How to Make Homemade Elephant Ear Recipe

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fried elephant ear

Making Homemade Elephant Ears 

In Michigan, we only see elephant ears when the local fair or carnival comes to town in the Summer for a few short months. And they cost $8+.  If you want one at a different time, you have to make them.  Our family makes our own fried bread and homemade elephant ears whenever we want using this elephant ears recipe.

The hardest part is deciding if you will enjoy one topped with cinnamon sugar or if you will add a fruit topping or powder sugar.

blooming yeast

What’s the Difference Between Fried Dough and Elephant Ears?

Fried dough is made from yeast dough, like bread dough that is fried.  Elephant ears are made with similar dough, but are smaller and usually thinner with a sweet topping like cinnamon sugar, powder sugar or a fruit topping. But if you just want to eat them plain, you can serve with a little melted butter for a crisp bread taste.

crisp elephant ears recipe
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5 from 1 vote

How to Make Elephant Ears

No need to only enjoy elephant ears at the carnival or fair. You can make this elephant ears recipe at home whenever you want a light crispy treat.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20 elephant ears
Author: Regina Sober


Elephant Ear Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 packet yeast (2 if expired)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Cinnamon Sugar Mix:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon


Making the Dough

  • In a pan our medium heat, add the milk, butter and sugar.
  • Stir until the butter is melted.
  • Remove from heat and place into a large bowl.Let mix cool down to 115 degrees or less.
  • Once temp is less than 115 degrees, add the yeast and stir and let set for 5 minutes.
  • You want the yeast to expand and get bubbly.
  • Add in the flour about half at a time.
  • If the mix it still wet, add a little more flour until it starts to form a ball.
  • Once mixed, cover and let sit for 1 1/2 hours. Then punch down to remove the air.

Making the Ears

  • Have a plate with paper towels on it to use once the ears have cooked.
  • Pour oil into a pan so it's about 1 inch deep (You'll want a wide pan if you want to make more than one at a time.
  • Turn on medium heat and allow to heat up.
  • Test a small piece of dough to see if it hot enough.
  • It will begin to bubble and turn brown when the oil is hot enough. If it sinks and no bubbles, the oil is not hot enough.
  • Take about 1/2 cup amount of dough and make it flat and pull thin. About the size of a pancake
  • Begin in the middle pulling it thin and work you way towards the edge until it is thin.
  • Place carefully into the oil and allow it to get golden brown on the side.
  • Flip over and allow to brown on the other side.
  • Remove from oil and place onto the plate and towels.
  • Sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of the cinnamon sugar mix. Tip your elephant ear and tap off any excess sugar before eating.


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Are Elephant Ears and Funnel Cake the Same Thing?

Funnel cakes are made when you pouring the dough from a bottle or funnel.  It is pourable, versus a dough (like pancake batter). They are poured out from a bottle or funnel. Long long lines that form together to make the cake in hot oil. Elephant ears are made with rolled dough. Roll out thin like a pizza, but smaller and fried in hot oil; topped with fruit topping or cinnamon sugar.

We recommend the ears are served warm with a paper towel and plate, just like at the fair.

checking liquid temperature before adding yeast
The liquid cannot be hotter than 115 or it will kill the yeast.

How Large Do You Make The Ears?

They can be small like pancakes or plate size. Depending on how big the pan you are frying them is, will play a factor too.

mixing dough together in bowl

Does The Dough Need To Rise?

Yes, you want to get some good rise from your dough. That allows the ears to be light and crispy.

preparing dough to fry bread into crispy ears
make elephant ears that are about the size of a pancake and thin
Love carnival food? Bring this recipe home with this homemade elephant ear. This elephant ears recipe is perfect when the fair is gone.

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