Zeppole, a holiday tradition

Zeppole is a dessert that is traditionally made for New Year’s Eve, but it is so delicious, you can make it any time of the year!  It is a favorite of Southern Italians and you often find it on the holiday menu, but the trick is to deliver them into people’s hands while they are fresh out of the frying pan.  You can’t go to an Italian Festival, like the San Gennaro in New York City’s Little Italy, without finding several booths with these kinds of signs:

Since Zeppole are deep fried, they will often make other fried food favorites like calzones at the same booth.  You may have to wait in line to get one of these sweet and doughy treats, but take my advice, wait for a fresh batch as once they sit around a while, they aren’t as good.  If you want to make them at home, they’re actually pretty easy to do!  And if you happen to be in New York City when the festival is NOT going on, you can stop by one of my favorite shops called Led Zeppole (too funny!) which specializes in Zeppole, Funnel Cakes, Cannoli and all of the other Italian favorites that you would normally find at a street fair booth.

Here’s my recipe for Zeppole, adapted from Dom Deluise’s cookbook, Eat This, It’ll Make You Feel Better, which is a statement I really can’t refute.


Makes about 15 zeppole


  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 cups vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting after frying


Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Put the remaining water in a large pan and add the flour all at once, beating vigorously. Beat in the yeast and quickly turn the dough out onto a marble slab or pastry board. Knead with greased hands until smooth. Put the dough into a bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

In a frying pan, heat 3 inches of oil and fry golf ball-size balls of the dough until golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Make your holiday special with this recipe and others from our Holiday Guide!

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