They're No Fried Jell-O, But Here Are Our Favorite Fairground Foods to Enjoy at Home
State fair season is in full swing--with the Minnesota and Michigan fairs just finishing up yesterday and Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia celebrations coming up in the next few weeks. I don't know about you, but I'm deeply amused by all of the new, deep-fried, artery-clogging creations that fairgoers are gawking over this year. In the same way that some people are compelled to keep up with the daily lives of B-list celebrities, I honestly get some weird gratification from keeping up with this sort of madness (from a safe distance, of course).
Last week, the State fair of Texas announced this years' Big Tex Choice Awards winners--the competition to determine the best fair-quality culinary creations the state has to offer--and awarded Ruth Hauntz with "Best Taste" for her Fried Jell-O. The judges went nuts over the treat, which consists of Jell-O that's breaded in panko breadcrumbs, deep-fried, and then hit with powdered sugar. Sound like something you need to experience? You can get your own taste at the Texas State Fair, which runs from September 30 to October 23.
Now, if you don't have the opportunity (or desire) to visit a fair this year, worry not. You can still partake in the festivity from afar: Just throw random items from your pantry into a deep fryer and see what happens. I'm mostly kidding.
While we can't offer you a recipe for Ruth Hauntz' sure-to-be-famous crispy gelatin, we can offer you some of our very favorite, fair-inspired foods you can enjoy at home.
Make these for your next party and watch them disappear faster than you can say "funnel cake." The ice cream add-ins are suggestions, but you can use whatever you like--your favorite chopped candy bars, toasted and chopped nuts, or marshmallows. You can also roll the edges in toppings like sprinkles, graham cracker crumbs, or crushed Oreos. Keep in mind that hot oil is critical to a crispy funnel cake, so use a thermometer to monitor and maintain the oil's temperature.
Everyone's favorite indulgent fair food is quick and easy to make at home. Pancake mix creates a fluffy, golden-brown fried dough and yields a warm and melty Oreo creme center.
These crispy corn dogs will rival just about any festival or fair's version. The key here is to work with one hot dog at a time to create that perfect golden batter crust--don't try to split attention and double fist when frying these puppies.
This recipe yields enough filling to make 2 batches of these fall-favorite hand pies, but you can always freeze it for later.
The grinder is a specialty served at the Iowa State Fair, home to some of the nation’s richest and most waist-expanding treats. Still a hefty meal-in-one, this rendition takes a lighter approach. We cut the size in half (always a good place to start) and substituted mushrooms for some of the meat.
Prepare yourself: These decadent ice cream sandwiches are next-level delicious. Mouth-watering, cinnamon-sugar churro-inspired waffles pair cradle large scoops of ice cream and a chocolaty drizzle.
This recipe is a slightly more nutritionally sound/wholesome take on Fritos Chili Pie. Often served from concession stands at fairs, festivals, and sporting events, this crowd-pleaser usually involves splitting the bag of chips open, ladling chili into the bag, and then topping with cheese, onions, and other garnishes.
This recipe is full of Southern flavor that comes from soaking chicken in a buttermilk and hot sauce marinade before frying with bacon drippings in a skillet.
Serve this Alabama-original at your next barbecue for a fun twist on a favorite snack. We also tried and loved fried Wickles-brand sweet-hot sliced pickles in this recipe. These Alabama-bred pickles are sold nationwide, but you can easily order them online if your local grocery store does not carry them.
A platter of savory-sweet chicken and waffles can be on your table in 40 minutes. We did a taste test and found that using the just-fried tenders from the Publix grocery store deli instead of making homemade hot chicken to be a highly tasty shortcut.
You're 7 (mostly pantry-staple) ingredients away from award-winning rich and creamy fudge. You can make this recipe without the candy thermometer, but I'd suggest investing in one (so you can fry all of these other things).
The difference between a good apple and a fair-worthy apple? A fair-worthy apple is dipped in caramel, bacon, and peanut butter-coated pretzels... a fair-worthy apple is a great apple.
Concentrated apple cider flavors these doughnuts from the dough to the glaze. Inside they're cakey and tender, while outside they offer the perfect bite of crispness. They're especially delightful if devoured while warm.
We paired a Southern favorite with a classic sandwich to create this insanely satisfying stack. This recipe makes 2 sandwiches, but can easily be doubled to feed more.
Want some more? Be sure to check out some of our other Fabulous Fair Foods.