Conch Fritters

Conch fritters have become one of my ultimate go-to menu choices when down in southern Florida. I had never had them (or even heard of them, for that matter) before my Chief Culinary Consultant clued me in on what I was missing. Before our first trip down to Florida together about two and a half years ago, he really talked them up, and told me I had to try them. I’m usually game for fried anything, so I promised I would give them a try. I think we ended up having them at no less than three different places that week. Needless to say, I was hooked! We just came back from our fourth trip down there, and they continue to be a staple of ours. We’ve finally settled on a favorite (Benny’s on the Beach in Lake Worth), but started talking about tackling them at home. I promised to try them before we left, and on our last night in Florida, I whipped them up. I was pleasantly surprised (shocked, really) that the flavor was dead-on and the dipping sauce was near perfection. Now there’s no excuse for waiting to get to the ocean before having conch fritters!

I kind of thought that being less than 10 minutes from the ocean would mean that conch would be readily available at most markets. I thought wrong. Finding conch ended up being a wild goose chase. The good news is that I’ve already scoped it out in Pittsburgh and found that Wholey’s in the Strip District carries a five-pound box of frozen conch. Conch fritters in the ‘Burgh, look out! If you can’t find conch, shrimp makes an excellent substitution. (I would recommend using the frozen, cooked shrimp. Thaw according to the package directions, and then remove the tails before mincing.)

I think I spent an entire day flipping through cookbooks and Googling conch fritter recipes. I never found one recipe that seemed like a dead ringer for the fritters we’ve grown to love, so I ended up improvising. I used some basic fritter ratios of flour, baking soda, egg, and milk and then added in the ingredients and seasonings that we love. The result was an amazing, raging success. We like our conch fritters spicy, and these definitely have a nice bite, but we’d probably ratchet up the heat just a tiny bit more. The dipping sauce lends heat as well, so go by your own personal preferences. You can add or omit cayenne to get to your desired level of spice.

If you’ve never had a conch fritter, I insist that you must try them the next time you see them on a menu. You won’t know how you ever ate before they came into your life! Or instead of waiting for them to appear on a menu, make them at home :) They come together really quickly – the longest part of the recipe is waiting for the oil to heat up. Make yourself a mojito or rum runner and have an island party in the kitchen with these conch fritters!

One year ago: Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
Two years ago: Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Four years ago: Caramel-Topped Flan
Five years ago: Oreo Cheesecake

Conch Fritters

Yield: 12 large or 24 small fritters

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Conch Fritters:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons buttermilk
8 ounces conch, finely minced
1 jalapeño, finely minced
¼ cup finely minced white onion
¼ cup finely minced red bell pepper
¼ cup finely minced carrots
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon Creole seasoning
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Dipping Sauce:
½ cup salsa
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Make the Dipping Sauce: Puree the salsa in a blender. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the mayonnaise, garlic powder, basil, salt, cayenne, and pepper and whisk well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Stir well before serving.

2. Make the Fritters: Pour oil into a small frying pan or deep skillet, so that it comes at least one inch up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

3. Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and egg in a large bowl and stir well (the combination will look shaggy). Add the buttermilk to create a thick paste (the mixture should be the consistency of muffin batter). Stir in the conch, jalapeño, onion, red pepper, carrots, garlic, and seasoning, making sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Using spoons or a cookie scoop, drop 1-inch balls of batter into the oil. Fry, turning with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, about 2 minutes for smaller fritters, up to 4 minutes if you made them a little larger. If you need to, work in batches so that you don't over-crowd the pan.

5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fritters to paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Note: If you can't find conch, you can substitute shrimp.

(Recipe for dipping sauce adapted from South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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46 Responses to “Conch Fritters”

  1. ala-kat on March 30, 2012 at 12:11 am

    I have been chomping at the bit for conch fritters for a couple of years. Sadly, no conch available here :( I’ll just stick with crab cakes until the conch float up this way. Recipe looks awesome.

    Reply

  2. Jolene on March 30, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Yum!! They look amazing! Haven’t heard of them, (I’m in Australia, could explain it!) have pinned the recipe to try them!

    Reply

  3. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on March 30, 2012 at 2:55 am

    These look so good! I loved all your restaurant photos from your last post..of course they made me want everything!

    Reply

  4. Kiri W. on March 30, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Oooh, what a winner! I’d happily indulge in a serving :)

    Reply

  5. Villy @ For the love of Feeding on March 30, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Oh, throw me one (or three) please! I’d love to have a plate of these right now!

    Reply

  6. Katrina on March 30, 2012 at 8:03 am

    What a fun recipe! Yum!

    Reply

  7. Erin @ Brownie Bites on March 30, 2012 at 9:12 am

    The inside of those puppies look positively bursting with flavor – oh my goodness!

    Reply

  8. Judy on March 30, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I guess living down here we are so spoiled and just take conch fritters for granted huh? I’ve never tried making them but the next time I see conch for sale I will have to try it! You are soooo lucky to have the Strip District They truly have EVERYTHING!

    Reply

  9. Kim on March 30, 2012 at 10:00 am

    These look yummy!

    Reply

  10. Christine on March 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Although I live in TN now, I was raised in FL and just looking at these (and the coconut shrimp) makes me happy. Those two together are always a fine meal, and for what it’s worth, the orange marmalade often served with the shrimp is also delicious with the conch fritters!

    Reply

  11. Kaitlin on March 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I’ve never had Conch Fritters before but they sound amazing! Great recipe.

    Reply

  12. Tanya on March 30, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I’m Bahamian (where conch fritters originate ;) and your recipe is very different from what I know. Try adding some thyme to the batter and switch out the jalepeno for a habanero (to taste). You’ll be surprised how it enhances the flavour.

    Reply

  13. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Pepper on March 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Yum! I do not eat fried foods, due to getting a stomach ache, but I’m making an exception to the rule! This looks like a great for my Friday night dinner! I’m going to pick up some shrimp today and make this! Thanks for the recipe! Have a fabolous wekend!!

    Reply

  14. Omeghan on March 30, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I drooled over your FLA post and this recipe looks devine.
    I wont bother looking for conch up here in Ontario, Canada.

    To make these safely I would use uncooked shrimp and do the extra step of cooking etc from fresh/uncooked frozen. All of the pre-cooked frozen shrimp contain sulphites, and hence I avoid them as they cause seizures in a family member. As pre-cooked thawed shrimp probably came from a bag of frozen, I simply avoid all pre-cooked shrimp.
    Love your posts…. Happy Easter!

    Reply

  15. Veronica Gantley on March 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    A few years ago I had these at a restaurant called The Hot Tuna. They were fantatic! Yippee! I can now make them at home. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

    Reply

  16. Amanda on March 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Michelle,

    I love you for posting these! They always make me think of my spring break trip to the Bahamas in 2001. They also make me even more excited about my upcoming trip to Key West! I’ll be making these soon. Yum!

    ~Amanda

    Reply

  17. Cookin' Cowgirl on March 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    These photos are making my mouth water! Delicious! Buzz buzz.

    Reply

  18. Shannon on March 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Speaking of the Strip…just had an awesome conch fritter appetizer at Kaya! If you haven’t been there, you should try it. Great food!

    Reply

  19. Paula on March 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Though I can’t eat any seafood, I can still look and admire it. Your conch fritters look amazing!

    Reply

  20. Shawnda on March 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Oh, wow! I’ve never 1) had them 2) heard of them… but the flavors sound fantastic. Great job recreating them!

    Reply

  21. Sheila on March 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Oh Darlin’ these look so good! Ive eating conch since I was a kid everytime we visited my grandparents in FL. Never thought of making them back home! Will defenitely be giving these a try.

    Reply

  22. Michelle W on March 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Oh wow!! I didn’t know they had conch @ Wholey’s. I LOVE conch fritters. Had my first ones at My Bar @ Sunset House Dive Resort in Grand Cayman. Thanks for the recipe – I see a trip to the Strip in our future.

    Reply

  23. Cathy @ Noble Pig on March 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    So I love these! But I never considered making them myself…I’m not sure why…thanks for the constant inspiration!

    Reply

  24. RisaG on March 30, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    The first time I ever had Conch Fritters was on my honeymoon in St. Thomas, USVI. At the hotel bar. When my hubby and I got to the hotel, we were starved, as the food on the plane was just awful and in small portions. We immediately went down to the bar. On their menu were the fritters so I said let’s order some and we did. They were amazing.

    The only kind of conch I can find here in NJ is canned in a 28 oz can and it is $11 for the can so I buy it once in awhile but I have never made fritters with it – I’ve made Scungili Fra Diavolo with it. Also a winner BTW.

    Next time I feel like spending the money on the conch, I will try the recipe. I adore anything fried.

    Reply

  25. Mireia on March 31, 2012 at 7:52 am

    That looks really good!!

    Reply

  26. katie on March 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Oh this makes me miss all the years when I had to spend a week, every other month, in the Caribbean for business…it was a tough life, especially with my daily intake of conch fritters and conch chowder…I will now dream about them for weeks on end…

    Reply

  27. Ellie @ The Bitchin' Kitchin' on April 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I made conch fritters before and posted the recipe on my blog if you want to try another version. I’m from the Bahamas, so I like to think they’re pretty authentic :) Don’t mind the pics. It’s an old post before I got fancy with things! Love your post! I was so excited to see a Conch Fritters recipe pop up in my Google Reader.

    http://thebitchinkitchin.blogspot.com/2009/07/conch-fritters.html

    Ellie

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 6th, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Ellie, I will definitely check them out!

      Reply

  28. Allie on April 5, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I absolutely love following you blog, but I must say that I am deeply disappointed that last week included a recipe for conch. While not yet formally considered an endangered species, conch has become more and more rare over the past few years due to overfishing and the ignorance of the public, who still think that consumption of this food is acceptable. Encouraging people to eat this organism is irresponsible.

    I urge you to encourage anyone who reads your blog to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood watch list, a guide that shows which seafoods are ecologically ethical to consume and which should be avoided for the good of the planet. Currently, this advisory lists queen conch under the red category, meaning it should not be consumed by anyone who cares about the future of our oceans.

    Regional guides that show which seafoods are environmentally sound and which are irresponsible choices can be found at: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx

    Reply

  29. Allie on April 7, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I would have believed you if you’d gotten my name right. Now I’m sad.

    Reply

    • Ellie @ The Bitchin' Kitchin' on April 8th, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Hi Allie,
      I believe Michelle’s response was actually for me, regarding my own Conch Fritters post. But with respect to your post, I’ve had a lot of success making Corn Fritters, using the same recipe but substituting corn instead of conch. It’s a good alternative to using conch in this recipe. Hope you get to try this!

      Reply

  30. Erin on April 13, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    So glad you enjoyed your time in South Florida. I have called Palm Beach County home for many years and Benny’s is such a great spot! Thank you for re-creating the recipe.

    Reply

  31. Suzanne on April 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

    @Shannon

    Kaya’s conch fritters really are incredible! I’m definitely trying to replicate them!

    Reply

  32. Debra Kapellakis on July 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I don’t get Conch (Santorini) here but I am tempted to make these without Conch. YUM!

    Reply

  33. Felicia on July 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    First time at your site – making clam fritters tonight and looking forward to incorporating your recipe. I love Pittsburgh and actually had conch fritters at Ray’s Marlin Beach Bar and Grill when I lived there ~ not sure it it’s still open… (FYI: it’s an “alternative” place, so some folks might not feel welcome but we had a great time – they had a little sand beach under the bar stools – so cool).

    Reply

  34. jay on November 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    why did my conch batter turn black over night,it looks like mole but it dosent smell bad and the conch is fresh

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 20th, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Hi Jay, I’m not sure, but I’ve never left the batter to sit for any length of time; I just make it right before I’m about to fry the fritters. I’m guessing some type of chemical reaction caused the color change.

      Reply

      • Danielle on September 26th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

        It’s the milk reacting with the conch.

        Reply

  35. Reid Martin on August 9, 2013 at 2:33 am

    If you want to buy conch, or pretty much any other thing you can’t find in regular stores, find a good restaurant near you and make friends with the chef. Buy him a beer or two, and he will probably order whatever you need and charge you what he pays for it… I know I’ve gotten several “hard to find” items for people, you kiss have to know the right purveyor.

    Reply

  36. Tracy on August 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I remember these from my days sailing in South Florida and the Bahamas and they are delicious–along with conch salad and cracked conch. The secret ingredient however to these puppies is the addition of tomato paste to the batter–just a suggestion.

    Reply

  37. Sandy on August 22, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Ah conch fritters, I love them but have never made them myself. I have made conch chowder though so I am not a complete failure. I think almost all the restaurants here serve it though and the supermarkets definitely have conch (I’m from the Cayman Islands). I can’t handle too much spice but instead of jalapeno what we would most likely use are scotch bonnet peppers to add some heat :). You might not have them where you are though, not sure.

    Reply

  38. Latricia on September 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Hey there,

    I love this and I am thinking of trying this. I live in The Bahamas…and we make conch fritters here (you can find fresh conch all the times). It doesn’t require quite the amount of ingredients you listed here ( a total of 9 for the batter and 2 for the sauce) but I can’t wait to try another version to see if it taste the same as the ones I make here. I will comment again when I do it this weekend.

    Reply

    • Sonji on September 18th, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Latricia I am a Bahamian decent and I live in Miami, and all of what they have for the ingredients above is not called for in making conch fritters. Like you a total of nine out of all they listed is needed. There is no carrots nor creole seasoning used in in conch fritters. Everyone adds there own twist to it, but carrots and garlic? Uh, no!

      Reply

      • Danielle on September 26th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        Ya’ll aint check the milk in it eh! Just no! We use the water we boil the conch in for flavor and a little tomato paste. I would try this recipe minus the milk cause I know there is no way you could leave this in the fridge overnight for the flavor to develop.

        Reply

  39. Imani on October 6, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve had conch fritters in the Bahamas and I fell in love with them

    Reply

  40. Jay Thal on April 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Well, it’s 25 months since you posted the recipe for Conch Fritters and 60+ years since I used the shells for decoration while discarding the meat. But, this was inspiring. Recently I shopped at a suburban DC oriental market — Great Wall, Rockville, MD — and they had fresh (?) conch meat. So, it looks like I be experimenting and applying your formula soon. (I’m amazed how little conch is required.)

    Reply

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