The food options at the State Fair of Texas can be overwhelming, especially if you're a first-time visitor (like this writer) excited to try as many things as possible, but realistic about her stomach’s capacity to hold fried foods (of which there are many).

I spent three days noshing my way around the fair, and these are my five favorite, Big Tex-approved eats. Look for them if you head to Dallas for the big event, happening until October 20. 

Funnel cake bacon cheeseburger, anyone?

Funnel Cake Bacon Cheeseburger

Dontcha know doughnut burgers are so 2018? These days the cool kids (well, at least those looking to raise their triglyceride levels) are chowing down on this state fair bombshell of a burger that employs two funnel cake rounds as the scaffolding for a juicy meat patty, smothered in melted American cheese, and stacked with thick-cut bacon. Besides being sinfully delicious, this burger has the added bonus of soaking your hands in so much extra grease, it can be harvested from your sodden palms for future frying at home.

Southern Fried Chicken Alfredo Ball

One of the 2019 Big Tex food award winners, this baller ball combines traditional Southern and Italian-American flavors with its stuffing of fettuccine alfredo, fried chicken clusters, and shredded mozzarella. It’s doused in more creamy alfredo sauce before being topped with grated parmesan, parsley, black pepper, and fresh basil. The final, and somewhat odd, touch is an adjacent flash-fried asparagus spear garnish.

Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

This autumnal snack has the honor of being the only non-stall food to make it onto this list, and it's one of the few eats that can be paid for with cash or credit card rather than coupons (the official fair currency). A $5 bag at Popcorn Junction in the Grand Palace building is a steal with regards to portion for the price; however, the addictive quality of the nutmeg, caramel, and pumpkin-laced kernels make finishing the whole bag yourself all too easy.

The deep fried red velvet cupcake.

Image: Joanna O'Leary 

Deep-Fried Red Velvet Cupcake

Red velvet fans will fall fast and hard for this fried version, with its base of rich, deep chocolate cake enhanced by a thick exterior egg batter. After a dunk in the fryer, the softball-size crimson cupcakes are drizzled with cream cheese frosting and dusted with powdered sugar. 

Deep-Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu Stuffed Waffles

As a Big Tex food award semifinalist, this dish is officially second place but first in my heart, at least when it comes to waffles at the State Fair, where waffle options (mostly sweet) abound.  The “liege-style” (fancy way of saying it has rounded as opposed to square edges) waffles distinguish themselves by way of their savory, salty, and peppery notes that come from a layered filling of thinly-sliced prosciutto, breaded chicken cutlet, and Swiss cheese. A squeeze of chipotle syrup adds a welcome hint of heat.  

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