35 Wacky and Wonderful Foods to Eat at the Texas State Fair
Deep-fried pho? Yes. Fruity Pebble pickles? Of course. Fried Fireball shots? You know it.
The State Fair of Texas debuted in 1886, and all these years later, it’s still going strong as one of the biggest and best in the country. The 2023 event kicks off on Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 22. That’s 24 consecutive days of fried foods, games, rides and other good times, so you have ample opportunities to swing by and get in on the action.
The biggest — or at least the most talked about — draw each year is the food. That’s because State Fair of Texas vendors go all out, making new and creative items each year to feed the hungry masses. The best and weirdest of the bunch compete for the Big Texas Choice Awards, in which a few dozen entries are whittled down to 10 finalists and three winners comprising Best Taste: Savory, Best Taste: Sweet, and Most Creative. So, if you need somewhere to start your artery-clogging journey, head for the award winners, and you can dive into deep-fried pho and bourbon banana caramel sopapillas. Just be sure to leave room for all the other lovably strange items you’ll find being peddled across the fairgrounds.
From fried Fireball shots and sushi bombs to classic fair foods like funnel cakes and corn dogs, there’s always fried sustenance within reach. These are 35 State Fair of Texas foods to seek out this year.
BIG TEX CHOICE AWARD WINNERS
Deep Fried Pho (Best Taste: Savory)
Your favorite Vietnamese soup is going handheld: Rice noodles, beef, herbs and bean sprouts are rolled up in a tortilla and fried. It’s all served with a side of pho broth for dipping, plus lime, jalapeños, cilantro, hoisin and sriracha.
Biscoff Delight (Best Taste: Sweet)
You know those little cookies you get at 38,000 feet? This is like those, but dialed up to 11. Because it’s a New York-style cheesecake coated with Belgian chocolate and an outer layer of crushed Biscoff cookies, plus a drizzle of Biscoff cookie butter.
Bourbon Banana Caramel Sopapillas (Most Creative)
Fried sopapillas are topped with vanilla caramel-infused bananas, sweet bourbon syrup, crushed candied pecans, sweetened mascarpone cheese and crumbled Nilla wafers. If that’s not sweet enough, it’s all dusted with powdered sugar.
Deep Fried Cheesy Crab Tater Bites
Think tater tots, but actually a blend of minced shredded potato, crab meat, cheese and spices formed into bites and fried until golden brown, then topped with cheesy crawfish sauce.
Loaded Fries Pizza
Proving that fries are a perfectly acceptable pizza topping, this dish sees fresh dough covered in buttermilk ranch and a layer of fresh mozzarella, fries, cheddar cheese and bacon before it’s all thrown into an oven and baked.
Ox’cellent Soul Roll
Beef oxtails are simmered for hours before they’re joined by potatoes, smoked gouda and mozzarella, plus butter, celery, bell peppers and onions. That hearty mixture is rolled into a crispy spring roll, deep fried and served alongside Southern hush puppies and garlic chili sauce.
Turkey is breaded and fried until crispy, and served with seasoned fries, homemade giblet gravy and salsa.
Fernie’s Fried Cherry Pie in the Sky
This handheld cherry pie is deep-fried, of course, then topped with a butter almond shortbread crumble and served with a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream (which is itself drizzled with cherry preserves). Whipped cream and sweet, dark cherries ride shotgun if you need more toppings.
Take a waffle. Sweeten it with dulce de leche, then add cream along with slices of strawberry, kiwi, peach and shredded coconut. Top with raspberry jam, drizzle with sweetened condensed milk, and voilà: Sweet Encanto.
It’s basically lemonade combined with summer fruits, cucumbers and mint. And it might be the healthiest thing you do all day.
BIG TEXAS CHOICE AWARD SEMI-FINALISTS
Three-cheese mac is piled with 15-hour smoked brisket, crispy fried chicken, candied bacon bits, jalapeños and sausage. It’s topped with a brown sugar chipotle sauce for a kick of sweet and spice.
Mini churros are deep fried and then tossed in cinnamon and sugar, drizzled with chocolate syrup and cream cheese icing, and topped with crushed Oreos.
Cornbread Sausage Bombs
This one covers four of the primary Texas food groups. Pecan-smoked Texas sausage slices are topped with pimento cheese and jalapeño, then dipped in cornbread batter, fried to golden brown and served with jalapeño ranch dipping sauce.
Creole Etouffee Beignets
Etouffee inside a donut? Oui. The holy trinity — onions, bell peppers and celery — are mixed with shrimp, smoked sausage and steamed rice. That’s all dipped into beignet batter, fried and topped with powdered sugar.
Deep Fried Birria Bomb
Birria, Oaxacan cheese and mashed potatoes are rolled into balls, dipped in batter and fried. Each bite is topped with poblano ranch dressing and fresh cilantro and served with consommé.
Deep Fried Candy Pecan Bacon Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is — you guessed it — fried. It’s then tossed in cinnamon sugar and candied pecans, nestled alongside some crispy chopped bacon, and topped with a New Orleans-style praline sauce and salted caramel bourbon sauce.
Deep Fried Honey Butter Brisket Swirls
Imagine Little Debbie Pecan Spinwheels merged with homemade cinnamon rolls. But in this case, flaky dough is layered with slow-cooked brisket, then rolled and cut into swirls, deep fried and coated in a honey-butter glaze.
Deep Fried Surf & Turf Empanada
Lobster, crab and chorizo are mixed with sweet corn, heavy cream, cilantro, paprika and lime, wrapped in a corn masa pastry, and deep fried. The resulting empanada is served with a side of garlic aioli that’s been infused with avocado oil.
Deep Fried Sushi Bombs
Sushi gets the State Fair treatment with these deep fried sushi bombs. Rice is topped with imitation crab meat and salmon. That combo is then rolled in panko breadcrumbs, deep fried and served with a side of seaweed and dipping sauce.
Deep Fried Texas Oatmeal Pie
An oatmeal cream pie is dipped into Dr. Pepper-flavored pancake batter and deep fried. It’s then drizzled with Big Red soda reduction, covered with marshmallow sauce and dusted with powdered sugar.
Deep Fried Vietnamese Coffee
Here’s some caffeine and sugar to keep you going: Vietnamese coffee-infused cake is rolled into a ball, battered and deep fried. The bites are dusted with powdered sugar and served with condensed milk.
Fried Fireball Shot
Angel food cake is infused with cinnamon-y Fireball, deep fried and then doused in more Fireball and served in a shot glass. It’s the ultimate State Fair party shot.
Fried Monte Qristo
This fried sandwich is layered with brisket, smoked turkey breast, American cheese and Swiss, dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry chipotle barbecue dipping sauce.
Fried Texas BBQ Shotgun Shells
Texas brisket, melted Velveeta and cream cheese are rolled in a pasta sheet, wrapped in hickory smoked bacon, coated in jalapeño breadcrumbs and fried.
Not’Cho Average Nachos
No chips or cheese were used in the making of these nachos. But they do feature wonton wrappers stuffed with cherry or apple filling, deep fried and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Each serving also gets a topper of whipped cream, brownie crumbs and fruit, plus a drizzle of citrus glaze and chocolate sauce.
Raspberry Chipotle Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese
This new take on the classic grilled cheese starts by filling fresh jalapeños with cream cheese and raspberry chipotle jam. The peppers are then wrapped in bacon and roasted before they join cheese between slices of white bread. Finally, the whole thing is griddled before serving.
Rest in Heavenly Peach
Two slices of angel food cake are grilled, set atop sweet whipped cream and topped with cold peach pie filling.
Taki Ramen Tostada
A ramen noodle cake is flash fried, smothered with seasoned taco meat, and topped with sesame seed slaw, garlic lime aioli, queso blanco and crumbled Taki chips.
The Fruity Pebble Pickle
Wow. So, a whole dill pickle is draped in fruit rollup, drizzled in sugar syrup and coated in Fruity Pebbles. Then it’s hit with some strawberry snow cone syrup. Like we said: Wow.
STATE FAIR CLASSICS
Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs is a State Fair staple that debuted in 1942. The original is joined by a few other options, including a jalapeño and cheese dog, turkey dog, veggie dog and a beef-and-brisket blend. Each year, Fletcher’s sells around a half million of the fried meat sticks and dispenses an ungodly amount of mustard. If you only eat one thing at the fair, this should probably be it. Do it for nostalgia. Do it for America. Do it for Texas!
Giant turkey legs are high in protein and can be wielded like a soft, meaty machete to cleave through traffic.
Once a newfangled concoction, fried Oreos are now State Fair staples. Oreo cookies are covered in dough, deep fried and topped with powdered sugar.
You can’t have a fair without funnel cakes.
This may be the only vegetable you see all day. Don’t pass it up.
Ditto on fruit.
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