The fair is a highlight of the summer season for many. Along with the rides and lights, it’s worth the price of admission for the delicious carnival food.
Now you can bring the fairgrounds home with homemade versions of your favorite carnival foods. Many iconic fair foods are easy to whip up in your kitchen for fun snacks, a delicious sweet treat, or a party appetizer.
There’s something for everyone on this list so you won’t have to wait until the fair comes around again to enjoy your favorite carnival food!
1. Corn Dogs
One of the most quintessential favorite fair foods is corn dogs. It’s almost impossible to go to a carnival or fair without getting one of these fun snacks. This recipe makes whipping up a batch of this beloved kid-approved food a snap. They are authentic, golden brown, crispy, and delicious corn dogs.
2. Fried Oreos
Fried Oreos are one of those carnival foods that is a sweet treat and fun snack. Double stuffed Oreos are fried in a Bisquick batter, creating a luscious ooey-gooey center. They are a breeze to make at home and a great alternative to traditional desserts. You don’t have to wait for the local fair or carnival to enjoy this decadent treat.
3. Funnel Cake
Funnel cakes are as classic as you can get when it comes to fair food. They are loved by everyone and now you can enjoy this tasty treat with this easy funnel cake recipe. It’s a simple recipe that takes 15 minutes on the stove. You’ll be kicking back and enjoying the wonderful flavors of the fair anytime from the comfort of your own home.
4. Caramel Corn
Caramel corn is a delicious, crunchy, sweet, and salty snack. While it is a favorite fair food, this fun snack is also great for the holidays. It’s an easy recipe with simple ingredients that yield buckets of flavor.
5. Kettle Corn
Kettle corn is an old-fashioned, tasty, sweet, and salty snack. A favorite fair food, it’s easy to re-create this cherished dish at home. Great for movie nights or a light snack, the sweet, crunchy, and saltiness hits all the right notes. It’s a palate-pleasing, fun snack any time.
Homemade soft pretzels are an amazing treat to enjoy. Dare I say, these are even better than any carnival. This is a quick and easy recipe using rapid-rise yeast. The result is a soft, pillowy pretzel perfect for dipping in nacho cheese, cream cheese, or mustard.
These gourmet caramel apples are such a fun snack to make at home. This carnival food is a dazzling culinary creation. The sweet, buttery caramel complements the tart, crisp apple for a perfect bit every time. The extra fun part is all the different options you can create for toppings. Enjoying these at home is a fun activity and snack for your littles.
8. Candy Apple
Candy apples became carnival food after their invention in 1908. Now a classic, sweet treat, the candied apple is easier than ever to enjoy at home. The apples are dipped in a bright, candied red sauce with cinnamon flavor. The result is a crunchy, candied exterior that is bursting with mouthwatering sweet, tart, and cinnamon flavors.
9. Snow Cones
There’s nothing better than a snow cone to cool you down between riding all the rides and playing games at your local carnival. But you don’t need the carnival to be in town to enjoy this classic summer cool-down treat. Great to beat the heat on those hot summer days, this easy recipe is one to have on repeat.
10. Fried Pickles
There are many tasty carnival foods and fried pickles are a favorite. They’re an irresistible fun snack that you can easily make at home. Fried until golden brown, they are elevated by dipping them in your favorite sauce such as ranch.
This insanely good carnival fare is found across the states in fairs, food trucks, and carnivals. It’s an absolute favorite and one of the best Mexican side dishes to make at home. Corn on the cob is cooked and smothered in a spiced cream sauce and topped with cotija cheese. It’s a scrumptious, divine recipe so good you won’t want to eat corn any other way.
12. Chili Dogs
What better way to enhance your hot dog experience than adding chili to it? Chili dogs have long been a favorite fair food since their creation over a century ago. This recipe is a simple, flavorful chili recipe to add to your hot dogs. Don’t forget to top it with cheddar cheese and diced onion for the full chili dog experience. Perfect for cookouts, parties, and get-togethers, this treasured dish never disappoints.
13. Walking Tacos
Walking tacos, similar to Frito pie, is not exactly a taco at all. It’s a fun snack and popular carnival food consisting of opening up a bag of single-serve corn chips and topping it with taco meat and your favorite toppings. All you need is your fork and you can walk around the fair and eat, hence, the walking taco name. These are easy to make at home and a blast to make with the kids for sleepovers and birthday parties.
14. Mini Donuts
The best thing about mini donuts is their bite-sized goodness. While these are carnival food, they are an incredible treat to make at home with this quick and simple recipe. Delicious, dainty donuts are baked, dipped in melted butter, then rolled in a delicious cinnamon-sugar combination. They’re a sweet treat great for brunches or a fun snack.
Churros aren’t just a favorite fair food; they are an amazing dessert any day of the year. Fun and easy to make at home, this recipe creates this classic carnival food in only 30 minutes. The deep-fried dough is sprinkled with cinnamon and is a sweet treat as is. If you want to elevate it, dip them in chocolate or Nutella for an over-the-top mouthwatering dessert.
16. Cotton Candy
I’m not sure there is another carnival food as quintessential as cotton candy. This sweet treat is as iconic as the carnival itself. Now you can easily make it at home for birthday parties or a fun weekend splurge with this simple, appetizing recipe.
17. Elephant Ears
This classic, delicious, mouthwatering sweet treat is a fun snack to make at home. Made famous through its popularity at fairs and carnivals across the country, this fried dough dish gets its name from its shape. They’re light and airy on the inside while the outside maintains a slight crunch. The cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over it are what make this classic treat irresistible.
18. Chicken Tenders
It doesn’t matter if you’re 4 or 40, chicken tenders are always a succulent, juicy, crunchy delight. These tried-and-true delicious finger foods are a staple at any fair. This homemade version is a quick and simple recipe that creates big flavors. Grab your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy these finger-licking-good tenders.
19. Onion Rings
Fairs are for fried food and onion rings are one of those fun snacks that you just gotta have. This recipe recreates those infamous beer-battered rings with an easy and flavorful batter. You don’t need a deep fryer to make these crispy rings as they quickly fry up in a pan on the stove. Grab your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy this favorite fair food.
20. Turkey Legs
It wouldn’t be a carnival or fair without giant turkey legs. These signature meat sticks are a savory, succulent, and mouthwatering treat. This fun recipe recreates this lavish carnivore meal with a wonderful brine and savory rub then they are grilled to perfection. It’s a spectacular meal you can enjoy without the fanfare of the fair.
Sweet treats are in abundance at the fair and these chocolate-covered bananas are the perfect dessert to enjoy while taking in the sights. This at-home recipe is a fun, simple, quick, and easy recipe that is also a great activity for the kids. A splendid sweet treat on a hot summer day.
You don’t need to go to your local fair to enjoy great nachos. While they are great for walking around the fair, this indulgent finger food is an amazing recipe to make at home. This copycat recipe for Taco Bell’s nachos supreme is a fabulous at-home creation. They’re an addictive treat that’s fun to eat.
Let’s be honest, we go to the fair for the array of mouthwatering fried foods. While it may seem unorthodox, fried cheesecake is the sweet treat you didn’t know you needed. This recipe hits all the right notes with a simple homemade cheesecake recipe. The cheesecake is cut into cubes, frozen, then battered and fried for an incredibly sublime dessert.
24. Fried Ice Cream
Yes, friends, you can fry ice cream and it’s an amazing, delicious sweet treat to enjoy on hot summer days. Fried ice cream is a fun carnival food that you can make at home. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make a gooey mess. This fun snack is a decadent, indulgent, and glorious little bit of heaven.
25. Fried Twinkies
Take your love of Twinkies to the next level with this exciting favorite fair food at home. Twinkies are great on their own, but frying them elevates this fun snack to new heights. It’s indulgent, decadent, and oh-so-good!
26. Boiled Peanuts
This southern favorite is a delicious homemade snack that’s easy to make and includes a variety of seasoning options. Peanuts are boiled in their shells in a brine. The result is a flavorful, fun snack everyone loves.
There might not be anything more refreshing than a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade as you enjoy the sights and sounds of the fair on a hot summer day. This cherished beverage is an easy drink to whip up at home. All you need is lemons, sugar, and water. Wonderful to sip on your porch and cool off during the heat of the day.
Carnival foods are meant to be an indulgent treat. It’s part of the experience and they are fun to recreate at home. Chili cheese fries are one of those fun snacks that can also be a meal. Whether you’re taking a break between watching the kids ride the rides or whipping something up for the family on a Friday night, chili cheese fries hit the spot every time.
Let’s be honest, mac and cheese bites are one of the greatest culinary creations since sliced bread. A favorite fair food, they are also great to make for parties or movie night at home with the family. They’re easy to customize and elevate with different creamy cheeses or by adding in other ingredients, such as savory bacon or lobster. They are divine dainty bites of goodness.
It’s hard to pick just one favorite fair food, but anything with cheese gets my vote, besides the sweet treats of course. Making fried cheese curds at home is great for fun snacks, parties, and potlucks. This recipe uses the air fryer so they aren’t as greasy as deep-fried cheese curds. Crispy on the outside, warm and creamy on the inside, and bursting with wonderful flavor.
Did you try any of these fun treats? Let me know below in the comments.
- 10 large lemons
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups water cold
- 3-4 cups cotton candy
- Squeeze lemons into a large pitcher, being sure to strain out any seeds.
- Pour in sugar and cold water. Stir to combine and until sugar dissolves.
- Pour lemonade over glass filled with ice. Top with pinch of cotton candy.