Introduction: Delicious Homemade Funnel Cake

Picture of Delicious Homemade Funnel Cake

This scrumptious from scratch funnel cake is perfect for entertaining guests or for a fun dessert. I make this dessert whenever I need a last minute, unique food or am just looking for a little taste of childhood. The recipe is very flexible--you can easily make enough for any size group. And the variety of flavors and toppings mean you could eat it almost every night for a different flavor!

This hot, tasty dessert only takes 20 minutes and proves that funnel cake is not just for the carnival anymore! For any level of baking/cooking experience.

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients

Picture of Gather the Ingredients

You will need the following supplies:
       4 c.  Flour
       1 c.  White Cane Sugar (typical table sugar)
       3 T   Melted Butter
      1/2 t  Salt
       1 c.  Buttermilk
      1/2 T Baking Powder
      3 Eggs
Optional Spices: 
The original recipe calls for Mace, however recommends Cardamom and Nutmeg as alternatives: Nutmeg is a fairly common flavor, and Cardamom is for a more 'Scandanavian' feel. The funnel cake is also delicious plain (that's how this one is made) or with cinnamon. Add to taste.

Oil to be used for frying (Could be almost any kind: canola, vegetable, peanut, etc)

This recipe was originally my Norwegian great-grandmother's and her recipe calls for sour milk, however buttermilk is easily substituted for all those (like me) who feel queasy about letting milk spoil before eating it.

Measurement Abbreviations:
T stands for tablespoon
t stands for teaspoon
c stands for cup

Step 2: Prepare the Stove

Picture of Prepare the Stove

Pour the vegetable or canola oil into a medium-sized frying pan or skillet, until the oil is more or less an inch and a half (1.5") deep if you are making the whole batch. The exact depth of the oil is not that important, you only need to make sure that the batter will not be touching the bottom of the pan or skillet, or else it will burn. Also keep in mind that the amount of oil you have will be decreasing as you make each funnel cake, so try to plan ahead--if you are doubling the batch or only making half plan accordingly.

Turn the burner on to a medium heat, and let it heat up for the next 15 minutes while you mix up the batter.

CAUTION: The oil will not boil when it is hot! Never touch the oil to see how hot it is--test the oil by dropping a small amount of batter in to see how quickly it cooks. This is most easily done by carefully sticking the batter-covered prongs of a fork into the hot oil.

Step 3: Measure the Ingredients-For Beginning Bakers

Picture of Measure the Ingredients-For Beginning Bakers

Flour.  To measure the flour, first use a spoon to scoop the flour loosely into the measuring cup-do not pack the flour down. Fill the cup a little over the edge so that you have enough to fill any places with too little flour.
Then use a knife (or other flat object) and scrape the flour off level with the sides of the cup.
You don't want to pack down flour or you will end up with too much in the batter--which results in your end product being dry and thick.

Eggs.  Crack the eggshell by gently tapping it on the inside or rim of the bowl, then use your fingers to break the shell open over the bowl, making sure to not drop any shell in the batter.

Step 4: Mix the Batter

Picture of Mix the Batter

Mix.  Begin by melting the butter in a small dish in the microwave (~15 seconds).
Add all of the measured ingredients to a mixing bowl, keeping the following in mind.
Some sage advice from a far superior cook than I am: "The trick to getting non-lumpy flour mixes is to work with difference temperatures." She recommended adding the cold milk and hot butter simultaneously to the flour already in the bowl to minimize lumps.
If nothing else, you'll get far fewer lumps adding liquid to flour than from adding flour to liquid.

Beat.   Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl, then beat using an electronic beater, whisk, or fork.
The batter should have the smoothest consistency possible, however there will still be a few lumps as shown in the picture below. This could take quite a while--several minutes of using an electronic beater, and if you are beating by hand it might take up to 10 minutes.

Funnel.  Then, spoon enough of the finished batter into a plastic bag to still be able to close it tightly--use scissors to snip the corner off to create a funnel (Possibly the origin of the name?). Make sure to look at the picture below if you are unsure of how this should look.

Step 5: Fry Into Cake

Picture of Fry Into Cake

Slowly squeeze the batter out of the funnel into the hot oil: BE CAREFUL NOT TO SPLASH THE OIL.
Oil above its boiling point is a very hazardous substance to work with in the kitchen. Any spilt oil will continue to boil much longer than boiling water. This can result in severe burns-even through clothing!

Fry until the batter a golden brown color, or to your desired crunchiness-I normally fry it for aroud 5 seconds. Flip the funnel cake over half way through the cooking time to ensure both sides are evenly cooked.

Remove the completed funnel cake out with tongs or a fork, being careful not to let the oil drip. Keep in mind that the oil will continue to cook the cake for several seconds once it has been removed. Since it cooks for such a short time this can make a huge impact so be sure to take it out when it is slightly undercooked.

Step 6: Top and Eat

Picture of Top and Eat

Top to taste!

A few suggestions:

The classic powdered sugar
Chocolate syrup with or without caramel topping, ice cream optional
Any sort of fruit preserve
Apple Butter <--this is my personal favorite!
Fresh fruit and cream
Pudding (with crumbled cookies, or berries, or even sprinkles on top)

Remember that the funnel cake will still be hot immediately after it is fried, so try to let it cool for a few minutes before diving in!

Also, the fried funnel cake doesn't save very well (if you accidentally make extras) however the batter saves extremely well if wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Then next time, all you have to do is wait for the oil to heat up to enjoy some more delicious funnel cake.


Quiff (author)2009-10-17

To make sour milk, just put 1 Tablespoon of vinegar in the milk, stir and wait 10 seconds. It will be sour. Saves having to buy buttermilk - yech! LOL

Johan57 (author)Quiff2015-08-08

Here's a tip i learned from America's Test Kitchen: Put 1/4 tsp cream of tartar in the dry stuff, for every cup of milk used in a recipe. Will act just like buttermilk.

suzysmith24 (author)2015-05-16

worm alert! worm alert!

HowTo-Creative (author)2011-02-20

Can you use pancake mix to make the batter for just a *faster* alternative?

Jazzy13 (author)HowTo-Creative2013-05-03

Yes, I have done that before. It tastes great! Just put vegetable oil in a skillet. Let it get hot and then put the pancake mix (through a funnel) in the hot oil. The cake should float up to the top when done.

BLUEBLOBS2 (author)2012-05-12


MakeupAllTheTime3 (author)2011-06-25

You can make sour milk by adding a Tablespoon of vinegar to your milk that's what we use in our banana cake for sour milk. I can't wait to make this i love funnel cakes!

funkzilla (author)2009-10-26

This is very dangerous knowledge. I think my days of being not-morbidly-overweight-from-eating-too-much-funnel-cake are numbered. Thank you.

njedmonds (author)funkzilla2010-12-30


Senior Waffleman (author)2010-08-12


jetelite (author)2010-08-01

i love funnel cake

vandal1138 (author)2010-04-14

Funnel cakes are one of Gods greatest creations! I love them just as much as I love beer! Even though they look like little crunchy intestines covered in salt....

vandal1138 (author)2010-04-14

Mmmm deep fried plastic ruler.....

RHSeabrook (author)2009-10-20

you can also use a picnic ketchup or mustard squeeze bottle, just cut the tip off the lid  to enlarge the hole to dispense the batter which is thicker than the other condiments.

tragerstreit (author)2009-10-18

Cracking eggs on the rim of the bowl is more likely to cause shell bits in your batter. :)  Crack them on the counter instead; or if you'd like to be extra careful, crack them into a dish before adding them to the mix.

scottydog (author)2009-10-17

Here is an idea - After you finish off a condiment bottle ( ketchup, mustard, even dish detergent) the bottles would work wonderfully ( after washing the bottle in HOT  water and soap) to put the batter in and "squeeze it" into the frying pan!
I know I  would have a big mess trying to spoon batter into a plastic bag.
The dollar store sells the plastic condiment containers that you have to sqeeze and they actually have a lid on them!  I am a funnel cake lover too - hope this idea helps!

phasedenergy (author)2009-10-17

The main amusement park around here always has powdered sugar, a cherry or strawberry topping with ice cream.....if you take regular granulated sugar and put it in a blender....viola! powdered sugar (i do not like icing sugar as it has a LOT of starch).....what I have used to do this right is a large square of plastic wrap and a funnel...although, at the amusement park, they use juice jugs to pour the batter...I guess it`s really up to your preferance.

Definately an enjoyable treat......Thanks for the instructable.

PKM (author)2009-10-16

I was recently introduced to the joy of funnel cake (at a hippyish music festival, win) where they made it from a container a bit like a small watering can.  I think the original name came from making it by pouring a bowl or jug of the batter through a funnel to get the required thin stream, in the olden days before ziploc bags.

Stupid stingy stallholder didn't give us enough syrup... I don't think you can beat this cake with plenty of maple syrup :)

shell87 (author)2009-10-13

i found that not nearly enough milk was called for. i likely used twice as much milk or more to get it to a consistancy that would work. otherwise it was a stiff douh.

Besides that, it turned out amazing. i had no idea i could make these at home. Years ago when i had a canada's wonderland season pass i would sometimes go in simply for a funnel cake and back home, this was after me and my mom tried to make our own when we had a deepfryer.

This worked amazingly well though. thanks so much for posting.

PropagandaPanda (author)shell872009-10-15

I have to agree, I needed a bit more milk than this. Or a little less flower.
Otherwise, delicious.

thingy (author)2009-10-09

Awesome!!! I'll need an Elephant Ear recipe next.  Get on that!

PropagandaPanda (author)thingy2009-10-15

Aren;t Elephant ears/beaver tails about the same recipe as funnel cake?

naomiandtom (author)2009-10-15

Your Norwegian great-grandmother used fresh (raw) milk which does notspoil, it just sours, and is still good for you.  Only pasteurizedmilk spoils and smells bad.  Soured raw milk doesn't smell bad, itjust smells pleasantly sour.  No, you should NEVER consumespoiled pasteurized milk.  I use soured raw milk to make wonderfulcheese and other things, in addition to using it in cookingbreads.  Raw milk will keep in the fridge for about two weeksbefore souring.  Pasteurized milk?  Not so much : )

wupme (author)naomiandtom2009-10-15

Pasteurized milk also keeps easy 2 weeks when opened.
You just have to handle it like every raw food so its hygenic.

Kaiven (author)2009-10-09

Ohmanohmanohmanohmanohmanohman! I don't have any buttermilk! I WANT FUNNEL CAKE!! :D

smgeier (author)Kaiven2009-10-10

You can substitute 1C milk +1t lemon juice for 1C buttermilk. The lemon juice helps the milk "sour", and in recipes, tastes exactly the same.

Kaiven (author)smgeier2009-10-10

I can't use lemon juice because of my braces  D:
Maybe it won't matter because it's not actually potent in the final product?

shantinath1000 (author)Kaiven2009-10-11

Don't worry about the lemon juice-  Even drinking lemonaide won't be a problem if you rinse out your mouth after eating.  The problems come from letting acidic foods linger in the mouth.  Normal eating is not a problem.  Also the amount of juice is minor. ENJOY!!!

Kaiven (author)shantinath10002009-10-11

I will :D
I was worried because one time I was drinking lemonade, and I could taste the glue dissolving. A bracket then fell off. But I am certain that the juice is  minimal in this funnel cake.... I will try it after dinner :D

Dr.Paj (author)2009-10-09

That looks delicious, reminds me of summer....

Anyway, if you are good at cooking, and know a little about carnival cuisine, I would love to see an instructable about roasted nuts, the ones with cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, etc... maybe it could be your second instructable...

Also, once you use the oil, can you save it for later uses with the excess batter? and how long will it keep with the little bits of food in it. I'm not much of a cook so I don't know these things.

latobada (author)Dr.Paj2009-10-11

Yes, you can keep the oil after you're done cooking with it! I left another comment with some more information about it above. Hope it helps!

latobada (author)2009-10-11

I made these today, and YES Dr. Paj you can keep the oil for later batches. (I did, then made them again after dinner). After a while of using it, the oil will become less pure and darken, also it will start smelling slightly 'burnt', something you didn't get with new oil. this is because impurities in the oil increase its smoke point.

This is a good recipe, however I found it to be too thick when made as the original, so I simply added half a cup more of butter milk, and it came out fine. I actually would of added three fourths of a cup, but ran out! however play with your mixture, if after the first one you don't feel its running quickly enough to ensure that your funnel cake won't cook evenly, modify the recipe! When you bake and cook you always learn to make it your own!

scoochmaroo (author)2009-10-09

I love funnel cake!

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