Carnival Foods Ideas for Restaurants & Concessions

/ Foodservice Tips, Restaurant Tips / June 21

carnival food ideas-festival food ideas-woman eating cotton candy

Outdoor festival and carnival food is a major part of the summer. Restaurants and concessions can create fun summer menus for their outdoor events. Here below we have a selection of carnival food ideas to help your business decide on a menu. Try out some of the classic options for nostalgic bites or get creative and look at our new festival ideas.

Classic Foods

For some old school ideas, try out any classic carnival food. These sweet or savory options are the essentials that people expect at an outdoor event.


  • Funnel cakeNothing says carnival like powder sugar-dusted funnel cake. They’re great because you can add as many topping options as you like. Add some chocolate sauce or berries to make  your funnel cake stand out.

  • Corn dogsA savory and filling food option is corndogs. One handed food options are great for folks outside who are walking around with their dinner.

  • Cotton candy – Another treat that is great for walking around with is cotton candy. Whether in a bag or on a stick, it’s a sweet and classic dessert for the summer.

  • Popcorn/kettle corn – A classic option, choose either popcorn for another savory menu option or kettle corn if you need more sweet snacks.

  • Pretzels – Hot warm pretzels are a classic edition to any concession stand. They’re versatile with flavors, so try out cinnamon or jalapeno for a twist on this classic food.

  • Snow cone – An icy cold treat that is great for cooling down in the hot summer. Snow cones are great menu options when the temperature rises.


New Festival Foods

Branch out and change up your outdoor menu with some of these fan favorite foods. Add these to the carnival menu to make them the new summer classic. 


  • Walking taco – People want something filling that they can walk around with and a walking taco is perfect for outdoor events. Walking tacos are a chip bag filled with taco toppings like beef, shredded cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and more. They’re fully customizable to add all your favorite toppings.

  • Mexican street corn – Also known as elotes, this savory and spicy option will become a classic carnival staple. Put them on a stick to make them easy to eat around the fair.

  • Chocolate covered bacon – Get sweet and savory all in one snack. These are fun and great to take while walking around the festival grounds.

  • Seasonal flavors – For your popular menu options, try adding seasonal flavors or produce for a new twist. Try out some fresh summer fruit flavors like blueberry or peach, which are in season at the height of summer. Summer produce like corn or bell peppers are also great to add to any of your dishes for the summer months. 

  • Deep fried desserts – Deep fried food is good, but deep fried desserts are a sweet take on this food. Try to branch out by using different cookies or pastries to fry.

  • Vegan meat options – Meatless meals are getting more popular, so have an option available on the summer menu. Get some vegan burger patties and vegan sausages to start or branch out and try some vegan pulled pork.


Drink Ideas

Festival food is the main meal for outdoor venues, but you might want to add some unique drink options to your menu. We have some great ideas to start out your drink menu.


  • Sparkling water –  This cool and refreshing drink has become one popular option to keep on menus. Try offering some of the flavored options that are available.

  • Pina coladas – A drink for the adults and parents, have a frozen pina colada for a fun and frozen beverage.

  • Italian sodas – A sweeter take on the classic cream soda. Italian sodas have soda water, flavored syrup (like grenadine) and some cream to make this creamy refresher. 

  • Creamsicle milkshake – Citrus is a great summer flavor and making it into a creamy cold milkshake is the perfect way to serve up a beverage outside. 

  • Iced latte – Have a cold iced coffee option for those who need a caffeine kick to stay awake longer at the summer event. 

  • Kombucha – Skip the regular iced tea and try offering kombucha for a new tea option.


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