Funnel Cakes

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It’s summertime, and that means outdoor fairs, festivals, and carnivals are popping up in just about every town throughout the Midwest. As you might have guessed, my favorite part about a summer fair is the food, especially the sweet and crispy funnel cakes, served piping hot with a thick dusting of powdered sugar. Americana at its finest!

Someone dusting powdered sugar on a funnel cake.

If you’ve ever pulled apart pieces of a funnel cake, licking your fingers after each bite, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s something so delicious about this simple treat of fried dough served on a paper plate, that enjoying them only once a year doesn’t seem quite right.

Who invented Funnel Cakes?

Most folks think that funnel cakes come from the Pennsylvania Dutch, a group of German immigrants, because a version of funnel cakes appear in a German cookbook in 1879. Because sugar was a commodity, they were most likely made for holidays and harvest festivals.

How are Funnel Cakes made?

A simple fritter batter is drizzled over hot oil in a large spiral shape and fried until crispy and light as air. Once it’s removed from the hot oil, it’s sprinkled with powdered sugar and devoured.

A funnel cake on a plate that is on a green table linen.

Are Funnel Cakes healthy?

If you can believe it, funnel cakes are considered a lower-calorie treat compared to other fried dough (a 6-inch funnel cake may contain less than 300 calories) because the steam produced by high water content allows the batter to expand, resulting crispy yet cloud like texture. All bets are off once you top it with ice cream, though!

What’s the difference between a Funnel Cake and an elephant ear?

While a funnel cake is a type of fritter, using fried batter, an elephant ear is a fried dough that is pounded flat. Both are fabulous and time-tested festival foods.

What kind of oil are Funnel Cakes fried in?

To fry funnel cakes, I like to use a neutral oil with a higher smoking point, like canola or grapeseed.

How long does Funnel Cake batter last?

In case you make a big batch and have extra batter, the batter will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.

How do you store Funnel Cakes?

If for some unknown reason you have extra funnel cakes left over,then you can store them at room temperature for a day or so, in a paper bag. However, for the best funnel cake experience, eat them all immediately.

Can you make Funnel Cakes with pancake mix?

My recipe is from scratch, but if you have a box of pancake mix sitting in your pantry, you can make great funnel cakes with it. For 4 servings, mix 1 ½ cups buttermilk pancake mix with 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ cup water, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Follow the recipe instructions to cook.

Are Funnel Cakes vegan?

My recipe isn’t vegan, but if you’re looking for a vegan version of a funnel cake, then try this batter recipe to make 4 servings:

  • 1 ½ cups your preferred nut or soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Follow the recipe instructions to cook.

Can you make Funnel Cakes without milk or eggs?

If you’re trying to avoid milk or eggs, then try the vegan recipe above and let me know what you think. If you’re just avoiding dairy, substitute your favorite nondairy milk for the milk in the recipe.

What do you eat Funnel Cakes with?

All you need is a little powdered sugar, but if you’re inspired to gussy up your funnel cake, by all means, do it. Add some cinnamon or nutmeg or even pumpkin spice mix to the sugar. Try a spoonful of your favorite homemade jam, a dollop of Nutella, or a scoop of ice cream with chocolate sauce on top of the funnel cake for the most decadent sundae ever.

Do you need a funnel to make Funnel Cakes?

If a funnel isn’t something you have on hand, you can use a spouted measuring cup, a squeeze bottle with a wider tip, or even a small pitcher to pour out the funnel cake batter. You can even use a zip top plastic bag with a corner cut out for drizzling batter. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Can you make Funnel Cakes without a deep fryer?

If you don’t have an electric fryer, you can use a heavy Dutch oven, electric skillet, or a sturdy saucepan with higher walls.

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Someone dusting powdered sugar on a funnel cake.

Funnel Cakes

It’s summertime, and that means outdoor fairs, festivals, and carnivals are popping up in just about every town throughout the Midwest. As you might have guessed, my favorite part about a summer fair is the food, especially the sweet and crispy funnel cakes, served piping hot with a thick dusting of powdered sugar. Americana at its finest! 
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings (1 cake each)
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 229



  • In a large saucepan, deep fryer, or electric skillet, heat oil to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, water, and vanilla. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth.
  • Pour ½ cup batter into a plastic bag or piping bag. Holding the bag several inches above the oil, snip the corner and move the funnel in a spiral motion until all the batter is released. (Or, use a measuring cup with a spout and pour the batter out).
  • Fry until golden brown on the first side, about 2 minutes, then flip and continue frying until golden brown on the second side, about 2 minutes longer. Drain on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining batter.


  1. Vegetable oil: To fry funnel cakes, use a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil.
  2. Yield: This recipe makes about 4 cups batter, enough to make 8 funnel cakes from ½ cup batter each.
  3. Storage: Funnel Cakes are best enjoyed the day they are made. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for a day or two. For best results, reheat in the oven, toaster oven, or air fryer.


Serving: 1cakeCalories: 229kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 7gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 263mgPotassium: 106mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 109IUCalcium: 137mgIron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill

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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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  1. I tried these this morning. I added enough to make the batter liquid enough to flow easily through my funnel. I sprinkled with powdered sugar and the fluffy, crispy badder was delicious!5 stars

  2. I don’t see water listed in the ingredients list but you say add water with eggs, milk and vanilla? Can’t wait to try these!5 stars

  3. This sounds like an interesting cake. I shall give it a try today. Let’s head for the supermarket now for ingredients.5 stars