Between the fried food, messy mains, and tasty snacks, these carnival food ideas are too good to wait for the fair to roll into town.
Luckily, they’re easy to make at home!
This list is full of the tasty treats we all hunt down the minute our feet hit the fairgrounds.
But they’re also crowd pleasers at any party, and the nostalgia will get you right in the gut.
They’re super delicious, great for kids and adults, and perfect for making memories.
I think you’ll have a blast exploring these awesome carnival food ideas. So step right up, and let’s get to it.
1. Funnel Cake Fries
If you didn’t think fries could ever get any better, think again.
This fun twist on the classic funnel cake is just as tasty as the OG. It’s also easier to make and even easier to eat!
Light, crispy, sweet, and perfect for dipping, they’re sure to satisfy all your cravings.
Dust on some powdered sugar and dunk them into your favorite sweet sauce. Yum!
2. Corn Dogs
Corn dogs are ideal for a quick, kid-approved lunch or snack. They’re also great for backyard get-togethers when people want to mingle.
Make them with any kind of sausage – be it traditional franks, spicy Conecuh, or even chicken sausages!
Coat the meat in batter and fry those babies until they’re fluffy and perfectly crisp.
These are easy to make and will feel like such a treat at home. Just don’t forget the mustard!
3. Rainbow Popcorn
This brightly colored snack is so fun and easy to make. Everyone will go nuts over this recipe – so you might want to double the batch!
Now, although this is a fun activity to get the kids involved, you will need to melt the sugar – kind of like caramel.
So, let them mix the colors, then be sure to take over at the stove.
I love that this recipe is so versatile. You can so easily change the colors to match the different holidays.
So whether you go for patriotic red, white, and blue or spooky purple and orange, your friends and family will be super impressed!
4. Fried Oreos
Fried Oreos are an incredible dessert.
When battered and plunged into hot oil, the Oreo cookies transform into melty, chocolatey, deliciousness.
You’ll start with pancake mix, adding a few other ingredients for more fluff and flavor.
And even if Oreos aren’t your favorite cookie, you’ll have a hard time turning these down.
5. Caramel Apples
Caramel apples are one of my favorite fall treats. Plus, they’re basically healthy, right?
Buttery, gooey caramel-coated apples are the festive treat you’ve waited all year for.
They’re surprisingly easy to make at home, and you can add all your favorite toppings.
These make super fun gifts, or party favors too!
6. Italian Carnival Fritters: Fritole From Venice
Carnevale is Italy’s last hurrah before Lent. And the people of Venice certainly know how to live it up.
Filled with pine nuts and raisins, fritole are traditionally fried in pork fat.
They’re fluffy on the inside and light and crispy on the outside. And that pork fat adds such a unique flavor.
The dusting of powdered sugar gives them a hint of extra sweetness to balance it all out. Talk about YUM!
7. Pizza Pretzels
Soft pretzels are a widely popular and super delicious carnival snack. They’re portable, dippable, and loved by all ages.
These pretzels are a yummy cross between a soft pretzel and a pizza!
Just add pizza toppings like cheese and pepperoni to the pretzel and serve with pizza sauce for dipping.
How easy is that?
8. Cheese Fries with Bacon
Fries go with almost any dish. Scratch that: they go with everything!
But these monster fries could be a meal all on their own.
Crispy potatoes are covered in melted cheese and topped with salty and smoky bacon, it’s about as good as it gets.
The combination of cheddar cheese and mozzarella is fantastic. It gives you a kick of cheesy flavor plus that pull we all love.
These loaded fries are ideal for sharing, but I understand if you choose not to.
9. Snow Cones
Snow cones are a cool and refreshing treat. Kids and adults love them, and they’re a crowd pleaser at any party or BBQ.
All you need is a shaved ice machine or snow cone maker, which are smaller and cheaper than you might think.
From there, you’ll need syrups to pour over the top. Feel free to make your own, or look online for fun flavors (mine’s passion fruit!).
10. Frosted Lemonade
Frosted lemon is a carnival classic, and I think you’ll really enjoy this Chick-fil-a copycat.
Perfect for warm weather and long summer days, lemonade is cool, zesty, and refreshing.
But it’s even better when it’s frozen and creamy!
This lemonade treat is wonderfully balanced between sweet and tart. And if you want to make it grown-up, try adding some vodka to the mix.
11. Roasted Turkey Legs
When I go to Disney, I always get their turkey legs. But they’re also one of the most quintessential fair foods around.
They’re giant and flavorful, and you can eat them one-handed while you take in all the wonder.
And with this recipe, you can make roasted turkey legs at home for a fraction of the price.
This recipe is so easy and delicious, you might get some requests around the holidays.
In fact, I think a platter of these legs would make a terrific whole turkey alternative!
12. Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders are easily one of my favorite snacks while at a carnival.
I love the tender, juicy chicken coated in a golden brown and crispy breading. They’re fun to dip, and they’re oh-so-satisfying.
The buttermilk marinade gives these chicken tenders their incredible, juicy flavor. So don’t skip that step!
13. Loaded Nachos
Nachos are one of the greatest foods in the world. They’re literally perfect, and I could probably eat them every single day.
They’re also great for sharing with friends, but often so good you want the whole plate to yourself.
These nachos are loaded with tons of delicious ingredients. Of course, cheese is a must-have, but feel free to play around with the toppings from there.
However you build them, loaded nachos are a fantastic meal, snack, or appetizer.
14. Mini Corn Dog Muffins
Try these mini corn dog muffins if you’re on the hunt for a fun and quirky appetizer or game day snack.
You can use any kind of hot dog for these yummy bites – though I think franks are the most traditional.
Whatever you choose, they’re lightly sweet, wonderfully savory, and perfect for dipping.
Plus, since they’re mini, kids will love them.
15. Fried Ice Cream
Fried ice cream is a bit of a contradiction, but one bite, and you’ll be hooked.
Between the cool creamy middle and warm crispy exterior, this is a dessert you’ll crave again and again.
Drizzle over some caramel and chopped nuts, and dig in!
16. Popcorn Bars
If you’ve never had popcorn bars before, you’re in for a real treat. They’re much like Rice Krispie treats, but they’re way crunchier!
You only need a few simple ingredients – popcorn, butter, and honey – and they come together in a snap.
Go ahead and add some vanilla or seeds or nuts for extra nutrients. You could even add chocolate chips or M&Ms.
Either way, they’re delicious with a chocolate or peanut butter drizzle.
17. Cream Puffs
Cream puffs are a sweet French dessert we all know and love. But making them can be a pain.
That said, choux pastry isn’t the villain we make it out to be. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll make these all the time!
The trick is to mix in just enough eggs until the batter is thick but drops from the spoon when lifted.
From there, make sure to use a hot oven and don’t open the door while they cook!
When they’re done, you’ll fill them with dreamy whipped cream and add a dusting of powdered sugar. Delish!
18. Chili Dog
I mentioned messy mains in the intro, and here it is. The infamous and addictive chili dog!
Between the toasty buns, charred hot dogs, and flavor-packed chili with tons of cheese, these might not be the best thing to order on a first date.
That said, if you can love someone when their face is covered in sauce, I think you’re meant to be!
19. Mozzarella Sticks
Mozzarella sticks are a super popular appetizer – and for good reason. I mean, what’s better than ooey-gooey cheese covered in a golden crust?
Not only do these mozzarella sticks have incredible textures, but they’re perfect for dipping.
I like to make a spicy marinara sauce and serve them with Ranch (of course). But they’re also great with ketchup, BBQ, or mayo.
20. Deep Fried S’mores
If you thought s’mores were already perfect, think again.
These deep-fried treats are so beyond delicious, you may need to keep them for special occasions.
Trust me: from the fluffy pancake batter to the crispy, chocolatey, marshmallowy filling, these are impossible to resist.
21. Fried Pickles
Here’s another deep-fried recipe you have to try at home!
Deep fried pickles? Does it get any more scrumptious?
These crispy little pickle chips are hot, tangy, and oh-so-addictive. They’re delectably dippable too!
Make extra because these will disappear right before your eyes – probably before you even make it out of the kitchen!
22. Fried Mac and Cheese Balls
Mac & cheese is comforting, filling, and super nostalgic. But fried mac and cheese? That’s magic!
You’ll make your favorite cheese pasta recipe, chill it and form it into balls.
Coat the pasta in crushed potato chips to create a crispy outer shell everyone will swoon over.
Top tip for a more straightforward method: press the cooked mac and cheese into a lined baking tray. Freeze until solid, then cut into cubes.
Coats and fry the cubes, then enjoy. Trust me, this is way easier than rolling balls of pasta!
23. Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
Chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches are a heavenly combination of dessert foods.
Creamy vanilla ice cream sandwiched by two buttery chocolate chip cookies should be enough to draw anyone in.
But if that’s not enough for you, you’ll also roll them in chocolate chips to add more crunch and chocolate flavor.
These cookie sandwiches are such a treat, and they’re perfect for parties.
24. Walking Tacos
Your boots may be made for walking, but are they loaded with cheese? Because these walking tacos are!
The concept is simple: start with your favorite bag of chips and add any or all of your favorite taco toppings.
Fritos or Doritos are my faves, but you can use whatever you like. Just add meat, cheese, veggies, and more!
25. Crispy Onions Rings
Like nachos, onion rings are pretty darn perfect.
They have the same satisfaction as a crispy fry but with the added tenderness and flavor of a delicious onion.
The dipping sauce in this recipe is out of this world, too. So try them both and let me know what you think!
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