Grilled Fruit Skewers…and Outrageous Fair Foods

It’s probably a good thing that the fair only comes to town once a year. Yes, that’s a “nurse” positioned at the ready with a defibrillator in the middle of this sign for “Deep Fried” and “Chocolate Covered” everything-you-can-think-of at the San Diego County Fair. And while I can’t bring myself to actually consume Garlic Butter Bacon Fries or a Chocolate Covered Corn Dog with sprinkles (my apologies for even mentioning that one), I do have a kind of fascination with all of the outrageous fair foods that are served every year.

You can’t talk about fair food without mentioning food-on-a-stick. But before I get to today’s recipe for Grilled Fruit Skewers – a much healthier and refreshing food-on-a-stick than you’ll typically find at the fair – I thought I’d share a few photo highlights (all taken with my iPhone) of the food I spotted at the San Diego County Fair this past weekend. Hold onto your stomachs!

Deep Fried Kool-Aid and Baby Ruth-Stuffed Fried Jalapenos over Churros

Deep Fried Kool-Aid. Baby Ruth-Stuffed Fried Jalapeños over Churros. Don’t even allow the question of “Why?” enter your head. There is no good answer. After all the national hype, I just had to see what the Kool-Aid entailed, so I paid my $5.95 and waited in the line (yes, there was actually a line). I anticipated the Kool-Aid to have a liquid center but it was more like a doughnut hole engulfed in neon pink Kool-Aid powder. I’ll be as polite as I can and say “it wasn’t for me”.

I had to entrust my fellow San Diego-based food blogger friend Leanne from Three Dog Kitchen to try the Baby Ruth jalapeños served over churros. Above is her photo that she posted to Twitter (and gave me permission to share here). Leanne’s verdict: “Churros were good.” I guess we’ll leave it at that.

A few of the usual suspects

Over-the-top creations aside, the fair also offered many of the more traditional mainstays like fried zucchini curls, half-pound barbecued pork chops on a stick, beef kebabs and corn dogs. I’d estimate there was the equivalent of about 4-5 hunks of corn bread surrounding my footlong dog, that was pretty outrageous in itself. My in-laws ordered the zucchini curls – those were actually pretty good.

There's something for everyone at the fair

I wish I’d gone for one of those Tater Dogs instead of my corn dog. I’m really curious to know how that works, with the potato spiraling around the hot dog. Maybe next year. Those cream puffs on a stick were calling our name too, but we passed on those as well. If there ever was a situation where “window eating” was called for, this was it. 🙂

Grilled Fruit Skewers

Now that we’ve all gained 10 pounds just looking at all of this over-the-top decadence, how about a light, bright , refreshing food-on-a-stick option? This Grilled Fruit Skewers recipe comes from On a Stick by Matt Armendariz of the food blog Matt Bites – a new cookbook full of fun party food recipes that are served on skewers and other stick-like objects.

When you prepare the fruit skewers on a panini grill, as I did, you can still get those nice, dark grill marks without having to flip the kebabs. The pineapple, cantaloupe and watermelon caramelizes on the grill, becoming extra sweet and is drizzled with a honey-mint syrup that tastes like summer.

Most of the recipes in this book are of a “comfort” nature, like Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, Fish and Chips (yes, on a stick!) and Frozen Elvis bananas, and would be delicious conversation pieces to make for any party or potluck. But after browsing my fair food photos, in this very moment I’m sure you’re feeling like fruit is the way to go right now too. 🙂

Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans.

Grilled Fruit Skewers

Adapted for the panini grill from the Grilled Fruit Skewers recipe in On a Stick, by Matt Armendariz.

Prep time: 25 min | Cook time: 30 min | Total time: 55 min

Yield: 4 servings


Honey-Mint Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup mint, minced
  • 2 tablespoon lime zest


  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 bamboo skewers


Make the honey-mint syrup:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar, honey and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Stir occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool slightly. Stir in the mint and lime zest.

Make the skewers:

  1. Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Thread the fruit onto the skewers and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Grill the skewers in batches for 3 to 4 minutes each. Remove them from the grill and drizzle with honey-mint syrup before serving.



KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
>> About Me

All-Time Reader Favorites!

Panini 101

Recent Posts


Permission Policy

All recipes, text and photographs on this site are the original creations and property of Panini Happy. Do not post or publish anything from this site without full credit and a direct link to the original post. with any requests or questions.

Browse Panini

Leave a Comment


  1. leanne wrote:

    I think the stuffed jalapenos really needed some bacon wrapping. =) I guess I was thinking it would be more along the lines of a sweet jalapeno popper, but it was pretty lame. They just stuck a piece of Baby Ruth candy on top of a fried pepper piece!

    We tried the zucchini curls and really liked them. I think I’m also a convert to Australian Battered Potatoes, but you need at least 4 people to share a plate without dying.

    Posted 6.27.11 Reply
  2. haha, I loved the fair!!! I went last week with a friend to see Neon Trees and had a blast. I didn’t try anything too adventurous, unless you count eating a ‘texas’ doughnut (about the size of my forearm). 😀 I have to admit, I plan on trying the deep fried snickers this weekend, all in the name of food ‘research’ of course! Your grilled fruit is certainly healthier and definitely more suited for real everyday eating!

    Posted 6.27.11 Reply
  3. Oh my goodness I LOVE all of the different food vendor signs!!
    You are a brave woman for trying the fried Kool-Aid, but the fresh skewers at the bottom …mmm,mmm yummy 🙂

    Posted 6.28.11 Reply
  4. dani wrote:

    I feel bloated just reading about the fair food!

    But your fruit skewer looks delicious 🙂

    Posted 6.28.11 Reply
  5. I love the fair! Thanks for posting all of the crazy pictures. They also made your beautiful skewers look even more fresh and delicious 🙂

    Posted 6.28.11 Reply
  6. I love butter….not sure how much I would like it deep fried. Sadly that first sign just about sums America…eek!

    The grilled fruit looks awesome. I know after I get back from any trip where I have been eating out a lot I crave a healthy dish.

    Posted 6.28.11 Reply
  7. WOW, no wonder so many of us are overweight! The skewers are gorgeous-clever adaptation for the panini grill.

    Posted 6.28.11 Reply
  8. Did I read that right? Deep Fried BUTTER? That sounds DISGUSTING!

    Posted 6.28.11 Reply
  9. Jeanette wrote:

    Just looking at all the fair food makes me crave salads and your grilled fruit skewers! I haven’t tried grilling fruits, but this looks fun to eat, especially for the kids.

    Posted 6.29.11 Reply
  10. Angela FRS wrote:

    Oh my! I went to a state fair last year and thought that the deep fried butter balls were the penultimate in fair excess, but I guess I was wrong. Glad the churros were good 🙂

    Posted 7.1.11 Reply
  11. Marla wrote:

    Hey girl, kudos to you for bringing us health!! Your fruit skewers look wonderful! It is kebab week at Get Grillin’. Cookin’ Canuck & I would love it if you linked up this recipe & any other kebabs you might have 🙂

    Posted 7.4.11 Reply
  12. Colleen wrote:

    Good for you for trying the fried Kool-aid. I keep hearing about that, but I’m thinking it’s more hype than flavor.

    Your photos look fantastic!

    Posted 7.5.11 Reply