How to Make a Funnel Cake

Cyd Converse

It's your favorite thing at the state fair. Want to know how to make a funnel cake? We know how!

If there’s one food synonymous with summer festivals and state fairs, it’s got to be funnel cakes. You can smell the deep-fried batter from the parking lot as soon as you exit your vehicle.

Funnel Cake Photo

The intoxicating aroma will lead you right to the funnel cake stand, where you’re willing to wait in line, even before dinner, to get your hands on a coiled, crispy dessert loaded with powdered sugar. 

You’ll take a bite, roll your eyes and swoon as that familiar piece of heaven greets your senses.

It tastes like donuts or fried cake batter. Yum!

You’ll notice your shirt is covered with confectioner’s sugar. But you won’t care, because you only get to experience this goodness a couple times a year.

But what if you could have funnel cakes more often, without waiting for a fair? What if you learned how to make funnel cakes at home?

Funnel Cake Picture

What is a Funnel Cake?

Funnel cakes are spirals of fried batter. The batter consists of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk and flavoring ― like pancakes.

Funnel cakes get their name from the fact that a funnel is used to dribble the batter into hot oil. Funnel cakes originated in Persia in the Middle Ages but were introduced to America by Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants in 1879.

How to Make a Funnel Cake

  1. Fill a cast iron pan halfway with vegetable oil and heat it to 375°F. (Use an instant thermometer to check the temperature.)
  1. Make a pancake-like batter by whisking 2 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. In a large, liquid measuring cup, beat two eggs and whisk in two cups of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla.
  1. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine, until you have a smooth batter with only small lumps.
  1. Transfer your batter to a liquid measuring cup. Block the spout of a funnel with your finger while you pour 1/2 cup of batter into the funnel.
  2. Hold the funnel over your pan of hot oil and take away your finger so the batter drips out. Swirl the funnel in a circular motion until all the batter is dribbled into the pan in a coil about nine inches wide.
  1. Cook the first side for 2 minutes. Flip it over with tongs, then cook the second side for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown.
  1. Use tongs to remove the funnel cake and place it on paper towels to drain the oil. Scoop out any bits of fried dough from the oil with a spoon and continue to make more funnel cakes.
Funnel Cake Image

Funnel Cake Toppings

  • Powdered sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Whipped cream
  • Honey
  • Vanilla frozen custard

How to Make Funnel Cakes with Pancake Mix

If you buy buttermilk pancake mix that just requires adding water, you can easily make funnel cakes. Whisk your batter according to package directions, adding a bit of vanilla and a touch of sugar, if desired. Fry the funnel cakes as directed above.

Funnel Cake Pic

How Many Calories are in a Funnel Cake?

The funnel cake you’d buy at a fair typically has 760 calories and 44 grams of fat. That’s including the powdered sugar on top.


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Cyd is a native of Upstate New York, born to a family of women who love to cook and host parties. She shares her love of all things food, home and entertaining on her blog, The Sweetest Occasion and on Instagram.

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