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Italian Ricotta Doughnuts recipe

Italian Ricotta Doughnuts recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Breakfast
  • Breakfast breads and pastries
  • Doughnuts

These delicious doughnuts are also known as zeppole. Joseph's day. Enjoy at afternoon tea, elevenses or for general snacking.

152 people made this

IngredientsServes: 35

  • 2 litres vegetable oil for frying
  • 125g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 245g ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 60g icing sugar, for dusting

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:25min ›Ready in:40min

  1. Heat oil in a deep fat fryer to 190 degrees C.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir in the eggs, ricotta cheese and vanilla. Mix gently over low heat until combined. Batter will be sticky.
  3. Drop by tablespoons into the hot oil a few at a time. The doughnuts will turn over by themselves. Fry until golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Drain in a paper bag and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(157)

Reviews in English (132)

I did not follow the recipe, only the measurements, they came out beautifully. I think I made them a little big, and next time I will add a little more sugar and lemon extract.-15 Jan 2017


Thank you for this recipe Arvilla. My 5 kids loved it. I did increase the sugar content for the batter mixture to 1 tablespoon. Made it just that little bit sweeter.Also note that it is REALLY important to keep the frying heat low and not be tempted to rush the frying process as the outside will cook nicely but the batter will remain quite gooey on the inside.Thanks again!!!-24 Sep 2003

by RIA719

I've never made my own zeppole - but have eaten enough to know which type I like! This recipe hit the nail on the head. Tasted delicious, just like my aunt's!! To spice em up a little bit - we add some pine nuts (pinnoli) and raisins. The raisins really add a touch of sweetness. Also great when you dip them in a cinnamon & sugar mixture.-25 Dec 2006

Recipe: Ricotta Doughnuts with Lemon Cream Dipping Sauce


For the doughnut batter:

  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup C&H® or Domino® sugar
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • extra light olive oil, for frying Powdered Sugar or Domino® Confectioners Sugar, for sprinkling on the doughnuts

Special equipment:

For the lemon cream dipping sauce:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup C&H® or Domino® sugar
  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
  • Freshly grated zest of ½ lemon
  • Ice, for an ice bath
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened at room temperature
  • ½ cup chilled heavy cream

Suggested Wine Pairing:


Makes 30 or more doughnuts

To prepare the doughnuts:

Mix the batter ingredients in order with a wooden spoon, being careful not to overmix. You can place the batter in the refrigerator at this point and keep it there till you’re ready to fry, up to 48 hours. You may have to increase the frying time slightly to compensate for the colder batter.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan to 325 degrees. Drop the batter by small ice-cream-scoopfuls or teaspoonfuls into the oil and deep-fry for 3 minutes, turning the doughnuts often till golden brown on each side. Break the first doughnut open to check that it is cooked all the way through.

Drain the doughnuts on paper towels or a brown paper bag and sprinkle heavily with powdered/confectioners sugar, or place them in a resealable bag of powdered/confectioners sugar and shake them well to coat. Serve in a bowl or on a platter with a side of the lemon cream as a dipping sauce.

To prepare the lemon cream dipping sauce:

Bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer in a large saucepan. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), whip the eggs and sugar together until very light yellow and fluffy. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Rest the mixing bowl in the saucepan, with the bowl’s base resting above – not in – the simmering water. (Pour out some water if necessary.) Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and custardy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, half-fill a large bowl with ice and cover with cold water. Remove the bowl with the custard in it from the saucepan and whisk in the butter until melted. Rest the bottom of the bowl in the ice bath and let it cool, folding the mixture occasionally to cool and thicken it.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), whip the cream until stiff. Fold it into the cooled lemon custard. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The lemon cream can be kept refrigerated for up to 48 hours before use.)

What are Zeppoles?

First of all, the word “zeppole” is already plural, so everyone asking “what are zeppoles?” on Google, are double pluralizing the word–now you now :) Zeppole are a form of Italian doughnuts. There are at minimum, two main types of zeppole:

  • One type of zeppole are made from a flavored, wet bread dough, made with yeast, which is the recipe I’m sharing with you here.
  • The other type of zeppole are made with choux pastry (these are more often associated with St. Joseph’s day).

For this recipe, just type “zeppole” into the search bar at the upper right hand side of my page (under my logo) and you’ll be taken there.

Ricotta Zeppole

Growing up one of my most favorite treats was fried dough with powdered sugar – known by most as Zeppole. Another name my family used for them was “pettole”. It’s what they call Zeppole in the Italian region of Puglia, or at least in my Grandmother’s town in Bari. They are often rolled in “vin cotta” (a reduced wine syrup) . My husbands family, on the other hand, call them Zeppole and drizzle them with honey, they are from the Naples region.

Whatever they are called, Zeppole, Petole, or Italian Donuts, these fried dough treats always bring fond memories of my childhood. My mother even fried leftover pizza dough and called them Zeppole. I have distinct memories of burning my tongue from eating them way too hot. Ouch, the memories, but I wouldn’t trade them in for anything!

I’ve tried many times to make Zeppole and failed miserably. The outside would be cooked and the inside raw. That’s partially because most Italian Mother’s don’t measure the heat of the oil, but use some sort of eyeball voodoo to know the oil is just right. It is frustrating to say the least. In the past I used my Nonna’s (grandmother) recipe which was written in pounds of this and pounds of that. I sometimes wonder if these so called recipes were written in hieroglyphics or logo graphics it would make them easier to decode.

Like many times before, I almost gave up, until I found this great (very specific) recipe in old church cookbook. It was for Zeppole made with ricotta and flour. It was a great find and I am now able to successfully make this delicious treat!


  • Zeppole can be tricky to make, I’ve learned that you must make sure the oil is at exactly the perfect temperature. The perfect temperature for the oil is about 360-365 degrees F. They will burn if the oil is too hot and be raw inside.
  • The best tip I have is to do a small test batch to see if you need to adjust the temperature. When you find it try and keep the oil at that heat level. If your frying in a pot or pan use a candy thermometer that will clip on the inside of the pan and register the temperature and then you can easily adjust the flame as needed.

I am as guilty as my Italian family, and eyeballed it a bit. I guess I’m a little old fashioned that way. When it comes to deep frying, I still use a deep pan filled with oil. I don’t deep fry all that often so I stick with this method. One day I may bite the bullet and invest in a good deep fryer.

A word about Amazon Links: from time to time I post links to amazon for products that I use in a specific blog post. I do receive credit from amazon if you purchase this item through the direct link, but I NEVER post or suggest a product that I do not use or sincerely recommend. I do receive a commision from Amazon at no extra charge to you when you shop these links.

I like to use a small COOKIE SCOOP like the one below when making the zeppole – they are all the same size and it’s less messy. Another item that I recommend when making these is a DEEP FRY THERMOMETER that clips to side of your pot to make sure the temperature of oil is just right.

Ricotta Donuts

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

These delicious Ricotta Donuts are a popular Romanian donut that are traditionally served with sour cream and jam. So good, a must try!

I may have called these donuts, and they may look like donuts, but when you see the ingredients in these donuts, you might wonder if they are truly donuts.

And yes they are served with sour cream and jam. Don’t ask me why, all I can tell you is that this is an awesome dessert. It is also a traditional Romanian dessert, which if you ever happen to make it to Romania, you will find these in all restaurants and they are called “Papanasi”. And they are good, oh are they ever good. I thought it was strange too, sour cream on donuts? Who ever heard of that? Why not whip cream?

These wonderful little gems are made with…

…with ricotta cheese! Yes the main ingredient is ricotta cheese, so the texture of this donut is different than a regular donut and they are a bit heavier and not as fluffy as a normal donut. My mouth is watering now, just thinking about them.

To make these babies is simple. Traditionally they are not made in a mixer but I’m all about simplifying my life, so I use the mixer every chance I get. So in the bowl of your mixer, add the cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and baking soda. Mix it all until it’s well incorporated and then add the flour and continue mixing. You will notice that the mixture is kind of sticky but don’t add any additional flour.

Next you’ll need to flour your table really well. Dump the donut mixture onto the floured surface and using lots of flour on your hands shape the dough into a ball. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, because this recipe will make 8 donuts and 8 donut holes. Take each piece and cut a little bit from it, this will make the donut hole. So now you should have 16 pieces of dough, 8 bigger ones and 8 smaller ones. Take the small pieces and roll them between your hands to form the little donut holes, flour your hands as necessary. Do the same thing with the bigger pieces, but flatten them out and using your finger just press in the middle and make a hole, to look like a donut. Alternatively you could roll out the entire dough and then use round cookie cutters to make the donuts, totally up to you.

Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Fry the donuts, 4 at a time, you don’t want to crowd them in the frying pan.

Finish frying all the donuts. They are already looking so good and it was hard to stop myself from eating them hot!

And now comes the easy and fun part. Place the donut on a plate, add a couple big tablespoons of sour cream in the middle, then another big heaping tablespoon of some good jam then top it off with the donut hole. I, of course, had to use my favorite Saskatoon strawberry jam, which is just delicious.

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.

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


  • 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)


  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.

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Vanilla Ricotta Doughnuts

Recipe by Gale Gand

Print this recipe!

Vegetable oil, for frying
3 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 pound or 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375˚. Set a large wire rack over baking sheet, top with paper towels and position it near the saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla with wooden spoon. Add the ricotta and beat until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder and beat just until blended.

Using a very small ice cream scoop or 2 teaspoons, slide 8 walnut-size rounds of batter into the hot oil. Fry over moderate heat until deep golden all over and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to the rack to drain. Continue frying the remaining fritters in batches of 8. Arrange the fritters on a platter and dust well with confectioners’ sugar.

Carnival Recipe: Castagnole di Ricotta (Ricotta Donuts)

By: Francesca Montillo, Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures

Castagnole di ricotta, or ricotta donuts, are an indulgent treat typically enjoyed in Italy during the season of Carnival, which kicked off Feb. 16 in Venice and all over Italy. Fried foods such as chiacchiere, struffoli, zeppole or these castagnoleare traditional for this time of year as a treat before the season of fasting during lent.

Here, I dusted them with cinnamon sugar, and topped them off with confectioners sugar as well. Because, you know, two sugars are always better than one! These are best enjoyed the same day they’re made, but they should be left to cool off completely after frying and before enjoying them. Instead of the sugars, you can also opt to drizzle some fresh honey over them.

These treats are incredibly easy to make. So easy in fact, that I think you would rather choose to make them at home than getting in the car to get to the local donut shop. They only have a handful of ingredients and come together in less than 5 minutes. Kids love these, as do adults! And don’t worry, you don’t just have to make these during carnival, they’re great year round!


In a large saucepan, preheat oil to 350°F. Prepare a cookie sheet with paper towel to drain doughnuts as they come out of the hot oil.

Mix all dry ingredients followed by all wet ingredients until well combined.

Scoop small amounts of dough into the oil. You can use a small ice cream scoop to make them uniform. Add 4-5 pieces at a time and fry until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on the temperature, if oil is too hot, doughnuts will turn golden brown but the center may still be raw. Remove from oil and drain in paper towel. Repeat until done will all the dough.

While still hot, toss doughnuts with sugar and serve.

SICILIAN SFINCI (Ricotta Donuts)

This Sfinci recipe is a delicious dessert all the way from Sicily, brought to you by my favourite Cannoli Ambassador Robert Lopez who shares his family recipe directly passed down from Nonna. Sfinci are morsels of sweet, fried ricotta donuts covered in juicy sultanas and typically enjoyed during festive periods like carnevale and Christmas. Obviously I like to eat them all year around…

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 14-16 portions)

250ml (1 cup) full cream milk
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
2 eggs lightly whisked
240g (1 cup) fresh ricotta
300g (2 cups) sifted plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Vegetable/Peanut oil (for frying)
½ – 1 cup sultanas
Icing sugar to dust
Honey to serve

Saucepan for frying
Cooking thermometer
Wooden spoon
Small pot/saucepan
2 x Bowls
Slotted spoon
Small sieve (for icing sugar)

  1. Pour a generous amount of vegetable oil (or oil of your choice for frying) into a pot and place on the stove at a medium heat until the temperature reaches 190°C/375°F. (You can also use a deep fryer).
  2. While the oil is heating up, this sfinci recipe calls for a delicious dough. To start, add full cream milk and caster sugar to a saucepan/pot. Place it on the stove at a medium heat and stir using a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat. This will take approx 2-3 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk 2 eggs then add this to the milk/sugar mixture and finally add the ricotta.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients using a whisk, starting off slowly so all the ingredients combine well.
  6. Once they have combined, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mix through.
  7. Next, combine 2 teaspoons of baking powder to your bowl of sifted flour and then add this to the wet mixture.

ROBERTO’S TIP: Make sure the flour is sifted as this will help you to avoid any lumps when mixing everything together.

  1. Mix the sfinci recipe ingredients gently using a wooden spoon until combined well.
  2. Once the mixture is thick and smooth, and there is not a sprinkle of flour in sight, add your desired amount of sultanas, mixing again to make sure there is enough spread through the dough for every bite!
  3. Next, check the temperature of the oil is ready and you can start making your sfinci!
  4. Scoop up a portion of batter (approx. 4 tablespoons/one ice cream scoop) and drop it into the oil. It will form is own unique shape.
  5. Once it floats to the top, use a slotted spoon to move it around slightly helping it to
    cook evenly.
  6. Add a few more portions to the oil, move them around and leave until golden on one side, before turning them over and letting them colour on the other side too.
  7. Cook sfinci between 3-5 minutes or until they turn a deep golden brown on both sides.

ROBERTO’S TIP: You can tell if they are cooked through by tapping them with the edge of a slotted spoon and if they bounce back they may need a little more time.

  1. Remove them from the oil using the slotted spoon and leave them to dry on paper towels where they will also leave excess oil.
  2. Repeat steps 11-15 until all the batter is finished.


Once slightly cooled, place them on a long platter or tray. Dust them with icing sugar and drizzle honey on top. Be generous! Enjoy 1…or a few, they are filling but very addictive!

E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate…Enjoy.

These are 2 other Sicilian recipes you must try:

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