Easy Jelly Doughnut Holes: happy Hanukkah!

Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins at sundown tomorrow, December 20.

One of the best-loved Hanukkah treats is sufganiyot: a yeast-filled doughnut filled with something as simple as red jelly, or as decadent as cappuccino cream.

How easy is it to make sufganiyot for Chanukah?


How easy is it to make these jelly doughnut holes?


Hanukkah food is all about the oil, right? That small bit of olive oil that once miraculously kept the temple menorah burning for 8 days is now represented in the holiday’s signature fried food.

Think latkes, those wonderfully crisp potato pancakes.

And sufganiyot. According to Wikipedia, “Angel Bakeries, the largest bakery in Israel, reportedly fries up more than 250,000 sufganiyot every day during the eight-day Hanukkah festival.”

Now THAT’s a lot of doughnuts!

And a lot of deep fat – if that’s how you fry your doughnuts.

Which I don’t.

I much prefer the shallow-fat frying method, using a mere 3/4″ to 1″ of oil in an electric frying pan.

The resulting doughnuts are, I swear, just as crispy, light, and flavorful as any fried in a bubbling vat of hot oil. Remember, Hanukkah celebrates a shortage of oil; why mark the occasion with a gallon of fat, when just a quart will do?

The following recipe makes a cake-type doughnut, rather than yeast-raised. Hey, I know this isn’t traditional; but what can I say, it’s fast, easy, and delicious.

And that means a lot during the holidays, whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, or even the winter solstice (any Druids out there?)

Let’s whip up some Easy Jelly Doughnut Holes.

Get out a skillet that’s at least 2 1/2″ deep; a 10″ electric frying pan is a great choice, if you have one. Fill it with about 1″ of vegetable oil – peanut oil gives the best flavor, but plain vegetable oil is fine, too.

How about canola oil? It tends to have a strong taste that some people love, and some dislike. Use it only if you know you like its deep-fried flavor.

Start heating the oil to 350°F while you make the doughnut batter.

Whisk together the following:

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk the following in a separate bowl:

1 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Combine the wet and dry ingredients to make a thick batter.

When the oil has come up to temperature, use a tablespoon cookie scoop (or spoon) to drop balls of batter into the hot oil. The balls should be about the size of an undersized ping pong ball, which will result in doughnut holes about 2″ in diameter.

Don’t crowd the pan; I’ve found frying about 8 balls at a time, in a 10″ skillet, is plenty.

Fry the doughnut holes for 2 minutes on the first side, or until they’re a deep golden brown. Some of them may turn themselves over; that’s OK, just use a pair of tongs to turn them back. After 2 minutes, turn the holes over, and fry for an additional 2 minutes, until golden brown.

You might want to test-fry a single doughnut hole first, to nail the time/oil temperature. This is what the perfectly fried doughnut should look like inside: a thin, crisp crust, with the center cooked all the way through.

Transfer the doughnut holes to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

Next – fill ‘er up!

We happened to have one of the squeeze bottles from a decorating set hanging around the kitchen when I made these, so that’s what I used.

You can also use a piping bag with a long, plain tip. If you don’t have a piping bag, try using an inexpensive plastic condiment squeeze bottle (think mustard or ketchup), with its tip cut off midway down to widen it sufficiently for jelly to flow easily.

Fill your tool of choice with jelly or seedless jam. The less chunky the jam, the easier it’ll be to pipe.

Stick the tip of whatever tool you’re using into the center of a doughnut hole.

Squeeze until jelly starts to ooze out the hole around the tip.

Repeat with all the doughnut holes.

I like to shake these doughnut holes in granulated sugar. While confectioners’ sugar is traditional, granulated is less messy, doesn’t sink in and disappear, and adds to the doughnuts’ crunch.

Works for me.

Read, make, and review (please) our recipe for Easy Jelly Doughnut Holes.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Susan, this recipe yields approximately two dozen doughnut holes. Thank you for giving this recipe a try! Annabelle@KAF

  1. Kris

    I know most of these comments are older but I wanted to respond to those of you who asked about making this recipe gluten free. I have children with Celiac and we have a completely gluten free house. I just discovered this recipe and I attempted this recipe using gluten free flour. I happen to be a fan of cup 4 cup gluten free flour. It’s expensive but the best in my opinion. The donuts came out delicious! It was an easy recipe and everyone was very happy! We will be making these again for sure!

  2. Michele

    This morning I made these donuts to surprise my kids, using a gluten-free all purpose flour and a dairy free butter. The kids loved them!!! They were amazing!! Thank you so much for this easy and delicious recipe!!

  3. April

    Do you think I can make them in a regular skillet? And I’d like to make them Friday for a Sunday get together… will they hold up if I toss in sugar right before serving? Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Using a skillet would be fine as long as you can control the temperature of the oil. Like most fried items, they don’t keep too well, so I suggest doing them closer to the time they will be eaten. Happy baking! Laurie

  4. Bubby Jsy

    I made them tonight for our Chanukah party and they were great! Everyone loved them. I even impressed myself! They were easy to make. Thank you

    Bubby Jay

  5. Wendy

    Would these still be good if made a day ahead of time?

    Also, I fried donuts at the local grocery store the summer after I graduated high school. The oil was always kept at 365 degrees. That’d be my suggestion for these, as well.

    1. Amy Trage

      I think they should be fine 1 day ahead, but as always, everything is best when fresh on the first day. ~Amy

  6. Rachel M

    Let’s say I don’t have a deep fryer or electric skillet…let’s also say that I really only have sauce pans…what should I do if I want to make these?

    It should be possible if you have a large, albeit short pot. I would suggest using a clip on thermometer in the oil to make sure the temperature is correct as well.-Jon

  7. Joyce

    I made these doughnut holes tonight, and found that they were VERY greasy. My electric fry pan was at 350 degrees, but the doughnut holes absorbed way too much oil, leaving oil residue on numerous paper towels, and on my fingers when I touched them to add the jelly. The batter came together quickly, but it was pretty tasteless. If I make these again, I will add more sugar to the batter, and perhaps some cinnamon. I used seedless raspberry jam, and when the jam and granulated sugar were added to the doughnut holes, their overall flavor improved.

    Joyce, I think perhaps I’ll amend the recipe to call for frying at 375°F, due to a couple of comments about the doughnuts being greasy. I realize, in retrospect, I heat the oil to 375°, so that when I drop the dough in, it goes down to around 350°F, then gradually comes back up. Thanks for your feedback – PJH


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *