Funnel Cake vs Fried Dough: Their Differences, Similarities & More

Have you ever wondered what the difference between funnel cake vs fried dough is? In general, they are both sweet treats, but there’s more to them than you can imagine.

You see, the main difference between these two foods lies in their preparation method. Chefs prepare funnel cake by pouring batter into hot oil using a funnel, whereas they prepare the fried dough by frying kneaded dough in hot oil.

Funnel cake vs fried dough? Let’s dig a little deeper.

What is funnel cake?

Funnel cake is an American dessert made by pouring a batter made of flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and baking powder into sizzling oil. The batter is then fried over medium-low heat until golden brown on both sides.

Funnel cakes are especially common at fairs and festivals, where vendors who specialize in their making sell them at cheap prices. You can top them with sugar or other sweeteners before eating them or serve them with ice cream or chocolate syrup for extra flavor.

What is fried dough?

Fried dough is a dessert made by rolling a dough made of yeast, flour, salt, and water into different shapes. The dough is then dipped into hot oil and rolled around in it before being flipped over once so that both sides are evenly cooked.

Fried dough is a common food item in America, Europe, and many other parts of the world. People often serve it warm with powdered sugar on top and sometimes chocolate sauce or ice cream on the side.

SEE: Can You Make Dough With Just Flour And Water?

Funnel cake vs fried dough: what’s the difference? 

Preparation method

Preparing funnel cake involves pouring batter with a funnel into hot oil to form a thin, crispy food. Fried dough, on the other hand, involves submerging the dough in hot oil, causing it to puff up and become crispy on the outside while remaining soft on the inside.

Flour used

Funnel cake is typically made with all-purpose flour, whereas fried dough can be made with a variety of different flours, including whole wheat flour, white flour, and even semolina flour.

Leavening agent

Funnel cake contains baking powder as its leavening agent, while fried dough contains yeast as its leavening agent. Due to this, funnel cake has a thin and delicate texture, while fried dough has a thick and chewy texture.

Nutritional value

Funnel cake is much lower in calories than fried dough; 1 ounce of funnel cake contains only 87 calories, while 1 ounce of fried dough contains 106 calories. In addition, funnel cake is higher in protein than fried dough.

Similarities between a funnel cake and fried dough

  • Both foods contain flour and salt.
  • Both foods undergo a deep-frying process in hot oil to create a crisp exterior.
  • You can buy both foods from restaurants or vendors or make them at home.
  • Both foods are great for breakfast, brunch, or lunch.
  • You can top both foods with sugar or cinnamon or serve them with ice cream, chocolate syrup, and other foods.

SEE: Here’s Why Your Sugar Cookie Dough Is Too Dry

Funnel cake recipe

What you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (if you prefer)
  • 2 large eggs (or more if you want it thicker)
  • 1½ cup milk (you can use cream or buttermilk)
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract, and salt.
  • In another bowl, combine your eggs and milk; then whisk until a smooth mixture forms (add more milk if you need to).
  • Make a well in the middle of your flour mixture, and then pour the egg mixture into it.  
  • Whisk until you’ve combined the ingredients properly (if too wet, add more flour).
  • Pour a sufficient amount of vegetable oil into a skillet, then place it over medium-low heat.
  • Use your fingers to cover the funnel hole before pouring your batter into the funnel.
  • Starting at the center of the skillet, drizzle a thin line of batter into the oil in a slow swirling motion.
  • Fry until golden brown (about 3 minutes), then drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Dust with sugar and serve with ice cream or any other food of your choice.

Fried dough recipe

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (if desired)
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  • In a medium or large bowl, mix any flour of your choice with salt, water, and yeast.
  • Add butter to the mixture, then stir until you have a dough that is neither too wet nor too dry.
  • Knead the dough, adding more water if it becomes too sticky (the dough should be easy to handle).
  • Let the dough sit for 15 minutes, then divide it into 8 equal pieces.
  • Roll each piece out with a rolling pin until it has reached your desired thickness. If you don’t do this step correctly, your fried dough will fall apart when you fry it.
  • Fold each piece into your desired shape, then put them carefully into the hot oil.
  • Fry for about 3 minutes on each side (make sure it’s golden brown on both sides), then remove from heat.
  • Place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil, then serve immediately.

SEE: What Happens if You Eat Raw Dough?

Funnel cake and fried dough toppings

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar is the most common topping for both funnel cake and fried dough. It also acts as a natural sweetener for these treats, so you get a burst of sweetness with each bite.


Blueberries are another favorite topping to add to your funnel cake or fried dough. They add color and flavor to these desserts.

Chocolate syrup

This is what you should get when you want that chocolate factor in your funnel cake or fried dough. It will melt in your mouth and make your taste buds sing with delight.

Cinnamon sugar

Cinnamon sugar has a warm flavor with sweet and spicy notes. Sprinkle on top of your funnel cake or fried dough to add a touch of spice or flavor.


Sprinkles are a great way to add a little extra crunch to these fried foods. You can make them yourself or buy them from stores like Food Lion.

Whipped cream

Whipped cream is great for topping funnel cake and fried dough because it goes well with the sweetness of these desserts.

SEE: How Long Can Dough Sit Out Before Going Bad?


Is funnel cake a cake?

No, it’s not. Unlike cake baked in an oven, funnel cake is a fried dessert made by pouring batter into hot oil using a funnel.

Can you make fried dough at home?

Yes, you can. Fried dough is a tasty snack that is easy to make at home, with just a few ingredients and some patience. The trick is to allow the dough to fry properly on both sides (about 2 minutes per side) before removing it from heat.

Can you eat funnel cake with syrup?

Yes, you can. The most popular topping for funnel cake is powdered sugar, but you can also eat it with syrup, cinnamon sugar, and other toppings. The truth is, you can eat it with whatever you like as long as it is sweet and delicious.


To sum it up, there are many differences between funnel cake vs fried dough.

For instance, making a funnel cake involves pouring your batter into a funnel and then pouring it into hot oil in a circular motion, whereas making fried dough involves kneading your dough and then dividing it into smaller pieces before frying.

Both are two desserts that many people enjoy, so it’s best to choose whichever one appeals to you the most.

Thanks for reading.

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