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Bring on the blue ribbons, corn on the cob and corn dogs.

Fair season is right around the corner. And that means fair food — or pretty much anything deep-fried or served on a stick — or in the case of corn dogs, both.

If you’re craving the distinctly American staple, you don’t have to trek to the nearest fairgrounds. You can make the carnival classic at home, impaling a hot dog on a skewer or chopstick, dipping it in cornmeal batter, then deep-frying it until the coated hot dog loosely resembles an ear of corn.

The Iowa State Fair Corn Dogs recipe makes a traditional, caky corn dog.

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The original calls for grilling the hot dogs first for added smoky flavor. Skip this step, and the corn dogs still won’t disappoint.

For more kick, double — or even quadruple — the amount of cayenne pepper. Its flavor gets a little lost in the batter. On the flip side, using a little less salt — ¼ or ½ teaspoon instead of ¾ teaspoon — might not be a bad idea. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of oil in the batter; leaving that out doesn’t drastically alter the texture or taste.

Flour helps the thick, consistent batter stick to the hot dogs, giving them a uniform coating that doesn’t slide off.

The recipe calls for vegetable oil; use peanut oil if you can.

After dipping eight corn dogs in the batter, there’s likely to be enough left over to coat four or five more — or use to batter and fry up asparagus, green beans, pickles or onions. But don’t expect enough to make a loaf of cornbread.


Makes 8

8 hot dogs

½ cup, plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided

About 8 cups vegetable oil (peanut is recommended), plus 2 tablespoons

1½ cups cornmeal

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

¾ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1¼ cups well-shaken buttermilk

Ketchup and mustard

1. Oil grill pan, then grill hot dogs over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, about five minutes total.

2. Transfer to a plate and cool slightly, then insert a wooden stick into each hot dog. Put 3 tablespoons flour on another plate and roll hot dogs in flour to coat, shaking off excess.

3. Heat 3 inches oil to 350 degrees in a deep 3-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat.

4. Meanwhile, whisk together cornmeal, remaining ½ cup flour, 2 tablespoons oil, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, cayenne, and salt in a medium bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in buttermilk.

5. Transfer some of batter to a tall glass, filling it almost to the top.

6. Working in batches of two or three, dip hot dogs, one at a time, into glass of batter to coat (add more batter to glass if necessary), then fry, turning occasionally, until batter is cooked through and golden-brown all over, about three minutes. Transfer corn dogs to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 350 and refill glass with batter between batches.

Note: This recipe calls for ice-pop sticks, but simple wooden barbecue skewers also work just fine.

— Adapted from, adapted from Gourmet magazine at

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