Best Elephant Ears Recipe

Who's ready for a little blast from the past? If you've gone to a carnival, state fair, or any other similar event, then you've likely passed one of those great-smelling stands that read "Elephant Ears" in colorful letters. Just saying the name aloud literally fills our nostrils with a sweet, sugary aroma and a little throwback of childhood. Back in the day, we would have to beg our parents to let us stop at the stand to get that little slice of heaven (and a sugar high), but as adults, we can actually make these sweet desserts on our own. See? Being a grown-up has its perks! 

Recipe developer Miriam Hahn of YouCare-SelfCare is one of the most talented recipe developers out there, and she knocked this recipe out of the park. "I love that this mimics theme park and fair food! It is an easy way for you to feel like a kid again," she raves. We couldn't agree more. Keep reading to find out how to whip up this fantastic treat in your very own kitchen!

Gather the ingredients for elephant ears

The first thing you will need to do is gather all of the necessary ingredients needed to make these elephant ears. That means you will need to take a trip to the grocery store or order your stuff online. For starters, you will need milk and salt. Then, be sure to grab sugar, and toss it in your cart. You will also need butter and active dry yeast. The remaining items are pretty standard, and you may already have them at home, so be sure to double check. Those items include all-purpose flour, cinnamon, and oil.

Melt the butter

Now that you have all of your ingredients in front of you, it's time to begin. Start by pulling out a small pot and adding the milk and salt. Then, toss in 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar and the butter. Place the pot on your stove, and turn the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the butter melts, and remember to stir occasionally. 

Then, remove the pot from heat, and let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes. You can set a timer or simply watch the clock — it's just based on your own preference. 

Add the yeast

Once you've allowed the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, go ahead and add your active dry yeast to the pot. Stir everything together, and then let the mixture sit for another 10 minutes. Again, it's your choice as to whether or not you want to use a timer or just watch the clock. "The active dry yeast takes about 10 minutes to activate, helping the dough rise and get those great bubbles when cooking! (If you are using instant yeast, you don't need to activate it)," Hahn says. Okay, it's time to add the mixture to another large bowl.

Make the dough

Now that you have your bowl with the yeast mixture, and add flour to it. Stir the mixture a few times so it forms a dough. "For stirring the dough, I like to use a wooden spoon to get it started, and then you can mix the rest with your hand," Hahn shares. "It can be messy and sticky, so I use kitchen disposable gloves for things like this, but of course bare hands work just fine."

Remove the dough from the bowl, and grab a wooden board. Knead the dough for a few minutes with your hands.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, then roll it into balls

Now, cover the dough, and let it rest for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon to a small bowl. "If you want to try something different, you can skip the sugar, cinnamon mixture and use honey," Hahn says.

Once your 30-minute timer goes off, form the dough into 10 balls. Simply roll each ball into an oval shape about 6 inches big. "Once it is rolled up in the balls, it is super easy to roll out, because you aren't going that big," Hahn shares. "It only takes a few back and forth rolls, and you are done. And if you want them bigger or smaller, you can just alter the size of the dough ball."

Cook the dough

The next thing you need to do is choose a deep skillet, and crank the heat to high. Then, drop in one oval dough piece at a time. Cook for about a minute on each side, and then use tongs to remove the elephant ear and lay it on a paper towel. 

"When you start frying, the first one will take longer. Once the oil is really hot, the next ones go quick, so be ready," Hahn shares. "Have the paper towels ready, and you want to add the sugar and cinnamon right when they come out, so it sticks!" Repeat the steps with the remaining elephant ears.

Serve, and enjoy

Once you have finished all of the elephant ears, give yourself a little pat on the back. Now, you can finally serve them to your lucky guests, and dig into that sweet and nostalgic treat. These are great to eat by themselves, but you can also add a little whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream to up your game.  

If you have anything left, it will save. "​​You can store these in an airtight container on the counter for a few days," Hahn says. We hope you love this nostalgic treat as much as we do. We are guessing it will be a favorite delicious recipe at your house.

Best Elephant Ears Recipe
5 from 42 ratings
This sweet recipe for elephant ears will bring you back to visiting state fairs and carnivals as a kid. Enjoy them with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Elephant Ears
elephant ears with coffee
Total time: 20 minutes
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups oil
  1. In a small pot, combine the milk, salt, 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar, and butter.
  2. Cook on medium-low heat until the butter is melted.
  3. Remove from the heat, and let cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the active dry yeast to the pot, stir, and let it sit for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add the mixture to a large bowl.
  6. Add the flour, and stir to form a dough.
  7. Remove from the bowl, and knead for a couple of minutes on a board.
  8. Cover the dough, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  9. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.
  10. When the dough is done resting, form it into 10 balls.
  11. Roll each ball out into an oval shape about 6 inches.
  12. Heat up the oil in a deep skillet to high heat.
  13. Drop in one oval dough piece at a time. Cook for about 1 minute on each side. Remove with tongs, and lay on a paper towel.
  14. Sprinkle the elephant ears with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Calories per Serving 540
Total Fat 48.0 g
Saturated Fat 5.8 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 11.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.2 g
Total Sugars 5.4 g
Sodium 125.8 mg
Protein 3.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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