Zeppole – Italian Doughnuts

Zeppole are tiny Italian doughnuts – crisp, light and incredibly fluffy. This version is made using a pate choux dough, which when fried, become so airy, tender and golden brown.

The wonders of pate a choux dough never ceases to amaze me. There are so many wonderful things you can make out of it – cream puffs,  eclairs, pastries, cake and even dumplings in soup. You can even deep fry it to make the most tender doughnuts.

The results are really crisp and light and one of the fluffiest doughnuts I had ever tried. It’s like biting into a delicious, creamy cloud. It’s also so easy and quick to prepare the batter, since you don’t have to wait for the yeast dough to rise, like you would for yeast doughnuts.

What Are Zeppoles?

Zeppole are Italian doughnuts. They are made from pate choux dough, the same one used for cream puffs and eclairs, made from cooking water/milk with butter and flour and then beating in eggs.

The dough is then fried. The little balls cook up golden, crisp and really tender. They are really airy and tender. With some powdered sugar, these little doughnuts are such a delicious treat.

Zeppoli vs Beignets and Doughnuts

Although all of these are fried pastries, zeppoli are made with a pate choux dough, like I mentioned earlier, and beignets are made with a yeast dough, while doughnuts are made with either a yeast dough or a cake batter dough.

Making the Zeppole Batter

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt. Cook until the butter completely melts. Add the flour all at once and mix vigorously, keeping the heat low, until it’s all incorporated and the dough comes together in a ball.

Turn off the heat and wait until the dough has cooled off before adding the eggs, one at a time. It is important to wait until the dough is only warm, otherwise the eggs will scramble when added to the dough.

Also add the eggs one at a time, so that they will be evenly mixed into the batter. You can use a wooden spoon or a mixer to add the eggs.

Can Pate Choux Dough Be Made In Advance?

Yes. You can keep the pate choux dough refrigerated for up to 3 days.

What Oil Is Best For Frying

The best oils for frying are high smoke point oils, like grape seed, avocado, vegetable, and peanut oils. Don’t use low smoke point oils, like olive oil. This means that the oil will start to smoke at a lower temperature and the dough will start to burn before it’s cooked through properly.

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Keep the temperature above 350 at all times, preferably 360-375 degrees. If the temperature of the oil drops too much, the doughnuts will soak in too much oil and taste greasy.

Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil as you preheat it and then are frying the zeppole. You can use a candy thermometer or an infrared thermometer.

Cooking the Zeppole

Pour in enough oil into a large, heavy pot (I use my Dutch oven). You should have at least 2 inches of oil, I usually use one full container of oil. Heat up the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use two small spoons to drop bits of dough into the hot oil, or place the dough in a large pastry bag, cut a hole off one corner and pipe out the batter, cutting off snippets of dough into the hot oil. Be careful not to splash yourself with it though.

Fry the zeppole for about 5 minutes, turning over the ones that don’t turn themselves over. Take them out of the oil using a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel lined plate, baking sheet, etc. When you’re done frying all the zeppole, dust them with powdered sugar.

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Zeppole – Italian Doughnuts

  • Author: Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dessert

Description

Zeppole are tiny Italian doughnuts – crisp, light and incredibly fluffy. This version is made using a pate choux dough, which when fried, become so airy, tender and golden brown.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 8 Tablespoons butter (1/2 cup)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • oil (for frying (vegetable, canola or peanut oil))
  • powdered sugar (to dust the zeppole)

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt. Cook until the butter completely melts.
  2. Add the flour all at once and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon, until the dough comes together in a ball. Continue cooking for a minute or two.
  3. Place the dough in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment, until you don’t see any more steam rising up from the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated. You can also use a hand held mixer, or even mix up the dough by hand.
  5. Meanwhile, pour in enough oil into a large, heavy pot (I use my Dutch oven). You should have at least 2 inches of oil, I usually use one full container of oil. Heat up the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Transfer the dough to a large ziptop bag. Cut a hole in one corner. Slowly pipe out the dough and cut off snippets of the dough right into the oil. Be careful not to splash yourself. You can also use 2 small spoons to drop bits of dough into the oil, or use a small portion scoop.
  7. Keep the temperature above 350 at all times, preferably 360-375 degrees.
  8. Fry the zeppole about 5 minutes, turning over the ones that don’t turn themselves over.
  9. Take them out of the oil using a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel lined plate, baking sheet, etc. When you’re done frying all the zeppole, dust them with powdered sugar.

77 Comments

  • Vitaliya

    These were absolutely heavenly!!!! We sure did eat them up pretty quick at Andreys and Milanas place:))))

  • lena

    wow! yummy, is all I can say! I have my 3 little girls helping me at this moment by making them, it is such an easy recipe! It was easy to make, I am sure they will turn out delicious. I don’t have to put any baking soda/power?

  • Tallya

    Enjoy love birds! No more midnight cooking soon, just feedings and snuggles… you’ll love it! The crying will be welcome by you two as well because you know that babies cry only when they need something. Yahweh bless you and your babies!

    • olgak7

      Definitely!
      Olive oil has a low smoke point, which means that it starts to smoke at a low temperature. It should never be used when cooking at high temperatures, especially frying. I listed oils that have a high smoke point in the recipe. These oils work well for frying. I’m sorry your doughnuts didn’t work out.

  • Mariya

    These look soooo yummy!! …Could I roll them into little balls with my hands, or would it mess something up??

  • Mariya

    Actually, never mind I already answered my own question lol: I made them today and I see that the dough is way too sticky am loose to roll it by hand, so great idea with the ziplock bag, Olga!! This recipe is definitely a keeper, totally love these “melt in your mouth” little donuts! 🙂 thanks once again for a great recipe 😉

    • olgak7

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know that you enjoyed the doughnuts! We LOVE them:). And yes, the dough is too sticky to roll out with your hands.

  • Nadia

    Hi Olga! Beautiful presentation and wonderful job with the photography. This recipe looks amazing! Cant wait to try it soon. I have a question, though… What brand is your dutch oven? I’m looking to purchase one soon, and I was wondering what brand you’d recommend. Thank you!

    • olgak7

      Thanks for the kind words, Nadia.
      For my recommendations of cooking tools, look under the Shop tab at the top of my website. I have the dutch oven there. I use mine for so many different things.

  • Natasha

    un.be.lieve.able… These are SO good and easy to make that I am almost sad that I found this recipe!! Now I will want to make them every day, which is NOT a good idea… I usually don’t like donuts but today, the hubby wanted some and I was like, “Hey! Olga has a recipe online for donuts! Wanna try those?” He’s like, “sure!” And so… We made them… His conclusion was to never again buy donuts from Price Chopper… I ate one, then another, then another and then decided I better leave to another room before I eat them all!! They are sooooooo good!!!!

  • Luba

    Hey Olga!

    So I decided to try out this recipe today, but for some reason the dough was just too runny. I poured a cup of water, 1 stick of butter, 3 tbsp sugar and 1/4 salt, melted it and added 1 cup of flour. But I noticed the dough was not the same consistency as on your picture, so I added about 1/4 cup more flour. Then I figured I shouldn’t add any more, otherwise they won’t be fluffy. So then I beat it with the paddle attachment to make it cool, added the eggs one by one and on the third egg, the dough was just very runny. I decided to stop adding eggs at that point… and ended up making funnel cakes out of it, since it just wouldn’t hold any kind of shape.

    Do you know what might’ve went wrong? It did taste delicious though, even as a funnel cake 🙂

    • olgak7

      I don’t know what the issue could be, since I wasn’t there to see it. Your eggs might be on the larger side. I use regular large eggs, not extra large. Usually, with this type of dough, that would be the problem.

  • Mariya G

    Do you reuse the oil? I can’t wait to try these I had them pinned since you posted but finally going to get to it and make it in the morning. I’m sure they will be awesome, my cousin already made them and told me how good they are:)

    • olgak7

      Yes, Mariya. Strain the oil after you’ve let it cool through a coffee filter and store it until you make donuts again. I wouldn’t use it for french fries or chicken, etc, since they will have a slight taste of the donuts.

  • Duana

    I’m planning on making these for a birthday party. Is it ok to prep the dough the day before and then fry them the next day?

  • Tanya

    Olya, Thank you so much for this recipe. Another smashing success! It came together in about 10 minutes. This was my first time frying, so I was a little nervous, but everything worked out really well and my little one had 3 small plates with the hot cocoa. Thank you again, I really appreciate you taking the time to share with us your creations and findings.

  • sara

    okay so obviously i did something wrong. i made sure everything was correct however when i put the rolls of dough into the oils each ball turned black about 15 seconds in. what in the world did i do?

  • Rita

    These look delicious, but I have to ask, why does it look like milk in your sauce pan and the recipe calls for water?
    Thank you for your reply.

    • olgak7

      When the butter melts, it mixes with the water and makes it look white. If you look on the first picture, you see that it’s only water with pieces of butter. The second picture is the water and butter melted:).

  • Irina

    Hi, can I use canola oil INSTEAD of butter for this ? I don’t use butter too often for baking and was wondering since the butter melts anyway, can I use oil in the first steps instead?

    Thanks so much !:)

  • Sharon

    These look fantastic & Im waiting to try them out but can you let me know what sort of flour you used, was
    it Plain or Self raising ??

    • olgak7

      I would not recommend it, Ana. I don’t think it will turn out well. If you want to bake them, you should just make cream puffs. The texture of the doughnuts will be completely different if you bake them too.

  • Veronica

    Hi there! Just tried out this recipe but the center of my donuts were the consistency of a crepe and kind of eggy…I think the problem could be my oil temp. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much!!

    • olgak7

      Did you make sure to have your oil at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit? Also, did you cook the doughnuts long enough? There shouldn’t be any batter in the center. However, also keep in mind that these doughnuts are made with a pate choux pastry dough, not yeast or cake dough that doughnuts are usually made from, so they will have a different texture that the donut shops.

  • Olive12

    Hey Olga god you are soo pretty and thanks i love your recipe because i need it for my cooking class as our topic is italian

  • Olive12

    Thanks alot i trust your recipes unlike other sites sorry i commented more than once as i thought it didnt send you the comment yh so i thought there was an error
    Sorry

  • Kristina

    Thank you so much for this recipe!!! Its so simple esp when in the mood for a yummy snack but ran out of sour cream, milk and other ingredients for basic baking…. Lol. When I found this recipe I was so excited but we didn’t have enough eggs then I noticed my hubs getting dressed and he said he’ll be right back…. 10 min later he came back with eggs!! Been making these at least once a week since 🙂

    • olgak7

      What a sweet guy! That was so nice of him:). But then, he probably got to enjoy the doughnuts too. I LOVE these doughnuts; glad to hear that you enjoyed them too. Thanks for taking the time to write, Kristina.

  • Dawn

    I made these tonight and they were so yummo! I used my fry daddy and it was so easy but a lot of work since it’s so small I could only make about 6-8 at a time. I didn’t even use all the batter. I plan on purchasing a larger fry daddy soon so then I’ll be able to make at least two dozen at a time. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Raquel

    Had these a few years back in N.Y by my Italian b.f’s mom. Found your website and looked pretty easy. Mother in law just got a stand mixer so I was psyched to make these. Followed everything but my Ziploc wasn’t cooperating much and I forgot to “snip”the dough, so it came out looking like long fingers lol. Still pretty tasty but even when they looked really done (pretty brown on the outside!) they were still a little doughy inside. Fiance gobbled them up though, will try again, thanks for your post!

  • Liliya

    Wow my whole family loved it !!!! Thank you soo much for sharing them with us .
    Love your website everything I tried turned out soo well and from the first try . Thank you soo much !!!!!

  • Maggie

    Can anyone tell me why while frying they were nice and fluffy and as soon as I took them out I can squeeze them to where there was barely any dough inside. I feel like there’s something missing.. weird , I followed step by step.

  • Maggie

    Can anyone tell me why while frying they were nice and fluffy and as soon as I took them out I can squeeze them to where there was barely any dough inside. I feel like there’s something missing.. weird , I followed step by step.
    I squeeze then and are super thin, there’s like a very thin layer of dough. 🙁

  • Aparna

    Hey Olga,

    We tried this recipe this afternoon. We used all the proportions you mentioned but our zeppoles had a lot of bubbles on them. Could you tell us why?

    • olgak7

      This is a pate a choux pastry dough, just like puff pastry and it is normal for it to puff up and have holes in the center. That is what it is supposed to be like, Aparna. If you are looking for a doughnut that has a cake like consistency, I have another recipe that you can try, they are called Russian Ponchiki.

    • Jamie

      Agrees. Very eggy flavor. Just made them and they gross me out. Just tastes like egg and oil. Put more sugar and cinnamon on them to try and cover it but not a fan. My husband likes them though so it must just be a taste preference thing.

      • olgak7

        I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy them, Jamie. I agree that they can taste “eggy”, since the dough is a pate choux pastry dough, which has a lot of eggs. I hope you find a recipe for Zeppoles that you will be happy with.

  • Frances M. Dudzic

    We make these every year for St.Joseph celebration March 19th, along with a vegetarian meal and St>Joseph’s bread.We call them Sphingee(Italian style doughnut)very similar to a Crueller doughnut.

  • Evelina

    OMG soooooo good and so easy to make.
    My kids just love them they can’t stop eating them! Will definitely do another batch anytime soon… thank you for the recipe 😍

  • Adriana

    Followed the exact recipe but the consistency was so so runny, like some of the previous comments….. I had to increase the flour to 3 cups (instead of your stated 1 cup) in order to make the dough consistency appear like your photos. They tasted good after I adjusted the recipe however.

    • olgak7

      I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work out for you, Adriana. I share the recipe exactly how I make it and I’m sorry that you didn’t get the same results.

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