20 Southern State Fair Desserts You Can Deliciously Recreate At Home
Once a year, every Southern state beckons its people, far and wide, to big open spaces where ring toss, roller coasters, and plenty of scrumptious food awaits. We’re talking about the annual State Fair. While modern-day fairs are filled with well-known, deep-fried fare like funnel cakes, apple cider doughnuts, and gooey hand pies—looking at you, Texas—there was a time when many state and county fairs alike throughout the South hosted baking competitions for classic cakes and pies, such as the vintage Lane Cake, that would let folks show off their family’s finest recipes.
Even if you skip out on the State Fair, you can easily recreate these decadent dessert recipes at home. Choose from winning cakes, old-fashioned pies, and seasonal deep-fried sweets—these State Fair desserts deserve a spot in your home.
Peach Fried Pies
Recipe: Peach Fried Pies
Harken to the best days of summer with deep-fried hand pies filled with sweet, ooey, gooey peaches.
Homemade Funnel Cakes
Recipe: Homemade Funnel Cakes
Ah, the fair food that rules them all. These squiggly, crunchy bites of deep-fried dough topped with powdered sugar aren't too difficult to make at home.
Old-Fashioned Apple Pie
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Pie
Just another reason to get your warm, spiced apple pie fix: this classic recipe with a golden crust and plenty of take-you-back-to-your-childhood feelings.
Banana Cream Donuts
Recipe: Banana Cream Donuts
If you've never had this classic doughnut flavor, prepare to swoon over every banana pudding-stuffed bite.
The Lane Cake
Recipe: The Lane Cake
Over 100 years ago, this cake won the county fair competition in Columbus, Georgia, which is more than appropriate. It's a fruit-filled, bourbon-spiked, meringue-topped cake. Enough said.
Caramel-Frosted Pound Cake
Recipe: Caramel-Frosted Pound Cake
Caramel cake is bound to have won plenty of competitions at county fairs across the South, and you'll love this modern spin that takes classic pound cake and covers it in a rich caramel frosting.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Recipe: Apple Cider Doughnuts
Fluffy and cakey on the inside with a crispy sweet exterior, these homemade doughnuts remind us of a food stand at the fall state fair.
Blueberry-Lavender Hand Pies
Recipe: Blueberry-Lavender Hand Pies
You're never too old to enjoy a warm, gooey hand pie—and this recipe celebrates spring fair season with fresh blueberries.
Banana Split Cake
Recipe: Banana Split Cake
Ice-cream sundae on a hot Southern day? Now, let's turn it into a cool icebox cake with an exciting banana split finish.
Texas Sheet Cake with Fudge Icing
We'd reckon that this decadent chocolate cake has made an appearance or two at the state fair competition. No worrying about icing three layers, either.
Million Dollar Pound Cake
Recipe: Million Dollar Pound Cake
The most dependable pound cake to have in your recipe box? None other than this old-school Bundt that requires only seven ingredients.
Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Recipe: Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Going to a state fair in the fall just calls for some sort of goodie that involves caramel and apple together. These hand pies are like a bite of autumn.
Cherry Flag Pie
Recipe: Cherry Flag Pie
We couldn't forget to include cherry pie, could we? Dress up the festive pie to fit whatever season you like by cutting the pie crust into fun shapes and designs.
Recipe: Hummingbird Cake
The Hummingbird Cake was first submitted to Southern Living in 1978 by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina; but we'd guess that it could win a state fair cake competition title any day.
Mini Strawberry Chiffon Pies
Recipe: Mini Strawberry Chiffon Pies
The more, the merrier with these miniature versions of an old-fashioned favorite: chiffon pie. Expect a super fluffy, strawberry-flavored filling that bursts on the taste buds.
Carrot Bundt Cake
Recipe: Carrot Bundt Cake
This winner of a carrot cake recipe doesn't require stacking, crumb-layering, or trying to get a perfectly smooth top. Carrot chips and crystallized ginger give a retro finishing touch.
Recipe: Watermelon Slushies
While the old-school Coca-Cola slushie—with or without the addition of grenadine—is the ultimate concession stand refresher, these fresh watermelon slushies are calling our name.
German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting
Texans can't get enough of this nutty, coconuty chocolate layer cake that's just about the most decadent bite you could wish for.
Key Lime Cupcakes
Recipe: Key Lime Cupcakes
In Florida, the most festive treat might be the chocolate-covered Key lime pie on a stick! However, we're loving this slightly different rendition: graham cracker-infused cupckaes with a tart Key lime buttercream frosting.
Strawberry-Apricot Hand Pies
Recipe: Strawberry-Apricot Hand Pies
Hand pies let you walk, talk, and eat—which is fitting for fair season. You might not know it yet, but strawberry and apricot make quite the scrumptious duo.