What is funnel cake batter made with?


Kurt Olsen

Just like the sugar-dusted funnel cakes of state fair fame.

Once Labor Day has passed, it’s full-fledged fair season, which means caramel apples, cotton candy, and corn dogs. If your Tilt-A-Whirl days are over, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy all of the fried deliciousness. Not with the ability to manufacture the king of fair cuisine, the funnel cake, at home.

What Are Funnel Cakes?

The Pennsylvania Dutch are the most probable designers of the American-style funnel cake —a light, airy, and crisp fried pastry sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. At state fairs, funnel cakes are enormous, paper plate-sized affairs that are made by pouring batter from a funnel in a winding circular pattern over hot oil.

The Quick Batter Hack

Traditional recipes ask for a pretty basic batter of flour, eggs, sugar, milk, baking soda, or baking powder, but I found that “complete” buttermilk pancake mix can be used to produce amazing funnel cakes (look for brands that only require the addition of water). After all, these boxed mixes comprise just flour, eggs and milk (in powdered form), sugar, and leavening agents. Furthermore, many county fair funnel cake vendors are most likely made from a mix in the first place. For authentic funnel cake taste, I prefer to add a little extra sugar and vanilla to my batter.

Keys to Funnel Cake Success

The secrets to funnel cake success are timing, batter thickness, and funnel spout size. If your batter is too thin or watery, you’ll have an enormous mess that spreads and won’t hold together. If your batter is too gloppy, you won’t be able to pour it out in a timely enough fashion to avoid an overdone crunchy mess. A 1-cup funnel with a 1/4-inch hole is sufficient, but a squeeze bottle with the same 1/4-inch opening is even better, if non-traditional. The flow rate is easy to regulate with the bottle.

One of the other benefits of making funnel cakes at home is you can control the size of your cake, and you can top it as you please. Hello, ice cream sundae with funnel cake!

  • 2 quarts (1.9 liters) canola oil, for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups (195g) entire buttermilk pancake mix (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (119ml) water
  • 2 teaspoons (10g, 10ml) vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar to garnish
  1. Heat oil to 375°F (190°C) in a large Dutch oven and adjust flame to maintain temperature. Prepare the funnel cake batter while the oil is heating.

  2. Whisk together the pancake mix and sugar in a large mixing basin. Whisk in the water and vanilla extract until smooth. Batter should be the thickness of cake batter; not too thin and not too gloppy. It should form ribbons as it falls when lifted out of bowl with whisk.

  3. If using a squeeze bottle, trim the aperture to 1/4 inch across. Close the cover and add the batter. If using a funnel, cover the aperture with your finger and place it over the middle of the Dutch oven. Either squeeze batter out of bottle or allow batter to flow into oil, working quickly to swirl in a looped circular pattern into a 4- to 5-inch-large disk. 1 to 2 minutes, fry the cake until golden brown on the first side. Using a shallow heat-resistant strainer or spider, carefully flip funnel cake and fry until golden brown on second side, about 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining batter on a plate lined with paper towels.

  4. Place confectioner’s sugar in a fine-mesh strainer and tap over cakes to dust lightly. Serve right away.

Special Equipment

Whisk , Dutch oven , clip-on digital thermometer , heat-resistant tongs , shallow heat resistant strainer or a spider, a 1-cup funnel with a 1/4-inch hole, or plastic squeeze bottle with approximately 1/4-inch opening


Look for a pancake mix that simply needs water to be added.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
420 Calories
20g Fat
52g Carbs
7g Protein

Show Full Nutrition Label

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 420
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 645mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 240mg 18%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 189mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. For basic dietary guidance, 2,000 calories per day is utilized.

(Nutrition information is derived from an ingredient database and should be regarded as an estimate.)

Contact Us

For more information or to make comments and suggestions, please contact:
Kurt Olsen
Dairy Development Coordinator, Missouri Department of Agriculture
Phone: (573) 291-5704
E-mail: [email protected]