This list of incredible recipes is sure to remind you of nostalgic carnival foods, especially if you're someone who never misses the carnival when it comes to town.
There's something just so special about carnival foods. Maybe it's because most aren't everyday foods you can just get from the store.
Or, maybe it's partially the environment and how you can simultaneously walk around and eat them. Either way, you can create a similar feel when you make these foods at home.
The good news is that there are easy ways to accomplish this. So don't worry if you've never made a funnel cake or homemade onion rings.
You won't have any trouble if you follow the recipe. These delicious dishes are ideal for hosting parties or involving the kids in the kitchen. We've included hearty and flavorful foods that work as appetizers or main dishes.
Then, of course, it wouldn't be carnival food if there weren’t sweets. However, many of these recipes are adjusted to be healthier than when you buy them at a carnival, which is just an added bonus. Without further ado, let’s take a look at them!
Everyone knows that corn dogs are a classic carnival food. Sometimes carnivals have jumbo corn dogs; other times, they are mini corn dogs similar to these. Our recipe for mini corn dog muffins is extremely easy to make. Use your favorite hot dogs and make a homemade batter with cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and other ingredients. Since you bake these rather than fry them, they are healthier, too, which is a plus!
Did you know that making funnel cake at home is not too difficult? This famous carnival food is made with a simple batter that you fry in oil. It has a unique stringy look to it and turns out perfectly crispy. You can decorate it from there with powdered sugar, fresh strawberries, chocolate sauce, or your favorite toppings. This recipe only takes 30 minutes, so there's no reason not to try it!
You don't have to be a pro-baker to make soft and warm pretzels like the ones you eat at your favorite fair! This pretzel dough is made with dry active yeast, water, butter, flour, and more. It also has baking soda which makes them extra fluffy. You can enjoy these soft pretzels by dipping them in homemade cheese sauce. There are so many ways to enjoy them in both sweet and savory ways!
You’re missing out if you've never had a giant turkey leg at your favorite carnival. Luckily, with the help of this recipe by Around My Family Table, you can make your own delicious turkey legs at home. They turn out flavorful with hints of chili powder, steak seasoning, paprika, and more. Not to mention, the meat is juicy and tender. While you can bake them, they turn out best when you cook them on the grill.
Ah, yes; nothing quite beats a homemade churro's crunchy texture and sugary cinnamon flavor. These churros taste a lot like the churros you get at the fair, except they are made into bite-sized pieces, which makes them much easier to eat. Surprisingly, you don't need fancy equipment to make churros, just piping bags, pots, pans, and oil! Make these tasty treats for your next party or a fun afternoon snack!
Have you ever tried fried cheese curds? When you buy them at the carnival, they act as more of a snack or appetizer than anything, but that doesn't mean you should overlook them. This recipe by The Gunny Sack Includes cheese curds, buttermilk, flour, and seasonings. It also has a bit of baking soda and an egg to bring everything together. Don't forget to drain the cheese curds on a paper towel before you enjoy them!
No doubt, snow cones at the carnival are one of the simple pleasures in life. However, sometimes they are full of artificial sugars. Fortunately, with this recipe, you can make snow cones with homemade fruit juice, which is more nourishing. Use fresh orange, pineapple, cherry, or apple juice. Adding a small amount of sugar to the juice while it cooks helps it to thicken and become the perfect snow cone syrup.
Sometimes, at the carnival, they have classic onion rings, while other times, they have flavored fancier ones. With our recipe for spicy buffalo onion rings, you can make incredible onion rings perfect for parties and get-togethers. Since you bake these instead of frying them, the lack of oil keeps them healthier. The Frank's hot sauce add cream cheese gives them the perfect balance of spiciness!
You might be familiar with this famous food if you go to your local carnival every year. Basically, elephant ears are fried bread with a tasty cinnamon and sugar coating. You might have always thought that you can't make these at home, but not so fast! You certainly can. With a few simple baking ingredients like sugar, butter, and flour, you can make the dough, fry it, and then enjoy it all within an hour.
You will love this recipe whether you call them apple fritters or fried apple rings. These rings are crispy on the outside, and the apples become tender. Not to mention, the cinnamon and sugar bring everything together. Are you seeing a trend with carnival foods having cinnamon sugar coatings? It's a delicious combination. Use apples like Granny Smith or Gala for best results since they hold shape better.
Next time you crave corn fritters from the carnival, look at this recipe by Eatwell101. You can make these crispy fritters as a side dish for dinner or just something to munch on during the day. They have fresh corn, cornmeal, grated parmesan, and cilantro. They even have a bit of lime juice to give them some kick. We recommend you dip them in your favorite sauce!
It's always a challenge to go to the carnival and not come home with a big bag of sweet kettle corn! However, you can make your own that tastes just as good with minimal effort. You only need popcorn kernels, sugar, sea salt, and cooking oil. For best results, use oil that is neutral in flavor, such as vegetable or canola oil!
13. Sausage Dogs
While many carnival foods are snack-worthy, these hearty sausage dogs will certainly satisfy your hunger. To make them, use Polish sausage and large hot dog buns. However, they aren't complete without sauteed peppers, onions, and a load of condiments! We suggest you toast the buns so they don't get soggy, then load them up with your favorite garnishes!
14. Walking Tacos
Have you ever had walking tacos? They are convenient to eat at the fair since you can enjoy them while you walk around. They are a fun food, especially for the kiddos, so there's no harm in making them at home! You can also make them for BBQs. In simple terms, you add many taco ingredients to your favorite bag of chips. We recommend using Fritos, but you can use other chips!
If you love the taste and texture of fried chicken from the carnival but don't like how it's cooked with tons of oil, this recipe is for you! Fork To Spoon Created this chicken, which you can cook in the air fryer instead. They break the recipe down into three main components: the chicken, buttermilk marinade, and flour for dredging. Once crispy and golden, enjoy it with your favorite carnival snacks, such as cheese curds or onion rings!
With juicy corn, cotija cheese, fresh lime juice, and chili powder, this Mexican street corn is just as delicious as the kind you buy at the carnival! This recipe even tells you how to make crema, also known as Mexican cream sauce. It has a fantastic smoky undertone since you cook the corn wrapped in foil on the grill. Enjoy this with homemade street tacos for a fantastic meal!
These chili dogs will be a hit at your next family cookout! Spicy Southern Kitchen posted this recipe explaining how to make homemade chili for hot dogs. It has lean ground beef, which is good for you, as well as tomato paste, onions, Worcestershire sauce, and more. For best results, top the hot dogs with chili and then add the coleslaw last so that it stays nice and fresh!
If you've ever wondered how they make fried mac and cheese balls at the carnival, they usually cook the mac and cheese and fry it in oil. However, this recipe is genius because it allows you to use the air fryer and skip out on the oil. All you need is ready-to-go mac and cheese, eggs, panko bread crumbs, milk, and seasonings. This yummy snack will impress every member of your family!
Although we already included chili dogs on this list, we couldn't leave out their tasty counterpart, chili cheese fries! This recipe contains crispy fries topped with cheese, scallions, and chili packed with meat and beans. The chili's enchilada sauce and buffalo sauce give it a unique flavor that ensures a bit of spice in every bite. We recommend you use shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.
We love these mini donuts because they are bite-sized and perfect whether you want to enjoy them as a dessert or with your morning coffee. The donut dough is made with a handful of simple ingredients. Meanwhile, all you need for the topping is butter, sugar, and cinnamon, so it can't get any easier than that. Bake them until they fluff up and have a crispy coating.
We love these chocolate-covered bananas because you can make them ahead of time and then enjoy them when you want to satisfy your carnival food fix! Did someone say midnight snack? For this recipe, you coat fresh bananas with melted chocolate which is the perfect base for other sweet toppings. For instance, you can dip them in sprinkles, coconut, nuts, and more!
22. Air Fryer Oreos
Make a healthier version of the classic carnival deep-fried Oreos with the help of your air fryer. Courtney’s Sweets created this recipe which uses Crescent dough, making it super easy to coat the Oreos. Since you don't have to make the dough homemade, this sweet treat can be made within less than 10 minutes. Once they are done, we recommend you sprinkle powdered sugar on them or dip them in chocolate sauce!
Chicken skewers are perfect fair food since they are easy to eat while walking. But that doesn't mean you can't make them when you host a BBQ or want to try something different. The marinade is made with garlic, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce for this recipe. Place the marinated chicken on the wooden skewers before cooking the meat, then enjoy it with your favorite side dish!
Here is an alternative to chili cheese fries, perfect for folks who love BBQ food! These fries are stacked with shredded pork roast, BBQ sauce, onions, cheese, and green onions. You can use any type of french fries you wish, but this recipe suggests crinkle-cut fries. It only takes 25 minutes, so you don't need to plan too far ahead when making it!
We love classic kettle corn, but we can also appreciate some flavored popcorn occasionally. If you are on the same page, you will love this spicy popcorn! It has paprika, chili powder, cumin, and New Mexico red powder. The small amount of butter balances the flavor of the popcorn and makes it taste richer. This is perfect to snack on while you have a movie night at home!
Our recipe for cauliflower nachos has many similar ingredients to carnival-style nachos, except, of course, cauliflower is the base instead of chips. This healthier version is gluten-free and low in calories, plus the seasoned cauliflower has more flavor than traditional corn chips. Top the cauliflower with beans, tomato pieces, cilantro, scallions, vegan queso, and more. You can even add your favorite toppings if you wish, like olives or yellow onions!
The well-known dill flavor of pickles tastes even bolder when you pair it with a crispy outer coating. These fried pickles will remind you of the carnival in no time. The only ingredients you need to make them are pickles, flour, and a ton of seasonings. Specifically, the garlic powder and cayenne give them a savory undertone. We suggest dipping them in low-fat ranch!
If you ever walked past a carnival booth that sells donut grilled cheese, you might have been confused by the combination. However, this fair food is quite delicious because of its sweet and salty flavors. This recipe helps you create it at home with just a few ingredients. Then pair it with your favorite carnival side, such as pulled pork fries or corn fritters!
28 Amazing Carnival Foods You Can Make at Home
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ¼ cup milk, I used 1%
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 7 hot dogs
- Preheat the oven to 425F, spray a mini muffin tin with some non-stick cooking spray.
- Cut the hot dogs into 5 pieces each, giving you 35 pieces in total.
- In a large bowl mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl whisk the egg, milk and oil together. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.
- Use a heaping tablespoon of batter in each mini muffin cup, then press one piece of hot dog into the center of the batter.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown, let cool for a few minutes before serving.
- The recipe makes 35 mini muffins, store any leftovers in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze them.