Fried Mush

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What to do with leftover cornmeal mush? Make fried mush, a delicious alternative to pancakes or waffles. Serve with maple syrup for a lightly sweet breakfast treat.

Fried cornmeal mush is a classic breakfast for Midwesterners. My husband and I both grew up in Ohio. He grew up in the Southwest part of the state and I grew up in the Northeast part.

Over the past few years I’ve learned that just because we both grew up in Ohio, that doesn’t mean we had the same food traditions. Matt was crazy about this thing called “fried mush”. I wasn’t so sure…until I tasted a butter-fried, golden brown slice of cornmeal mush with a drizzle of 100% maple syrup. Life changed.

A close up of fried mush on a plate

Have you ever tried this breakfast idea? Or do you have a unique topping? Leave a comment so we can try it!

Difference between Mush and Polenta

From what I understand, these recipes are very similar. Polenta tends to be used as a side dish and is often more savory, with cheese and spices added. Fried mush has traditionally been used more like a breakfast with a sweet topping. Both have corn meal as a base and both are delicious.

Fried Cornmeal Mush or Fried Polenta

You need to plan ahead if you’d like to make fried mush. You must start the day before by making cornmeal mush. This is like a thick porridge. Think traditional oatmeal…but with cornmeal instead of oats. (You can read all about how to make cornmeal mush here.)

Once you have that made, pour it into a 9×5 loaf pan that you’ve very lightly greased and allow it to cool to room temperature. Don’t be tempted to cover and refrigerate right away. The steam will be trapped in the pan and your “loaf” will end up like soup. Don’t ask me how I know this. 🙂

In order for the cornmeal mush to set up completely, that steam needs to escape, so let the pan cool completely, then cover it and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. I prefer to refrigerate it overnight so that the mixture is nice and firm.

How to Make Fried Mush

When you’re ready to make fried mush, turn the cornmeal loaf out onto a cutting board. I cut the loaf into about 10 slices, then cut those slices down the middle so that I end up with about 20 squares. I find that by cutting the loaf this way, the squares cook more quickly and hold together better.

uncooked cornmeal mush

Heat a skillet over medium heat and allow the butter to melt in it. Place the cornmeal slices on the hot skillet and allow the first side to get golden brown. This takes 3-4 minutes on our skillet, but watch closely since each stovetop and pan are different. You don’t want your fried mush to burn.

Once the first side is golden brown, then turn the slices and fry the other side. Add more butter to the skillet as needed if the cornmeal starts sticking.

What to Serve on Fried Mush

Cornmeal mush by itself can be rather bland. Some may like it that way, but I don’t care for it. Think of this like cornmeal pancakes. We think a drizzling of maple syrup is all this breakfast needs. You could also drizzle with honey, strawberry sauce, raspberry sauce or even sausage gravy. Sprinkle with coconut if you have it available. Yum!

Serve alongside bacon, fried eggs or sausage for a complete breakfast.

fried cornmeal on a plate with syrup
fried cornmeal on a plate with syrup

Fried Mush

4.66 from 81 votes
What to do with leftover cornmeal mush? Make fried mush, a delicious alternative to pancakes or waffles. Serve with maple syrup for a lightly sweet breakfast treat.
Servings 20
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter (for frying)


  • In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the cornmeal, milk and salt.
  • Slowly pour the cornmeal/milk mixture into the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  • Bring it to a boil again, then reduce heat and stir almost constantly (to avoid clumps) for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is thickened to the consistency you like.
  • Pour this mixture into a lightly greased 9×5 loaf pan and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Once the cornmeal has cooled, cover it with plastic wrap and place the pan in the refrigerator overnight or until the mixture has become firm (at least 8 hours). 
  • Remove the cornmeal loaf from the pan and slice it into 1/2″ to 1″ slices. (We usually slice the loaf into 10 slices, then cut those slices in half so they cook more quickly and make smaller pieces.)
  • Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the slices and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and heated through. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.
  • Serve immediately with maple syrup or honey if desired.


The calories shown are based on the recipe being cut into 20 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate.


Calories: 53kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 41mg | Vitamin A: 70IU | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Calories 53

Tools to Make This Old Fashioned Breakfast Recipe

  • 9×5 Loaf Pan: These are the pans I use for quick breads, yeast breads, fried mush and more!
  • The Best Pancake Griddle: Get pancakes, fried mush and even potatoes done quickly on this non-stick pan.

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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1 year ago

My siblings and I liked syrup as a topping on fried mush BUT we loved grape jelly! We grew up in central Ohio.

Kim Quinter
5 years ago

I haven’t had fried mush in ages! My mother made it when we were kids, but always lightly floured it before frying. And it was simply sprinkled with salt and pepper, we never had syrup on it. Never made it with milk either. My guess is she made it the way her mother did, she grew up during the Great Depression, when it was all about doing without.

Deborah Richards
5 years ago

5 stars
Sausage gravy is great with fried mush then top with maple syrup. My husband likes it with just syrup. He too is from Ohio and when we were married 26 years ago, that’s when I had my first taste of fried mush. Love it.

Kathleen M
4 years ago

My Dad grew up during the Depression (born in 1919) and his mother used to make this, Scrapple, after butchering with pork broth, and I just made a batch today. Cooked up some pork neck bones yesterday, picked off the meat and put the meat and broth in refrigerator over night. I’ve tried it with other bits of pork to make broth, but the neck bones are the best. Just skimmed the fat and then followed the directions for making mush. No milk for us, we just use the pork broth and we like Lawry’s seasoned salt for the seasoning.… Read more »

5 years ago

This is so similar to a German breakfast dish called Panhaus. The liquid mixture would be pork broth from boiling a pork roast. Small bits of the pork would also be stirred into panhaus and it’s seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper. It’s pan fried just like the cornmeal mush. My favorite sweet topping is syrup. Very tasty!!

1 year ago

Grandma made us fried mush with sorghum syrup. Can’t find pre-made mush now, it was a long “loaf” that she cut squares off of.

5 years ago

Try adding crumbled sausage to it…absolutely delicious!!!

Linda Woods
5 years ago

Wow! Does this ever bring back memories. My grandfather cooked and ate this for breakfast, and my mother made this for me frequently. It is a great alternative to hot cereal or pancakes and it satisfies completely with a crispy outside and a soft center.

3 years ago

I prefer to use white cornmeal as my mother did and to slice it thin and fry til a little crisp around the edges and eat it with just Real butter. So yummy

5 years ago

I grew up in Kansas City, MO and I have always loved fried mush. We always had fried with bacon and eggs. I never heard of using syrup until I was in my twenties. I only eat it plain with butter and fried in the left over bacon grease. Yum. My mother use to make this for dinner and I make this as dinner as well. We love having breakfast for dinner. A friend grew up in the same state but they used syrup. This is how my kids like it. The great thing is now you can buy a… Read more »

Tammie Warren
1 year ago

5 stars
My mom substituted some of the water with broth from a ham. Tiny bits of ham were also added or at least not strained from the juice. She cut hers thin, about 1/2 of your thickness, and fried til crispy. Topped it with butter and syrup. We are from the center of NW Ohio.

2 years ago

5 stars
I ate this with fried scrapple and maple syrup. This was a favorite growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania. I still make it when I can find scrapple here in Georgia (not that easy)

3 years ago

I don’t put milk in cornmeal mush. (In fact, I’ve never heard of doing that.) Our recipe was a simple 3:1 ratio of water to cornmeal. I’ve had this ever since I was a kid. You can brown and crumble a pound of breakfast sausage in it before you spread it in the pan to set up. My mom would fry it in bacon grease, which adds more flavor but is decidedly higher fat.

4 years ago

I’ve NEVER had this b4…but after reading ALL these wonderful comments….I CAN’T WAIT!!! So many different ways of doing it….YUMMMM!!! 🙂 Btw, I saw another recipe that added sugar to theirs…Do you think it is necessary?? Have you ever tried it with the sugar b4?? Just wondering. Ty.

5 years ago

5 stars
I’ve never heard of this but they talk about it in a book I’m reading so had to look it up. And it sounds awesome. But I’m wondering instead of waiting for it to thicken, can you just pour the batter and cook it like pancakes?