Recreate this classic fair favorite at home by learning how to make this homemade funnel cake recipe with its signature crispy donut-like texture and mouthwatering flavor. This simple yet delicious dessert is only elevated with your favorite toppings!
This fried dessert is spectacular with just a dusting of confectioners’ sugar but with the addition of toppings like hot fudge, it takes this fun treat up a notch. Dress it up or dress it down, you decide!
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What is Funnel Cake?
Believe it or not, it’s not actually a cake. Not exactly anyway. But those of us in the know don’t care what it’s called, it’s just that good. It’s actually more like a donut but even crispier, in all its deep-fried glory.
Funnel cakes are made by squirting batter out of a bottle in a circular pattern straight into a pot of hot oil. This gives it that signature swirl and the batter fries up golden brown and delicious. Then, this tasty treat is topped with any and everything from powdered sugar and whipped cream to fresh fruit, strawberry sauce, cinnamon sugar, or chocolate sauce. Caramel sauce or even ice cream would be delicious too! The sky is the limit!
This is a popular fair food item, much like caramel apples and candy apples. There are actually people who will go to a fair JUST to have fair funnel cakes. Now, I may or may not be guilty of this, but either way it’s typically associated with summertime.
As with anything you make in your own kitchen, the rules about when and how to eat your homemade treats go out the window. So knowing how to make it at home definitely has its perks.
This easy funnel cake recipe is super simple to follow and there are no crazy ingredients you’ll need to hunt for. It’s easy enough to make any time of the year!
- A candy thermometer. Without one it is harder to determine the temperature of the oil. It just makes life easier, but you can still get away without one. You may just have a couple of “trial and error” batches to start.
- 2 Quart Dutch oven or a deep fryer. Use one that has the same diameter you’d like your funnel cake to have.
- Condiment squeeze bottle. These are readily available at your local dollar store, or anywhere that sells baking appliances.
Funnel Cake Ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Granulated sugar
- Salted butter, melted
- Heaving whipping cream
- Whole milk
- Vanilla extract
- Vegetable oil or shortening
How to Make Homemade Funnel Cake:
Step 1: Clip the thermometer to the rim of your Dutch oven and fill with several inches of oil or melted shortening to at least 2-3″ deep, preferably halfway. Heat until the oil reaches 375 degrees. This temperature needs to be exact. Too low, and you’ll end up with an oil-soaked funnel cake. Too high and you’ll burn it. The temperature will adjust with the addition of the cold batter, so check frequently to make sure you maintain the correct temperature.
Step 2: While the oil is heating, you can begin to prepare the batter. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the egg until it is frothy. Doing this will capture the air which will help get a nice puffy texture. Then, add in the butter, cream, milk and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Then transfer this funnel cake batter to your squeeze bottle. Squeezing the batter out of the bottle will make the stream of batter even and easier to manipulate. Otherwise you run the risk of dropping blobs of dough into the oil and it not being so cute anymore.
Step 4: When the oil is hot enough, squeeze a continuous stream of batter into the pan in a circular motion, overlapping as you go. The batter will sizzle, expand, and pop up to float above the oil. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and flip to continue cooking the other side. Once the entire cake is nicely browned, remove with a slotted spoon. Drain excess oil by placing it directly onto a paper towel. Repeat steps until you’ve made all your cakes. Keep in mind, you’ll need to replenish the oil and bring it back to the exact temperature between each one. It takes quite a bit of oil and precise technique, but it is so worth it!
Step 5: Once it has cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and topping of your choice. Don’t let it sit too long, or it will get soggy!
Are you going all-in and eating with your hands? Or will you be eating it with a knife and fork? Either way, just make sure to have some extra napkins on hand and maybe tuck one into your shirt!
Now that you’ve mastered homemade funnel cake, what will you ever do at the next state fair?
Although it’s an easy recipe, heating and maintaining the oil precisely at 375 degrees is key. If the temperature drops at all, it will take longer for the funnel to brown which means more oil gets absorbed.
You can. Mix up your favorite pancake mix or your favorite pancake batter and make sure it’s a smooth consistency. The batter should be thick enough to form ribbons if you. lift and drizzle it back into the bowl. Take your pancake batter and load it into a squirt bottle and proceed with the recipe as written.
Homemade Funnel Cake
- digital food thermometer
- 2 Quart Dutch oven or deep fryer (choose a pan with the same diameter you'd like your funnel cakes to have)
- condiment squeeze bottle
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 1 egg
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 ½ cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- vegetable oil or shortening
- Clip a food or candy thermometer onto the rim of the Dutch oven. Fill at least halfway (at least 2-3" deep) with vegetable oil or melt shortening to this depth.
- Heat over high heat until oil reaches a precise temperature of 375°F (about 15 minutes).
- While oil is heating, prepare the batter. Begin by whisking together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg until frothy. Add in butter, cream, milk, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
- Transfer funnel cake batter into a squeeze bottle (this is the easiest way to safely add a consistent stream of batter into the pot.)
- When the oil has reached 375°F, squeeze a continuous stream of batter into the pan in a circular motion. Batter will sizzle and pop up to float on top of the oil.
- Cook until bottom side of the funnel cake has turned golden brown. Flip the funnel cake and continue cooking until the other side has browned.
- Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to drain the excess oil and place on paper towels.
- When funnel cake has cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with whipped cream and strawberries or toppings of your choice.
- Funnel cakes should be eaten immediately.