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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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Review & Comments


when making zeppole, do you have to use orange juice? Also is there a secret to opening the yeast packs?

thank you
Pat Conniff

Red Star Yeast | Reply

Hi Patricia – No, you can substitute water for the orange juice, 1-for-1. To open a yeast packet, I hold it at the top and shake it a few times to get the yeast down, then cut across the top to open it. (Note: To separate the packets in the 3-strip, see our Products page/Usage tab for info and photo guide:
Happy baking!

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