Zeppole

You don’t have to wait for the next Italian festival or carnival to enjoy some fried dough. With this recipe you can make delicious Zeppole right at at home. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and let the memories of eating them out of the bag while enjoying the sites and sounds of the feast come right back to you.

Growing up in Mt. Vernon, NY, Our Lady of Victory Church had an Italian festival every summer (we just called it the feast). I always looked forward to this; they blocked off a whole city block and had all of the typical festival games and food. My favorite part was the Zeppole, fluffy fried balls of dough. They would put them in a paper bag, add powdered sugar and shake it up. I would walk around the festival carrying that beautiful greasy bag, pulling Zeppole out and getting the sugar all over myself while eating them. Talk about a happy kid!

Now I live in Monroe, CT and our local church, St. Jude, has an Italian festival also. Naturally, they serve fried dough, but it is in the form of Pizza Fritte. Flattened out like pizza, fried and served in a plate with either powdered sugar or sauce (blasphemy). While I never would say no to Pizza Fritte (with sugar), it’s just not the same experience as the Zeppole were. I like the fluffiness of the Zeppole, sometimes Pizza Fritte is too flat in spots and gets crispy. Also, maybe it’s just nostalgia, but nothing can beat walking around with that paper bag full of messy treats.

Zeppole

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Zeppole

Zeppole Recipe


  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: ~20 Zeppole

Description

You don’t have to wait for the next Italian festival or carnival to enjoy some fried dough. With this recipe you can make delicious Zeppole right at home. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and let the memories of eating them out of the bag while enjoying the sites and sounds of the feast come right back to you.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add the yeast, sugar and salt to the water. Let stand until creamy, about 2 minutes, and stir to dissolve the yeast.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until a nice sticky dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours.
  3. In a deep saucepan, pour in vegetable oil to a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 370 degrees (use a frying thermometer).
  4. Use two tablespoons to scoop out the dough and drop it into the hot oil, by using one spoon to push the dough off of the other. Do this for about 4 zeppole at a time, do not crowd them in the pan. Cook until golden brown and puffy, turning with a slotted spoon to fry evenly on all sides.
  5. Remove the zeppole from the oil with the slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate or tray lined with paper towels to drain. When all zeppole are fried and drained sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and serve hot.

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131 Responses

  1. Thank so much for this recipe. Could you let me know what sort of yeast did you use…fresh or dry?

    1. Never heard of pizza fritte, but I also grew up in NY eating zeppole! Lucky for me, my mom made them at home so we didn’t have to wait for the St. Rocco’s feast in our area!

      Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  2. Thanks for putting this up, my Mother made these and all I did was eat them and never thought about how she made them now I will make some.

    1. Yes, thank you for this recipe. My Mom passed away and I never got some of her recipes, but this sounds just like hers. Also wishing I got her recipe for batter she used on cardoons.

  3. I grew up in Mt.Vernon too. I lived on N.5th ave. They would close my block in the afternoon for the feast. I’ve yet to have a Zeppole taste that good. Wish I could go back in time. The Torrene getting chopped right in front of you. The Zeppole hitting the oil fresh for each order. Sausage and peppers(with a choice of hot) on real Italian bread. Best of times.

    1. Yes! I too am from Mt Vernon, Park Avenue. Those Zeppole’s of my childhood still haunt me to today. I couldn’t wait for the festival just to eat the Zeppole’s. The BEST!! Thank you for the recipe! I know this is the perfect recipe. Hello to all other Mt Veronites as well!

    2. Is it ok to make the dough and leave it on the counter overnight to make the zeppole’s in the morning for breakfast?

  4. I grew up in Manhattan and on East 108th St. Between 1st and 2nd ave they celebrated the feast too. Those fried balls were also my favorite!!

      1. I grew up at 234 East 106 street, between 2nd and 3rd ave. There was a Baccala store and the A&P.
        My mother always made these Zeppole but I don’t remember her using yeast for the regular Zeppole. But they were sure delicious.

  5. Can someone tell me who has made this recipe if this is like the ones served at the Giglio feast? I see some using ricotta I don’t recall that…hoping this is the type made at that feast, my husband has never tasted a true Zeppole and hope to be able to make this for him. I grew up on 105th street in Manhattan and miss the great food at that feast!

    1. Gloria, I have never been to the Giglio feast, but these are my attempt to recreate the zeppole that I had seen at all of the Italian festivals/feasts in the that I grew up around in the New York area. So I would think they would be pretty close.

      1. This is the closest to it. Its all there. I used to make them 30 yrs ago for an Italian Specialty Store on Staten Island and yummy..i just dont recall adding Olive Oil..but not much in your recipe..Anyways besides that the rest of your recipe is all there the way we made them.. And this newer recipe im seeing all over using Ricotta sounds yummy but Ricotta was not in the Original Zeppoles recipe..Thank you for your recipe…Tracy

        1. Adding ricotta to the recipe makes what is called “sfinge” which is the Sicilian form of zeppole. It is how my Nanny always made them.

  6. Gloria here, I made the zeppole and OMG!!! They turned out amazing!!! I was so happy, my husband loved them too. It was his first time having a zeppole! Thank you Phil!!! I am so grateful!

  7. How many does this recipe make, I’m going to let it rise in the refrigerator for a couple of hours on Christmas Day so that I can make after dinner. I make a lot of bread and this always works, any problems doing this with the zeppole? My grandmother always made these and she would put a hole in the middle with her thumb and the last few always had some anchovy in them.

    1. Carol, it makes about 20 Zeppole. Letting it rise in fridge should be fine. Maybe leave the dough out for 1/2 an hour at room temp before putting in the fridge.

  8. Will they be ok if fried and covered for a couple if hours? Didn’t want to fry while guests are here. Thanks.

    1. B, yes they will. You can even make them a day ahead, refrigerate and re-heat in a low oven when ready to serve.

        1. Ok Chef, my wife makes her family’s version of Zeppole but is more like the pizza fritte that you describe. They actually call it pettola.
          I like the round shape, a true Zeppole. What can I do to make the texture just a little lighter? Also, I used the tablespoon but switched to a teaspoon for a size I liked better. Made 30 on a double recipe.
          Just need to have a lighter texture to make it truly perfect.

    1. I asked this question and was told 20. I’m serving 15 people so I am going to double the recipe hold in the refrigerator during the day (tomorrow) and fry after dinner.

  9. Doubled recipe, put in fridge at noon Christmas Day. Took out after dinner heated oil and fried. Served in brown paper bags with confectionary sugar – shook them up! Fantastic! Everyone loved them and because (17 guests) had to wait until I made more the anticipation was great. Everyone got three zeppole and started telling stories about the last time they had zeppole or their favorite childhood memories of street fairs. Had some extra and out in fridge which husband said was great cold out of fridge. Who could ask for anything more, thanks for the recipe

  10. This recipe tasted delicious. I covered them in case sugar and nutella chocolate sauce. Light and fluffy, thanks so much for sharing!

  11. I am making these today in honor of Saint Josephs day! We can’t wait to taste them. Growing up in CT we always had zeppole today but I haven’t been able to find them anywhere anymore! Thanks for the recipe.

  12. Wow this brought back memories – I also grew up in Mount Vernon ( but went to St Peter and Paul) – but remember the *feast*! We lived right on Gramatan Avenue and I also now live in CT! Small world. Nothing better then a hot, sugar covered, ball of dough.

    1. Hello Patty,my wife and I moved to Florida last Sept 2917 and we lived in Mt Vernon,went to St Peter Paul also.I grew up in west New Rochelle and attended many feast in Mt Vernon.This will be our first time in Florida on St. Anthony’s Feast day,without our Feast St Joseph’s Church Inn New Rochelle NY. Well I have been making zeppole’s for years using pizza dough and they are delicious,however I will try Phil’s recipe,Thank You Phil

  13. Hi Phil,
    Reading about your experience with zeppole brought back memories to me about my years growing up in Williamsburg,Brooklyn (NY). Our parish was OLMC on North 8th Street where the Feast of San Paolino is still celebrated each July. I’ve never made zeppole but remember hearing my mother say you have to be vigilant because they cook very fast. My mother would drop the dough into the oil; my father would turn and lift them out. Thanks for the memories.

  14. So great to see so many people who have similar memories of the festivals and especially Zeppole! Deborah, the orange flavor sounds great, probably can do the same with lemon too.

  15. OMG ! My husband is Italian and has never made me zeppole…I am going to surprise him and see what he thinks. Thanks for the recipe.

  16. As I’m googling new and easy recipes for zeppole this morning, much to my surprise I came across your site. I too grew up in Mt Vernon and attended the Our Lady of Victory feast every year. In fact my family owned an Italian restaurant around the corner for 40 years, for a few of the years we supplied the zeppole dough to the feast….. thanks for bringing me back and putting a smile on my face!

    1. Thanks Franca. It’s great how many Mt Vernon folks are finding this post! Which restaurant did your family own?

      1. My family owned Pizza King for 40 years. We just sold it a year ago. Now I’m in the process of opening a cafe in New Rochelle NY.

  17. Hi Phil, I was looking on line for a zeppole recipe. Most having egg as an ingredient to the dough.
    My Mom didn’t put egg in the dough, which I remember. Your recipe doesn’t ask for it either. So, thank you for the recipe, which I will be making tonite for some east coasters. I’m on the west coast and zeppole are unheard of!

  18. I grew up in Canarsie and then Queens. My Mother and Grandmother made zepple often and used the paper bag with the confectionate sugar. However, Whole milk Ricotta 3/4lb was used 2 eggs,1 cup flour 1 tsp bking powder 1 tablespoon vanilla. Crisco Oil will give that golden brown pastry look Putting leftover Zepple in Microwave for 8 to 10 seconds is hot hot and so delicious. Have fun remembering from Long Island.

  19. If this isn’t the exact same recipe that fairs use! My boyfriend who has never had zeppoles from the fair was absolutely in heaven after eating these!! Thanks so much for this amazing recipe, brought back fun fair memories!

  20. Did you go to Our Lady of Victory school? Where did you live? I was a graduate of OLV in 1965. Always went to the feast! Isn’t that crazy!

  21. It’s nice to see remarks about the good times in Mount Vernon hen the feasts were held. Keep the receipes coming.

  22. I grew up on south 5th avenue in mount Vernon, then Fleetwood! The zeppolis look delicious! Have you ever dipped them in chocolate or raspberry?

  23. I want to make them for my son for his birthday. I live 2 hours from him. If I make them day before, keep in frige and then refrigerate when I get there to fry after dinner…do I need the dough to get room temp before frying? How deep of a pot do you use? Have you ever used the big daddy frier? Can’t wait to try the recipe so I can give feed back

    1. Do get them to room temp before frying or they will reduce the oil temp when they go in. I used a pot about 4 inches deep, along as they can float in the oil, never used the big daddy fryer because it looks too small and why have another appliance sitting around when all you need is a deep pot.

  24. i love. them so much live in florida now but when i come to. new york i always get them miss new york alot cant wait to go back thanks for bringig memories back.

    1. It calls for active dry yeast not instant. I’ve never tried with instant and I️ see conflicting advice around on substituting. I would stick with the active dry.

  25. I used to make these for my 3 children when they were small. I had forgotten all about them! Now that I’m a great-grandmother, it’s time to make more. Same recipe my grandmother (1877-1963) used. Often added crushed/drained pineapple, too.

  26. I see that the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast, is that correct or is it 1 package of active dry yeast?

    1. Pat, 1 tablespoon is correct.

      Update: it was just pointed out to me that we both said tablespoon, when the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon. 1 teaspoon is the correct amount.

      1. Thanks for such a speedy reply. I make these every christmas but they never taste like my Mom’s. She never measured so it is a guessing game every year. Can’t wait to try your recipe. Wish me luck!

  27. Made them yesterday. Taste lust like the ones we had at our favorite Italian feasts in Jersey and NY. These were crispy on the outside and warm and super tender on the inside. So yummy!

    You nailed it! Childhood memories came flooding back bite after delicious bite! I just sent your recipe link to my friend and I highly recommend everyone try this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!

  28. Hi!

    Can you please clarify the amount of yeast needed? The recipe says 1 teaspoon, but in the comments above someone asked if it is 1 tablespoon, and you agreed that it is 1 tablespoon. I’d love to make these but will wait for your answer.

    Thanks!

    1. Sorry. When I responded to the comment I was verifying that it was not a whole packet. Didn’t even notice that she said tablespoon and I repeated it. It is one teaspoon as the recipe states.

      1. Thanks! I’ll be making these very soon. Since I have Celiac, I must substitute a gluten free flour blend. I have found this has worked with other recipes, and I see no reason why you should not with this one.

        1. I made these the other day. I must have done something wrong because the dough was watery and when I dropped it in the oil they did not form balls, more like triangles. They turned golden brown were crispy and airy inside. Could it have been the yeast?

  29. Hi again….I was born in Mt. Vernon! My mom attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, then St. Francis of Assisi.

  30. My grandma made these every new year my mom would help by dipping them in honey. Great memories if them. I do them now to keep the tradition. So good! My grandparents were from Sezze Italy. We always had a couple eggs in the recipe.

  31. First of all I would like to say fantastic blog!
    I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your
    thoughts before writing. I’ve had trouble
    clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I truly
    do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15
    minutes are usually wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any suggestions or hints? Thank you!

  32. Hi, are you able to freeze the leftover dough? Should we cut it into squares then freeze it? Or how would you go about it?

    1. Yes you can freeze the dough. Portion it out however you like, wrap it and put in a freezer bag. Take it out day you want to use it and let it get to room temp. The yeast will wake up.

  33. Hi Phil my name is David’s up I grew up in New Rochelle next town over from Mount Vernon I also lived in the Gramatan section of Mount Vernon full while growing up with zeppoles is exactly like you said round balls powdered sugar in a greasy paper bag the original way old school now I live in Florida and just can’t get them the right way down here so I’m going to make them myself like your recipe

  34. Quick question, would this work with like a caramel or chocolate dipping sauce? I want to spice it up for my Hospitality assessment… We have to do a ‘Food Truck’ and pick a theme and our group chose ‘Italian’ so for dessert we were thinking of doing ‘Zeppole’ but we don’t know what dipping sauce can go with it, or just leave it by itself?

    1. Like Gloria says it’s usually served with powdered sugar, and really is perfect that way. But, when I make my Ricotta Zeppole I drizzle it with chocolate sauce or honey along with the powdered sugar. No reason you couldn’t do that here too.

  35. Traditionally It is sprinkled with powdered sugar. I’m sure their are many additions that complement, but the powdered sugar is easy and perfect. At the feasts they use small paper lunch type bags fill them with the Zeppole add a Tablespoon + of powdered sugar and shake, hand it to the customer!

  36. AWESOME, GREW UP WITH THESE IN NEW YORK, SERVED FROM PIZZARIA’S IN A BROWN PAPER BAG. THIS RECIPE IS AUTHENTIC AND AWESOME, THANKS

  37. I love going to fairs because of the zeppoles but hated having to wait a year for them . These taste EXACTLY like the ones I get from the local fairs . So delicious! You are heaven sent for this thank you .

  38. I’ve seen some zeppole recipes call for ricotta or potato – while yours obviously does not. I always thought that zeppole were just fried dough balls. What are those other versions?

    1. Those other versions are just variations. This type is what I grew up on, it was served at the Feasts and Italian festivals where I lived. But I would also see them made with ricotta, and I actually have a recipe for Ricotta Zeppole too, https://italianchef.com///ricotta-zeppole/ I even find myself making them more often now. I suppose they could be called Ricotta Fritters.

      1. My recipe using ricotta is nearly identical to yours (only difference is 3 tbl sugar instead of 2), and we love them. That recipe is especially great when time is short. I’ve heard some recipes include raisins, but never tried that. Now I have apples to use up and I thought about adding some chopped apples to the batter, similar to fritters. I was looking to see if anyone might have tried it when I came across yours recipe using yeast as the leavening, and I’m intrigued. I have always preferred treats made with yeast dough, so I’ll definitely be trying this to check out the difference. However, I like ricotta a lot and I wonder if it might be ok to include the ricotta in the one with yeast, sort of the best of both recipes, or would it change the dough too much? Any thoughts on adding the apples or the ricotta? Either way, I definitely want to try this yeast one. Simplicity is the mother of contentment, I always say!

  39. Your attempt at this recipe was better then every other recipe I’ve tried. So great. Had to stop making these for a while since I was making them every other day after finding this recipe. I’d be at the local bar and making these in the kitchen for a few of us that frequent the bar. Awesom.

  40. They are so good! Can I save the left over mixture in the refrigerator? The more I used the mixture, the more it seemed to grow in the bowl. I made 20 and I seem to have just as much as when I began. I let mine rest for 2 hours and used heaping teaspoons. Yummy!

  41. I remember growing growing up on the lower east side of manhatten
    on 12th street between avenue b & c.
    Every year their was an italian feast and i would always go for the zeppoles always my favorite.

  42. I just got an air fryer and I’m hoping this will come out alright. Based on suggestions from other sites, I’m going to coat the dough in olive oil before putting them in the fryer. Even though I’m not religious any more, there’s no better time to make zeppoles than St. Joseph’s Day.

    1. I’ve never heard of Zeppole being made in an air fryer. Please let us know how they turn out.

  43. can i make the dough in the AM on Easter if im going to fry them early evening? if so do i put the dough in the fridge after the hour and half it needs to rise or keep out?

    1. Yeah you can make it ahead of time on same day. Put it in the fridge, it will keep it from rising too much.

  44. How long in advance can the dough be made. If it is out on the counter for 4-6 hours will there be a problem frying them? I want to make the dough the day I plan on making the zeppoles.

    1. I remember my mother putting riced potato in the dough, but I’m not sure how much to use! Any suggestions?

  45. I grew up in The Bronx, Arthur Ave and Country Club. What great memories Zeppole’s bring. Making them tonight

  46. AHHHH! from Valley Stream, an our Holy Name feast was the best. Old ladies over a vat of oil all day, speaking in Italian to each other, shooing us way from the table cause the adults and nuns got firsts. I cannot wait to do these out in my yard with the hot oil pot and my portable burner.
    Air fryer?!?!? C’mon, you’re gonna give me agita!

  47. Recipe is clearly from a New Yorker. It is perfect. I made them 4 times this week for the kids (okay for the parents, too). Doubled the recipe.
    THANK YOU!

  48. Can I make the dough and make half the zeppole today and save the rest of the dough in the fridge until Saturday to fry then? I know this is an old recipe but I’m hoping you check comments still!

  49. I just found this recipe and made it with all purpose gluten free flour. They are amazing. I haven’t been to NY in over 10 years, so it was great to find a good recipe. I’ve tried before, but none come close to this recipe. Thanks so much for this recipe.

  50. I was looking for a recipe for zeppoles and found yours. Wow small world, I grew up in Mount Vernon and went to OLV feast quite a bit! Great memories and loved the zeppoles! Thank you!

  51. My son asked for these and I found your recipe. So glad I did!

    They were delicious and a real hit, and easy to make.

    Thanks very much!

  52. As a New Yorker that’s sad about no San Gennaro Feast this year I was soooo impressed. My entire family loved them and the ease of making them is great.

  53. I noticed this recipe doesn’t call for eggs? Any particular reason for that? A lot of recipes I see call for eggs, how do eggs affect the dough?

  54. So i just made these. They came out perfect. I was a little surprised with the no egg but I actually liked it better without it. And the 1 teaspoon of yeast I think was the perfect amount. Last time i made a similar recipe it called for 1 whole packet of yeast, and it tasted too much like yeast, it still tasted good but not as good as these. These are actually the closest thing to the ones at the fair. Well done chef, and thank you for sharing this recipe with the community.

  55. I have a question….once the dough raises do u just start frying them or must u knead the dough first?

  56. hi i was just wondering if i can make the day and leave it overnight and cook them the next day?

  57. Grew up in Brooklyn.
    Recently ive been trying out all the zeppole recipes i found online, one by one… and even though i gained a few pounds while trying to find my favorite version, i had to do what i had to do, it was hard eating so many zeppoles with powder sugar you know, it was a lot of work
    So anyway, here is what i found: This recipe, plus one other one from simply home cooked are the best ones, and that’s that. Billy Parisi’s recipe was good but way too much salt, and his came out kinda rubbery.

  58. I made these today and I live in Australia. They came out great but not sweet enough for me even after adding the powdered sugar

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