Whether you’re always first in line to ride the rollercoaster at the fair or you prefer to mellow out in a lawn chair at a local folk music festival, there’s no denying the appeal of best-loved carnival classics like Mexican street corn, churros, and ice cream sandwiches. The only thing you’ll be missing when you make the carnival-inspired recipes in this roundup are the high SmartPoints, long lines, and sky high prices that typically accompany festival fare.
- Take a cue from professional food trucks: Let friends and family add their own condiments and toppings to burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and sundaes. With this part of the meal out of your hands, you’ll only be responsible for the basic prep of each recipe.
- Scoop once ahead of time: If you plan on serving ice cream, freeze each scoop individually on a baking sheet up to two weeks in advance. Once frozen, transfer the ice cream scoops to a large resealable freezer bag until they’re ready to be served.
- For a delicious thirst-quencher on a hot day, make a big batch — or two — of lemonade or agua fresca (we love our recipes for cucumber mint and watermelon basil frescas.)
Savoury mains for at-home festivals
Air fryers are ideal for making perfectly crispy carnival standards. Not only do they drastically cut down on the amount of oil needed to achieve that “fried” texture, they’re more energy efficient and radiate less outward heat than an oven or a deep fryer. In addition to the air fryer-specific recipes listed below, you can also use the appliance to make hot dogs, street corn, fish tacos, and burgers.
Try these fiesta-worthy menu items:
The desserts in this category leave room for ingredient substitutions, which means you can make them as healthy (or decadent) as you’d like. Air fryer desserts and Belgian waffles are best eaten as soon as they’re made but can also be frozen and reheated using the same cooking method for the sake of convenience. To make popcorn balls up to two weeks in advance, prepare according to the recipe instructions, let harden at room temperature, and then wrap each ball separately in plastic wrap.
Ice cream sandwiches can be made in any ice cream and cookie combination you think of. Instead of using cookies, try marshmallow and rice cereal squares, mochi, waffles, graham crackers or thin slices of brownie. To keep slushies and other frozen desserts cold until the last minute, portion them out into cups and freeze until 10 minutes before serving.