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!
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.
Once I figured out how easy it is to make my own midwestern funnel cakes at home, I may never stand in line for one again. That leaves more time for the Ferris wheel and the bumper cars!
Need to make funnel cakes for a crowd of festival goers? Click and slide the number next to ‘servings’ on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
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.
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 1/2 cups buttermilk pancake mix with 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 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 1/2 cups your preferred nut or soy milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 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.
Funnel Cakes Recipe
- Oil as needed for frying
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- In a deep fryer or electric skillet, or in a large saucepan with a clip-on thermometer, heat oil to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Whisk in milk, water and vanilla until well blended.
- In a second bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk into egg mixture until smooth.
- Cover the bottom of the funnel spout with your finger and ladle 1/2 cup batter into the funnel. Holding the funnel several inches above the oil, release your finger and move the funnel in a spiral motion until all the batter is released, scraping with rubber spatula if needed.
- Fry 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining batter.