This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.
Why contain the fun to a mere week or two come summer? These homemade state fair recipes showcase exactly how easy it is to make state fair snacks (cheese curds, anyone?), mains (pork tenderloin, for the win!), desserts, and drinks.
When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, no summer vacation was complete without at least one visit to the county, or ideally, the state fair. (Go big or go home, right?!) From the baking and photography competitions to the rides and animals, every corner held a new surprise.
Fair seasons was something I look forward to all year long for the above attractions, of course, but mainly for the food and drink. With a constantly-evolving menu of foods on a stick, over-the-top sweet treats, ice-cold lemonade, and snack stands galore, each year I made it my mission to find a new favorite.
By the time I grew into adulthood and moved away to California, I had amassed a whole arsenal of Midwestern state fair recipes. To bring those nostalgic, crowd-pleasing flavors with me, I tested and perfected homemade state fair recipes to share with my own family and friends. Every time I share them, friends and family seem to agree; these state fair recipes are definitely blue ribbon-worthy.
Table of Contents
Best State Fair Snacks and Sides
A fair amount of walking, exploring, and adventuring goes on at the fair, which means that meals alone won’t suffice. To fuel all of that action, try a mix of sweet and savory snacks, including Caramel Corn (which can double as a thoughtful food gift!), and its more au natural cousins, straight from the cob.
Corn on the Cob (4 Ways)
Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites)
Of course, every course at the state fair has to include at least one fried option, and in my home state of Wisconsin, cheese reigns supreme! And my rendition of another one of my favorite state fair snacks, Homemade Soft Pretzels, comes complete with a side of Homemade Cheese Sauce for dunking.
Fried Cheese Curds
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Homemade Cheese Sauce
Best State Fair Main Dishes
For lunch or dinner at the fair, there’s something very tempting about the Smoked Turkey Legs that are always larger than life! The legs shouldn’t get all the glory, though. Hot Turkey Sandwiches put the tender breast meat to tasty use.
Smoked Turkey Legs
Hot Turkey Sandwiches
Why stop at turkey, though? Sandwiches, ideally coated in gravy, cheese, or fried, are classic state fair recipes for good reason: they’re irresistible and something we don’t usually whip up every day at home. But now you can any day the mood strikes…
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Best Bacon Cheeseburger
Best State Fair Desserts and Drinks
The only thing more enticing than the aroma of sweet fried dough emanating from funnel cake stands? The flavor of the Funnel Cakes themselves! For the full fair experience, don’t forget a dusting of powdered sugar, a generous scoop of ice cream, and a shower of chocolate sauce. For a burst of seasonal and sweet-tart flavor, I love to add some strawberry slices.
Fried desserts are a mainstay along the midway, but there’s also a generous dose of classic sips and sweets like refreshing lemonade and better-than-grandma’s apple pie (shh…don’t tell her we said that!).
How to Make Lemonade
The Best Apple Pie Recipe
And in the running for the best-fried dessert recipe, we have two of my all-time personal favorites. In case you couldn’t guess from my Dairy Queen Copycat Easy Ice Cream Cake and Oreo Cookie Balls, I’m a bit of a fan of those cream-filled sandwich cookies. Well, they only get better once battered, deep-fried, and coated in powdered sugar! Also perfectly powdered: My luscious Cream Puffs, which are inspired by an award-winning state fair recipe that’s been drawing crowds at the Wisconsin State Fair since 1924.
Deep Fried Oreos
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.