My Frittelle di Carnevale are delicious Italian doughnuts which are traditionally enjoyed over the holidays. These Italian fried treats are packed with fragrant orange zest and sweet raisins before being fried and rolled in sugar.
So what are you waiting for? The perfect Frittelle are only a recipe away!
I’m sure that once you try my Frittelle recipe, it will be a staple at every celebration! The luscious dough produces perfectly chewy and crunchy Italian fried doughnuts that are dangerously addictive. Plus I love that the Fritelle are studded with sweet raisins and flavored with aromatic orange zest.
Italian Frittelle, like Crostoli, are commonly enjoyed in Venice during the celebrations of Carnevale where participants dress up in elaborate costumes and masks. But because these Frittelle are such a festive treat they are also widely served for Christmas in Italy.
Whatever the celebration, my Frittelle di Carnevale are the perfect treat. These authentic Italian doughnuts are wonderful served alongside other festive sweets like my Cuccidati, Honey Balls or Italian Sesame Cookies. Try my Frittelle now and let the celebrations begin!
Table of Contents
Why you’ll love this Frittelle recipe:
- Who doesn’t love doughnuts? This Frittelle recipe is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
- It is packed full of ancient aromatic flavors like orange zest, sweet raisins and sugar.
- They are seriously festive and a quintessential Italian holiday treat.
- These Frittelle are the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
- Milk - Full cream milk is my preference here. These Frittelle are definitely not diet food, so you may as well use the good stuff.
- Active dry yeast - Active dry yeast comes in sachets or sealed packages and is readily available at the supermarket. I love using it because it’s convenient and easy to use. All you have to do is mix it with warm water and a little sugar to get it active and ready to rise your dough.
- Sugar - Superfine sugar or caster sugar is used in both the dough and also for rolling in once they are fried.
- Flour - You will need regular all purpose flour or plain flour for these frittelle di carnevale.
- Egg - I recommend using a large free range egg.
- Orange zest - This freshly grated orange zest adds a lovely aromatic flavor to these traditional Italian doughnuts. Just be careful not to grate the white pith as it is very bitter.
- Rum - A little rum is used for added flavor to these Italian Frittelle.
- Raisins - I used beautifully plump organic raisins. However, if you find your raisins are a little shriveled up and dry, I recommend soaking them in warm water or alcohol like rum, brandy or grappa until they are nice and plump. Just be sure to dry them well before you add them to the yeast dough.
- Peanut oil - For my Frittelle recipe, I use peanut oil for frying instead of extra virgin olive oil for two reasons. One, the peanut oil can tolerate a higher heat before it starts to burn and two, it doesn’t flavor the doughnuts in any way. There are times that I want the pungent flavor of olive oil in my cooking, but in this case, I think it would overpower the other flavors.
See recipe card for quantities.
Scald the milk as described in the recipe card below and cool to lukewarm. Stir in the active dry yeast and a little sugar into the milk and let it become frothy and active.
- Add the yeast mixture to the flour, remaining sugar, egg, rum and finely grated zest of orange in a large bowl.
- Using wooden spoon beat well for 5 minutes then stir in the raisins.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until approximately doubled.
- Fry small spoonfuls of the batter in hot oil until browned and cooked through. Drain on paper towels.
Roll the frittelle in granulated sugar covering all sides after frying.
Hint: Using a regular teaspoon (one that you stir your coffee with) scoop up a spoonful of the batter and with another spoon slide the dough directly into the hot oil. Cook for about 1 minute and a half, turning with forks from time to time until golden brown. Regulate the heat so the oil is neither too hot nor too cool.
- Peanut oil - you could use other flavorless oils that tolerate a high heat like sunflower oil or grapeseed oil instead.
- Raisins - try substituting sultanas, currents or chopped dried dates instead
- Rum - If you don’t have rum just use another liquor that you have at home instead, like anise liqueur, brandy or grappa.
- I love adding some chopped apple to the Frittelle dough for extra sweetness and texture.
- You could add some spices to your dough like cinnamon, nutmeg or even cardamom.
- It is also very traditional to add some pinenuts along with the raisins for added crunch.
These Frittelle di Carnevale are best enjoyed fresh when they are crisp on the outside and chewy in the center. But if you have leftovers, you can store Frittelle in an airtight container for a day or so. They won’t be crispy, but they will still be deliciously chewy and tasty.
Tips for Success and FAQs
If this is your first time deep frying don’t panic! It’s all in the preparation. I recommend setting up your frying station before you begin. This includes filling your chosen pan with oil (not too full), preparing a dish lined with a paper towel for draining off any excess oil from the deep fried frittelle and having your required utensils on the bench next to you. I like to alternate between a slotted spoon and forks.
Once you begin, only deep fry a few at a time so you can monitor them properly (or maybe find a frying companion to help you). If the oil becomes too hot, turn off the heat or carefully move the pan off the hot burner.
In Italian, Fritelle literally translates to pancakes. However, this recipe for Frittelle di Carnevale is better described as Italian doughnuts. For those of you wondering, the correct Frittelle pronunciation is frit-el-le. The "le" as in "let".
You can definitely fry dough in olive oil, however it may not be the best option for everything you deep fry. Olive oil has a wonderful pungent flavor and when something is fried in olive oil, it takes on this flavor. In this Frittelle recipe, I recommend frying in peanut oil because it has very little flavor and it also tolerates a higher heat than olive oil.
There are two reasons that this might be the case, the first is that your oil may be too hot. If you have a thermometer, the oil temperature should be 350ºF/180ºC. But if you don’t own one, check the temperature by pressing the end of a wooden spoon against the bottom of the pan. The oil should bubble and fizz. If your oil is at the right temperature, then you might be making the Frittelle too big. A teaspoon scoop is perfect.
Ideally these frittelle are served piled up on a platter in the middle of the table for everyone to serve themselves. Or pile frittelle into a paper bag for make a tasty gift during the holidays. A good Italian coffee would be the only extra needed.
Whether you're celebrating Carnevale, an Italian Christmas or other celebration, you won't have a better crowd pleaser than a platter of Italian Frittelle!
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- 1 Frying pan or skillet with high sides
- ½ cup whole milk 120 mls
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- ¼ cup superfine white sugar 50 grams
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose plaing flour 210 grams
- 1 egg
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 tablespoons rum
- ½ cup raisins 85 grams
- 4 - 5 tablespoons superfine sugar to decorate
- Peanut oil for frying
- Put the milk in a small saucepan and heat until you see steam rising and bubbles just forming on the sides. The milk shouldn’t boil. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm.
- Whisk the active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon of the superfine sugar into the lukewarm milk. Allow to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
- Place the flour, remaining sugar, egg, rum and finely grated zest of orange in a large bowl.
- Add the yeast mixture and using a wooden spoon beat well for 5 minutes until a dough forms that is smooth and elastic. It will have the consistency of a thick batter.
- Add the raisins to the batter and stir well.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until approximately doubled. This will take about an hour.
- Place a frying pan with high sides on the heat. Fill with peanut oil until about 1 ½ to 2 inches deep. Bring the oil to the temperature of 350ºF/180ºC.
- Using a regular teaspoon (one that you stir your coffee with) scoop up a spoonful of the batter and with another spoon slide the dough directly into the hot oil.
- The frittelle mustn’t become too dark, nor remain on the bottom, but fill with bubbles and immediately rise to the surface. Cook for about 1 minute and a half, turning with forks from time to time until golden brown, constantly checking that the oil doesn’t overheat, if necessary, remove it from the stove.
- Then drain on absorbent paper.
- When you have finished frying, place the extra sugar on a plate and roll the frittelle in granulated sugar covering all sides.
- Softened the raisins in warm water for 10 minutes if needed.
- I pour about 3 cups of peanut oil into the frying pan but very little is absorbed into the frittelle.
- Regulate the heat constantly while deep frying so that the frittelle are neither too dark nor take too long to cook. It's just like pancakes - the first one or two may not work perfectly.
Nutritional Information Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.