County Fair Fried Dough: happy fry-day!

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Fried dough.

Two simple, straightforward words.

Fried. Dough.

Yet what a wonderful metamorphosis takes place when a simple flour/butter/water dough hits a scant 1/2″ of hot oil.

POP goes the dough, coming suddenly to life as air, trapped inside, expands to create big bubbles.

And what was formerly a soft, pale round of dough becomes golden brown and snapping crisp, the tasty essence of why we love doughnuts and french fries.

It’s all about that crisp deep-fried crust and flavor – even though 3/8″ of peanut oil could scarcely qualify as “deep” frying.

Have you resisted churros, beignets, and other deep-fried treats because you hate the thought of a gallon of hot oil bubbling on the stovetop, covering you and everything within reach with a rich patina of eau de doughnut?

Then this is a great recipe for taking a (shallow) dive into “deep” frying.

Using just slightly more oil than you’d use to stir-fry veggies or sauté onions, you can create a treat that’s been the standby of country fairs for decades: Fried Dough.

The simple biscuit-like dough goes together in a flash. Pat it into rounds, lower into a scant 1/2″ of oil, fry for 2 minutes, and there you have it:

Heaven without the hassle.

You KNOW you’re dying to make fried dough…

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

Mix together the following:

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

*Substitute 2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, if desired; omit the baking powder and salt

Work in 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, in 1/2″ cubes, using a pastry blender, your fingers, or a mixer.

Stir in 3/4 cup lukewarm water, and mix to make a soft dough. If you’re using self-rising flour, decrease the water to 1/2 to 2/3 cup, enough to make a soft (but not sticky) dough.

Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into eight pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll each into a thin 5″ round, about 3/8″ thick.

Heat about 3/8″ vegetable oil to 375°F in an electric frying pan, or in a pan over a burner. If you’re using a 10″ diameter pan, this is 2 cups of vegetable oil. Peanut oil is our favorite deep-frying oil; it has a higher smoke point, and neutral flavor.

If you’re not using an electric frying pan, use a thermometer to take the temperature of the oil; or guesstimate it by seeing if the first piece of dough fries nicely in the time specified.

Pick up one dough disk, and carefully lower it into the pan.

Let it cook for 60 seconds (it’ll puff up on top and become light brown on the bottom), then flip it over and cook until light brown on the other side, about 60 seconds. You don’t want to cook these too dark; they’ll become overly crisp.

Remove from the oil and set on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Place in a 200°F oven to keep warm while you make the remaining fried doughs.

Serve warm, with confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon-sugar.

Or maple syrup, or honey.

Or the topping of your choice — some folks enjoy a savory version, with marinara sauce and cheese.

Read, make, and review (please) our recipe for County Fair Fried Dough.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. mumpy

    from deep in the heart of pennsy dutch country, i have to ask….has anyone tried the shallow frying with funnel cake?

    I’m not sure I’d go with the 3/8″ oil in this case, but I’m betting 3/4″ – which is how I usually fry doughnuts – would work just fine. Give it a try – what can you lose, right? Except a preconception that deep-frying means LOTS of oil… :) PJH

    Reply
  2. bwhite50

    This reminds me of funnel cakes we would get (and still can) at the Texas State Fair. The main difference being that funnel cakes start with a batter rather than dough, and you pour the batter through the bottom of a funnel into a circle (or whatever shape you want) into the hot oil. Drain on paper towels and shake on that powdered sugar! As I recall, the amount of oil was less than “deep fried”, i.e. immersion ,as well. Your recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it. I won’t even have to drive to Dallas and wrangle Big Tex to do it :)

    Yeah, all you have to wrangle for these is everyone standing there with their hand out saying, “Me first!” Funnel cakes are indeed very similar – in fact, you might want to check out our funnel cake recipe. I’d love to see the Texas State Fair sometime – must be awesome! PJH

    Reply
  3. milkwithknives

    Oh, lovely! In Utah these are called “scones” and people make them at home in huge batches. Our mom never did, probably because of the frying, but I had them at friends’ houses growing up. So good drizzled with honey. You can actually buy frozen scone dough in many of the grocery stores here, though I believe it’s a yeast dough. I never realized they were this easy, either the recipe or the small amount of frying oil. I may just have to give them a bash next week for 4th of July. Thanks for a fun childhood memory!
    Hey there, we are all about extending a good childhood, eh? I think they would rock the 4th for sure! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. sunbaker

    Could these be put on the BBQ with a little oil on the dough?
    Hmmm, it isn’t something we tried here. We’ve done it with pizza dough for years, so this may just work out. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. velkyn

    yum. my husband cheats and does this with frozen bread dough. His favorite topping is jelly or jam aka quickie jelly doughnut :)
    Try it with fresh ingredients, I bet he’ll be over the moon! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. tlbart999

    Tried this today. Didn’t have unbleached flour so I used what I had.
    They came out good, and were super easy to make. My kids really liked them. Being from the southwest they tasted more like a sopilla than fry bread from the fair. Still very good and I would make them again upon my children’s request.
    Having a fried dough party with lots of different toppings to try was a favorite event when I was in school. Maybe you and the kids can host one over the summer. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. Barb R.

    They make these all over Utah and call them scones there. Of course the rest of the country knows what a real scone is. :)

    Funny, Barb, I wonder how that evolved? I’ll have to do some online noodling around… PJH

    Reply
  8. LeeB

    I go to great lengths to get fat from pasture-raised local pigs and then render it into pure white lard. It is time intensive and so I am stingy with it. My kids will be so glad for me to try these and I won’t feel so wasteful since they don’t take a whole jar full of my fresh lard!

    Reply
  9. sunshine951973

    In India we make something similar called bhatura. Whole wheat flour is kneaded with just water and then left covered in a hot place(mostly blankets) till it ferments and becomes sticky. Then small balls are formed and rolled into circles which are then deep fried. Yummy with mango pickle. Sometimes these are stuffed with potato or lentils also. Sometimes yeast is also added to hasten the fermentation.

    Reply
  10. atravers3

    I’ve never done any deep frying before – it was just something we never did in my family. But I tried these this morning. They were really easy and very tasty (even came out looking just about exactly like the pictures!) Thanks for giving me an excuse to try something new.

    Hooray for trying something new! That’s one of the things I love about baking – there are just SO many new things to try – and hopefully add a few to your list of favorites. Glad we could help you enjoy this new treat – PJH

    Reply
  11. sassie38

    Has anyone tried this with GF all purpose flour?

    We haven’t tried it here – but I’m thinking that, with the addition of some xanthan gum, it might work… If you try it let us know, OK? Thanks – PJH

    Reply
  12. misanthropic789

    I made these this morning. I could have sworn the fried dough I grew up with was made using a yeast dough (pizza dough I think), so the texture on these wasn’t what I was expecting. But frankly, it’s hard not to love something deep fried and buried in cinnamon sugar.

    Reply
  13. DWgirl

    YAY! I live in Ohio and we just had hurricane-speed winds, and I am so glad to have power back and read baker’s banter!

    Reply
  14. Aaron Frank

    How do you dispose of the oil, whether it’s 3/8 or 3/4 inch or more?

    Thanks

    Aaron, you can filter and reuse it (within a short time period; a week or so). Or I usually just drizzle it over the underbrush at the back of my backyard. I figure there’ll be some critter out there needing some fat in the diet! PJH

    Reply
  15. Roxanne from Denver

    In Indiana, these are called elephant ears. The dough is the same, but with a twist. After resting, the whole piece of dough is rolled out in a rectangle (similar to cinnamon rolls), then it’s buttered, dusted with cinnamon sugar, and rolled up into a log. The log is then cut into 3 oz portions, flipped over so the filling/spiral side is facing up, and rolled out thinly. They are briefly chilled before frying to set up the butter. The end result is a super flakey and crisp fried dough that practically melts in your mouth and sings of cinnamon-sugar. :) I love these! I usually don’t fry them though. I brush them all over with a mixture of oil and butter, dust with more cinnamon-sugar, and bake them at 400 degrees until golden all over, a bit puffy, and crisp. Yum. :)

    Wow, that sounds absolutely delicious, Roxanne. And I never thought of baking fried dough – I’ll have to try both of these “twists”! Thanks – PJH

    Reply
    1. Ninerini

      I grew up in Indiana and you just brought back every child hood memory of going to the State Fair. I always looked forward to the elephant ears. I didn’t care about any other food there. Thank you for sharing how those were made. I never realized how they were made, but then again I never went looking either. Too addicting and my waistline doesn’t need it!

    2. PJ Hamel , post author

      Definitely county or state fair food, that’s for sure. And as you say – a special, once-a-year childhood treat. Glad we could bring back some good memories for you – PJH

  16. docdanni

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe!! I have looked for years to find a recipe for the fried dough I used to get at the beach in New England. As delicious as the funnel cakes we have here in Texas are, they are not the fried dough I grew up with. I am beyond thrilled to have this and can’t wait to make some!

    So happy we could bring back sweet memories of your New England beach days – enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  17. NanMom

    Mmmm mmm mmm yummy going to give this a try as my mom never shared her recipe….Every kid had his hand out in our neighborhood =) Thanks.

    Reply
  18. gwenholmgren

    Made these tonight after seeing them on your Pinterest page. Another poster said they used coconut oil so that’s what I used. They were delicious – thank you for the recipe! I’m thinking it would be such a fun dessert to do with friends, having different toppings at the table and frying them up fresh for them… it would be fun!

    It’s like taking a crepe, keeping them unfolded, and adding a new dimension! You could top these with anything your heart desires: very much like a donut, but in flat-form. You could also tweak the dough itself, adding some spices or using a hint of buttermilk in place of some water for a flavor punch! Start small and see where the fryer takes you… :) Kim@KAF

    Reply
  19. "Daddy G"

    Looking forward to making these! I was wondering if the batter can be made a day in advance or do I have to fry it the same day?

    Given that this dough is based on baking powder, it really should be started the day of and not before, but you are welcome to experiment and let us know! Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  20. Jessie

    In South Africa we use raw bread dough cut the size you would use for a roll and deep fry then cut open and stuff with savoury or sweet filling such as savoury mince, jam, cheese, or whatever grabs your fancy.
    That sounds fantastic to me. I’d fill mine with Nutella and strawberries. At least today, it will probably change tomorrow. :) ~ MJ

    Reply
  21. Trek93820

    These are a lil’ bit of AWESOMENESS!!!!!
    This recipe is so easy, its idiot proof. I just made one batch for the family and they were asking for more. Tested them out on the guinea pigs first, they will be made for my son’s birthday party. Thanks for such a simply recipe, for such a great treat.
    Just one comment. The dough at rest didn’t rise at all, if so very little. Was it suppose to?

    This dough really won’t rise at all before frying as it does not contain any yeast.-Jon

    Reply
  22. Hungry

    This would have been great if I didn’t use the baking soda and salt. I’m not sure what the baking soda is for, but next time I will exclude the baking soda and salt. I will add sugar to the mix

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      That’s what’s such fun about cooking and baking – we can all tweak any recipe to our own personal taste. Enjoy – PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This soft dough is more like a quick bread (it uses baking powder for leavening) instead of a yeast dough you’ll find at most county fairs (leavened with yeast). This recipe should be mixed and “fried” right away. Like other quick breads, the finished fried dough doesn’t need refrigeration. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF (p.s. you’re expecting leftovers?)

  23. Darlene

    No matter what they’re called (elephant ears, beaver tails, mitch miller bread….) they are sooooo addicting! Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
  24. Wendy Hampton

    Ohhhh this is so wonderful, hot out of the pan with honey! Omygoodness. So glad I saw this recipe. I think my Mother may have made us kids some once long ago…like 50 years ago. I will be making these on my next RV trip. Totally addicting. I tried a savory topping also. Wonderful texture!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      There’s nothing like some county fair fried dough to remind you of the good old days! Sounds like a wonderful snack for a road trip, and I like the idea of switching it up to a savory treat too…nice work Wendy! Keep it up and safe travels! Jocelyn@KAF

  25. Jessica Walter

    Being from Utah, these are a scone for me! Love them. But instead of just honey, one of my favorite thing to make for a dip is whipped honey butter! So so so delicious! Best of both worlds!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I don’t think there is anything that honey butter can’t make even better….thank you for the wonderful suggestions and we’re so glad you enjoyed these! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  26. Efrain- RookstoCooks

    I always look forward to carnivals and other fairs just so I can get my fix of fried dough. However, usually by the time I get around to finding the stand that sells it I’m still too full from dinner to even think about eating, especially desserts. Alas, I usually postpone getting my fried dough fix, but until a few moments ago I never really thought about making it myself. Thanks for posting the recipe! I cannot wait to make this (and gain a few pounds in the process!)- some foods are just worth it~

    Reply
  27. Rich

    They almost made me tear up from childhood memories, ,,, my grandmother made them, try this,,,, tip first in molasses then in a little tab in a bowl of suger. Yum,,,,,,

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Robert, light and crispy sounds good! But if you’re looking for softer/heavier, make the dough thicker, and fry it slightly less long. Good luck – PJH

  28. Sheri

    On the Navajo Reservation, these are called ‘frybread’ and it is used to make what I call ‘navajo tacos’ but other tribes call them indian tacos. We also make burgers and sandwiches with them. Dip them in some stew or pasole, or eat with mutton ribs. Other time do just this, powder sugar or honey. The reservation is where the best ‘frybread’ can be found. Mmm.

    Reply
  29. micky

    I grew up eating this and I make it for my kids all the time. In Panama they are called ojalda and we typically eat it with cheese on top right when it’s hot. It melts and is delicious. We also pair it with salchicha basically skillet seared or fried hotdogs. Ojalda is eaten during breakfast lunch and dinner but not so much as a dessert. It would definitely taste like funnel cake with the powdered sugar on top. Yummmm

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Oh my goodness, that sounds amazing! I think we’ll have to try it this summer in the test kitchen. ~ MJ

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