We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

The summer season is peppered with beach days and melting popsicles, grilled burgers with charcoal-dusted plumes of smoke, and sticky afternoons clogged with humidity.

But what’s perhaps more synonymous with summers in the U.S. is the blooming of state fairs scattered around the country. Here, deep-fried butter thrust onto sticks and browned corn dogs stamped with a curl of mustard are a paradigm of Americana. And then there’s the crowning glory of all state fair food creations: the funnel cake.

Share on Pinterest
Image courtesy of Fair Foods.

Not planning to hit your state fair this year but still want to replicate its classic elegance-meets-the-unwashed-masses dessert? You can, armed with Walt Disney Company’s former pastry chef George Geary’s cookbook Fair Foods.

Geary’s colorful cookbook is a celebration of kitsch, walking home cooks through some of the most quintessential fair snacks, like bacon-wrapped tater tots, barbecue turkey legs, and frozen cheesecake on a stick.

Below, chef George shares a recipe for the ultimate state fair-style funnel cake. His version calls for plenty of butter, sugar, and eggs (warning: This isn’t for the faint of heart), along with a big stock pot filled with canola oil. Once you’ve whipped up your buttery batter, you’ll pour it into a pastry bag, then pipe curly logs into the hot oil, flipping each piece over every 30 seconds until puffed and golden.

You could go ahead and eat these plain — they’re that good — or pile the cakes together into one large mountain, crowned with a splattering of whipped cream and sugary berries. That is, after all, what a slice of Americana tastes like.

Makes: 6–10 funnel cakes

Ingredients for the cake

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup cool water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Canola oil
  • Powdered sugar

Ingredients for the berry topping

  • 1 quart fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Make the Berry Topping. In a bowl, combine berries, sugar, and salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the funnel cake. Combine butter, water, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and quickly stir in flour. Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes to cook the flour slightly and rid the mixture of a starchy, floury taste.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and place the dough in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until most of the steam subsides, then add the eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until each is incorporated and a batter is formed.
  4. Pour 3 inches of oil into a stockpot and heat to 350°F (176°C).
  5. Meanwhile, place the batter in a pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tip no wider than 1/4 inch in diameter.
  6. Holding the pastry bag over the hot oil, push the batter out into the hot oil in a zigzag or spiral shape. Fry no more than 1 large or 2 smaller funnel cakes at a time.
  7. Fry the cakes until puffed up and golden (they will triple in size), 3–5 minutes, flipping every 30 seconds or so.
  8. Drain the cakes on a rack and cool slightly, then sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and Berry Topping.

Put the “fun” in funnel cake with these topping additions

  • colored sprinkles
  • a simple glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar + 2 tablespoons milk or lemon juice
  • a dusting of cinnamon sugar
  • whipped cream
  • crushed cookies, such as Oreos, plus chocolate sauce
  • apples and caramel sauce
  • warm pie filling, like cherry or peach
  • your favorite fruity cereal

Related Video: This churro funnel cake with dulce de leche tastes like a day at Disneyland