Zeppole are small Italian doughnuts, similar to beignets or doughnut holes, made with ricotta cheese. They have a crisp shell and an incredibly fluffy interior, especially when they are still warm. Even with their airiness, the fresh ricotta makes them rich and creamy.
Best of all, because baking powder is used in the batter, instead of yeast, they are incredibly simple and quick to make. You can have warm zeppole in about 15 minutes! Even with little planning, zeppole are excellent for breakfast on a special morning. They make lovely little bites alongside your coffee. Serve them warm with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. They’re also delicious with jam or Nutella.
Tips and Tricks for Making Zeppole
I am sometimes wary of recipes that involve deep frying at home. They often feel like too much work that also creates too much of a mess. But I promise you, making zeppole is almost as easy as making pancakes. Here are a few tips for deep frying zeppole.
- Have everything you need within arm's reach before starting to fry: a plate lined with paper towels, a spider or slotted spoon, and your bowl of batter and cookie scoop.
- Use a deep-fry thermometer, or an instant-read thermometer, to monitor the temperature. Adjust the heat accordingly between batches—you want the oil at about 375°F the whole time.
- Let the fried zeppole sit to drain some of the oil and cool slightly before sprinkling the powdered sugar, so the sugar doesn't melt.
Flavor the Zeppole with Spices, Zests, and Fillings
When the zeppole are warm and crispy, covered in powdered sugar, they really don’t need much else. If, however, you are looking for that little something to push them over the edge, try one of these variations:
- Add some spice: to the dry ingredients, add 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg or ground cinnamon.
- Add some zest: along with the eggs and vanilla extract, add grated zest from half of a lemon or a quarter of an orange.
- Add a filling: use a piping bag to fill the zeppole with jam, pastry cream, or Nutella.
How to Store Leftovers
Don't miss out on enjoying the zeppole while they are still warm and crisp from frying. If you end up with leftovers, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.
Vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (227g) whole milk ricotta
Powdered sugar for dusting
Heat the oil:
Fill a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan with 2 inches of oil and set it over medium heat. Heat the oil to 375°F, using a deep-fry thermometer to monitor the temperature or checking periodically with an instant-read thermometer.
Line a plate with a couple layers of paper towels and set it on the counter next to your frying station, along with a spider or a slotted heat-proof spoon.
Combine the dry ingredients:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk in the eggs and vanilla:
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add the eggs and the vanilla to the center of the well. Without disturbing the sides of the well, whisk the eggs and vanilla together until combined. Continue whisking, expanding the well by slowly pulling in the dry ingredients to form a smooth batter. Stop mixing as soon as the mixture is combined and smooth.
Fold in the ricotta:
Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the ricotta into the batter. Don’t overmix. There should be visible chunks of ricotta dispersed in the batter.
Fry the zeppole:
Use some nonstick baking spray to lightly grease a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop. Working in batches, carefully scoop the batter into the hot oil. Avoid dropping the batter into the oil from too high to prevent the hot oil from splashing. Depending on the width of your pot, you can fry several zeppole at a time, but be careful not to overcrowd the pot.
Fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown. Fetch them out with the spider and set them on the paper towels to cool slightly.
Dust the zeppole with a generous amount of powdered sugar and serve warm.
Zeppole are best soon after they come out of the fryer. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||8%|
|Total Carbohydrate 9g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|