I’ve seen zeppole made on my fair share of Food Network programs, but it wasn’t until this past Christmas season that I finally tasted one. My Chief Culinary Consultant’s mom decided to make them a few days after Christmas, remembering how much she loved them when her mom would make them. Zeppole are very much an Italian tradition; they’re a doughnut-like pastry that are traditionally eaten during St. Joseph’s Day celebrations every March 19th. Since today is my Chief Culinary Consultant’s saint’s day and he loved them so much when his mom made them, I decided to fry up a batch of zeppole to celebrate!
I didn’t have the recipe that my CCC’s mom used, so I did some digging and found a recipe that included not only ricotta cheese (which her’s had), but also mascarpone cheese. I couldn’t believe how easy these little doughnuts were to make. It takes five minutes to mix together the batter, then just scoop and fry! They are sweet, heavenly doughnuts that have a light, crisp texture on the outside with a soft, chewy inside.
I was incredibly happy with how these turned out; I encourage you to make these, even if it’s not March 19th!
One year ago: English Muffin Bread
Two years ago: Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
Three years ago: Super Mario Brothers Birthday Cake
Five years ago: Golden Brioche Loaf
- 2 to 3 quarts (1.89 to 2.84 litres) vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (123 g) ricotta cheese
- ½ cup (112.5 g) mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup (62.5 ml) cold water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar, for dusting prior to serving
- Fill a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Heat the oil to 300 degrees F.
- While you wait for the oil to come up to temperature, combine all of the other ingredients (except the powdered sugar) in a small saucepan over very low heat. Whisk together the ingredients until a smooth batter forms. Turn the heat off and let the batter rest until the oil is ready. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and set aside.
- Once the oil reaches 300 degrees F, use a medium cookie scoop to scoop the batter and drop into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pot, ensuring that each zeppole has enough space to fry. Once the bottom side is golden brown, gently flip the zeppole over and continue frying until the other side is golden brown. This should take anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes total. Remove the zeppole with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and place on the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Allow the oil to return to 300 degrees if the temperature has dropped, and continue frying, using the rest of the batter.
- Dust the zeppole with powdered sugar and serve warm or at room temperature. The zeppole are best eaten the same day they are made.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
This recipe is not for zeppole, it is actually a recipe for Sfinci (or Sfinge in some parts of sicily). Zeppole does not have have any ricotta or marscapone. When ricotta or marscapone are added, you are instead making Sfinci. The use of either of these 2 soft cheeses indicates the recipe is definitely Sicilian.
How do I know this – I was born and raised in Sicily.
These look delicious! Could you do these in a deep fryer instead of a pot?
I see that I am late on board! I used to go to a bakery outside of Chicago to get these and St Joseph’s day ‘cakes’. But it has been many years. I just found out I am Italian, so I am interested in learning some ‘traditional’ things.I know this would be nontraditional, but, could there be a baked version? Friend foods and I rarely get along….
Thanks for all your recipes!
Hi Karen, Zeppole are traditionally fried, you might be able to find a baked version. I haven’t made one, so unfortunately, I don’t have any recipes to recommend. Do let me know if you find one and like it!
These were great!!! I went precisely by this recipe and they came out just a little doughy so I added 2 tbsp more sugar and flour each, and they came out perfectly. Not too soft, but not too dry either. AMAZING! (I’m Italian, so I know food!)
Great work! I’m loving browsing through your great recipes and am hoping to try some out soon! I’m from Malta (a small island/country south of Sicily). Zeppole are also traditional here on March 19th… however, with a slight variation…. here the pastry is filled with sweet ricotta and honey is drizzled on top and they’re just delicious :) Your recipe looks soo easy to make and I’m really looking forward to trying out it out next March! Thanks!!
Just curious if this is a regional recipe? My nonna on my mom’s side makes zeppole like this, but my nonna on my dad’s side who is from Calabria makes them with potato dough, so they’re less sweet and heavier and those are the ones I grew up eating.
Hi Alicia, In my reading, they do seem to be a little regional – more popular in the areas surrounding Rome, Naples and Sicily.
I made these the day the post came out and they were amazing how we made them. I teach culinary arts in a juvenile correctional facility and we are in a rural area so I could not get the marscapone and didn’t have any ricotta but I did have cream cheese and cottage cheese. Soooo.. I substituted them and they were wonderful. I put the cottage cheese in a cheese cloth to get some of the extra liquid removed and it was fine. The boys just could not believe how good they were. They asked every day this week if we can do them again today!!! I can’t wait to try them with the correct ingredients!!!
btw.. Nicole.. the oil wasn’t hot enough. :0)
Fried dough! How can it get any better than that!? Fill them with cannoli cream! Its important to use ricotta impastata (hard to find). Its not the best, but you can alternatively drain regular whole milk ricotta overnight in a cheesecloth-lined strainer; Otherwise, the high water content makes them soggy. I also like to add a pinch of powdered fennel seed.
Ok reporting back to say I made this today, waaaay too oily for my taste. The first batch were like little oil bombs so I verified the temp, 300 degrees. Second and third batches were no better. Maybe it was bad luck, I don’t think I’ll even eat them they’re that oily. :-/
Yesterday was my birthday too and what a wonderful recipe to receive! I will definitely try these. Thank you!
What an incredible recipe for Italian zeppole. I would have loved to have made this this year, but my busy schedule at work prevented me from doing so. I promise, that this recipe will be made soon! Grazie mille!
Thanks for celebrating this Italian treat! As italian I think It’s a really good recipe :)
Zeppole this is something very new for me.
I too am forever seeing these made on FN. I never have had one either, but you make them sound so easy I might just have to give them a try. Also, I didn’t know that there was a traditional day to eat them for Italians. Guess you learn something new every day!
I’m dying to make homemade doughnuts of any kind. These zeppole look great!
These look great! I’ve only ever eaten them from street carts in NYC’s little italy, and the Bronx ones too. Reminds me of childhood- not a recipe I’d want to change at all- It would be like biting into memories! I would love to try these to see if they taste similar. The old ladies would scoop them into a paper bag, add a biiiiiiig scoop of powdered sugar, and shake the crap out of the bag before handing them over to enjoy steaming hot. Without a doubt I’d be covered in powdered sugar, but it was oh so worth it! thanks for posting this recipe :)
Viva San Guiseppi!!
Never heard of zeppole…interesting! What area in Italy do they originate? Or are they a “Pittsburg delicacy”? My husband’s family seves the cannoli, sfinge and honey balls at our St. Joseph Table (which we did on Saturday..30+ people, great time!) SE of Buffalo, NY…
This year we filled the cannoli with a ricotta/marscapone mixture— soooo creamy—it’s our new filling!!
Zeppole will be on the menu next 3/19!!
Thank you so much….
Hi Janice, Definitely not a Pittsburgh thing! From what I read online, they’re most popular in the areas around Rome, Naples and in Sicily.
These look great! My family calls them crispellis (or maybe that’s a Massachusetts thing). I haven’t had one in years, guess I’ll have to make them now :)
I obviously love doughnuts, but doughnuts with ricotta and mascarpone?? Didn’t know it could get any better!!
I have all the ingredients except for the 2-3 quarts of oil! Probably for the best, I rather not eat any fried foods. Any other recipes that use ricotta and marscapone?
Cannoli filling! :)
I’ve never heard of Zeppoles before. They sound and look so delicious. Made mostly with regular pantry ingredients too. YUM.
Ha ha, too funny! Zeppoles remind me of July 4th! They’re a fair-food here in Northern Jersey. At the 4th of July fireworks display, there are always zeppole trucks at the park. Nothing says God Bless America like fried dough and powdered sugar!
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try these!! YUM! :)
My husband had an Italian friend in college. For 4 years he ate Zeppoles. Ever since he tries to find something similar and has such problems. One year we ended up with a whole bunch of “zeppole” cream puffs.
Fantastic post! I always get excited when I see Zeppoles on the dessert menu at restaurants. I love dipping them in chocolate or caramel sauce. I’ve never tried my hand at making them, though, but now I have a recipe to try!
Oh wow! These look incredible!
I’ve never had zeppole, but based on your description and the ingredient list I know I’d be a huge fan! Looks like I’m going to have to break out the pot of oil again very soon :)
Which kind of ricotta is used? Do you use the dry or do you use the regular kind. If using the latter, do you drain it?
Hi Shirley, Regular ricotta and you don’t need to drain it.
I had never had a zeppole until I moved to NJ and went to an Italian street fair. Since then I have been obsessed.
These look amazing and the fact that now I can make them at home is dangerous ;)
Ok, now these look really good! Really, really good!
Amazing, I love these and super simple too!
My DH is a Joseph as well. My mom always used to make a big deal out of this day for him. So I want to take up where she left off when she passed away.
I’m a little intimidated by anything fried but these look easy enough to make. Can’t wait to try these. Love anything ricotta & marscarpone :)
Ohhh, these look adorable!!
Ricotta makes everything better! These sound and look amazing!
San Giuseppe is my Dad’s saint’s day also- my grandmother used to make zeppole every year! I haven’t had them since she passed away- I can’t wait to try these! Thanks for the recipe!
Anything that’s made with ricotta AND mascarpone must be delicious! March 19th (today) is father’s day here, these would be nice to celebrate it.
looks good and soft
I’ve never had zeppole before. They look delicious!
I had oreo zeppole once in Vegas – amazing! Have been thinking about them ever since. Would be awesome to be able to make them at home.
These are little bundles of joy!