When you think of fair foods, you probably think of fatty, sugary, deep fried decadence. And to be honest, that’s pretty much what state fair food is!
Here’s the thing about state fairs; when you’re little, you go for the rides.
When you’re a teenager, you go to hang with your friends and maybe sneak a kiss in the haunted house.
State Fair Foods Across America
When you’re young, it’s all about impressing your date with your fearlessness and skill at games.
As an adult, though, the state fair is mostly about enjoying the fair food.
It’s not the kind of food your body always appreciates you eating, but luckily, most state fairs only come around once or twice a year.
Of course, with these 25 recipes, you can enjoy your favorite state fair foods anytime you like.
1. Funnel Cakes
Aside from maybe caramel and candy apples, funnel cakes are pretty much the go-to state fair food.
Everyone loves them, and they’re one of most fairs’ classic food items.
There’s just something about that crispy, deep-fried dough and tingly powdered sugar that is almost heavenly.
It’s one of those foods that have zero nutritional value, and yet, nobody cares!
You’ll only need nine fundamental kitchen staples to make them at home, and you can prepare and cook them in less than 10 minutes.
As easy as these are to make, you’ll really have to limit yourself. Otherwise, you may go overboard on making these delicious treats.
2. Corn Dogs
Corn dogs are another fair favorite because they just taste better at the state fair.
But what if I told you that you could make your frozen dogs taste county fair fantastic?
You can! For this version, all you’ll need is an air fryer and about 6 or 7 minutes.
You’ll get the perfect crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside crust and a warm, juicy hot dog inside. There’s nothing to it.
State fairs are known for mixing strange ingredients into one cohesive dish, just like they did with cotton candy ice cream.
It’s gorgeous, multi-colored, and smooth, and with this recipe, you can make it yourself in 10 minutes with no ice cream maker needed.
Just remember to let it freeze for 8 hours before serving it.
Whether you’re eating them at your local state fair or at Disney World (which is just one massive, overly extravagant fair), churros are always a tasty treat.
Now you can make Disney’s famous churro bites with only eight ingredients in about 25 minutes.
They’re crunchy with fluffy insides and covered in cinnamon and sugar yumminess.
Plus, this version is bite-sized, which just makes it more fun.
As if Oreos weren’t already good enough, someone decided to deep-fry them. I don’t know who that person is, but I love them with all of my heart.
Deep-fried Oreos are 100% decadent and self-indulgent, but they’re so good – especially with whipped cream on top!
They taste like Oreos, wrapped in pancakes and covered in powdered sugar.
My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Best of all, you can make over a dozen in less than 15 minutes.
Oreos aren’t the only thing you can deep fry. Check out this recipe for deep-fried Mars (or Milky Way) bars, as well.
They have the same incredible pancake-like batter on the outside.
The inside, though, is a mix of creamy milk chocolate and rich, soft nougat. If you use a Milky Way, you’ll get a bit of caramel added in, as well.
Top with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream for an extra indulgent treat.
State fair lemonade is the best lemonade you’ll ever taste, and it’s all about getting the measurements right.
You’ll need one cup of lemon juice, a half cup of water, one cup of ice, and a fourth cup of sugar.
That’s the recipe for perfect, fresh tart lemonade that’s so good it’s almost addictive.
Mini-donuts are just like regular donuts; only they’re cuter and smaller, which means you can eat more of them without feeling guilty!
(That’s how that works, right?)
These are soft and will quite literally melt in your mouth.
They have a generous coating of cinnamon and sugar, which adds a whole other depth of flavor and a fun texture to them.
There are only about two good bites in each of these tiny treats, but that simply means you’ll have room for more of them later.
Plus, these are baked, so they’re less bad for you than regular donuts!
9. Whoopie Pie
A whoopie pie is like an oversized, lighter, and fluffier Ding Dong.
It has two soft, round chocolate cookies with a rich, creamy filling. I sometimes call it “an inside-out cupcake.”
The point is that it’s soft, rich, sweet, and amazingly yummy, and now you can make them at home in just about 30 minutes.
10. Elephant Ears
Depending on where you live, elephant ears may not be as common at your local fair. However, once you try them, you’ll love them.
They’re a lot like funnel cakes – crispy pieces of fried, yeasty dough covered in powdered sugar and cinnamon.
This version is thinner and crispier, though, and isn’t as greasy. But in terms of taste, the only real difference is the cinnamon.
11. Apple Fritters
Is there anything better on a cold fall morning than a hot, crispy apple fritter covered in a sticky sauce?
There may be, but I can’t think of anything at the moment.
These classic treats have the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, and the delicious cinnamon sugar topping exemplifies fall as nothing else could.
Whether you eat them for breakfast or dessert (with whipped cream on top), you’ll want to hurry back for seconds.
Sweet, buttery corn on the cob is hard to beat, but bacon makes everything better.
So it should come as no surprise that bacon-wrapped corn on the cob is spectacularly good.
You still get that slight sweetness from the corn, but the bacon adds a salty crunch, and the jalapeno peppers bring additional heat to the already tasty dish.
This is one sweet and spicy morsel you won’t want to miss.
All you’ll need to make this popular, sought-after appetizer are sliced dill pickles, breadcrumbs, and oil for frying.
You’ll also use flour, milk, baking powder, an egg, paprika, black pepper, and dill for the batter.
The paprika and pepper give these snacks their robust flavor, and that added bit of dill helps ensure the sourness of the dill pickles still comes through after frying them.
14. State Fair Subs
State fair subs are cheesy, oniony, and full of hearty, juicy Italian sausage.
All that is piled onto a crispy slice of French bread and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
They’re packed with protein and incredibly filling. Just don’t eat them immediately before getting on any topsy-turvy rides.
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. There’s just something so warm and familiar about its rich, cheesy goodness.
It’s hard to go wrong with mac and cheese, but it’s also hard to improve on something that’s already so tasty.
Of course, frying it inside a crunchy breadcrumb shell might work!
The crispy outer shell is full of flavor, while the inside remains gooey and cheesy, just like mac and cheese should be.
The fresh chives add a wonderful herb flavor that sets the whole thing off.
16. French Fries
French fries certainly aren’t exclusively sold at fairs, but there’s no doubt that fair French fries are some of the best.
That’s thanks to all the spice and seasonings.
The closest recipe I’ve found to replicating this fair staple is this copycat recipe for Popeye’s.
With garlic, pepper, salt, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, and more, this version of fries is some of the best you’ll ever taste.
If they don’t set your tastebuds ablaze, nothing will.
17. Fried Okra
If Popeye’s has the best fair fries, Cracker Barrel has the best fried okra.
If you’re looking to duplicate that crispy, crunchy fried okra taste and texture, this is the copycat recipe for you.
The insides are warm and tender, and the bold umami flavor of okra is in every bite; the breading doesn’t mask it or lessen it at all.
Best of all, it’s easy to make and requires only six ingredients, plus the oil for frying.
18. Caramel Apples
It doesn’t matter how old my dad gets. He never lets me leave a fair without picking him up a caramel apple.
They’re his favorite treat, and he looks forward to them every year.
I’m a pretty big fan of them myself—that hard, sweet caramel shell, the tart, juicy apple underneath.
No matter how much my teeth may hate me for it, there’s just no turning down a caramel (or candy!) apple.
With this recipe, I can make them anytime I want with only three ingredients.
And now, so can you!
19. Corn Fritters
Corn fritters combine the sweetness of corn with all kinds of good things – butter, parmesan cheese, onions, and more.
They’re crunchy, cheesy, herby, and delightful. Even the most anti-vegetable child won’t be able to get enough of these crispy fritters.
You’ll love these fried green tomatoes whether or not you decide to make the remoulade dipping sauce. They’re just too fresh and tangy not to love.
Biting into the crispy, garlic batter and getting to the juicy, slightly sour green tomato beneath is a true treasure.
If you’ve never had fried green tomatoes before, start with this recipe.
Bacon. Covered in thick, rich chocolate. With a dash of sea salt added to the top.
Do you really need to hear more?!
If you enjoy crispy tortillas, gooey cheese sauce, juicy ground beef, and all the toppings you could imagine, then nachos are the fair food for you.
This recipe is pretty fantastic as written, but one of the best things about classic nachos is the ability to customize them to your tastes.
So pull out all your favorite nacho toppings and enjoy!
Anyone can make waffle fries, but loaded waffle fries are a county fair exclusive (at least in my experience!).
With this recipe, though, you can make them any time you like.
You can even save time by using frozen waffles instead of making them from scratch.
Aside from them, all you’ll need is steak seasoning, cheddar cheese, green onions, and bacon bits.
Simply bake the waffles, toss them with the seasoning, and then add your other toppings.
Then, bake them for a few more minutes until the cheese gets good and melted.
The result almost tastes like a loaded baked potato and is super yummy.
Beer-battered onion rings are the best way to enjoy onion rings.
They have plenty of flavor from the garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and beer. And the beer batter makes them thin and crispy.
Other forms of batter make the outside of the rings too thick, but beer-battered rings are 100% perfect.
True, you can buy chocolate chip cookies anywhere, but the chocolate chip cookies they serve at the state fair are far superior to any others I’ve tried, except those handed out by DoubleTree hotels!
That’s where this copycat recipe comes into play. These cookies are soft, crumbly, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
They have huge chunks of chocolate in them, and the walnuts add a rich, nutty flavor that complements the chocolate impressively.
If you want the epitome of chocolate chip cookies, this is the recipe you’ll need.
26. Candy Apples
Candy apples are the quintessential state fair food and for good reason!
What could be better than the perfect combination of crisp, fresh apples and a sweet, crunchy candy coating?
It’s like a carnival in your mouth. Plus, they’re easy to eat on the go while you’re wandering around the fairgrounds.
They’re the perfect treat to satisfy your sweet tooth while taking in all the excitement of the state fair!
27. Shaved Ice
Shaved ice is the ultimate state fair or carnival food – it’s cool, refreshing, and oh-so-delicious!
Imagine a fluffy mountain of icy goodness, topped with your favorite sweet treats like sauce, syrup, gummies, or whipped cream.
That’s happiness in a cup, right there!
Plus, with so many flavors to choose from – ranging from strawberry to lychee – there’s a shaved ice combo for everyone.
28. Sweet Corn
Spice up your taste buds with a Mexican twist on a classic carnival treat!
This version of the state fair snack features grilled corn kernels, ground chorizo, and a sauce of mayo & sour cream, seasoned with chipotle garlic seasoning.
And the best part? You can customize it with toppings like crumbled cotija cheese, zesty lime wedges, and fresh chopped cilantro.
It’s not hard to see why shredded pork sliders are a classic state fair treat. They’re a finger-licking delicious, meaty treat that’s great for snacking while on the move.
This recipe takes it to the next level with a sweet and spicy twist.
Picture a succulent pulled pork drenched in a sticky, tangy sauce that’s infused with flavors like brown sugar, soy sauce, and ginger.
It’s a flavor explosion in every bite!
30. Cheese Curds
What’s not to love about a crispy, golden exterior and a gooey, melty center that’s bursting with flavor?
Cheese curds are an excellent shareable snack, perfect for enjoying with friends and family as you soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the state fair.
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