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Homemade Funnel Cakes: Not Just for Carnivals!

It's hard to resist the aroma of funnel cakes.

It's hard to resist the aroma of funnel cakes.

What Is a Funnel Cake?

Funnel cakes are a popular treat you'll find at carnivals, fairs, sporting events, and on the boardwalk in seaside resorts. The smell of this deep-fried dough is hard to resist, as you can tell by the long lines of people waiting to buy this scrumptious treat.

These sweet, warm, delicious cakes are made by pouring batter into hot cooking oil in a circular pattern and deep frying the overlapping mass until golden brown. They are typically served plain with powdered sugar sprinkled on top or with jam, cinnamon, fresh fruit, whipped cream, or other toppings.

Origin of the Cakes

Funnel cakes trace their roots back to the German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania Dutch Amish Country. The Amish traditionally served them on special occasions and celebrations. Today we find them at street fairs and food festivals throughout the summer. Nothing says summer like funnel cake, and it's easy to make your own at home.

Where Did the Name Come From?

They are so named because the traditional method used to make them is to pour the batter into a funnel. As the batter comes out the bottom of the funnel you swirl it around in the pan of oil to create the lattice design.

Today, there are many methods used to create the cakes: you can use a funnel, or one of the fancy new batter droppers that are used for pancakes, cupcakes and funnel cakes. You could also use a pouring funnel, squeeze bottle, or as we have in this recipe you could use a Ziploc-type food storage bag to squeeze the batter.

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

3 min

18 min

8 funnel cakes


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Oil, for frying
  • Powdered Sugar, for sprinkling on top


  1. In a large skillet heat the oil to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix all ingredients well and let batter rest for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add batter to Ziploc-type food storage bag. Snip off the edge of one corner to make a hole for the batter to come out. Make sure the hold is not too big: start small and then you can always increase the size. If the batter is too thin add more flour. If it is too thick add a little more milk
  7. Squeeze the batter into the frying pan. Start with a big circle and connect the ends. Then crisscross all over and make a lattice-type pattern.
  8. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. The second side won't take as long as the first. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
  9. When golden brown remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.
  10. Serve warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar or your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Even Easier Funnel Cake Recipe

The secret ingredient to this version is complete pancake mix.


  • 3 cups "complete" buttermilk pancake mix
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar


  1. Heat oil to 375°F. While oil is heating prepare the batter.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together pancake mix and sugar. Add water and vanilla and whisk until you get all the lumps out. Your batter should be the thickness of cake batter, not too thin, not too thick.
  3. Pour batter into a funnel, squeeze bottle, or Ziploc bag with the end cut to about a 1/4-inch opening. Once the oil is hot work quickly and swirl the batter in a circular and cross pattern in the pan. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown; carefully turn funnel cake and fry until golden brown on second side, about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Sift confectioner's sugar over cake to dust lightly. Enjoy!

DIY Funnel Cake Kits

There are a variety of different kits you can buy to make your own funnel cake at home. They usually include a special pouring pitcher, a cake ring to help hold the shape of the cake, batter mix, and tongs to lift your delicious funnel cake from the hot oil.

The first time we made funnel cakes at home I bought the Carnival Funnel Cake set from Amazon and it worked like a charm; our funnel cakes tasted just like the ones we buy on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore or at our local carnival when it comes to town. The kit was easy to use and in no time our kitchen was filled with the fabulous smell of funnel cakes cooking just like at the carnival. The kit comes with a funnel pitcher, batter mix, and the cake ring.

To make the funnel cakes you'll also need your own frying pan, oil, tongs or a fork and toppings such as powdered sugar, fruit, Nutella, cinnamon sugar . . . anything tastes good on top of a funnel cake! We used the batter mix that came with the kit the first time we made the funnel cakes, and each time after that we used the recipe above for the batter to make more funnel cakes.