12 foods that are even better fried

While your cholesterol levels would go through the roof if you were to fry everything you got your hands on, there's no denying that cooking foods in hot oil takes them from delicious to irresistible. As a once-in-a-while treat, fried dishes can't be beat. Invented by the Egyptians in the fifth century B.C., the technique of frying foods in hot fats has come a long way. From classic breakfast doughnuts and state fair-style fritters to battered chicken and Japanese tempura, this beloved if not health-conscious preparation renders food crispy on the outside and rich in fatty flavor — although it can get a little greasy. But as Oscar Wilde said, "Everything in moderation, including moderation." So if you're looking to fry up something a little unexpected to satiate your craving, here's a list of contenders for that special, treat-yourself moment.

Ice cream

If you've been content with eating your ice cream cold, wait until you give it the deep-fry treatment. Mind blowing. There are two varieties of this treat: Chinese and Mexican. The difference is in the coating. Chinese fried ice cream is lightly coated with a flour mixture akin to what is used for tempura. On the other hand, Mexican ice cream is breaded with either cornflakes or cookie crumbs and has a slightly coarser, sweeter finish. Both frozen treats boast a warm and crisp bite that leads to a cold and creamy center. The contrast is brilliant!

Michael Symon's recipe gives you a taste of the warmly spiced flavors and lovely textures of classic Mexican ice cream. Scoops of sweet vanilla ice cream are coated in crushed cornflakes, then deep fried until they're golden. Served atop lightly fried tortillas dusted with cinnamon and sugar, this dessert is reminiscent of one you might enjoy at your favorite Mexican restaurant.

Ravioli

Ravioli is one of my favorite types of pasta. Rich, eggy, and filled with savory goodness, each square possesses the ideal balance of flavors. How could that possibly get better? Well, if you ask folks from St. Louis, I'm sure they'd be glad to tell you all about the regional specialty: toasted ravioli. Whether served as a starter or a main course, this beloved dish of deep-fried ravioli is probably my spirit animal, er, food. It's addictively crunchy and tastes like an Italian dream covered in Parmesan cheese and served with marinara sauce.

Giada de Laurentiis of the Food Network has a recipe for toasted ravioli that gets me every time. While I'm not on board with all Giada creations, I can certainly admit this take on the St. Louis-born dish is the bee's knees. Cheese-stuffed ravioli are dipped in tangy buttermilk and lovingly covered in Italian breadcrumbs, then deep fried in olive oil. That's it. Dust with Parm, dunk in marinara, and repeat.

Avocado

You're probably thinking, "Why would I ever fry avocado?" I feel you, but hear me out. Avocado is naturally creamy and rich on its own. When you coat it in breadcrumbs and fry it, though, you get this ridiculously light, crispy texture on the outside, and the inside becomes even creamier. These delicate slices are great as a starter, for a finger food option at a party, or stuffed between sandwich bread. You can even experiment with fun zesty dips to go with them. The good times never end.

This ingenious recipe from Bon Appetit makes fried avocado the "meaty" star of a vegetarian taco dish. Now you can partake in Taco Tuesday (or Meatless Monday) madness like you really mean it. Crunchy, panko-coated avocado slices are stuffed into soft corn tortillas along with beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, and cheese. Not enticed yet? There's also a creamy, tangy poblano ranch dressing that you can drizzle on top or serve alongside for dipping.

Pizza

If I could give you one food tip as a New Yorker, it would be to fry your pizza. The montanara may have been born in Naples, but it's become a New York pizza phenomenon. Unlike other heavily battered digestive nightmares here, the plain dough is quickly fried in hot oil, then baked with the toppings for a subtle and delicate crispness. The finished product is as light and airy as fried pizza can be. Trust me. You'll be hooked.

This fried pizza recipe from Serious Eats adapts this New York pizza parlor specialty for the home kitchen, and I for one am grateful. Homemade dough is quickly fried, slathered with an easy tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella and basil, and baked in the broiler until it's just charred at the edges.

Chocolate candy bars

I'll openly admit that frying candy bars is slightly indulgent. That said, it's not like you're planning on having these devilishly irresistible treats every single day. In this guilty preparation, your favorite mini chocolate bars are coated in chilled batter and deep fried until they become glowing golden nuggets of pure joy.

This simple and versatile recipe from the Food Network makes it really easy to enjoy fried candy. The quick batter is made with milk, eggs, and flour, then chilled. After coating and deep frying, you'll be rewarded with a treat that tastes like chocolate tempura. One bite into the crisp exterior leads to a sweet, velvety chocolate center. This is a pretty amazing way to use up any leftover Halloween candy. Just saying.

Pickles

Fried pickles are a traditional snack in the American South, and they are truly spectacular. With origins in Arkansas, people started selling the very first versions of fried pickles in 1963. The sweet and savory fried texture perfectly complements the vinegary flavors on the inside. Most versions of this Southern dish use cornmeal in the batter, lending naturally sweet notes I can't get enough of.

This fried pickle recipe from Christy Jordan's Southern Plate is classic. It's streamlined for maximum ease, while producing results that will satisfy any afternoon craving for fried snack foods. Boldly flavored dill pickle spears are coated in a mixture of regular flour and cornmeal, then fried in shallow oil until they're golden brown. Ranch dressing for dipping is optional, as it always should be.

Oreo cookies

I don't frequent carnivals and state fairs, but if I find myself attending one, I make a beeline for the deep-fried Oreos. America's favorite cream-filled chocolate cookies become even more of a guilty pleasure when you send them to the deep fryer. This OMG-inducing dessert is decadently greasy, but also so pillowy, warm, and sweet. I'm only human!

This deep-fried Oreo recipe from Pop Sugar makes it easy — maybe too easy — for you to enjoy this carnival treat at home. Using pancake mix cuts down on your prep big time. And with only a handful of remaining ingredients, you probably won't even need to make an extra store trip. The result? Warm Oreo cookies enveloped by golden pancake batter. So it's really like a breakfast food, right?

Twinkies

Like deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Twinkies are not for every day. Introduced in 1933 by the people who brought you Wonder Bread, the individually wrapped, cream-filled sponge cakes grew to become a food icon in the 1950s. Thought to be a favorite of Elvis, fried Twinkies went from grocery store treats to another kind of food trend.

I appreciate the fried Twinkies recipe from This Silly Girl because it's one that yields "bites," which somehow makes eating fried cake seem more socially acceptable. Bite-sized portions of indulgent treats are way different than regular-sized ones. Here, cut-up Twinkies are coated in delectable funnel cake batter, deep fried, and dusted in a magical cloud of powdered sugar. There's nothing wrong with this!

Banana

Fry your fruit and you'll starting reaching those recommended daily allowance numbers in no time. If you're anything like me, you get super stressed when you realize you're sitting on some bananas that are about to go bad. (I've actually had nightmares about food going bad.) Well, frying bananas is an ideal way to use up super ripe ones. Doing so caramelizes them and lets their natural sweetness shine. They make a great snack for your afternoon slump but are just as good as a pancake or waffle topping.

This recipe from Dizzy Busy and Hungry tastes like churro minus the extra carbs. Ripe banana rounds are pan-fried with cinnamon and sugar until they're soft, caramelized, and slightly syrupy. I love the warmly spiced flavors at play here and would gladly eat this with anything — on top of toast, alongside waffles, or by the forkful.

Strawberries

I know, deep frying strawberries seems like seriously deviant behavior, but it's all in good fun! Many sweets, including fruits, are well complemented by a rich fried batter. While these decadent berries aren't "healthy" per se, they are downright delicious. Once you fry strawberries, you might just be tempted to fry all the berries you can get your hands on. Tread lightly.

This recipe ups the ante significantly by incorporating chocolate as well. If you're setting out to deep fry fruit anyway, why not go for broke? Chocolate-covered strawberries are chilled until the shell hardens, then dipped in batter and deep fried. The result may not be sanctioned by the American Heart Association, but it sure is good.

Nutella

Ah, Nutella. This Italian chocolate and hazelnut spread has become a household name — and for good reason. Its rich, nutty flavor and creamy chocolate texture goes well with everything on earth. Looking back at old Google searches on my phone, I've discovered "is Nutella addictive" and similar phrases. Hey, I wanted to get other people's opinions. As universally beloved as Nutella is, fried Nutella is next-level stuff.

This fried Nutella balls recipe from Lamberts Lately is the stuff of dreams. That's worth repeating: fried Nutella balls. If you're counting calories in any way, stay away! Chocolate cake and Nutella are mixed together, formed into bite-sized golf balls, and coated in pancake batter. After some deep fryer action, they turn into cakey, hazelnut-rich chocolate fritters.

Mac and cheese

If you're a fan of mac and cheese and you're ready to really dive into your relationship, it's about time you tried fried mac. Dark golden, crispy nuggets of macaroni and cheese are ridiculously snackable and over-the-top indulgent. The outside texture mimics a more traditional breadcrumb topping, while the center remains warm and gooey.

This fried mac and cheese recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen turns a classic comfort food into a perennial snack food for a new era. Mac and cheese is portable with this bite-sized version. Creamy mac is shaped into balls, chilled, and coated in breadcrumbs. Fried and served with more cheese sauce, it's the perfect party food.

While I have a soft spot in my heart for fried foods, keep in mind that this super indulgent preparation probably shouldn't be enjoyed on the reg. But once in a while, I say go for it.