40 Deep-Fried Recipes To Recreate the Most Delicious State Fair Foods At Home
Let's be real—Southerners don't go to the state fair, or even the county fair, just to win a stuffed monkey at the ring toss or get seasick on the Tilt-A-Whirl. We go for the iconic fair foods, all gloriously deep-fried and full of flavor, whether sweet (hello, fried Oreos), salty (say no more, fried macaroni and cheese), or something else entirely. Dill pickle chips, green tomatoes, and apple cider doughnuts get the excitement going way more than any amusement ride.
While you might not always be in the radius to hit the once-a-year state fair—though, the legendary State Fair of Texas with its annual competition for most bizarre fried foods is a bucket-list item in itself—you can easily recreate the same dishes at home. We're stocked with plenty of delicious renditions of all of the deep-fried state fair foods of our childhood, as well as a few special standouts that go beyond the fryer. Think old-school cherry cola slushies, Texas frito pie in the bag, and classic caramel apples.
Here are 40 deliciously deep-fried and beyond recipes that copy your favorite fair foods right in your kitchen.
Recipe: Funnel Cakes
There isn't a fairground out there—big or small—that doesn't run on the sweet, sugary scent of funnel cakes wafting in the air. Turns out, they aren't hard to make at home, either.
Fried Pickle Chips
Recipe: Fried Pickle Chips
Typically dipped in a comeback sauce of sorts, fried pickles are a Southern delicacy you'll see at bustling state fairs and beachside seafood shacks alike.
Homemade Corn Dogs
Recipe: Homemade Corn Dogs
Yep, we're bringing this all-time favorite to your kitchen—and you'll be so glad you made the deep-fried hot dogs on a stick with homemade comeback sauce. They're to-die-for.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Recipe: Apple Cider Doughnuts
Most state fairs take place in autumn, which means apple treats as far as the eye can see—and nose can smell. This classic apple cider doughnuts are deliciously coated in cinnamon sugar.
Recipe: Homemade Pretzels
Make sure to pick up cream cheese and mustard at the grocery store. These homemade pretzels are good enough by themselves, but who doesn't love some extra flair?
Fried Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Fried Deviled Eggs
The motto of any state fair: When in doubt, deep-fry it. These fried deviled eggs are a delicacy you never knew you needed.
Recipe: Deep-Fried Oreos
Maybe the most quintessential fair food out there besides funnel cakes, deep-fried Oreos are a bite of sweet, melty heaven—and doing them at home is as easy as grabbing a box of Bisquick.
Golden Corn Fritters
Recipe: Golden Corn Fritters
Nothing sets off a twinkle in a Southerner's eye like a crispy, golden corn fritter fresh out of the fryer. This recipe is sheer crunchy perfection.
Homemade Candy Apple
Recipe: Homemade Candy Apple
Just a handful of ingredients is standing between you and recreating this classic apple snack at home, starting with crisp apples from the farmers' market.
Beer-Batter Fried Pickles
Recipe: Beer-Batter Fried Pickles
Using sandwich slice-sized dill pickles makes this recipe gloriously hand-held, and the spicy ranch dipping sauce is so good you'll want to bathe in it.
Memphis Style BBQ Nachos
Recipe: Memphis Style BBQ Nachos
At any fair, you'll find nachos. At any Southern fair, you'll find pulled pork barbecue nachos. Here's the easiest, cheesiest remake to try tonight.
Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Recipe: Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Is there anything cuter than a miniature pie? Plus, you get more caramel-dipped apple flavor by the bite.
Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites
Fried macaroni and cheese is the calling card of any very serious state fair food lineup, and this recipe includes a pimiento-studded spin that gives a fun kick.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes
At the fair, anything fried goes—and this Southern classic is bound to make an appearance.
Southern-Style Caramel Apples
Recipe: Southern-Style Caramel Apples
Sweet melted caramel and the crisp, slightly sour crunch of an apple makes this a favorite fall treat to pick at any fair or make with kiddos at home.
Hot Dogs with Pickle and Parsley Relish
Hot dogs from the cart is a staple amongst any Southern community affair. Upgrade any home cookout with these relish-topped dogs with grilled buns.
Buffalo-Style Sweet Potato Waffle Fries
We'd wait in line all night long for a taste of these waffle fries topped with a tangy hot sauce mixture, ranch, and blue cheese. To make it even heartier at home, top with pulled pork from your favorite barbecue joint or crispy bacon pieces.
Mini Apple Pies
Recipe: Mini Apple Pies
A muffin tin never looked so adorable. Meet hand pies' even tinier cousin, the mini apple pie.
Caramel-Peanut-Popcorn Snack Mix
Recipe: Caramel-Peanut-Popcorn Snack Mix
Caramel corn is a fairground staple, and this snack mix ramps up the fun with dry-roasted peanuts and Reese's Pieces.
Buffalo Chicken Bites
Air Fryer French Fries
Recipe: Air Fryer French Fries
There are always French fries to be found at any fair, and we'd like to introduce our super crunchy, mess-free recipe that can be made in the air fryer.
Alabama Hush Puppies
Recipe: Alabama Hush Puppies
Deep-fried cornbread bites? Whoever thought up hush puppies should be considered a genius. If you've never made them at home, now's the time to try.
Cherry Cola Slushie
Recipe: Bourbon Cola Grenadine Slush
The bourbon is optional in this recipe for an old-fashioned cherry cola slushie. All you'll need for this frozen cocktail recipe is some Coca-Cola, cherry syrup, a few maraschinos to garnish, and your favorite bourbon (optional).
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream
Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream
Homemade mom-and-pop ice cream is a dime a dozen at the county fair, and we're partial to anything strawberry or peach. This recipe is made with fresh strawberries and cubed angel food cake.
Recipe: Tater Nachos
Nachos, but make it tater tots. That might be the smartest thing we've heard all day, especially since it starts with frozen tots.
Recipe: Frito Pie
At the State Fair of Texas, you'll see this classic recipe of Texas chili, sour cream, and jalapenos served right out of the Frito bag.
Chicken Fingers Coated with Cheesy Snack Crackers
Chicken fingers never go out of style, but we gave the dish a cheesy twist by using cheese snack crackers (such as Cheez-Its) to coat the outside.
Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Bites
Recipe: Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Bites
These are almost too tempting to pop into your mouth one after the other. Serve with ice-cold chocolate milk for extra flair.
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
If these were to appear at the county fair, odds are they'd be coated and deep-fried. For now, these will do, for health's sake.
Spiced Pear Hand Pies
Recipe: Spiced Pear Hand Pies
Everybody loves a hand pie. Stray from the usual peach or apple by using pears spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger.
Fresh Cherry Pie
Recipe: Fresh Cherry Pie
America's favorite dessert, our popular Cherry Flag Pie can be latticed any way you'd like, like the basic pattern shown here.
Funnel Cake Ice-Cream Sandwiches
Recipe: Fried Delacata Catfish
At the most Southern of fairgrounds, you'll find real-deal cornmeal-fried catfish. Make at home with hushpuppies and grits for the most comforting meal ever.
Homemade Pulled Candy
Recipe: Homemade Pulled Candy
Pulled taffy is a soft, chewy candy Southerners love, and the process of making it is easy and enjoyable enough to do with the whole family on any afternoon.
Beef Tamale Pie
Recipe: Beef Tamale Pie
Typically served in a more hand-held form at the fair, this skillet recipe topped with a corn muffin mix dotted with jalapeños is perfect for an easy weeknight supper.
San Antonio Beef Puffy Tacos
Recipe: San Antonio Beef Puffy Tacos
Fried masa makes these crunchy puffed-up tacos the perfect segway for seasoned beef and toppings.
Fried Shrimp-and-Okra Po'Boys
Recipe: Fried Shrimp-and-Okra Po'Boys
Fried shrimp just belongs on chewy sub bread with a generous slathering of mayonnaise, and you can't go wrong with this recipe that adds fried okra for good measure.
Chicks in a Blanket
Recipe: Chicks in a Blanket
Dough-wrapped chicken-apple sausages are a quick update to basic pigs in a blanket. Customize with any sausage of your choice, from andouille to spicy Italian.
Recipe: Banana Fritters
Forget banana pancakes—banana fritters are where it's at. These fried bites of banana-infused batter are a pure delight to eat.
Chicken Pot Pie Hand Pies
Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie Hand Pies
Savory hand pies deserve a shoutout, and you can make these with any pot pie filling you'd like.