This mini funnel cakes recipe is as easy as making pancake mix batter but a whole lot funner to eat. Without further fuss or ado, here’s how to make it.
A trip to the state fair isn’t complete without a funnel cake. Even a mini one. Because remember how you’d beg your parents for junk food every chance you got back when you were a kid? And how they’d take you to the fair come late summer and after hours of listening to you beg they’d buy you a funnel cake and let you scarf down the entire thing in two minutes just so you’d stop pestering them? And how they’d look the other way as you clung for dear life to your mom’s arm while riding the teacups and screaming of a tummy ache from all that fried dough bouncing around in your belly? Yeah, us too. Lest you fear reliving this nightmare, there’s no worry of that happening with this recipe for mini funnel cakes. Not too big, not too small, just the right size. Originally published July 21, 2014.–Renee Schettler Rossi
How To Make This Recipe On The Cheap
The author says you need a squeeze bottle and a pastry ring to make these mini funnel cakes. But let’s carefully examine this assertion. Do these items make you look all cool and foodie-like in the kitchen? Sure, if you’re into that sorta thing. Do they make the frying part easier? Yep, a little. Do they really qualify as essential? Nah. We wouldn’t do that to you. Read the recipe below for our instructions on how to make this recipe without splurging on unnecessary kitchen equipment.
Mini Funnel Cakes
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 1 H
- Makes 15 to 20 4-inch cakes
Special Equipment: Plastic squeeze bottle* (optional), 4-inch metal pastry ring* (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups milk, preferably whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest, preferably organic
- 1 large egg
- Peanut oil or other vegetable oil, for frying
- Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
- 1. Toss the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix the milk, vanilla extract, grated lemon zest, and egg in a separate bowl until combined. (If you want to get some of the prep work out of the way ahead of time, you can tuck the flour mixture away in a resealable plastic bag and cover and refrigerate the milk mixture for several hours or up to overnight. Stir the milk mixture to recombine prior to using.)
- 2. Just before you fry the funnel cakes, gently stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to create a thick batter. Slowly pour the batter into the squeeze bottle, if using, or into a glass measuring cup with a pour spout.
- 3. Line a baking sheet with paper towels or a brown paper bag. Add enough oil to a large, shallow skillet to reach a depth of 1/2 inch and heat the oil until it registers 350°F (176°C) on an instant-read thermometer.
- 4. If you’re using a metal pastry ring, place it in the pan of oil. Squeeze the batter from the squeeze bottle or pour it from the measuring cup or dribble it from the tip of a spoon into the ring, moving the bottle back and forth and connecting pieces of dough in a zigzag pattern. If you’re not using a pastry ring, that’s cool, just squeeze the batter from the squeeze bottle or pour it from the measuring cup or dribble it from the tip of a spoon into the oil—being careful not to hold the spoon too far above the hot oil or it may splash—and zigzag all over itself a lot so that the funnel cake is self-contained in a circle.)
- 5. Cook the mini funnel cake for about 45 seconds. Using tongs, flip the funnel cake over and, if using the metal ring, remove it. Cook the funnel cake for about 45 more seconds, until light or golden brown in color. Transfer the funnel cake to the paper towels or brown paper bag to drain and repeat with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm and serve straightaway.
Recipe Testers Reviews
What is there to say about the funnel cake? It's awesome. This recipe turned out 18 of the best mini funnel cakes I've had in a long time. I grew up on the Jersey shore, and these were a staple of boardwalk food there. These really brought me back to another time and place. As suggested in the recipe, the ingredients can all be prepared ahead of time and brought to a tailgate party or camping. No overnight refrigeration of the batter is needed if you're making them immediately. Using the ring keeps everything nice and neat with no loose ends. You'll see a slight browning on the outer edges of the funnel cake, and this is when you want to turn the cakes as the timing will vary somewhat depending on the amount of batter you put in. The 45 seconds specified is a good starting point, but just use your judgement. My cooking times varied slightly from 45 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes, depending on the amount of batter used. The funnel cakes should be served immediately, as they tend to become soggy after a while. I froze the extras and defrosted them for a few minutes then popped them in the toaster for a bit and drizzled them with maple syrup. The pastry ring also turns out a funnel cake that's the perfect size for a quick snack. I also free-formed a couple big funnel cakes, just like the ones on the boardwalk, and they were just as good. I tripled the recipe to have more batter because my son and his friends tend to devour them, and they can even make them themselves. I used vegetable oil instead of peanut oil because of food allergies.
I made this recipe to make up for all of the $6 funnel cakes that I passed up all summer long. The batter is similar to a pancake or crêpe batter and comes together simply with ingredients that anyone is sure to have on hand. My squeeze bottle had a very fine tip, so the mini funnel cakes came out quite crispy. I like mine a bit more doughy, so I'd probably make the tip larger. A thermometer is critical here, as 350°F is the perfect temperature for frying. I didn't have metal rings to shape the funnel cakes and, in my cavalier way, I believed I could free-form them. My handiwork left much to be desired, so I used a few sacrificial metal Mason jar bands, and they worked perfectly. Although we tried our best, we couldn't eat all of the cakes. I normally don't save batter with baking powder, but there was so much I didn't want to waste it. I refrigerated the batter and used it for crepes the next morning and they came out quite well.
This mini funnel cakes recipe was fun to make. I absolutely loved the size—each was just a couple bites and you didn't have to feel guilty for eating one of those monster-size funnel cakes you can buy at the fair. These were much better, too—fresh and crisp and with a slight lemon aroma from the lemon zest. Delicious! I didn't make them for a tailgate party, but I used the advance advice in the recipe anyways, as we were gone the whole morning and wanted something on the table for our afternoon Kaffeetrinken (how very German). I prepped the mini funnel cakes the night before and then I mixed the batter after coming home, heated the oil, and voilà. In a snap we had delicious, fresh funnel cakes on the table. Everybody loved them! The idea with the squeeze bottle is great. A little patience is needed to get the thick batter into it, but squeezing the batter into the hot oil works like a dream. I didn't use the metal pastry ring (I don't have one) but it worked just fine without it, just squeezing the dough into the oil in a tight spiral pattern. The cooking time for me was a bit more than 45 seconds on each side and as long as 75 to 90 seconds. This recipe was very fun to make and is definitely a keeper!
The locust horde (read: kiddos) left nothing in their wake. We always, always buy funnel cakes at the State Fair of Texas, so they were excited to get to make this treat at home. Assembling the ingredients took all of 5 minutes. I likened the batter to that of pancake batter. We put the batter into a pancake pourer with a spout, and we got a little happy with the batter at first and put too much in the ring, but we eventually found a swirly with a quick zig and a zag worked well to make the lacy confections. I only recently started frying, as I was intimidated by it, but with a frying thermometer, the guesswork is taken out of the equation. Eat the mini funnel cakes quickly after frying because nothing fried is good cold.