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Elephant Ears Recipe

This Elephant Ears Recipe features homemade dough that’s fried, then coated with cinnamon and sugar making them impossible to resist!

best ever Elephant Ears recipe

Easy Elephant Ears Recipe

What are elephant ears? Elephant Ears are is a vintage street food dessert that’s commonly found at carnivals and fairs. They have many names often related to their shape. These light and airy fried dough pastries are coated with a cinnamon sugar while hot then served. Elephant ears were actually named for their shape and common street fare made famous at state fairs, sold by food trucks and theme parks. I’ve also heard them call beaver tails and bunuelos by some, and fry bread by others they’re all essentially the same thing. Fried dough coated with cinnamon and sugar, although the dough itself may be slightly different. Regardless, all of them are delicious.


how to make homemade Elephant Ears

How to Make the Best Homemade Elephant Ears Recipe

What kind of dough is used for making Elephant Ears? They’re made using deep fried rounds of sweet pastry dough that’s been made with yeast. They’re coated in cinnamon-sugar and at times served with maple syrup or honey on the side for dipping. I’ve seen some recipes for elephant ears that use puff pastry for a shortcut. However, this recipe is the classic way to make them from scratch. A few tips for Elephant Ears making success:

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make Elephant Ears Pastry: All purpose flour, whole milk, salt, butter, rapid rise yeast, ground cinnamon and vegetable oil for frying.
  • Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A small saucepan, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, mixing bowls, a stand mixer or a hand mixer fitted with a dough hook, a Dutch oven fitted with a fry thermometer or a deep fryer and a baking sheet lined with paper towels or parchment paper. You’ll also need a spoon or spatula to stir together the cinnamon and sugar for the coating.
  • If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead the dough on a flat surface by hand.
  • Please note, you’ll need two 1/4 ounce each packets of dry yeast for this recipe.
  • Depending on the size of the dough rounds, you could yield anywhere from 8-12 elephant ears with this recipe.
  • That said, you can also divide the dough according to how many you want to make. If you’re treating a larger group, make them smaller and stretch the servings to accommodate.
  • I recommend using vegetable oil for frying, not olive oil.
  • Tongs will be your best friend for turning and removing fried dough from the oil safely.
  • It’s important to dust the pastries with cinnamon sugar immediately after removing from the oil so it will adhere to the surface.
  • If you’re working alone and get a bit behind in the process, you can brush on both sides lightly with melted butter to help the cinnamon and sugar to adhere.
  • These types of pastries are best made and eaten while warm. That said, you can store them in an airtight container and reheat leftovers gently in the microwave. Just note, fresh is best.

Elephant Ears and More Dessert Recipes to Add to the Menu

Handheld desserts are always on the dessert table at our house, due to the nature of grab-n-go. A few other fun handheld sweet treats you may like to try:
cooked Elephant Ears


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Elephant Ears recipe
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5 from 5 votes

Elephant Ears

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Rise time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: elephant-ears, elephant-ears-recipe
Servings: 10 servings (may vary)
Calories: 401kcal


  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp granulated sugar divided
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 (1/4 oz each) packets rapid rise yeast
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 quart vegetable or peanut oil for frying


  • To make dough: In a small saucepan, combine milk, salt, butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar on medium heat. Heat while stirring until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, Let cool until warm, about 110°F. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 10 minutes until mixture is foamy and yeast has bloomed.
  • Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add vanilla. Mix on low gradually adding the flour until a dough forms. Once all is added, increase the speed and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (Alternately, knead by hand on a lightly floured non-stick surface.)
  • Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let rise 45-60 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Combine cinnamon and reserved 6 Tbsp of sugar, set aside.
  • To fry: In a large pot or 12 inch deep skillet, heat 2-3 inches of oil to 360-365°F. Keep roughly in this range.
  • Pinch balls of dough about the size of an egg. Roll out into thin sheets. Drop into oil and fry for 1-2 minutes per side or just until puffed and golden. (It may take less time depending on the oil temp and thickness)
  • Drain on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve and enjoy. (May brush with melted butter if desired, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.)


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 401kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 251mg | Potassium: 113mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 274IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


  1. 5 stars
    Yummy says it all . And easy to do.
    A great idea, for doing at home now we don’t have to wait for the local fair to come around.
    Thank you for sharing

  2. 5 stars
    What’s the difference from Native American Fry bread then this? Or is that just another name or version for similar!!

    1. These have been called Elephant Ears for as long as I’ve been eating them, and that’s decades. That said, I’m sure there are many variations that may have other names. The Native American Fry Bread that I’ve had is usually savory but again, that could vary wildly. At the end of the day, does it matter? Whatever people call them they’re delicious.

      1. 5 stars
        Looks delicious!!! And that’s a cute name! My family came from Mexico and we call these buñuelos. Absolutely delicious😋😋😋

      2. Thank you! I think bread dough fried and coated in cinnamon and sugar can be found in most cultures by different names. They ALL spell delicious.

  3. I think these would be fun to make while camping but I don’t bring my kitchen aide with me and don’t have a lot of room so I am wondering can you make the dough ahead of time? Maybe freeze it in the rounds then thaw out and use?

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