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Zeppole (Italian Christmas Doughnuts)


Zeppole are a traditional Italian doughnut–a Christmas treat, but the internet holds many different descriptions and definitions of what they are. Some versions are carefully piped, some are made as small doughnut holes, and some are roughly free-form. Years ago Jeff Hertzberg ate the later rendition in New York at the San Gennaro Street Festival in Little Italy, (which is held in September, so these aren’t just for Christmas) and he loved them so much he knew we needed a post about them.

Our version here is based on the Beignet recipe from our book New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day; the dough is no-knead, of course, and is lightly flavored with orange and lemon.

These golden brown Zeppole are absolutely delicious; their haphazard shapes gave them a charming quality, and the gentle citrus flavors were lovely. You don’t have to be Italian to make these doughnuts a Christmas tradition. Head to the Red Star Yeast Instagram page to watch a video tutorial.


Zeppole (Italian Christmas Doughnuts)

An Italian fried doughnut that is crispy on the outside, light & fluffy on the inside. Orange juice and lemon zest add a citrusy zing to the easy no-knead dough, and powdered sugar gives a sweet finish. Traditionally served during the Christmas holiday season.
Yield 15 to 20 doughnuts



  • 2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Platinum Yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see note)
  • Vegetable oil, enough to fill pot 3-4 inches deep (see note)
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Make the dough

  • Combine the warm water, orange juice yeast, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a 5-quart bowl; preferably, in a lidded (not airtight) plastic container or food-grade bucket. Mix until all of the flour is incorporated using a stand mixer or dough whisk. Cover, and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. You can use the dough right away, or refrigerate it for up to 14 days.

Make the doughnuts

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly grease the parchment.
  • Pull out 3 oz (peach-sized) pieces of dough, and flatten them slightly (the whole bucket of dough will make 15 to 20 zeppole, but you can do fewer pieces if desired). Place them on the prepared pan and cover with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for at least 20 minutes (and up to one hour).
  • Heat oil to 360-370°F. (Use a candy thermometer to measure oil temperature.)
  • Once your oil is up to temperature, carefully drop the pieces into the oil – a few at a time. Use a slotted spoon or basket strainer to flip the doughnuts over after about 2 minutes and then to take them out of the oil once they are golden brown on both sides. As you're frying the doughnuts, keep an eye on the oil temperature and adjust the heat if necessary. Lay fried doughnuts out on paper towel to absorb some of the oil.
  • Lightly dust with confectioners' sugar after doughnuts have cooled a few minutes. Serve warm.


Artisan Bread in Five recipes use the scoop and sweep method for measuring flour.
Use a pot that is large enough that the oil is not sitting too high in the pot.
Recipe by Artisan Bread in Five.

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Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François met in their children’s music class in 2003 and have written bread cookbooks with more than 715,000 copies in print. Jeff, a doctor by training, is a self-taught baker who grew up eating great bread and pizza in New York City, and longed to recreate it himself. Zoë is a pastry chef and baker trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Her work appears in blogs all over the United States, and her dessert menus grace fine restaurants in the authors’ hometown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jeff and Zoë were among the very first cookbook authors to support their readers with personal responses on their website,, beginning in 2007, where they blog about their super-fast yeast breads.


Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Bread Baking Kit ($84 retail value) includes the following:

  • Platinum Yeast
  • Red Star Dough Whisk
  • Platinum Oven Mitt
  • Red Star Yeast Tea Towel
  • Cambro Bucket
  • The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day cookbook


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Review & Comments

Jean Natter | Reply

What temperature and time to use in Anova Combi-steam oven?

Red Star Yeast | Reply

Hi Jean,
I’m not familiar with that oven. Let us know how it turns out if you use it.
Happy baking!

geri Lucas | Reply

I did use this recipe and it was great.

Carm | Reply

Hi I love your recipes and want to win your fantastic prizes!! Just wondering do I have to enter them individually or as long as I entered once and follow all the social media platforms is that good enough?

Red Star Yeast | Reply

Carm – you have to enter each option individually, and enter the information required for each entry.
Good luck!

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