Skip to main content

Visiting Lancaster Pennsylvania and learning how to make funnel cakes; the Amish way.

Graham is a former chef and food stylist with a passion for all things food-related. She has also never been known to decline dessert.


My quest for the funnel cake........

As I do with all travel, before I even begin to pack my luggage, I scribble a list of all the places that I wish to see, all the events I hope to attend and most assuredly, all the foods that I plan on sampling.

My trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania was no different. My list included a visit to a working farm, tour the museum of Charles Demuth, as well as, the Quilt museum at The Old Country Store. My list of foods, as it always is, was lengthy. I had set my hopes on trying such things as cracker pudding, scrapple, shoefly pie and the ever-popular funnel cake. My trip would not disappoint.

Our holiday was brief and although most people generally consume three meals a day, I was up to the challenge of squeezing in an additional 2 or 3, quite possibly 4 (if the need arouse) in order to try everything on my list.

I can say, with much certainly, that my taste buds were alarmed by the sweetness of shoofly pie and that most of my other senses were perhaps appalled by scrapple. However, a Dutch funnel cake dusted with sugar accompanied by a piping hot cup of coffee, that was delightful.

Where to stay? Your have several wonderful choices:

On the last day of our trip I managed to cross one more thing off my travel list. I love to grocery shop where locals buy. I was very fortunate to find a market filled with what I considered to be packaged treasure, including this funnel cake mix by Haldeman Mills. I scooped it up, placed it atop the heap of other items that weighed down my hand basket (who did I think I was fooling to only grab a hand basket and not a cart?) and off to the counter I went.

My plan was to make a batch of funnel cakes for my husband who had not been able to join me on this trip and bring a bit of Lancaster home to him.

I knew that I would ultimately try making a recipe from scratch and comparing the funnel cakes' flavor (if you enjoy something, why not make it several times, that's my motto), but I would start with this easy method using a ready made mix and go from there.

Haldeman Mills Dutch Funnel Cake Ingredients:

It was interesting to learn that the Amish buy in bulk. I'm not saying that they frequent Costco, I'm saying that when they cook or bake, they do so for large groups of people and therefore require mass amounts. I was able to find a smaller prepared funnel cake mix and was pleased to read that the packaged ingredients were few and relatively unadulterated.

So what does it take to make a funnel cake:

  • white flour
  • roasted corn flour
  • dried sweet cream buttermilk
  • baking powder

You need only mix in 1 egg and 1 cup of water (to a 2 cup measure of funnel cake mix) and fry. As far as treats go, it sure doesn't get much easier than that!

But wait! I need a funnel.......

Before I could begin to fry this wet batter into crispy good-ness, I first needed some kind of pourer. I had plenty of plastic squeeze bottle on hand, I simply needed to make the tip wider in order to make a proper looking funnel cake.


If you'd prefer...funnel cake starter kit, pitcher or squeeze bottles.

As I mentioned, by using this funnel cake mix, I was able to fry a small bounty of funnel cakes one evening after dinner.

I measured my two cups of cake mix, added the egg and water, mixes with a fork and filled my squeeze bottle.

I wasn't quite sure how long the cakes would take to fry, but I wanted to set up a station so that I could drizzle the batter into the hot oil, turn once, remove, drain, and powder. Creating such an assembly line work station comes from my years as a professional cook. It's more efficient. It also happened to be nearing 9:30 at night and if disaster were to strike, I didn't want to be cleaning up until the wee-hours of the night.

Scroll to Continue

Dust generously with powdered sugar

Allow your funnel cakes to cool slightly after removing them from the hot oil. Some of the oil will drain off and the funnel cake won't melt them powdered sugar.

Allow your funnel cakes to cool slightly after removing them from the hot oil. Some of the oil will drain off and the funnel cake won't melt them powdered sugar.

There had been no need for me to think that impending doom would strike while making my very first funnel cakes. They were incredibly easy to make and the slight corn flavor was really tasty. So good, in fact, that I quickly gobbled the 5 small cakes that I had made and went to bed with a happy and very full belly.

A different tasting funnel cake:

As I knew I would, I later made other funnel cakes using a pate choux recipe. This is a very easy dough to prepare and creates a more popover-like funnel cake. Equally delicious to the roasted corn funnel cake and perhaps more suitable for a strawberry sauce-if that's your thing.


Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

10 min

25 min

5-7 cakes depending upon size


  • 1 cup water
  • ( 6 Tablespoons3/4 stick butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Boil water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until flour is completely incorporated and dough forms a ball.
  3. Transfer mixture to a bowl of a standing mixer and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn mixer on low speed and using a paddle attachment, add eggs, 1 at a time and mix until smooth and glistening.
  5. Your choux dough is now ready to be deep fried into funnel cakes!

How they make them at the fair:

While I had been researching funnel cake recipes and before deciding to use a pate choux dough, I had read of the various toppings that traditionally adorn a funnel cake. Although powdered sugar remains my favorite, shmearing a bit of Nutella on a warm funnel cake sure sounds heavenly which got me to thinking. In the not-so-distance future, when I am snuggled up next to the fire, I think I'll fry a few small funnel cakes and serve them alongside a smooth cup of bittersweet chocolate. That should keep my winter blues away.


Hot Bittersweet Chocolate:

  • 5-6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 cup of whole milk

In a medium saucepan, combine first three ingredients. Stir until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook until steaming, all the while stirring. Serve with sugar cubes, if desired.


Haldeman Mills Funnel Cake mIx

Time to make more.

Time to make more.

Dutch Amish Shoofly Pie, anyone?

Would you like to try scrapple?

What is your favorite fair food?

Emily Tack from USA on March 30, 2015:

Most of my offspring were born in Lancaster County, and the funnel cakes there were legendary. Great article!

Graham Gifford (author) from New Hamphire on November 18, 2012:

Hi glassvisage, that's for the compliment. ABSOLUTELY, whole milk!

glassvisage from Northern California on November 16, 2012:

Wow, this sounds like quite a day of food... AND hot chocolate made with whole milk? Ayayay :) Great photos!

Graham Gifford (author) from New Hamphire on November 05, 2012:

I love cooking with coconut oils and I'm certain that cooking the funnel cakes in coconut oil would not only be tasty, but would not alter that flavors. Let me know how your cakes turn out!

Susan Ream from Michigan on November 04, 2012:

I loved the feel of this hub and the variety of information here. For someone taking a trip to Lancaster this hub would be a great resource.

I love funnel cakes, however I have to watch the fats I consume ... I wonder how they would taste cooked in coconut oil .. hmmm I think I may try it.

Great Hub! voted up and useful

Graham Gifford (author) from New Hamphire on October 01, 2012:

20 minutes-GO! Go this weekend! There are so many wonderful things to see, to experience-to eat. You could manage to do much of it within a weekend and then cross it off your bucket list. Thanks for the Vote Up, BeautySavvy22. I hope you get an opportunity to visit Lancaster. Save travels and best regards,

Alyssa from York, Pennsylvania on September 29, 2012:

Sad, I live 20 minutes from Lancaster and still haven't visited most of the places! Great hub thank you! Voted up!

Related Articles