Is funnel cake made from pancake batter?

Funnel cakes are a popular carnival and fair food that have a light, crispy exterior and a soft, airy interior. Their unique shape comes from being poured into a funnel and then dropped into hot oil to cook. This creates the thin, crisscrossed shape that funnel cakes are known for.

Pancakes are a breakfast staple made from a batter of flour, milk, eggs, baking powder, and sometimes sugar. The batter is poured into rounds and cooked on a griddle or pan. So with the similarities between funnel cakes and pancakes, it’s natural to wonder – is funnel cake made from pancake batter?

The Main Ingredients in Funnel Cake and Pancake Batters

While funnel cakes and pancakes share some common ingredients, there are differences in the specifics that make each batter unique.


Both pancake and funnel cake batters start with flour as the main ingredient. However, the types of flour used are different:

  • Pancakes are usually made with all-purpose flour, a blend of hard and soft wheats.
  • Funnel cakes are made with cake flour or a combination of cake and all-purpose flours. Cake flour is milled solely from soft wheat and has less protein than all-purpose.

The lower protein content in the cake flour gives funnel cakes their signature tender, delicate crumb.


The liquid ingredients also differ between pancakes and funnel cakes:

  • Pancake batter uses milk or buttermilk as the main liquid.
  • Funnel cake batter uses water, milk, or egg whites.

Milk gives pancake batter a creamy consistency while funnel cakes achieve a lighter texture thanks to the water or egg whites.

Leavening Agent

Leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda are crucial for lifting both pancake and funnel cake batters as they cook:

  • Pancakes use baking powder or baking soda plus an acid like buttermilk to leaven the batter.
  • Funnel cakes rely on baking powder alone to leaven the batter.

The differing amounts of leavening agent also contribute to the distinct textures – pancakes are sturdy enough to stack while funnel cakes have a delicate, crispy texture.


Eggs provide structure and richness in baking. Here’s how they’re used in each batter:

  • Pancake batters generally include 1-2 eggs.
  • Funnel cakes typically include just 1 egg or egg whites.

The extra egg in pancake batter gives the cakes more structure so they can stand up to toppings. The lighter egg amount in funnel cakes creates a crispier end product.

Sugar and Other Flavorings

Sweetness and flavors also set pancakes and funnel cakes apart:

  • Pancake batter may use a small amount of sugar, usually 1-2 Tbsp.
  • Funnel cakes use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar for a sweeter taste.

Funnel cakes can also contain vanilla and spices like cinnamon for extra flavor. Pancake batter typically does not include additional flavorings beyond vanilla.

The Mixing and Cooking Methods Vary

In addition to differences in batter ingredients, pancakes and funnel cakes have distinct mixing methods and cooking techniques.


Mixing is an important step that impacts the texture and rise:

  • Pancake batter is usually mixed just until the dry and wet ingredients are combined.
  • Funnel cake batter is beaten or whisked for 2-3 minutes to incorporate air.

The extra aeration in funnel cake batter helps create the light and crispy texture.

Cooking Method

The different batters lend themselves to distinct cooking methods:

  • Pancake batter is poured into rounds and cooked on a griddle or skillet.
  • Funnel cake batter is drizzled through a funnel into hot oil to create thin crisscrossed shapes.

The oil and funnel allow funnel cakes to cook up extra crispy and golden brown.

Typical Recipes for Pancakes vs. Funnel Cakes

Looking at typical recipes for each batter type illustrates the main differences:

Pancake Batter

A standard pancake batter recipe includes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted

This creates a thick, sturdy batter perfect for cooking into fluffy pancakes.

Funnel Cake Batter

A basic funnel cake batter recipe includes:

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup water or milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

This makes a thinner, lighter batter ideal for crisping up into lacy funnel cakes.


While pancakes and funnel cakes share some key ingredients like flour, eggs, baking powder, and sugar, the specific amounts and types used result in batters with unique properties. Pancake batter uses more protein-rich all-purpose flour, milk, and extra eggs to create a sturdy, thick batter. Funnel cakes rely on cake flour, water or egg whites, and more leavening agent for a thinner, lighter, crisper batter.

So in summary – no, funnel cakes are not made from pancake batter. The differing flour, liquid, egg, and sugar amounts result in batters tailored to their specific cooking methods. While you could likely substitute a thin pancake batter into a funnel, or a thickened funnel cake batter onto a griddle, each recipe is specially formulated for creating the ideal pancakes or funnel cakes.

Next time you enjoy light, crispy funnel cakes or fluffy pancakes, you can appreciate the skillful recipe development behind crafting the perfect batter. With their distinct ingredients, mixing methods, and ideal cooking techniques, funnel cakes and pancakes each shine in their own right.

Pancake Batter Funnel Cake Batter
All-purpose flour Cake flour + all-purpose flour
Baking powder + acid Baking powder
Milk Water or milk
1-2 eggs 1 egg or egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
Mixed just until combined Beaten or whisked for 2-3 minutes
Cooked on griddle or pan Drizzled into hot oil

This table summarizes the main differences in ingredients and techniques between pancake and funnel cake batters.

Pancakes rely on protein-rich all-purpose flour, use milk as the liquid, get lift from baking powder plus an acid like buttermilk, use 1-2 eggs, have 2 Tbsp of sugar for just a touch of sweetness, are mixed just until combined, and are cooked on a hot surface like a griddle.

Funnel cakes are made with a blend of cake and all-purpose flours, use water or milk as the liquid, get lift from baking powder alone, use just 1 egg or egg whites, have 1/4 – 1/2 cup of sugar for pronounced sweetness, are beaten or whisked for 2-3 minutes to incorporate air, and are drizzled into hot oil to cook.

So while they are both battered treats, pancakes and funnel cakes have distinct ingredients and methods used to create their ideal textures and flavors. A pancake batter would likely yield dense, greasy cakes if used for funnel cakes. And a thin funnel cake batter would result in flat, limp pancakes. Each batter formula is specially designed through generations of cooking wisdom – which is why you can’t make classic funnel cakes from pancake batter!

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