For 12 days in late August through Labor Day weekend, swarms of fairgoers descend upon the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for the annual Minnesota State Fair.
What makes The Great Minnesota Get-Together such a draw? I have to imagine it has something to do with the food!
At least, that was what I found during my experience as a first-timer at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair.
Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, and you can read my full disclosure here.
Food Lover Meets the Minnesota State Fair
For my visit to the 2016 Minnesota State Fair, I was hosted by the Roseville Visitors Association. The Twin Cities suburb of Roseville proved to be a convenient location for overnight stays during the State Fair with shuttles from local hotels to the State Fairgrounds.
I was hosted for two nights at the Home2 Suites by Hilton Roseville. From there, I took a shuttle to a bus that brings visitors to the fairgrounds, where eating fried foods on a stick and drinking unique Minnesota State Fair craft beers were on the agenda.
Based on my experience, I recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and your stretchiest or loosest pants. Also, bring cash to pay for your food and a friend or five to split all these mouthwatering fair foods with you.
Nine Minnesota State Fair Foods You Should Eat
In addition to nightly concerts, amusement rides, and agricultural exhibits, the food is a major reason to attend the Minnesota State Fair. In fact, few state fairs are as well known as the Minnesota State Fair, and the food is undoubtedly a reason to attend the fair.
Did you know the Minnesota State Fair is the largest state fair by daily attendance? It’s also the second largest state fair in the United States by overall attendance behind the State Fair of Texas, which runs for three weeks.
As I wandered from food vendor to food vendor, I noticed foods traditional to the State Fair, many deep-fried foods often served on a stick, and some truly unique foods that were new and instant hits. Whether you visit the year after year or are a rookie like I was in 2016, I’ve pinpointed nine foods you should eat at the Minnesota State Fair.
Traditional Minnesota State Fair Foods
Certainly, there is no shortage of traditional carnival treats at the Minnesota State Fair. Here are just a few you can’t miss!
Fairgoers will find these corn dogs made with a not-so-sweet cornmeal batter at several booths around the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The Pronto Pup has been a Minnesota State Fair tradition since the 1940s, and it combines two common themes among food at the fair — deep-fried foods and foods served on a stick.
Soft pretzels are a classic fair or carnival food, and you’ll find soft pretzels from at least two vendors at “The Great Minnesota Get-Together.” I used a $2-off coupon in the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book to purchase my pretzel with cheese from the Pretzel Factory.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
One of the longest lines at the Minnesota State Fair is for Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies. Sold by the cone or the bucket, you’ll find several Sweet Martha’s vendors around the fairgrounds.
- Roasted sweet corn on the cob
- Ice cream from the Dairy Goodness Bar inside the Dairy Building
- Mini donuts
Deep-Fried Minnesota State Fair Foods
You’ll be amazed by all the foods served fried. While you may have expected to find deep-fried cheese curds at a Midwestern state fair, how about deep-fried candy bars, fruit, or olives? If you just want to indulge in one or two deep-fried fair foods, these are my top picks …
Deep-Fried Cookie Dough
This may sound odd, but this was my favorite food at the fair. The chocolate-chip cookie dough was warm and gooey.
Deep-Fried Pickle Slices
The sliced fried pickles come classic, cajun style, or with cream cheese.
- Deep-fried Cheese Curds
- Fried Green Tomatoes
Intriguing Food Finds At The Minnesota State Fair
Another Minnesota State Fair food tradition is trying new foods each year. These foods sometimes feature traditional fair food uniquely presented, or they may fuse a traditional Midwestern dish with the flavors of international cuisines.
For example, one of the wildest new editions in 2016 fused Minnesota-produced SPAM with sushi. Each of the following foods was new in 2016, but you can see the new foods for 2022 on the Minnesota State Fair website.
Candied Bacon Donut Sliders with Raspberry Wine Slushie
Mini donuts have long been a Minnesota State Fair food tradition, but they featured a new spin at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair. Let me tell you, these candied bacon donut sliders were to die for! They featured candied bacon sandwiched between a mini donut bun and drizzled with balsamic and a dusting of powdered sugar. I paired them with a raspberry wine slushie from the Minnesota Wine Country Pavilion.
Cheese Curd Macaroni and Cheese
Sold by Oodles of Noodles, this macaroni and cheese had cheese curds mixed in and was paired with a breadstick. Does it get any more Midwestern than this?
Candied Bacon BLT
At the Blue Barn, I tasted a delicious candied bacon BLT. Also located here there was a Caramel Apple Pi Cider. Yum!
The Rabbit Hole’s Carpe Diem
Created by the Rabbit Hole, a now-closed Korean-fusion eatery based at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, this decadent dish featured a miso waffle cone filled with a strawberry balsamic filling, vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble, and fresh strawberry.
Though the new foods at the Minnesota State Fair change yearly, I’m sure you’ll find foods to tantalize your taste buds just as I did in 2016!
Planning to try these Minnesota State Fair foods this year?
Whether you are a seasoned State Fair veteran or a rookie like I was in 2016, you may find some of the following resources helpful for eating your way around the Minnesota State Fair. I felt completely overwhelmed walking into the fair without a game plan!
First, I suggest using the Minnesota State Fair’s food finder before you get to the fair to figure out where your favorite foods are. Also, before you go, check out all the new foods at this year’s fair. Like beer? I found some tasty craft beers at the 2016 fair, and you’ll find specialty brews for 2022, too.
Where To Stay Near The Minnesota State Fair
Are you attending the Minnesota State Fair from out of town? If so, I recommend staying near the fairgrounds in Roseville like I did. From the Home2 Suites by Hilton, I was able to take a shuttle to the buses that run to and from the fairgrounds.
You can use the search box below to find and book your hotel now!
- Minnesota State Fair: Where Beer Tastes Like Donuts and Cookies
- Summer Road Trip Tips: How to Pack Your Cooler for 10 Midwest Culinary Destinations
- Six Reasons to Stay in Roseville When Visiting the Twin Cities
- Tasting Northeast Minneapolis with Twin Cities Food Tours
- Romantic Getaways in the Midwest
Save this post to your Minnesota or Midwest Travel board on Pinterest for later!
WOW! This reminds me that I’ve never been to a state fair… I need to change that. Thanks for sharing 🙂
That all sounds sooooo yummy! I was hoping to go this year but typically it clashed with school (where I work!) starting again! Maybe next year!
May I just say YUM! I don’t even know what to want first!
OMG. I have a friend who lives in Edina who keeps wanting me to visit for the State Fair and now I just might have to!
Deep fried cookie dough… i’m not sure if that is delicious or disgusting haha
As someone who eats the dough as I make chocolate chip cookies, I found it delicious. It’s definitely unusual though!
omg the bacon and wine smoothie! I need that in my life!
My stomach is officially growling!! So yummy!!
Amanda at The Light Owl
I love fair food so much. Those fried pickles and that mac and cheese is calling my name!
OMG YES!!! Deep fried cookie dough and cheese curds please! My favorite.
That deep fried cookie dough is calling my name! And also the cookies, pretzels, and carpe diem. Bring on all the carbs!
It sounds like you have the perfect attitude for a day at the Minnesota State Fair. It really is all about the carbs!
Wow, lots of different selections from the ones we had at the Puyallup State Fair!
There is nothing quite like fair food. I don’t go to fairs often, so when I do I feel no guilt about indulging. Fried pickles first and the carpe diem would be the first foods on my list.
It’s a good thing state fairs only come around once a year. All of those goodies are so tempting! Maybe boring, but corn dogs and fried pickles are two of our favorites. But those candied bacon donut sliders, and Carpe Diem…yum! Thanks for teasing us with the yummies on #WeekendWanderlust! 😉
The foods are the best part of the fair! 🙂 This all looks amazing, but I think I would have to go for the Carpe Diem first.
I kept thinking, I want to try this and that as I was scrolling down. Then, that Rabbit Hole blew my mind. I want to try that for sure. There are a lot of interesting things at this fair. No doubt each state has its classics serve to the public . That is why it sounds so interesting to attend a fair in a different state than yours. #WeekendWanderlust
I want to eat those cookies so badly! I first saw them on the travel channel. Cookies by the bucket – my word!