut regular sized hot dogs in half and then skewer with small wooden popsicle sticks and place on a platter or baking sheet.
**Tip: Regular popsicles sticks might be too long for these mini corn dogs, so I like to use small wooden spoons, the kind that you ate ice cream with as a kid from the ice cream truck.**
Let’s make the pumpkin corn bread batter for the corn dogs. I think it’s worth repeating that this is not a sweet batter at all. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, honey, and milk until well combined.
**Note: Very important note, when making this recipe, I made a lot of mini corn dogs—an obscene amount—and so I realized that we probably don’t need that many mini corn dogs and so I cut the recipe in half down below when I wrote it! It can easily be doubled if you want a lot of corn dogs!**
Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, chili powder, chipotle powder and garlic powder. Whisk until just combined and the batter comes together. Do not over mix at this point or else you’ll end up with a tough dry batter.
**Tip: The chipotle, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper gives the batter a nice kick and also ensures that it isn’t sweet at all.**
If the batter get’s too thick as it sits, you can whisk a splash or two of milk to loosen it up. You want a batter that isn’t too thick because you want to be able to dunk the hot dogs easily into the batter, but you don’t want it to be too loose or else the batter will slide off!
Speaking of sliding off, a big complaint of people who make corn dogs at home is that the batter sometimes slips off the hot dog. To prevent this it’s important to roll the hot dogs around in a bit of flour and shaking off the excess. This gives the batter something to stick to.
Fill a large heavy bottomed pot halfway with oil and bring it up to 365 degrees F. Once hot, dip a hot dog into the batter and then carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning a few times at a time, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a wire rack and continue to fry the rest.
**Tip: Fry a few corn dogs at a time. You don’t want to over crowd the pot or else the temperature of the oil will drop too much and the corn dogs won’t fry evenly.**
To make the honey butter, stir together the softened butter with honey, salt, chili powder, and pumpkin pie spice until smooth.
Once all the corn dogs have been fried, serve warm with the honey butter on the side for dipping and maybe even some grainy mustard because I love a good corn dog with mustard.
If you want to make these ahead of time and freeze for later, you definitely can. Fry them as directed and then place them on a wire rack, in a single layer, and then let cool completely. Place them in a freezer-safe storage bag and freeze for up to 2 months. You can rewarm them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.
If you don’t want to serve these as appetizers or snacks, you can make them full-sized (without cutting the hot dogs in half) and serve them as a lunch or dinner for your kids and the kids-at-heart.
For added flavor, I used applewood smoked hot dogs! The smoky, slightly sweet, taste from the hot dogs pairs so nicely with the pumpkin corn bread batter.
These mini corn dogs really are a great option for a party or gathering with your family and friends this autumn. Make them and you’ll see as they fly off the plates, and then watch as your guests’ eyes open wide when you tell them they’re made with pumpkin. You’ll shock them completely and they’ll want more! Trust me. Also, if you don’t want to make corn dogs, you can double the batter recipe below and bake it in a cast iron skillet and eat it as corn bread! Two recipes in one!
- ½ cup pumpkin purée
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
- ½ cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 12 hot dogs
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ cup grainy mustard, for serving
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Fill a large heavy bottomed pot halfway with vegetable oil. Set over medium-high heat and bring up to 365 degrees F, using a deep-fry thermometer.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, oil, honey and egg until smooth. Add the cornmeal, ¼ cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, black pepper, chipotle powder, garlic powder, and chili powder and whisk until just combined. Try not to over-beat the batter.
- Cut each hot dog in half and then skewer them with small popsicle sticks or wooden spoons. Roll the skewered hot dogs around in the remaining flour and shake off excess.
- Once the oil is at temperature, dip each hot dog into the corn batter and then carefully drop into the hot oil a few at a time. Fry, turning often, until golden brown and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Continue to fry the remaining corn dogs.
- To make the honey butter, stir together the butter, honey, salt, chili powder, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Serve the corn dogs with the honey butter and grainy mustard.