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Fair Funnel Cake Recipe

The fair funnel cake has been around since the 1950’s and it was first made by a local chef named John Hickey who started selling his funnel cakes from an old red pick up truck.

But, how did he get the idea of making this fried pastry in the first place?

What Is The Recipe For Fair Funnel Cake?

John Hickey was born on August 5th 1922 and grew up in New Haven, CT where he learned about cooking as a child.

When he graduated high school, he went off to work with his father in their bakery business.

It wasn’t long before they realized that there were more people coming into town than going home after eating funnel cakes so they decided to start selling them.

Hickey then took over the family bakery and began expanding it.

In 1955, he opened the first “fair” or carnival themed restaurant called The Fair Funnel Cake Shop.

He sold his pastries from an old red pickup truck until 1960 when he built a new structure.

He continued to sell his famous funnel cakes at the county fairs around Connecticut until 1970 when he retired due to health concerns.

Today, his children run the company but they don’t use any recipes that are similar to what he used back in the day.

They have tweaked things just enough to keep customers happy but still maintain the original flavor of the product.


  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • Vegetable shortening for frying


  • Mix together dry ingredients in medium bowl.
  • Whisk together wet ingredients in separate bowl.
  • Add wet mixture to dry mixture slowly while mixing continuously.
  • Once everything is combined, turn batter out onto floured surface and knead gently to even consistency.
  • Roll dough into 1″ balls and fry in hot fat until golden brown.

How Do You Make A Funnel Cake?

Funnel cakes are simple to make but they require lots of practice.

They can be tricky if you don’t have the proper equipment or ingredients.

  • You must use fresh flour and eggs because dried out flour and old eggs won’t work.
  • If there isn’t enough oil then the batter cannot rise properly and therefore the funnel cake will not turn out well.
  • It’s important that you only fry one side of the funnel cake at a time so as to avoid over frying.
  • Use a large pot with a long handle. The reason is because you want to keep your hands away from the hot oil while stirring.
  • When you add water to the batter, always stir it slowly until all the bubbles disappear before adding more. It takes some trial and error to figure out what temperature works best for you.
  • Don’t forget about the oven! You should bake your funnel cake after it comes out of the pan to ensure that it doesn’t stick together too much.

Ingredients for fair funnel cake

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 ounces all purpose flour (if using self rising flour, reduce baking powder to 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening (melted)
  • 5 cups vegetable shortening (for coating)
  • Vegetable shortening (to coat)
  • Canola Oil (or other high quality cooking oil)
  • Salt & pepper

What Is In A Funnel Cake?

A funnel cake is basically a deep-fried pastry that looks like a cone with a hole at one end.

The batter used for these pastries are usually cornmeal based but they can also be made out of flour or even a combination of both.

As most people know, funnel cakes are generally filled with either chocolate or vanilla frosting and then topped off with sprinkles and nuts.

It is not uncommon to see these pastries sold at county fairs and festivals as well as amusement parks across America.

Funnel cakes were originally invented by someone named John Hickey back in 1953 when he was working at a carnival in Iowa.

He decided to combine two different types of food into one dessert.

These include the funnel cake and the hot dog bun.

He put the hot dogs inside the cone shaped pastry instead of using them as bread crumbs.

Once the funnel cake had cooled down, he would cut it open and scoop out the hot dogs.

Since then, many other variations on the funnel cake have popped up over time including ones that feature blueberry pie filling, lemon curd, peanut butter, and banana cake.

How Do You Cook A Funnel Cake?

Funnel cakes are typically cooked on a griddle or frying pan that can be placed over an open flame such as charcoal or wood.

The batter is poured into a metal cone shaped mold called a “funnel cake pan” before being put directly onto the heated surface.

This method gives the batter time to rise and allow for extra air space within the food product so they don’t explode during cooking.

You can also bake funnel cakes in a regular oven using a similar process, but baking them requires more attention because they must be rotated frequently while cooking.

Once the funnel cake has finished rising and cooled down slightly, you should remove it from the pan with tongs and let it cool completely before eating it!

If you want to try out another fun option for serving funnel cakes, check out our article about some of the most popular ways to serve them!

What Is The Best Way To Eat A Funnel Cake?

This particular recipe for funnel cake can be eaten with syrup or just plain dipped into some ice cream.

If you want to dip yours straight away then you should use your fingers because the batter might not be cooked through quite enough yet.

Also, if you are going to use any kind of sauce on top then wait until after you have eaten so that the flavors don’t mix together too much.

A good trick when eating funnel cake is to try and hold onto the stick that they come wrapped in as long as possible while trying to take a bite out of the funnel cake itself without letting go of the stick.

It takes practice but once you master it then you will never look back!

In order to help you with this process we have provided several links below where you can learn more about how to properly eat a funnel cake.

You can also check out our article entitled How to Make Funnel Cakes for even more information!—the-perfect-addition-for-any-party

How Do You Keep A Funnel Cake Fresh?

When I think about what makes my favorite funnel cake taste so good, it comes down to three things: The batter itself, the frying process, and serving them hot.

I am not going to lie to you, there are some tricks that can be used to improve any funnel cake, but if you follow these simple rules, you should have no problem keeping your funnel cakes fresh for days on end.

  • Use high quality ingredients like flour, sugar, and shortening.
  • Don’t overmix the batter as doing this causes lumps to form.
  • Allow the batter to rest before using it.
  • Keep your funnel cakes warm until they’re served.
  • Make sure to use a nonstick pan.
  • If possible, fry only one side at a time.
  • Once the other side is golden brown, turn off the heat and serve immediately.

These steps will help ensure that every bite tastes exactly the same as the last.

If you want more information on how to properly cook funnel cakes, check out our funnel cake baking guide.

You’ll find everything you need to know about cooking funnel cakes without having to read through dozens of pages!

How Do You Know When A Funnel Cake Is Done?

It can be tricky to tell when a funnel cake is cooked so that they don’t end up dry or burnt on the outside but are still moist inside.

To start off with, the batter should not be too thick because if it is too thick then there won’t be enough air bubbles to rise through the batter as it cooks.

The batter should also have no flour added after the eggs and milk mixture is mixed together otherwise the batter becomes more dense than desired.

In order to test the temperature of the oil, dip a small piece of paper into the hot oil and hold it over the burner until it starts to bubble.

If the oil isn’t hot enough you will see smoke coming out of the paper and it may even catch fire.

You want the oil to reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius) before frying the funnel cakes.

When the funnel cakes are ready to be taken out of the fryer, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove them carefully.

They should be golden brown in color and crispy on the outside while being slightly soft on the inside.

To ensure that the funnel cakes are well seasoned, immediately toss them in powdered sugar.

If you try this funnel cake recipe at home and make sure that you follow these instructions exactly then you will know that you will always come away happy!

What Is The Most Popular Topping For A Funnel Cake?

A funnel cake is traditionally served with powdered sugar but there are many different toppings that people like to add to their funnel cakes including whipped cream, chocolate syrup, strawberries, bananas, caramel sauce, and even sprinkles.

When choosing a topping for your funnel cake, be sure to choose one that compliments the flavor of the batter itself.

For example, if you have chosen strawberry icing as a topping, then make sure that the batter isn’t extremely sweet or too heavy on the cinnamon so the frosting doesn’t overpower the taste of the cake.

Some recipes call for adding liquid ingredients such as milk or eggs into the batter while others don’t use any liquid whatsoever.

If you’re unsure about what kind of funnel cake to order, ask them specifically because not every shop uses the same ingredients.

Some shops may use vanilla flavored batter while others might use lemon flavored batter or even orange flavoring instead! You should also check out our list of funnel cake toppings for ideas.

Chocolate Syrup

If you want something extra special, why not try dipping your funnel cake into chocolate syrup? Chocolate syrup is easy to find at almost any grocery store and it’s always nice to go back to basics and just dip your funnel cake into a small glass of warm water.

If you’ve ever had funnel cake at a carnival or county fair, chances are they’ll serve it with chocolate syrup already mixed into the batter.

Frosted Cream Cheese

Another great option for funnel cake lovers is to top off their dessert with a layer of creamy cheese.

Try spreading a thin layer of softened cream cheese onto your funnel cake before baking it.

The cream cheese adds another level of richness to the texture of the cake and makes it more decadent than simply having plain powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

Whipped Cream

For those who love a little whipped cream on their funnel cake, there are two options available to you.

First, you could opt for traditional whipped cream (which is usually made using heavy whipping cream) but we recommend whipping up a batch of fresh whipped cream using only low fat yogurt instead.

Whipping up light yogurt takes less time and energy which results in whipped cream that is much lighter than regular whipped cream.

Cream Cheese Frosting

If you prefer something sweeter, you can whip up a batch of homemade cream cheese frosting to spread on top of your funnel cake instead.

Cream cheese frosting is simple to make and requires no cooking or heating.

All you have to do is combine equal parts of room temperature butter and cream cheese until it reaches a smooth consistency.

Then, slowly stir in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar until it forms thick frosting.

Once your frosting is ready, you can either pipe it directly onto your baked funnel cake or cut a piece of parchment paper and lay it over the entire surface of your cake and carefully cover it with frosting.

Make sure to refrigerate your finished product immediately after frosting it so it sets properly.

What Are Some Other Ways You Can Eat A Funnel Cake?

Funnel cakes are traditionally served with ice cream or whipped cream but there are many different things that people like to put on them.

  • Caramel sauce (like Hershey’s)
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Honey butter
  • Coffee creamer
  • Butterscotch dip
  • Peanut butter
  • Jam
  • Fruit preserves
  • Marshmallows
  • Sour cream
  • Raisins

You could also try these traditional toppings such as sprinkles, powdered sugar, nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, etc.

You should be able to find just about any type of topping you can imagine!

If you don’t have time to cook a funnel cake, there are also plenty of places where you can buy funnel cakes already topped with whatever you want.

What Is Your Favorite Thing About Funnel Cakes?

Funnel cakes are known for being very light and airy with just enough sweetness to satisfy your sweet tooth.

They have become so popular that they now sell out almost every year at the Iowa State Fair.

They also come in many different flavors including apple pie, banana nut bread, caramel apples, chocolate chip cookies, coconut, coffee, cotton candy, donuts, fudge ripple, french toast sticks, honey buns, lemon squares, marshmallow cream, peanut butter, pepperoni pizza, pineapple, pretzels, root beer float, rocky road, s’mores, strawberry shortcake, taffy pull, watermelon, blueberry muffins, brownie bites, cheesecake, churros, chicken fingers, cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, doughnuts, French toast sticks, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dog, ice cream bars, jelly beans, kolaches, macaroni salad, meatballs, nachos, onion rings, popcorn, pita chips, potato skins, sausages, sausage gravy, scalloped potatoes, spaghetti and meatball sub, tacos, tomato soup, turkey legs, waffles, yogurt parfaits, and zucchini fries.

In addition to these options, there are many more fun food items like funnel cake burgers, funnel cake dogs, funnel cake sliders, funnel cake tacos, funnel cake cupcakes, funnel cake burritos, funnel cake ice cream sundaes, funnel cake popsicles, funnel cake quiche, funnel cake salads, funnel cake pizzas, funnel cake wraps, funnel cake kebabs, funnel cake tacos, funnel cake tacos al pastor, funnel cake empanadas, funnel cake gyro, funnel cake meatloaf, funnel cake pancakes, funnel cake salads, funnel cake soups, funnel cake steaks, funnel cake sushi, funnel cake tempura, funnel cake tater tots, funnel cake truffles, funnel cake tortillas, funnel cake wraps, funnel cake baguettes, funnel cake cookies, funnel cake cookies, funnel cake cheesecakes, funnel cake croissants, funnel cake pies, funnel cake casseroles, funnel cake ice creams, funnel cake milkshakes, and funnel cake muffins.

Fair Funnel Cake Recipe

The fair funnel cake has been around since the 1950’s and it was first made by a local chef named John Hickey who started selling his funnel cakes from an old red pick up truck.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 37 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Fair Funnel Cake Recipe
Calories: 2382kcal


  • Deep-fat Fryer


  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 2/3 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Vegetable oil


  • In a deep-fat fryer or bigger heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil to 375°F.
  • Beat eggs in a big bowl. Blend in the milk, water, and vanilla after adding them. Whisk until smooth after adding the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  • Carefully pour 12 cup batter into a funnel, covering the spout’s bottom with your finger. As you let go of your finger while holding the funnel a few inches above the oil, it will spiral outward until all of the batter has been expelled. If required, scrape with a rubber spatula.
  • Fry for three to five minutes on each side, or until golden brown, flipping once with tongs. On paper towels, drain. Serve warm and dusted with powdered sugar.
  • To use the remaining batter, repeat steps 3 and 4.



Calories: 2382kcal | Carbohydrates: 435g | Protein: 80g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 550mg | Sodium: 2393mg | Potassium: 1408mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 84g | Vitamin A: 1503IU | Calcium: 1214mg | Iron: 25mg
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