One of your favorite fair treats is easy to make at home! Fresh, hot, County Fair Fried Dough made using yeast is a delicious indulgence.
Fair food is my favorite! And when there's a year we can't go, I'm always a little sad: because I miss that food.
Sometimes we skip the fair to spare our wallets, as the rides, parking, and entry fees do add up. And once there was a very unfortunate incident involving my husband, the Tilt-A-Whirl, and some upchucking—we didn't go to the fair for a couple of years after that!
For these reasons or perhaps because the fair is still months away, you should know that it's easy to make the best County Fair Fried Dough right at home.
Picture it: a piece of old-fashioned, hot, deep-fried bread dough slathered in melted butter. And, of course, the toppings, like blanketing the whole piece of dough with powdered sugar, or adding a drizzle of honey, chocolate, or Vermont maple syrup.
Sweet, homemade fried dough is crispy on the surface, with airy bubbles and a slightly chewy texture.
Another one of our favorite fair treats is Corn On The Cob Drenched in Butter!
Does fried dough have other names?
Growing up going to fairs in New England and Eastern New York, for me it's always been fried dough. Deep-fried bread is a favorite treat not only here but in many cultures across the world, so of course there are all kinds of fried doughs.
In the U.S. fried dough is also known as elephant ears, doughboys, and flying saucers. Fry bread is a celebrated and important part of Native American culinary traditions. Churros, beignets, sopapillas, funnel cakes, and donuts are other well-known and much-loved varieties of fried dough.
Examples of international fried doughs include saffron-scented jalebi that are beloved in the Middle East and India, Italy's honey-coated struffoli, Spanish orelletes, and firi firi, a Tahitian fried dough treat made with coconut milk and served with jam. Fried doughs are worth seeking out on your next vacation!
Why you'll love this recipe
Fried dough is fun to make as an extra special dessert. Make a batch for your next movie night, party, or sleepover.
This is a simple fried dough recipe made using yeast: mix it together and let it rise. This step develops gluten to give the fried dough a little delicious chewiness. After this, the pieces fry up in just a few minutes apiece.
Need a shortcut? Use pre-made dough from the store! Check the refrigerated aisle for bags of Italian pizza dough, which will also work in this recipe.
Is fried dough vegan?
In this recipe, yes: the ingredients used to make and fry the dough are vegan. When it's time to brush the fried dough pieces with butter, just use a plant-based butter or skip it altogether.
What can I put on fried dough?
There are traditional fried dough toppings that are just delicious, like maple syrup, powdered sugar, and honey. Use your imagination and your sweet tooth to find even more toppings ideas: like cinnamon sugar, salted caramel, blueberry sauce, chocolate syrup, and Nutella.
Ready to try the best homemade fried dough recipe? Let's go!
🔪 How to make the Best County Fair Fried Dough
- Flour: All-purpose flour is fine here.
- Sugar: Use white, granulated sugar for a little sweetness in the dough.
- Yeast: Use active dry yeast—it's sold in the baking aisle.
- Salt: This gives the dough more flavor.
- Water: You know, the wet stuff.
- Vegetable Oil: I usually just use canola or generic vegetable oil, but peanut oil is good, too.
- Butter: No matter what you like for toppings, melted butter is crucial for the best fried dough flavor.
Step 1: Make the dough
Mix the flour and dry ingredients together, then add in the water and oil. Mix these together in a stand mixer with a dough hook.
Step 2: Let the dough rise
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel. Let the dough rise for about 1-½ to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Step 3: Heat the oil
When the dough is done rising, pour vegetable oil in a heavy-duty cast iron pot or enameled cast iron pot like this one. (affiliate link.) Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.
Step 4: Roll out and cut the dough
While the oil heats up, turn the dough out on a floured surface. Flatten it out with a rolling pin, then cut it into pieces.
Step 5: Fry that dough
Gently lay a piece of dough into the hot oil. Use a metal spatula or tongs to turn the dough several times during cooking, until it's puffed and evenly browned on both sides. Cook the other pieces the same way. Check your oil often during cooking: if it drops below 350 degrees, increase the heat a little to bring it back up. If it's too hot, slide the pan off the burner to rapidly drop the temperature.
Step 6: Add your toppings and enjoy!
Brush the warm pieces of fried dough with melted butter. Then you can add your favorite toppings like powdered sugar and pure maple syrup!
- The oil temperature is key to getting great fried dough. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F, and adjust the heat as you cook to maintain this temp. A thermometer is the best way to get the temperature you need—pick up a digital thermometer like this one. (affiliate link.) It's inexpensive and you can use it for all of your cooking and baking.
- Melted butter brushed on the hot fried dough gives a crucial (and delicious!) flavor. After the butter you can add your favorite fried dough toppings: my favorites are powdered sugar and Vermont maple syrup. Chocolate syrup or caramel are also fantastic. You can also top fried dough with cooked apples or blueberry sauce.
This recipe has not been tested with an air fryer, and may not be as easy to convert as other recipes. Consult the directions and recipes that came with your air fryer to find guidance on cooking dough.
My recipe is the one I prefer because it creates the right texture in the finished fried dough. In tests with doughs made with eggs and milk, though they fried up just fine the texture was more like fried cake or a donut. Not bad, but not right for fried dough. I suggest sticking with this recipe.
I tested this too and found that frying unrisen dough creates a cake-like texture with no chewiness at all. It just doesn't taste like fried dough from the fair. So do let the dough rise for the truest fried dough experience.
Yes! I made fried dough with pre-made pizza dough—the kind that's usually in the refrigerated section of supermarkets in little plastic bags. Once the dough is at room temperature, allow it to rise.
The fried dough smells so delicious: How easy it would be to sell these out of my front window for $6.50 a pop. (And my house would smell like fried bread paradise.)
Treat yourself to a little piece of fried fair food paradise! The recipe for the Best County Fair Fried Dough is below. And here are more fair treats to make:
💬 Are you enjoying your Fried Dough? What's YOUR favorite fair food? Leave a comment below!
Best County Fair Dough (Using Yeast)
- 2 - 3 quart heavy duty pot for frying, like a cast iron or enameled cast iron pot.
- Slotted metal spoon, spatula or tongs
- Pastry brush or other brush for spreading butter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached, plus extra for working with the dough
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cups water (8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus more for frying - see below)
- 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- Suggestions: confectioner's sugar, pure Vermont maple syrup, honey, chocolate syrup, fruit sauces
Make the dough:
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a mixer.
- Add in the water and the 2 tablespoons of oil. Place the dough hook on your mixer and mix the dough together on medium-low speed.
- Scrape down the sides a few times as necessary, and mix the dough for about 4 to 5 minutes. It should be starting to gather around the dough hook at this point. If the dough seems to dry, you can sprinkle in tablespoons full of water as it finishes to bring it together.
- Grease a large mixing bowl, and scrape the dough into it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for 1½ - 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
Heat the oil:
- Line a cooling rack or plate with paper towels, and place this near your cook top. Have a metal slotted spoon or spatula ready. Melt the ¼ cup of butter and have this nearby, along with a pastry brush.
- When the dough has finished rising, pour vegetable oil into a large, heavy-duty pot—like a cast iron or enameled cast iron pot. Heat the oil over medium-high heat: you want the oil to reach a temperature of 350° F, so check the oil often with a thermometer.
While the oil heats, prepare the dough:
- Lightly flour a work surface, and keep a little extra flour nearby. Tip the dough onto the floured surface. Sprinkle the top with flour, then roll out the dough. It doesn't have to be super thin—aim for ½-¾ inch thick.
- Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into about 10 equal-sized pieces.
Fry the dough:
- When the oil is ready at 350° F, get one of your pieces of dough. If it's sticky, dust the dough and your fingers with a little flour to make it easier to handle.
- Give the dough piece a few gentle stretches. Carefully lay the piece of dough in the oil—it should immediately begin to puff as the oil bubbles around it.
- Use your slotted spoon, spatula, or tongs to move the dough in the oil, turning it as you see the underside begin to brown. Continue frying and turning the dough until it is browned on all sides: this should take 2 to 2½ minutes.
- Remove the dough from the oil to the paper towel-lined rack.
- Continue frying the other pieces of dough this way. Check the temperature of the oil frequently as you fry to maintain the temp of 350° F, and adjust the heat under your pan as needed.
- If the oil is way too hot, carefully slide the pan off the burner for a minute or two to help bring the temperature down.
Brush with butter:
- When all the pieces have been fried, brush them with the melted butter. No matter what other toppings you add, this melted butter is key for the moisture and flavor it adds.
- My favorite toppings are a thick dusting of confectioner's sugar and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or honey are also delicious. And to really make it a treat, try fruit sauces like blueberry or simmered apples.
- Enjoy the warm dough immediately. Makes about 10 pieces. Leftover dough can be stored covered at room temperature for a day or two.
OPTION: use pre-made dough
- If your pre-made dough is refrigerated, place it in a greased bowl, cover it, and let it come to room temperature before preparing the oil. Frozen dough should be allowed to thaw in the fridge, and then brought to room temperature.
OPTION: save your oil
- You can save and reuse your cooking oil for your next batch of fried dough or other fried food. Let the oil cool, then pour it through a paper towel-lined strainer to removed the solids. Save the oil in a closed bottle or other container.
- Maintaining the proper oil temp is key to getting great fried dough. Heat the oil to a temperature of 350° F, and adjust the heat as you cook to maintain this temp. A thermometer is the best way to get the temperature you need—use a digital thermometer like this one. (affiliate link.)
- Melted butter brushed on the hot fried dough gives a crucial (and delicious!) flavor. After the butter, you can add your favorite fried dough toppings.
- This recipe has not been tested with an air fryer.
I'm going to do this recipe to make fried dough is everybody loves fried dough can you please give me more specific of how much yeast to use., as it is confusing to me. It says two teaspoons of instant yeast. I would buy the yeast in the packages so how many packages would I use and do I put it in the bread mixture dry or add water to it or how would I add it to the flour mixture. Please let me know so I can make this properly thank you
Hi Linda! A regular packet of yeast has 2-1/4 teaspoons of yeast. So you can just measure two teaspoons of yeast out of the packet. Put the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt into a bowl, whisk them together, then add in the water and oil. I hope this helps clarify things! I'm so excited that you're trying my Fried Dough, my family loves it!
Can this dough be stuffed with like cheese and garlic? Trying to find a good dough to fill and FRY, is a little sweet or savory, basically a delicious dough by itself. Then it's even better when things are added/stuffed inside. Kinda new with doughs, lol. TIA!
Hi Heather, I have never tried to fill this dough with cheese before frying so I'm not sure how it would turn out. My thought is that the cheese would have to be completely enclosed by dough so as not to leak out, but then getting the thicker, stuffed piece of dough to cook all the way through might be a challenge. If you try it, do let me know how it turns out. It certainly sounds like a delicious idea!
I want to thank you so much for this amazing recipe. I was craving fried dough, your recipe give me exactly what I wanted. It tastes just like the carnival at the fair. Thank you so much.
Hi Winnie, You are very welcome! I'm so happy you tried and liked my Fried Dough. To me, nothing says "going to the fair" like this treat, it's my favorite. Thank you for sharing this with me!
'How easy it would be to sell these out of my front window for $6.50 a pop! (And my house would smell like fried paradise.)'
I'd deliver to you, Suze 😉
Never eaten or even heard of fried dough before. I should think it's really healthy diet food LOL. I haven't been to any kind of fair in years. Not sure if they have one anywhere locally, never heard of it, but I do agree just getting parked and entering for $50 is a bit much.
Ooh, I do hope you get to try some! Certainly it's not health food but that's why we only have it once a year 😉 I also saw vendors selling it at the boardwalk when we went to the ocean this summer. Thanks Jo!
The Armchair Squid
I adore fried dough. I first discovered it in Amish Country in Pennsylvania. Kudos to you for learning to make it!
Hmmm, maybe I'll have to make some for you soon!
The Armchair Squid