25 Carnival Treats You Can Make at Home

Bring the carnival home with these state fair-inspired recipes. From sweet treats to deep-fried delights, they're sure to make you smile — no ferris wheel required.

May 10, 2022

Photo By: Teri Lyn Fisher

Photo By: Matt Armendariz

Photo By: Matt Armedariz ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Teri Lyn Fisher

Photo By: Tara Donne

Photo By: Matt Armendariz

Photo By: Tara Donne

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

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


Photo By: Teri Lyn Fisher

Photo By: Renee Comet

Mini Corndogs

Crispy, golden and slightly sweet, corndogs are an iconic carnival dish. Trisha serves hers with both ketchup and mustard sauces for dipping.

Get the Recipe: Mini Corndogs

Homemade Funnel Cakes

Bring the carnival home with this classic fair dessert. Fried dough is crisp and golden brown on the outside and soft and cakey on the inside. Covered in a shower of confectioners' sugar and sprinkle of cinnamon, it's the perfect fun dessert for a casual get-together.

Get the Recipe: Homemade Funnel Cakes

Barbecued Turkey Legs

These massive barbecued bird legs are a street fair staple. Now you can make them at home with an easy dry brine that eliminates the need for submerging them in a big pot of salted water.

Get the Recipe: Barbecued Turkey Legs

Cotton Candy Lemonade Slushies

Consider these slushies the ultimate two-in-one treat: frozen lemonade concentrate gets blended with cotton candy to make a bright pink beverage that screams of carnival fun.

Get the Recipe: Cotton Candy Lemonade Slushie

Fried Cheesy Pickles

For a Southern-style snack, wrap pickle spears in cheese and egg roll wrappers and fry until golden.

Get the Recipe: Fried Cheesy Pickles

Chocolate Dipped Bananas on Stick

Treat yourself to something sweet with this state fair favorite. You’ll need to plan ahead to allow for freezing time, but the process of dipping and decorating the bananas is a breeze.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Dipped Bananas on Stick

Mexican Grilled Corn

Tyler adds tons of flavor to in-season grilled corn on the cob by making it Mexican-style with cheese and chili powder.

Get the Recipe: Mexican Grilled Corn

Low Country Nachos

True to the spirit of carnival treats, these tortilla chips are piled high with anything-but-average fixings for a savory, over-the-top bite you’ll be glad you tried!

Get the Recipe: Low Country Nachos

Fried Apple Hand Pies

Hand-held apple pies in a flaky, deep-fried crust? Yes, please! You can even make these pies ahead (and stock them in your freezer for up to 6 months) so that the only thing you have to do when you're craving a carnival-inpsired sweet, is fry them.

Get the Recipe: Fried Apple Hand Pies

Idaho-Style Finger Steaks

These golden and crispy deep-fried steak strips are what happens when chicken-fried steak meets chicken fingers. We like them dipped in a homemade "fry sauce" or bottled cocktail sauce, but ranch dressing would be great too.

Get the Recipe: Idaho-Style Finger Steaks

Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Giada says these street-style sandwiches are a staple in Italy, but we've been known to see them around the fair. She starts by browning sweet Italian turkey sausage, then simmers the meat and veggies in tomato paste and marsala wine for added depth of flavor.

Get the Recipe: Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Funnel Cake Bites with Strawberry Sauce

It just wouldn’t be a carnival without warm, powdery funnel cake. Kardea takes hers to the next level by frying the dough in bite-size pieces — and pairing these tiny treats with a simple homemade strawberry dipping sauce.

Get the Recipe: Funnel Cake Bites with Strawberry Sauce

Double-Fried French Fries

If you’re looking for a classic French fry, Guy’s recipe can’t be beat. He fries potato slices twice to ensure a crispy finish and perfect consistency.

Get the Recipe: Double-Fried French Fries

Deep-Fried Cheesecake Bites

As Ree says, this recipe “is absolutely ridiculous in a really delicious way.” And really, isn’t that what carnival food is all about?

Get the Recipe: Deep-Fried Cheesecake Bites

Mini Corn Dog Muffins with Creole Mustard Sauce

Kardea’s quick and easy take on corn dogs tastes just like the classic — but skips all the work of battering and deep frying!

Get the Recipe: Mini Corn Dog Muffins with Creole Mustard Sauce

Deep-Fried Tagalongs

These gooey deep-fried treats are the perfect excuse to buy another box of Tagalongs® at the next Girl Scout cookie sale. The chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies are dipped in a sweet batter that gets an extra peanutty boost from powdered PB. They're fried until golden and served with a dusting of powdered sugar and chocolate sauce for dipping.

Get the Recipe: Deep-Fried Tagalongs

Mozzarella Sticks

Giada coats mozzarella in Italian-style dried breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese before frying. These cheesy sticks can be made and frozen before cooking up to two days in advance.

Get the Recipe: Mozzarella Sticks

Fried Ice Cream with Cereal Crust

Hot and crunchy on the outside, cold and creamy on the inside — these cereal-crusted ice cream balls are the perfect project for someone with a sweet tooth. Choose one of our fun combinations — or create your own!

Get the Recipe: Fried Ice Cream with Cereal Crust

Spiced Kettle Corn

Melissa's sweet-salty kettle corn is a crowd-pleasing 10-minute treat.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Kettle Corn

Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

Giada coats the tops of her cookies with chocolate-toffee candy bars before assembling these decadent ice cream sandwiches.

Get the Recipe: Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

Mini Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffles are a match made in heaven — so why not chicken and waffle fries? To make this easy app, bake chicken nuggets and waffle fries as the labels direct. Top each waffle fry with a nugget, skewer with a toothpick and drizzle with spicy honey.

Get the Recipe: Mini Chicken and Waffles

Funnel Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Vanilla cake mix makes up the batter for Trisha’s funnel cakes, which sandwich a big scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream.

Get the Recipe: Funnel Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Caramel Apples

A deep, rich caramel makes for a classic shiny caramel apple.

Get the Recipe: Caramel Apples

Soft Pizza Pretzels

Who doesn’t love a pillowy pretzel? For a fun spin on the classic recipe, season the pretzels with Parmesan, garlic and Italian herbs and serve with marinara for dunking.

Get the Recipe: Soft Pizza Pretzels

Fried Elvis Banana on a Stick

Elvis goes to the county fair, when his favorite flavor combination is deep-fried and served on a stick.

Get the Recipe: Fried Elvis Banana on a Stick