The Fairest of the Fair Foods: 7 Must-Have Delights

We’ve officially entered the “close of summer” portion of the year. This means sweltering days, vacation escapes and, for many Americans, state fairs! I’m a native Midwesterner; the state fair holds a place near and dear to my heart. Where else can you ride a roller coaster, bet on a pig race, eat a Koolickle and see a Jason Derulo concert — all in the same day?

But the real reason to attend your local state fair? The food, of course! These days fair fare is crazier and tastier than ever, unabashedly presented in an “anything goes” atmosphere. Here are seven ways to get your fair fix at home.

Mini Corn Dogs with Homemade Mustard (pictured above)

For this fair-inspired finger food, Nancy Fuller bathes cut-up hot dogs in a classic cornmeal batter before dousing them in zippy homemade mustard.

Funnel Cakes with Strawberry Sauce

There’s a reason that the popularity of this classic carnival treat is still going strong after more than 100 years — it’s just so delicious! I like mine with extra powdered sugar.

Macaroni and Cheese Bites prepared by Sandra Lee on food network.

2692 f0

Macaroni and Cheese Bites prepared by Sandra Lee on food network.

Macaroni and Cheese Bites prepared by Sandra Lee on food network.

Spicy Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites

During the past two decades or so, food vendors have really pushed the limits of deep-fried foods. While many of these inventions are fails (hello, fried butter!), crispy bites of macaroni and cheese are definite keepers.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Fried Dill Pickles

Tangy pickles that have been dunked in a cornmeal coating and deep-fried until they’re crispy are a summertime delicacy. Of course, they need a dipping sauce such as ranch dressing or spicy mayo for you to fully enjoy the experience.

Quick Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Pie competitions are a tradition as old as the state fairs themselves; while this blue-ribbon chocolate-and-banana pie is not deep-fried or crazy, it sure is delicious!




Fried Cheese Curds

If you hit the state fair in Wisconsin or Minnesota, you’re sure to come across this regional delicacy. Squeaky cheese curds are battered and fried until crispy and melty, rendering them utterly irresistible.


Photo by: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Tara Donne, FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Spiced Kettle Corn

This addictive salty-and-sweet popcorn snack has been around for nearly 250 years! Keep the tradition alive by having a bag or two this summer.

Melissa's Spiced Kettle Corn
Loading Video...

Next Up

Food Network Staffers' Must-Have Kitchen Organization Products

We've got the tried-and-true essentials to get your kitchen in order.

7 Lucky Foods for Friday the 13th

Banish bad vibes with these lucky recipes from Food Network.

7 Best Food Processors of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

We sliced, diced, shredded and blended to find the best one to suit your needs.

7 Foods to Include in a Weight Loss Diet

Don't waste your money on secret potions and potentially dangerous supplements to lose weight. Including these real foods in your diet is a safer way to lose weight.

7 Foods We Should Eat More of in 2023

From zero-proof drinks to convenient weeknight sheet pan recipes, here’s what dietitians hope we’ll all eat more of in 2023.

7 Foods We’d Never Think To Cover in Chocolate

From chocolate-covered whole jalapenos to pork rolls, these treats are definitely a little out there.

7 Things Food Network Editors Were Obsessed With in February

These are the products we couldn’t get enough of.

7 Best Store-Bought Stuffings, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

Need to skip homemade this year? Go with one of these boxes.