Traditional conch fritters recipe - Bahamian style

2.8.21 | Recipe by Renz

Fresh conch meat, mixed up into a spicy batter and fried to a golden brown color. These Bahamian conch fritters are the perfect appetizers or snacks for your gatherings.

A plate of golden fried Bahamian conch fritters with a bowl of red dipping sauce

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One thing we do in the Caribbean is make sure we use our seafood and create a plethora of dishes. From fried to stews, to smoke and curries and soups. We use them!!

As much as we use fish and crab, another popular seafood for us is the conch. And we make all types of dishes with it. From conch salad to curry conch, conch soup, steamed conch, and stewed.

One of the most popular ways to eat it though is as a conch fritter. Especially popular in the Bahamas where it is a traditional Bahamian dish.

And now these queen conch fritters have seeped over into the other islands and are even very popular in South Florida, especially in Key West.

What are conch fritters?

Anything that we call a "fritter" is usually a dish that has been fried. We have banana fritters, pumpkin fritters, and saltfish fritters (also called accra). And then there is conch.

These fritters are made of queen conch meat, which has been tenderized using some method (boil, pound, or sliced), then mixed in with the flour, spices, and vegetables, and then the savory batter is fried.

If this is your first time cooking conch meat, I suggest you check out my "about conch" post. In that post, I go into detail about what is conch meat and the different methods to tenderize conch and cook it.

These balls of goodness are well seasoned with a little kick and then nicely paired with some sort of dip that can either add to the heat or be a nice cooling dip option.

They are the perfect finger food for entertaining guests.

How to make conch fritter

Now let's get into making these yummy little balls of goodness.

I know conch is not readily available for everyone all the time. It is definitely not chicken or fish that could just about be found everywhere.

It is commonly sold in the Caribbean and Latin American supermarkets. Most times it's previously frozen. You can also find it in your Asian market.

If not, specialty seafood stores also carry them. If you are able to get it, you can ask them to put it through the grinder for you, to help get it tender. If not you can use one of my methods.

What are conch fritters made of?

The ingredients needed to make this conch fritter recipe are pretty simple, after getting the conch meat. 

Ingredients needed to make delicious Bahamian style conch fritters.

  • Conch - The main ingredient for this recipe. Make sure you get it and also get it tenderized. 
  • All-purpose flour
  • Seasonings: Salt, black pepper, cayenne powder
  • Vegetables: celery, onion, cloves garlic, green or red bell peppers
  • Eggs - used to bind the mixture together
  • Hot peppers - You can use scotch bonnets or habanero peppers. For additional heat, some hot sauce can also be added.
  • Lime juice - Adding lime juice helps to eliminate the fresh seafood smell and give it a nice flavor. Lemon juice can also be used.
  • Milk
  • Oil for deep frying - use an oil that is high in oleic acid. So you can use canola oil or peanut oil. A vegetable oil, like soybean, is also a good option.

Equipment needed:

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How to make conch batter

I soaked the conch meat in a large bowl of water and some lime juice after initially rinsing it off in cool water. I just let it sit in that for about 10 minutes.

Now you need to get your conch tender. It is tough meat. And depending on the cut some portions can be very thick. So we need it tenderized.

There are different methods you can tenderize. For this, I chose to use a meat mallet to "pound" the conch to about 1/4" thickness.

Conch meat before being tenderized then covered with plastic warp to tenderize

I placed my cutting board on a sturdy surface, then covered it with some plastic wrap (you can also use a plastic bag or Ziploc bag) and pounded the meat. I made sure to keep an eye on the extra-thick pieces and made sure they got to as thin as possible.

Once the conch has been smashed, then cut it up into smaller pieces. If you are going to use a food processor like I do, they don't have to be too small. If not, I suggest getting it as small as possible so that you can get a smooth mixture.

Add the conch meat, the chopped-up bell peppers, onion, fresh hot pepper if using, lime juice, and celery to the processor and pulse until meat is fine and combined with other ingredients.

Ingredients in the food processor to make the meat mix: conch, bell peppers, onion, celery, pepper

In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients: mix flour, egg, and milk together. Season with the cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt and combine.

In a medium bowl with the conch mixture, add the flour mixture to the ground conch and mix till all are combined. If you are using some form of liquid pepper (Caribbean pepper sauce or a hot sauce), add it in now.

Flour mixture with spices then added minced conch to batter

Frying the batter

Leave the conch fritter batter to sit while you get your oil heated. I used regular vegetable oil and used a pot that would allow me to get a good deep fry once the batter was dropped in. An actual deep fryer can also be used.

If you prefer, you can use a shallower pot and just turn the fritter when one side is done. Kind of like what I do with Jamaican saltfish fritters. Fry the batter on each side for 4 - 5 minutes.

Get your oil heated to 350 degrees (about medium-high heat) I use my instant-read thermometer to get the temperature. Another way I test my oil is to use a wooden spoon. Dip it into the hot oil, and the oil needs to bubble. You can also test your oil in other ways like with bread or a popcorn kernel.

Then using a cookie scoop, (or a small ice cream scoop) scoop up some batter, and drop it into the oil. I drop at most four balls at a time first. If you overcrowd the oil, it will drop the temperature of the oil and it will not fry properly. If you do not have a small cookie scoop, you can use a tablespoon like I do to make pholourie.

While it's deep-frying, spoon hot oil over the fritters to help with the cooking.

In a plate, lined with a paper towel or even a paper bag, remove the fritters when they are golden brown. Use a slotted spoon so that as little oil is taken out as possible. Drain on paper towels so that excess oil can drain off as you continue through the remaining batter.

It's a good idea to taste your first couple of fried conch fritters for salt and pepper then add more of either to the rest of the batter if you think it needs more.

Golden fried conch fritters on a white plate with a bowl of red dipping sauce

The best dipping sauces to pair with conch fritters

They can be eaten on their own or with some of your favorite dipping sauce. Having a dipping sauce can really take these over the top.

You can do something easy and mix up some equal parts of tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard to get a tangy dipping sauce. You can add a little Matouks Calypso sauce, chili paste, or additional hot pepper sauce to the mix.

Another good option is a cocktail sauce, some mango mustard sauce or I even like it with some chadon beni sauce.

How to reheat conch fritters

If you happen to have leftover conch, don't worry, they can be reheated. In the era of air fryers, this is a great option. Throw them in for about 6 - 8 minutes at about 360 degrees and they are back to brand new.

You can also warm them up in the oven. Just preheat to 350 degrees, then place them on a wire rack and warm them up for about 10 - 12 minutes.

DO NOT use the microwave, unless you want to have some rubbery fritters.

Dipping a fritter into bowl of dipping cocktail sauce

What to have with fritters

You would need the perfect tropical drink to enjoy with your plate of fritters. Most people's first choice would be a nice rum punch, but definitely, a refreshing fruit punch would be good, to combat the heat. Or even a Bahamian gully wash, also known as sky juice.

So try your hand with these island-style conch fritters that are a true Bahamian cuisine.

It's the perfect appetizer for family gatherings. Or a snack when you just feel like transporting yourself to the Bahamas.

Recipe Notes

Make sure you get your oil to the required temperature. If it's too low you can get an oily fritter. If the oil is not hot enough, the batter will have to sit in the oil longer to fry this results in it absorbing more oil than it should.

Can't access any conch meat? You can nicely substitute conch with any other wonderful shellfish: Shrimp, lobster, or even a mixture of the two.

Bunches of golden fried conch fritters in a white dish ready to be served.

So make sure you try these delicious fritters with plenty of meat and no fillers. And if you love them please let me know in the recipe card below by leaving a star rating and a comment.

And try out some more finger foods:

And some more Caribbean seafood dishes: