DIY or Buy: Making state fair-style corndogs at home

October 5 | Guest post by Amanda
Pronto pups! Imperfect, yes. But still beautiful.

You ever notice how, from one state to another, there can be drastic vocabulary differences?

I'm originally from the awesome state of Minnesota, where, for whatever reason, there are a few things that are just said differently. For example, growing up, I played Duck, Duck, Gray Duck instead of Duck, Duck, Goose. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned about the goose business. And it's the same way with corn dogs: In Minnesota, and especially at the Minnesota State Fair, these babies are Pronto Pups. Not that you can't find a corn dog in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but you're more likely to encounter a pronto pup. It's just the way it is.

But no matter what you call them, the hot-dog-wrapped-in-corn-batter-and-dipped-in-hot-oil is a quintessential fair food. It's fried, it's on a stick, and it's delicious. After the dual appetizers of fried pickles and mac and cheese on a stick, a pronto pup (a.k.a. corn dog) dinner is just about perfect. So, here we go!

In the interest of not being laughed at by the blogosphere for my funny verbage, I shall refer to the pronto pups as "corn dogs." To make my very own dogs, I followed the recipe and instructions over at A Cozy Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • A plate full of cornstarch
  • 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of yellow corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup of whole milk
  • 4 hot dogs
Why turkey dogs? I don't know either. But that makes this meal healthy, right?

To start, make sure your hot dogs are thawed and supple and ready for their big show. Turkey dogs were the only hot dogs we had on hand. Work with what you've got, I always say! While they were defrosting in the microwave, I started prepping. First, pour some cornstarch out onto a plate. This will (eventually) coat the dog and make the batter stick better.

Pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir.

Then, mix together all the dry ingredients for the batter (from flour to cayenne in the ingredient list). In another bowl, beat together the egg and milk. Then, quickly combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix gently until it just barely comes together – you'll have a batter that looks like pancake batter. That's good. It's better to undermix in this case than to overmix, so the breading stays fluffy and tender. Trust me.

Batter. In a glass. Yes.

Now, the batter goes into a tall, skinny glass or cup. Then, the batter rests.

Now, the dogs are thawed. Skewer them (I used kabob skewers, but I hear that cheapo wooden chopsticks work wonders), and roll them in the cornstarch (tapping off the excess). And now's also a good time to get your frying setup ready too. If you have a fryer, set it to 375 degrees and remove the basket. If not, heat two to three inches of vegetable or peanut oil in a heavy, deep skillet. It should reach 350 to 375 degrees.

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

Ready? This part moves fast: Dip the cornstarched and skewered dog into the glass full of batter and give it a few twists, so it's all covered in batter. Then quickly, quickly slide it into the hot oil. The batter really won't want to stick, so you have to move fast so the dog stays pretty well covered. Once it gets into the oil, it sets within a second. Let it fry up for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. I had to turn my dog a few times with a set of tongs, so each side got equally golden.

Pronto Pup Rescue!

When done, remove to a plate covered with paper towels to drain off the grease. Then slather in mustard and enjoy!

Taste Test

As my husband said, They're dee-lish. The breading on these puppies are absolutely spot-on: Crispy and crackly on the outside, soft and spongy on the inside, the dog inside steaming after you bite into it. The corn-sweetness of the breading is a perfect contrast to the vinegary mustard, and the whole thing stays put on the skewer, thanks in part to the little nub of breading that ends up wrapping around the skewer. That's one of my favorite parts of the corn dog experience, and the last bite on any good dog.

The only complaint I have was the turkey dog had a different taste than a regular beef dog does. But that was my own fault.

I suppose I could also complain that our grocery store doesn't sell foot-long hot dogs, so I can't make foot-long corn dogs. But then again, I could make a half-dozen of these (approximately) for the cost of a single fair dog, so I'll let that slide.

DIY or Buy?

Yes. Both. During fair time, Buy — no trip to the State Fair is complete without a corn dog. It's like going to France and avoiding wine, or going to Hollywood and ignoring celebrities: Wrong all around. But for the other 50-ish weeks out of the year, DIY is the only way to go. (Even if the bar down the road is selling them. DIY.)

Okay, obviously I have a special place in my heart for pronto pups/corn dogs. What is your can't-miss-it fair/carnival/celebration food?

Join our community!

    • May I ask what a cider doughnut is?? They sound delicious, but I have never seen one!

      2 agree
      • it's a cake doughnut made with apple cider and only the best thing EVER! the best part of going apple picking is getting apple cider donuts straight from the fryer. om nom nom.

        3 agree
        • YES! This exactly. Man, urban Ohio (yeah, it exists) doesn't have nearly as many apple orchards as Michigan.

          Have you ever tried dipping your cider doughnut in the remains of your chili-cheese fries? Sounds gross, is amazing.

          2 agree
    • We have those in the Midwest too, and they are AMAZING! I live around the corner from a tiny little donut shop that makes them fresh every day during the fall. 🙂

      2 agree
  1. Amanda, as a fellow Minnesotan and a devotee of the Minnesota State Fair, I have to correct you.

    Corn dogs = hot dog with cornmeal batter

    Pronto pup = hot dog with wheat batter

    Both = delicious, although corn dogs are better. Obvy.

    🙂

    5 agree
    • Thanks, as another (former) MNer I was going to post this! I prefer the Pronto Pup myself.

      4 agree
    • Thanks, as another (former) MNer I was going to respond! I prefer the Pronto Pup myself.

      3 agree
  2. omfgz. My love of corn dogs is a bit legendary. There was one time when I dragged my boyfriend fo the time all around South Padre Island looking for them until we finally found them at a tiny shack by the beach.

    Making these tonight. Inviting friends. Corn Dog Party time. So excited.

    2 agree
  3. Roasted ears of corn. Dipped in a vat of melted butter and sprinkled with seasoning salt, Yummm!

    2 agree
  4. Lemonade and fries with vinegar. My grandpa's favorites, and they just stuck with me to adulthood. Yes, it's way cheaper to make fresh lemonade at home, but I can't help it. Give me the $7 mondo-cup.

    Also, funnel cake. Because I'm secretly a nine year old.

    2 agree
  5. Tip to keep the batter on your dog — roll the hot dog in corn starch before the batter. It will absorb the moisture on the surface of the dog and will help the sticky batter adhere better 😉

    This trick works with any wet batter application.

    2 agree
  6. They're Pluto pups here in Australia. (Well, the state I grew up in any how…)

    1 agrees
    • Lol. As I was reading this I was thinking, don't we call them Pluto pups in Australia? Or dagwood dogs… at least, that's what my Dad calls them.

      4 agree
  7. They're called Pogos in my neck of the woods (Ontario, Canada). Effing delicious when served with a side of poutine and a coke to drink.

    4 agree
    • POUTINE! Another of my favorites. Too bad no one in the states has EVER heard of it. They're all missing out.

      3 agree
      • Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! Hold on a sec! Here in Maine, Poutine is on many a restaurant menu, and there are also a few roadside "Poutine Stands"…which is not as dirty as it sounds.

        4 agree
      • Yeah, I had to go google poutine just now. And I have to say, I want to eat it, immediately. I cannot believe it is not a thing down here in the American south. We are the land of gravy!

        1 agrees
  8. In New Zealand, we just call them hot dogs. What you guys in the US call hotdogs, we call American Hotdogs.
    Both are fantastic, deepfried glory.
    In the South Island of NZ, we have these small things of glory we call cheese rolls (which apparently the rest of the country aren't even really aware of … unheard of in a small country). Essentially a white sauce with onion and cheese rolled up in bread and toasted. Or do it the lazy way and mix a tin of evaporated milk with onion soup powder and cheese. DE.LIGHT.FUL.

    1 agrees
  9. In Wisconsin we have cheesecurds. Just little chunks of cheddar cheese. They're good by themselves but deep-fried dipped in ranch they're amazing!!!!

    1 agrees
  10. Having spent some time in Québec, I certainly agree on the amazingness of poutine! Tried cheese curds in Wisconsin and loved those, too! My thing, growing up in Pennsylvania, was the funnel cakes at the fair. Greasy and entirely lacking in nutrition, but soooooo yummy!

    1 agrees
  11. YAY MINNESOTA! This just made my day. Also, the bit about the grey duck. So true. (Clearly it's a grey duck. Why would a goose be there?)

    2 agree
  12. Thank you for the recipe! I love pogos (what we call them here in Ontario) but want an organic chemical free version. Bought organic chicken dogs and am ready to try making them right now!

    1 agrees

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.