2 Yummy State Fair-Inspired Recipes

This summer isn’t shaping up to be that much fun, is it? Now the coronavirus is conspiring to keep us away from the one thing that sustains us the rest of the year: fried fair food. Joking, not joking.

With summer fairs canceled or in jeopardy, Chef George Geary has your back. His best-selling cookbook, Fair Foods: The Most Popular and Offbeat Recipes from America’s State and County Fairs, lets you make your own craving-worthy fair food right at home. You know, so you don’t miss out. He let us share two this month. Whether you share it with the kids can be your little secret.

Funnel Cake

Makes 6 to 10 funnel cakes


  • Electric mixer
  • Stockpot
  • Medium saucepan
  • Candy/deep fry thermometer
  • Pastry bag
  • Wire rack


  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup water, cool
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Canola oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar


1. Combine butter, water, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the flour. Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes to cook the flour slightly and rid the mixture of a starchy floury taste.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and place the dough in the bowl of the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until most of the steam subside, then add eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until each is incorporated, and a batter is formed. 

3. Pour 3 inches of oil into a stockpot and heat to 350 degrees F.

4. Meanwhile, place the batter in a pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tip no wider than 1/4 inch in diameter. 

5. Holding the pastry bag over the hot oil, push the batter out into the hot oil in a zigzag or spiral shape. Fry no more than 1 large or 2 smaller funnel cakes at a time.

6. Fry the cakes until puffed up and golden (they will triple in size), 3 to 5 minutes, flipping every 30 seconds or so.

7. Drain the cakes on a rack and cool slightly, then sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and Berry Topping.

Berry Topping

Makes 2 cups


1-quart fresh berries (Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Pinch sea salt


In a bowl, combine berries, sugar and salt. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Deep-Fried Twinkies

Makes 6 Twinkies


  • Dutch Oven 
  • Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer
  • Skewers (6)
  • Baking Sheet, lined with Parchment Paper
  • Paper Towels


  • 6 Twinkies
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • Canola oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar


1. Skewer each Twinkie and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk, eggs, and melted butter. Pour into flour mixture and blend just until smooth.

4. In a Dutch oven, heat 2-inches of Canola oil over medium heat to 375F.

5. Working two at a time, dip the Twinkies into the batter until fully coated. Place in the hot oil, turning after a few seconds until all sides have reached a light brown color, about 4 to 6 minutes.

6. Drain on paper toweling, then dust with confectioners sugar.

Recipes and photos reprinted from Fair Foods: The Most Popular and Offbeat Recipes from America’s State and County Fairs by George Geary, Santa Monica Press

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This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s July 2020 magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.

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