15 Over-the-Top Carnival and Fair Foods You Can Make at Home

Mac and Cheese in a Cheese Waffle Cone
Photo: The Gruntled Gourmand

Gird your loins and pack your Pepto — it's fair-food season. But let's all agree to suspend judgement and simply marvel at some of the more outrageous, gut-busting food you'll find at America's biggest carnivals and state fairs. We've rounded up 15 favorites you can make at home so you can bring the fun to your own backyard.

01 of 15

Deep Fried Oreos

side view of powdered sugar-dusted fried Oreos, one with a bite taken out of it
Pam Ziegler Lutz

The crispy batter, crunchy cookie, and creamy filling combine to make one of the world's most decadent fair foods. "This is a carnival favorite where I grew up," says Olivia C. "Oreos get dipped into pancake batter and fried — yummy! You can do this with or without a deep fryer."

02 of 15


closeup of sugared churros in a glass bowl
Laura Y

"These Mexican fritters are very common at fairs," says recipe submitter Delia. "In my border hometown, the line at this stand is always overwhelming. People wait hours in line just to get a taste of these churros. I have run across several recipes but this is the best one by far."

03 of 15

Real Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds

Real Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds

Not just for Cheeseheads anymore! Enjoy as is, or give your fried cheese curds a Canadian upgrade — pile on the fries and gravy!

04 of 15

Mac and Cheese in a Cheese Waffle Cone

Mac and Cheese in a Cheese Waffle Cone
The Gruntled Gourmand

"This is a fun way to serve the classic mac and cheese," says recipe creator Poker Mike. "Cheddar cheese is melted and formed into crisp waffle cone and mac and cheese is poured in. I made this for a few kids and they loved it...gotta love cheese though."

05 of 15

Deep Fried Candy Bars

Deep Fried Candy Bars
Melissa Goff

"How much food sin can one make with this recipe? OMG! Was awesome," raves reviewer Melissa Goff.

06 of 15

Elephant Ears

Elephant Ears between sheets of wax paper
Allrecipes Magazine

These crispy confections are more fun than a turn on the Tilt-a-Whirl! "This is it!!!!" says JDURLAND. "I grew up in Indiana and at the state fair we ALWAYS had an elephant ear."

07 of 15

Fried Ice Cream

Fried Ice Cream

"Delicious!" raves NEAN THE BEAN. "I've tried making fried ice cream so many times, and this recipe has turned out the best! Very simple, just make sure you let it all freeze for a long time — it makes all the difference!"

08 of 15

Corn Dogs

Corn Dogs

There's no fair food that's more iconic than a crunchy corn dog on a stick. "I made up this recipe many years ago, because I loved the corn dogs you buy at carnivals but could not find a recipe for them," says SUZZANNA.

09 of 15

Country Fried Floured Bacon

Country Fried Floured Bacon

Fried battered bacon makes any day a carnival! "This is excellent for breakfast, snacks, or upgrade your BLT to a place it has never been before," says MomMom.

10 of 15

Funnel Cakes IV

Funnel Cakes IV

These crispy fried confections are the ultimate fair food! "I absolutely loved this! It tasted just like the funnel cakes at the amusement parks," says MELEXAN

11 of 15

Grilled Turkey Legs

looking at a grill with a few grilled turkey legs on it
Patricia Harris

"This is a family favorite," says Amy Landis Wilson. "My picky eaters love amusement park turkey legs and say these taste the same. Total winner in my home!"

12 of 15

Gourmet Caramel Apples

close up of a single gourmet caramel apple
Melissa Goff

There's an apple underneath all that sweet, sticky caramel — so that means these are good for you, right? RIGHT?

  • Get Tips to Make the Best Caramel Apples
13 of 15

Hot Beef Sundae

looking at three hot beef sundaes topped with cherries

"We had this at the New York State Fair," says recipe creator Cindi. "When we saw the sign Hot Beef Sundae, we were both curious. Really, it looks just like a hot fudge sundae and when we got home we made our own version."

14 of 15

Deep Fried Dill Pickles

Deep Fried Dill Pickles
Allrecipes Magazine

Battered then fried, these delicious dill pickles are fair food at its finest. Says MARBALET, "This recipe also works well with other pickled vegetables, like pickled peppers."

15 of 15

Deep Fried Jalapeno Slices

Deep Fried Jalapeno Slices

Jeannie Lemoine Palermo says, "Addictively delicious describes these perfectly!! I did change one thing in the recipe I used 1/2 cup yellow corn meal & 1/2 cup flour in place of 1 cup flour. They don't last long so be sure to cook plenty!! We used ranch dressing for dipping."

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