Deep fried, crispy Elephant Ears topped with cinnamon sugar give you a taste of the fair at home and the no yeast fry bread recipe is super easy to make.
Let the kids get involved by allowing them to shape the dough into elephant ears and giving them a choice to toppings to add after the dough is fried!
What are elephant ears?
Elephant ears are crispy circles of fried dough, also known as fry bread, coated with cinnamon and sugar. They are sold with this name in America at fairs, carnivals, food trucks, and theme parks. The uneven wrinkled somewhat round shape of the piece of fried dough is reminiscent of an elephant’s ear.
These are known as buñuelos or fried dough fritters in many areas of the world including Spain, Latin America, Israel, Asia, and Africa. Some countries make them into donuts that are balls or twists, others use the dough to make flat circles, and some use a rosette similar to the rosetbakkelser from Norway. Another interesting thing is that they are sweet in some parts of the world and savory in others!
How To Make Elephant Ears
Put the self-rising flour, warm milk, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl and stir until combined. Use hands to gently knead the dough until all of the ingredients form a ball. If your dough is too dry, add a tiny bit of milk at a time. If your dough is too wet, add a tiny bit of self-rising flour at a time.
Is there a recipe for self-rising flour?
For one cup of self-rising flour, whisk together one cup of all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Then, cut the dough into 8 pieces.
Flatten each piece into a thin circle. You can use your hands, your fingertips, a rolling pin, or a combination of all three.
Put about a 1/2 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy pot that is wide enough to fit your circles of dough. Use a thermometer and heat the oil to 365˚F.
Use tongs to carefully add dough rounds (1 or 2 depending on the size of your pan) to the hot oil. Fry the elephant ears for about a minute on each side until golden brown. Always monitor the temperature of the oil and stay close by the skillet.
Drain on a paper towel lined plate.
Can elephant ears be made ahead of time?
For best results, deep fried elephant ears are best enjoyed while they are still fresh and crispy. But sometimes it is more convenient to make things ahead of time!
To reheat elephant ears, place them in the oven at 350˚ for 10 minutes. Try wrapping each one in foil to keep them from drying out.
You could also try using a toaster oven, an air fryer, or even the microwave in a pinch.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar while warm. You can find my cinnamon sugar recipe here.
What toppings go on deep fried elephant ears?
The classic topping for deep fried elephant ears is cinnamon sugar but there are many other options as well. Since the elephant ear is sweetened fry bread, you can add any sweet toppings. Here are a few to try:
Want more fair food? Try these deep fried recipes next:
This deep Fried Pickles recipe is a fun way to eat fair food at home! Serve the crispy fried pickles on a stick as an appetizer with dipping sauce.
Make this easy Funnel Cake Recipe and surprise your family with fair food at home! Just add your favorite toppings to these sweet, crispy funnel cakes.
This Corn Fritter recipe makes tender little fried balls of dough with bits of sweet corn inside. Serve them warm with maple syrup and honey drizzled on top.
This Fried Cheese Curds recipe was so easy to make. These deep fried white cheddar cheese curds are the BEST appetizer and the perfect comfort food!
Elephant Ears Recipe
- Mix together the self-rising flour, warm milk, melted butter, and granulated sugar until a ball forms. If your dough is too dry, add a tiny bit of additional milk at a time. If your dough is too wet, add a tiny bit of self-rising flour at a time. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead several times. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a thin circle.
- Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy pot to 365˚F (use a thermometer and maintain an even temperature).
- Use tongs to carefully add dough rounds (1 or 2 depending on the size of your pan) to the hot oil. Fry for about 1 minute on each side until golden brown.
- Drain on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar while warm.
- Wrap cooked elephant ears loosely in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for 1-2 days.
- Or store in an airtight freezer storage bag for 3-4 months.
- Reheat in the oven at 350˚F for 10 minutes.