How to Make County Fair Style Treats in Your Own Kitchen
Funnel cake, you are mine.
If you love a carnival, street festival, county fair, or amusement park, chances are pretty good you also love a fried sweet treat. From funnel cakes to fruit fritters to fried candy bars, there is just something about those decadent indulgences that makes kids of all of us. But we don't always have access to a local boardwalk, and there are a lot of reasons right now not to head to a large gathering. Which means it is time to learn to make these desserts right at home!
RELATED: 75 Perfect Desserts for Summer
Here's. the secret: Once you learn to make a basic fritter batter, you can use it for anything your heart desires. And while you can always fry in a heavy pot on your stove, some of the deep fryers that are currently available can be worth the investment – see my picks for best buys on deep fryers, below!
First, let's begin with the all-time best, easiest basic fritter recipe.
Basic Fritter Batter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Whisk dry ingredients to eliminate clumps. Whisk wet ingredients until well mixed, then add to dry and mix until just combined (there can be a few little lumps – think pancake batter). Let rest at room temp for 30 minutes before using, or up to three days in the fridge. Let come to room temp for an hour if chilled.
How to make funnel cakes, fritters, and more!
Use a neutral high smoke point oil like peanut or canola and bring to 375° for frying. From there, it's playtime (but carefully, of course):
For funnel cakes: Load the batter into a pitcher or squeeze bottle for control, then squeeze or drizzle carefully into the oil in a squiggly pattern, being sure to overlap the batter onto itself to create a lacy treat. You can make giant ones to fill the size of your pan, or little versions. Let cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown, then drain on paper towels on a rack over a sheet pan before dusting with powdered sugar.
For fritters: If dipping fruit like apple slices, be sure to pat really dry and dredge in flour before dipping to ensure the batter sticks. Then gently lower the fritters one at a time into the hot oil, being sure to drop them away from you to prevent spatter or splash-back. Let cook for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and the fruit is tender, then drain on paper towels on a rack over a sheet pan before dusting with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.
For fried candy bars: For best results, use "fun size" or mini bars, or cut larger bars in half before battering. Dredge lightly in flour before dipping to ensure the batter sticks. Then gently lower the dipped candy bars one at a time into the hot oil, being sure to drop them away from you to prevent spatter or splash-back. Let cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown, then drain on paper towels on a rack over a sheet pan.
Pro tip: Deep fry in smaller batches for better control, and always remove to a paper-covered rack over a sheet pan to drain to prevent greasiness. Let cool a few minutes before eating to prevent burns.
Fried foods can be held on a rack over a sheet pan in a 200° oven to keep warm and crisp.
3 great deep fryers to buy now
Need a great deep fryer? Here are our favorites from great kitchen appliance brands, at budget, mid-range, and splurge prices.
Budget: Chefman XL Deep Fryer with Basket
Great for family-size fun (and quite affordable), this fryer has a big, 4.5-liter capacity, plus a lid with a viewing window so you can check crispiness safely.
Buy it: Chefman XL Deep Fryer with Basket ($59.99), amazon.com
Mid-price: Cuisinart Deep Fryer
If you're a Cuisinart fan, you'll love this heavy-duty fryer with a 4 liter capacity, viewing window, and enamel-coated oil container with a pouring spout.
Buy it: Cuisinart CDF-200P1 Deep Fryer ($99.95), amazon.com
Splurge: Breville Smart Fryer
Leave it to Breville to take deep frying to the next level—7 of them, in fact, with this smart appliance that adjusts cooking time and temperature to 7 present functions (including a special "twice fried" setting for extra crispy).
Buy it: Breville Smart Fryer ($149.95), williams-sonoma.com