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Caramel Apple Funnel Cake

Vegetarian

Continue eating funnel cake throughout fall with this caramel apple funnel cake. It’s fried to perfection, then topped off with spiced Granny Smith apple bits, vanilla ice cream, and delicious homemade caramel sauce.

Caramel apple funnel cake topped with vanilla ice cream on a tree trunk platter.
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Another day, another apple recipe. Because it’s fall and fall means EVERYTHING apple.

That being said, when you think of fall, I realize that funnel cake most likely doesn’t cross your mind. But thanks to this fine recipe that’s about to change. You’re welcome 😉. 

The funnel cake itself is pretty standard; golden brown and crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside.

Topping off this masterpiece is vanilla ice cream, tart spiced Granny Smith apple bits, and a delectable homemade caramel sauce. You could easily skip the ice cream if you wish, but I urge you not to pass on the caramel. I mean, you really can’t. This is a caramel apple inspired recipe after all.

If you’ve never made caramel before don’t be intimidated. For some reason, I used to be. As it turns out it’s not difficult at all and you don’t even need any special equipment. But hey, if you’re not up to it feel free to pick some up at the store. It’s all good.

Funnel cake topped with apples, caramel, and vanilla ice cream with a green apple and bottle of caramel in background.
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What is funnel cake and where did it originate?

Funnel cake is a popular North American dish commonly found at fairs and carnivals. It consists of a batter, much like pancake/waffle batter, which is drizzled through a funnel into hot oil in a circular motion creating its unique appearance. These deep-fried cakes get their name from, you guessed it, the funnel through which the batter goes.

Although attributed to North America, the roots of funnel cake date back to early Medieval Persia. The idea then spread to Europe and eventually to the United States via immigrants around 1879.

So what do you need to make this funnel cake? ( + substitutions)

Top down shot of ingredients for caramel apple funnel cake (see recipe card).
  • White sugar: For the caramel sauce and for the funnel cake batter.
  • Water
  • Heavy whipping cream: Or half-and-half.
  • Neutral oil: Vegetable oil and canola oil are the two best options for deep-frying these funnel cakes.
  • Butter: For this recipe, either salted or unsalted butter will work.
  • Granny Smith apples: Probably my favorite apple and one of the best for caramel apples, because they are nice and tart. The tartness pairs especially well with the rich caramel and fried batter. Also, they are in season beginning mid to late October.
  • Ground cinnamon: Because apples and cinnamon are a splendid pairing and quintessentially fall.
  • Ground nutmeg: Nutmeg also pairs well with apples and give the funnel cake that warm and inviting autumn vibe that we all love.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder: For leavening.
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Large eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream: For serving, although this is optional.

How do you make caramel apple funnel cake? ( + tips)

Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or heavy-bottomed pan to 375 degrees. The oil should be at least two inches deep.

The next step is to prepare the caramel sauce. Begin by adding the water and 5/8 cup of sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved.

Increase to medium-high heat and cook until the color reaches a medium to dark shade of amber, shaking and/or swirling the pan often to ensure even cooking.

Close up shot of amber colored sugar water.
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Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream. Stir until combined. If there are any clumps, return it to medium heat and stir until they have dissolved, then remove from heat and set aside.

Small saucepan with caramel sauce.

In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Sauté for approximately three minutes or until the apples have just slightly softened. You want them to remain a bit crisp.

Close-up shot of spiced sautéed apples.

Transfer the apples to the bowl of a food processor fit with the blade attachment and pulse for just a few seconds until crumbled.

Close-up shot of processed sautéed apples.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, eggs, and the vanilla extract.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until fully combined and smooth.

Top down shot of funnel cake batter in clear glass bowl.

Using a liquid measuring cup, a kitchen funnel, or a piping bag with a large round tip drizzle 1/2 cup of batter into the oil in swirling and crisis-crossing motions. Fry for one to two minutes, then flip, using tongs, and fry another one to two minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and repeat with remaining batter. **If you notice a drop in oil temperature make sure you allow it to rise back up prior to frying your next funnel cake.

Top down shot of three funnel cakes.

To serve: Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, apple topping, and drizzle with caramel sauce.

How to store

If you don’t plan to eat all the funnel cake in one sitting, I recommend storing the leftover batter in an airtight container in the refrigerator and making them fresh when you’re ready. The batter will keep for up to four days. Alternatively, you may refrigerate the funnel cakes in an airtight container for up to four days. The caramel sauce may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Close up shot of caramel apple funnel cake.
Fork with slice of funnel cake next to full cake.

Some more fall-inspired sweet treats:

  • Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls w/ Chai Spice: Ooey gooey cinnamon rolls with pumpkin-infused dough and chai spice lavishly glazed in cream cheese icing. Perfect comforting brunch or dessert for autumn.
  • Vanilla Chai Donut Holes w/ Apple Cider Glaze: These warm and inviting homemade vanilla chai donut holes are perfect for fall. They are moist and cake-like on the inside and crispy on the outside with a magnificent sweet apple cider flavored glaze.

If you make this caramel apple funnel cake I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥

Caramel apple funnel cake topped with vanilla ice cream on a tree trunk platter.

Caramel Apple Funnel Cake

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Continue eating funnel cake throughout fall with this caramel apple funnel cake. It's fried to perfection, then topped off with spiced Granny Smith apple bits, vanilla ice cream, and delicious homemade caramel sauce.

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce

  • 5/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional) 

Apple Funnel Cakes

  • Neutral oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 small-medium Granny Smith apples, cored and diced, approximately 2 cups 
  •  1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving 

Instructions

  1. Preheat deep fat fryer or oil at least 2-inches deep in a heavy-bottomed pan to 375 degrees.
  2. To make the caramel sauce: Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Raise to medium-high heat and cook until it reaches a medium to dark amber color, shaking and/or swirling the pan often to ensure even cooking. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the cream. Stir until combined. If there are any clumps, return to medium heat and stir until they have dissolved, then remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse just a few seconds until crumbled.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  6. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until fully combined and smooth.
  7. Using a liquid measuring cup, kitchen funnel, or piping bag with a large round tip drizzle 1/2 cup of batter into the oil in swirling and crisis-crossing motions. Fry for one to two minutes, then flip, using tongs, and fry another one to two minutes until golden brown. Remove from oil and repeat with remaining batter.
  8. To serve: Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, apple topping, and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Storage: If you don't plan to eat all the funnel cake in one sitting, I recommend storing the leftover batter in an airtight container in the refrigerator and making them fresh when you're ready. The batter will keep for up to four days. Alternatively, you may refrigerate the funnel cakes in an airtight container for up to four days. The caramel sauce may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 788Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 166mgSodium: 1087mgCarbohydrates: 115gFiber: 4gSugar: 57gProtein: 16g

The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Gourmet Vegetarians

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

Literally drooling looking at this! I first tried funnel cake when I was visiting a little country fair in California. It's a delicious heart attack haha. Your version with the caramel apple sounds SO good!

Jessica Halverstadt

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

That it is. lol. Probably just a once a year kind of dish, but SOOOO worth it on that one occasion.

Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

We didn't go to any fairs at all this strange year, so I didn't get my funnel cake fix. UNTIL NOW. Thank you for this amazing recipe! That caramel apple topping is to die for!

Jessica Halverstadt

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

It has, indeed, been a strange year. I didn't get my funnel cake fix either, until I dreamed up this recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

Maggie

Monday 19th of October 2020

I love funnel cake! No longer have to wait for the carnival for these!! Will be making them!!

Jessica Halverstadt

Monday 19th of October 2020

Who doesn't love funnel cake?!? Hope you enjoy!!

Denise

Monday 19th of October 2020

These sound so good! Perfect for the season!

Jessica Halverstadt

Monday 19th of October 2020

Indeed! Thank you very much!

Biana

Monday 19th of October 2020

Omg, amazingly delicious, easy to make, and apple caramel flavor? I must try making this, as it has some of my favorite flavors.

Jessica Halverstadt

Monday 19th of October 2020

I'm so happy to hear this recipe is appealing to you. If you get around to trying it let me know how it turns out.

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