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overhead image of funnel cakes topped with confectioners' sugar

That’s right, I went there.

ON A MONDAY.

And then I added sprinkles! Good glory can every week start like this.

funnel cakes topped with confectioners' sugar

I figured homemade funnel cakes are the perfect treat for Memorial Day weekend festivities. Or any summer fun because they’re the epitome of boardwalk food, aren’t they? I’m all for super cool food trucks serving up fried cookie dough potato chip stuffed macaroni and cheese concoctions, but I’ll always have a sweet spot for the classics. Preferably anything served on a stick (caramel apples!!) and most definitely warm funnel cakes with a snowfall of confectioners’ sugar on top.

Last weekend, my friend and I were talking about a beach weekend this summer and she asked me if it’s possible to make funnel cake at home– like the kind we used to eat on the boardwalk together. Is it possible?! Anything’s possible with batter and a quart of oil! Because that’s really all that funnel cake is– batter and hot oil.

And you know what? Much to all of our surprise, this nostalgic treat is easier than you ever imagined:

  1. Make cake batter.
  2. Pour into oil.
  3. Fry all the calories out of it.

Or something like that.

funnel cake batter in a glass bowl with a wood spoon

The recipes started out from All Recipes, but I found a few ways to change it up after I tried it the first time. I wanted the cakes to have a bit more flavor so I added some brown sugar and vanilla extract. I left out the cinnamon on the first try, but added it back in the 2nd time. I loved the cinnamon flavor, so I kept that in the recipe below– you can leave it out if you’d like but it makes the funnel cakes taste a little extra special. I found the batter was a little too thin, so I added a little extra flour. And with that, baking powder. There’s no yeast involved here. Just baking powder. You don’t have to wait around for dough to rise, punch it down, knead it, and all that razzmatazz.

Told you, funnel cakes are so easy.

I ended up loving the batter after these changes and it produced some of the best funnel cakes I’ve ever tasted. You’ll have a batter comparable to pancake batter. In fact, I’ve heard you can make funnel cake out of boxed pancake mix but I’ve never given it a go. This homemade version is too simple!

funnel cake frying in a pot of oil on the stove

Frying is the next step. Don’t get nervous! The process is really quick. For this batch, I was so concerned with making a fun swirly shape, that I didn’t snap the best picture of the frying part. I’m thinking of making a video for this recipe if you’re interested? I can try to work on it soon!

Everyone says a funnel is best for pouring the batter into the oil (duh) but I most certainly don’t have one in my kitchen drawers. Is this a normal kitchen tool to keep on hand? Maybe I’m missing out and should get a funnel?? Anyway. A liquid measuring cup will do. And hey! It worked. I use about 1/3 cup of batter per cake– so I really like using a measuring cup to pour because it doubles as the actual way I’m measuring the batter. Make sense?

Other things that’ll work: empty squeeze bottle, empty salad dressing bottle, empty sport water bottle, ketchup bottle… empty that sucker too. You can also pour the batter into a large plastic zipped-top bag and cut 1/4 inch off one of the corners to make a small opening.

funnel cake batter in a glass measuring cup

When you pour the batter into the oil, make a big swirl starting from either the center or outside. Then you can zig zag your way all throughout the swirl shape, connecting some of the swirl layers. I’ve also read that you should pour the batter in a spider web shape, but that didn’t work for me because it was taking too long to make an intricate web pattern. Impatience? Check.

There is no special artistry to this, as evidenced by my misshaped and discombobulated funnel cakes, so don’t stress out about how to pour or how they look. There’s charm in the haphazardness! At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Just fry for a minute or so on each side, then you’re done. Time to get CA-RAZY!!! Confectioners’ sugar, chocolate syrup, caramel, sprinkles, ice cream, jam, apple pie filling, lemon curd, I don’t know, melted peanut butter, whipped cream, berries, a smear of Nutella? Dude, just do it all. I was thinking it would be so fun to have these served at a party where everyone can top their own. So a funnel cake bar of sorts!

overhead image of funnel cakes topped with confectioners' sugar, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and cherries

So fun to have for a special treat one night and, as you can see, there’s not much work involved at all. One more thing: how the heck do I categorize these? Under cakes? Thinking of starting a new category called damn good fried food. I’ll add the donuts.

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overhead image of funnel cakes topped with confectioners' sugar

Homemade Funnel Cakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: about 8
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Here’s exactly how to make homemade funnel cakes! You only need a few basic ingredients to get started.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying*
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • optional for flavor: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk

Instructions

  1. Pour oil into the pot set over medium heat. Heat to 375°F (191°C). I usually prepare the batter (next step) as the oil is heating.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until no lumps remain.
  3. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet. This is where the cakes can cool immediately after frying.
  4. If using a funnel, cover the bottom of the spout with your finger as you pour the batter in. Measure about 1/3 cup of batter and pour into the hot oil, making one large swirl and making sure to connect some of the swirl layers. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Fry until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Carefully remove with a metal spatula or metal slotted spoon and place onto the wire rack to slightly cool. Repeat with remaining batter, then turn off heat.*
  5. Serve the funnel cakes while they’re still a little warm. Top with favorites like confectioners’ sugar, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, caramel, or sprinkles. Cakes are best enjoyed the same day, though they keep in the refrigerator for a couple extra days.

Notes

  1. Oil: The amount of oil really depends on how wide or tall your pot is. You want oil to fill about 1/3 of the pot. I use a little more than 1 quart for my 4 and 1/2 quart Dutch oven.
  2. Leftover Oil: Do not pour used oil down the sink drain. Allow to cool, then pour into an empty container and discard in the trash. Or reuse it.
  3. Special Tools: Large, heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, high-heat thermometer (I own this one and this one— love both), and a funnel, liquid measuring cup, or the pouring options listed in the post.
  4. Adapted from All Recipes.

Keywords: funnel cakes

Party cakes!

funnel cake topped with confectioners' sugar, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and a cherry on a blue plate

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Pinned this recipe a while ago and just made them tonight. Delicious! Hubby said they’re better than the ones we get on the boardwalk! 

  2. These were amazing!! Everything about them….the taste (we opted for a more classic, non-cinnamon version), the crisp, the lightness and no oily residue. You have done it again Sally!!

    Question…if you were going to make this for company, could you make the batter ahead and refrigerate it? If so, what would those directions look like?

    1. Thanks Becky! And– I feel like you could definitely make it ahead and refrigerate it. Maybe for a day or so? Not much longer than that.

  3. Oh. Good. Lord!!! I am in heaven…amazing flavor even BEFORE putting on the powdered sugar…this has hit the spot, been craving these for a week!

    What is the best way to keep and reheat the extras???

  4. I made these today but with a twist. Instead of milk, I used RumChata everything else stayed the same. It was so delicious!!

  5. The funnel cakes were very good! The next time I make them I will use sugar in place of the brown sugar. My family and I thought they needed to be sweeter. 

  6. Tried this recipe today and it was def. worth it. Delish!!! Thank you for the recipe.

  7. Is it okay to use a non-dairy alternative to the milk, like coconut milk or almond milk?

  8. So awesome and delicious my kids loved them!! Better than any we had ever tried before; simple and easy directions to follow. I didn’t have a funnel or empty bottle so I just used a piping bag and tip

    1. Absolutely! The baking powder is initially activated once wet, so keep that in mind. (Don’t wait too long to make them.) You can fry it right from the refrigerator, too. No need to bring to room temperature. Stand back a bit from the oil (as best you can) as it may splatter when adding the batter.

    1. Hi Rebecca, cake flour is a little too light for this recipe. Best to stick to all-purpose flour here.

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