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Elephant Ears: the sweet fried bread recipe

Total time: 20 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
By Cookist
Powdered sugar
Vegetable Oil
2 cups
frozen bread dough loaves, thawed
1 48 oz bag
flour for powder

We love fried dough in any shape or form, and these Elephant Ears are one of our favorites. Elephant Ears is an easy and quick fried bread and get their name from the resemblance to the large, floppy ears of an elephant. It’s actually a super popular dish served at state fairs across the United States! The bread is crispy on the outside (thanks to the frying process) but soft and chewy on the inside. The flavor is sweet and delicious.

To make it, you only need bread dough (get some from a supermarket near you), a bit of oil, and powdered sugar. This recipe can be made with either traditional bread dough or dough without yeast. Finish with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and enjoy!


What are Elephant Ears?

Elephant ears are flat pieces of bread dough that are fried until crispy, then sprinkled with powdered sugar, and sometimes cinnamon. Elephant Ears actually go back as far as the mid-19th century. The fried bread was born out of necessity when Native Americans had to make something out of government commodity boxes. Today, it’s a popular dessert eaten at state fairs around the United States, and can be eaten both sweet and savory.

There’s a slight difference between Elephant Ears and Funnel Cake. Elephant ears are dough pieces that have been stretched into a circle and then fried. Funnel cake is more like a type of fritter made from fried batter.

How to make Elephant Ears

This Elephant recipe is quick and easy because it makes use of store-bought bread dough. The dough is divided into small balls, stretched into 6-inch circles, and then fried in hot oil. You can also make your own no-yeast dough. Simply mix together 2 cups of self-raising flour, 2/3 cup warm milk, 2 tablespoons butter (melted), and 1 tablespoon sugar.

If you don’t have self-raising flour, you can make your own by whisking together one cup of all-purpose flour with 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt.



Elephant ears are best served fresh, while they’re still crispy. If you really have to, you can make them ahead of time, simply reheat in the oven (at 350°F) for 10 minutes.

You can bake these in the oven, but they’re best served fried! You can also make these in the Air fryer. Simply place the small round of dough into the Airfryer basket and cook at 350°F for 5 minutes until done.

If you’re in a pinch, you can make the elephant ears from pancake mix or biscuit dough!

There’s no need to use yeast, and if you want to make them gluten-free, make sure to use gluten-free flour.

Elephant Ear Topping Ideas

The fried bread will taste good with any topping. Try cinnamon sugar, frosting, caramel syrup, hazelnut cream, chocolate sauce, and strawberry syrup.

How To Store Elephant Ears

Store the Elephant Ears in a Ziploc bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. They can also be frozen. Place in an airtight freezer-safe bag and store for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave at 350°F for 10 minutes.

More Recipes You'll Like

Want more bread recipes? Here are a few more you’ll love:




Homemade Fried Donuts



In a pan heat oil. Cut each slice of dough into thirds. Pull the dough into a 6-inch diameter, being careful not to tear the dough.


Put the dough in oil and fry for 1-2 minutes.


Turn the dough over and fry on the other side for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain onto paper towels.


Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough.


The Elephant Ears are best served warm.

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