How To Make Funnel Cake With Pancake Mix

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If you’re looking for a delicious and easy-to-make dessert, look no further than the funnel cake. This classic fairground treat is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth—and yes, you can actually make them at home. With a simple pancake mix and my step-by-step instructions, you’ll be enjoying this tasty treat in no time. So how do you make funnel cakes with pancake mix?

Making homemade funnel cake is really quite simple. Pancake mix is combined with eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, salt and milk. The batter is then funneled or poured into hot oil and fried until golden brown. 

Are you currently trying to figure out how to make funnel cake with pancake mix? If so, this guide is for you. We will explore how to make this simple dish as well as some important preparation tips to keep in mind. 

Funnel Cake Explained

Funnel cake is a type of doughnut. It’s made with batter and fried to get those warm and crispy confections.

Some people argue that funnel cake was created by Persians then spread by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Others agree that it was the Pennsylvania Dutch who created the recipe.

Funnel cake gets its name from the fact that you have to pour the batter in a funnel and release it into the oil to get its confections.

The calories in funnel cake vary according to the toppings you add to it. Ordinary, topping-free funnel cake would have about 300-360 calories. The calories in its toppings can add up to 700 calories to it, making the richest funnel cake carry about 1000 calories.

The toppings that can be added to funnel cake are powdered sugar, syrups, cinnamon, and ice cream. Of course, some people like to add pieces of fruit, especially strawberries, to their funnel cake.

Pancake Mix Funnel Cake Recipe

Funnel cakes are one of those desserts that always seem to evoke a sense of nostalgia and fun memories—probably because we usually enjoy them at carnivals and county fairs. It’s hard to resist freshly made funnel cakes, and I think I might even look forward to them more than Ferris wheels and carnival games.

If you’ve never tried a funnel cake before, you’re in for a real treat. They’re crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, with a sweet vanilla flavor. You can serve them with just a dusting of powdered sugar or load them full of toppings and serve them on a plate with a fork. 

It reminds me of pancakes but fried.

While I recommend a squeeze bottle for dropping dough into the hot oil, you could use a spoon to drizzle or a measuring glass with a spout. You won’t get the exact same “Carnival Funnel Cake” look, but they’ll still taste great. A heavy cast-iron skillet is recommended for frying, but any heavy-bottomed skillet will work.


  • 2 quarts (1.9 liters) canola oil, for frying
  • 1 1/2 (195g) cups complete buttermilk pancake mix (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (119ml) water
  • 2 teaspoons (10g, 10ml) vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar to garnish


  1. Heat oil to 375°F (190°C) in a large Dutch oven and adjust flame to maintain temperature. While oil is heating, prepare funnel cake batter.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together pancake mix and sugar. Whisk in water and vanilla until smooth. Batter should be the thickness of cake batter; not too thin and not too gloppy. It should form ribbons as it falls when lifted out of the bowl with whisk.
  3. If using a squeeze bottle, cut the opening so it measures 1/4 across. Add batter and close the lid. If using a funnel, cover the opening of the funnel with your finger and position over the center of Dutch oven. Either squeeze batter out of the bottle or allow batter to flow into oil, working quickly to swirl in a looped circular pattern into a 4- to 5-inch-large disk. Fry cake until golden brown on the first side, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a shallow heat-resistant strainer or spider, carefully flip funnel cake and fry until golden brown on the second side, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining batter.
  4. Place confectioner’s sugar in a fine-mesh strainer and tap over cakes to dust lightly. Serve immediately.

How Hot Should the Oil Be?

For perfectly golden and crisp funnel cakes made with pancake batter, you’ll want to heat your oil to 350. I usually achieve this by heating my oil on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. You’ll know the oil is ready when a small swirl of batter dropped into it instantly sizzles and slowly begins to turn golden. 

The funnel cake batter with pancake mix can be made a day or 2 before frying the pancakes, but we recommend using the batter right away. Because after 2 days, the batter will not puff off and the taste will not be as good.

Frying the funnel cake is quite easy. Many people deep fry the funnel cake but you can also pan fry it. You have to use a deep pan to fry the funnel cake and be careful while pouring the funnel cake into the hot oil.

What Toppings Are Good On Funnel Cake?

While powdered sugar is a no-fail classic, we also love drizzling our funnel cakes with chocolate or strawberry syrup. Caramel syrup is another great option.

Try topping them with fresh fruit, candies, crushed cookies, or even whipped cream or ice cream. The possibilities are truly endless!

Use a plastic bottle to squirt out the pancake mix. Make sure the opening is large enough you don’t want to have any issues of it not coming out even when you are placing it into the hot oil.

Traditional recipes call for a fairly standard batter: flour, eggs, sugar, milk, baking soda or baking powder, but I discovered that you can make awesome funnel cakes with “complete” buttermilk pancake mix (look for brands that only require the addition of water). 

After all, these boxed mixes contain little more than, well, flour, eggs and milk (in powdered form), sugar, and leavening agents. Plus, many county fair funnel cake stands are likely starting from some kind of mix, anyhow. I like to doctor my mix with a touch more sugar and vanilla for true funnel cake flavor.

Keys to Funnel Cake Success

Funnel Cake
Funnel Cake

Timing, batter thickness, and funnel spout size are the keys to funnel cake success. If your batter is too thin or watery, you’ll have an enormous mess that spreads and won’t hold together. If your batter is too gloppy, you won’t be able to pour it out in a timely enough fashion to avoid an overdone crunchy mess. 

A 1-cup funnel with a 1/4-inch opening works well, but a squeeze bottle with the same 1/4-inch opening is even better, if non-traditional. With the bottle, it’s easier to control the flow rate.

One of the other benefits of making these cakes at home is you can control the size of your cake, and you can top it as you please.


How can I store these funnel cakes?

Funnel cakes taste the best when they’re fresh and hot; because they are fried, they don’t keep too well. But you can prepare and refrigerate the batter for about 24 hours.

Why is the funnel cake not holding its shape?

If you find your cake falls apart in the pan, you need to overlap the drizzle as you pour it into the hot oil.

  • Before pouring the batter into the oil, test the oil and see if it’s ready. If the oil is too cold, the batter will end up absorbing the oil and sink to the bottom, and if it’s too hot, it will burn the cake.
  • A squeeze bottle is easier to control, but the results will be the same even if you’re using a pastry bag.