How to Make State Fair Foods at Home
Have a particular fair food that you crave every year? Here's a sampler of blue-ribbon attractions to make at home—both foods sold at state fairs as well as prize-winning fair and festival recipes.
These state fair staples taste best when served right after cooking. Flour, cornmeal and sugar form the base for the batter. Be sure to pass lots of ketchup and mustard for dipping!
Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Puffs
Dawn Logterman of Verona, Wisconsin, created this clever twist on the classic cream puffs served at the Wisconsin State Fair. Her recipe was a finalist in one of our recipe contests.
Blended strawberry drinks always rank high with visitors to the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. Here's our version of the sweet, crimson specialty, which also is popular at other fairs. (Love other flavors? See more smoothie recipes.)
Grilled Pork Chops
Thick, grilled pork chops are a favorite at many state fairs. Our recipe was inspired by the juicy chops traditionally served along the route of RAGBRAI (the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa).
Singular Strawberry Shortcake
Besides golden caramel corn, burgers, funnel cakes, and sweet corn, strawberry shortcake stars at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. Here's our Test Kitchen's recipe for individual-size shortcakes to try at home for a summertime treat. (And here's a link to more shortcake recipes for different flavors and fillings.)
Rib Eye Sandwiches with the Works
Juicy grilled beef topped with caramelized onions makes a mouthwatering sandwich at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Serve on split and toasted rolls with steak sauce or creamy Dijon-style mustard.
Minnesota Fudge Puppies
These waffles get their name from the fact that they're served on a stick, like corn dogs. They used to be a staple at the Minnesota State Fair, where Granny's Kitchen made fresh Belgian waffles, dipped them in chocolate and topped them with whipped cream and crunchy sprinkles, strawberries or candies. Our version (recipe link above) uses frozen waffles.
Another fun fair dessert: Elephant Ears. Our version starts with frozen white bread dough and adds sugar and cinnamon.
Fruit fillings complement the sweetness of other bar cookie ingredients. Blueberry-Almond Bars was a grand champion award recipe at the Marshall County Fair's annual Blueberry Bake-A-Rama in Plymouth, Indiana. Lori Van Der Weele combined blueberries, butter, white baking pieces and almonds for this winner.
Blue-Ribbon Angel Food Cake
This angel food cake, based on a family recipe, won a blue ribbon at Ohio's Canfield Fair.
Grilled Behemoth Drumsticks
Many Midwest state fairs serve this portable food with a medieval twist (recipe link above). Brush drumsticks with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then grill to juicy perfection.
This quick-fix summer soother, served at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, is a simple but refreshing blend of lemon juice, orange juice, sugar and water. Just shake and serve!
Marjorie's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Marjorie Johnson of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, won one of her 2,500 state fair ribbons with this recipe. It's also part of her cookbook, The Road to Blue Ribbon Baking.
The secret to these cookies' great flavor: All butter (no shortening or oil); heavy on white versus brown sugar; chopped walnuts.
Double Chocolate-Cherry Cookies
Carol Schneider of Wausau, Wisconsin, brought home a blue ribbon when she entered these cookies at the Wisconsin State Fair. The recipe combines white and semisweet chocolate with dried cherries and walnuts.