Easy Jelly Doughnut Holes: happy Chanukah!

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

One of the best-loved Chanukah 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?


Chanukah 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, Chanukah 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. pleasespammenow

    Thank you, thank you for this recipe!! I hate deep frying in a frying pan/fryer and love my electric skillet.

    I will give these a try & report back!

    PS – I like granulated sugar over powdered any day!

  2. Kellius

    This may sound like a silly question, but can you re-use the oil after frying the doughnuts? I never know, and it seems like such a waste to throw out oil after only one use. If you can re-use it, how should it be stored? Cool & put in a jar?

    I do not think that is a silly question at all since I always recycle my oil when making homemade tortilla chips or crispy tacos shells. You may strain it with a very fine sifter or run it through a funnel lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Elisabeth

  3. ebenezer94

    Great idea to make them with a cookie scoop. So much easier. How are they unfilled or can you suggest other fillings that would work? (Jelly donuts aren’t my favorite.)
    Unfilled would be delicious also. But, how about vanilla pastry cream or pastry cream flavored with praline paste or lemon curd? Elisabeth

  4. vardo

    My Mom used to make a similar donut for us in the winter, but unfilled. She would make up several dozen, shake them up in a paper bag and then freeze them. We would thaw them out all winter and heat them up in a toaster oven or in the oven if she had used it. This was before microwaves can on the scene. Now I need to make some donuts!

  5. hickeyja

    These look similar, tho not as rich as our Polish Pączki (pronounced POONCH-key). Pączki are also jelly -filled confections, usually with prune or raspberry filling. In Southeastern Wisconsin, the whole area–even the dentists–go nuts for Pączki on Shrove Tuesday. In Milwaukee alone, they sell over 140,000 Pączki on the day before Lent begins. http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/84427212.html Jan

    Jan, I’ve made paczki before – main difference is they’re yeast-raised, and larger; these are cake doughnuts, and easier. Paczki are definitely VERY tasty, though! 🙂 PJH

  6. mbyanuck

    Your little bottle with with the metal injection tip looks like the perfect tool for getting the jam into the donuts. I’ve had trouble in the past injecting filling into donuts and ended up making a slit with a small knife and spooning it in. Do you have any other suggestions?

    Aside from the condiment bottle or a piping bag, or slitting and filling as you suggest, I don’t know of any other good way to fill jelly doughnuts. I’ve tried a turkey baster, but it doesn’t work well, at least the one I tried. Readers, any further suggestions? PJH

  7. holtnotes

    These look not only declicious but easy too. Have you all tried making them with the King Arthur Gluten Free Flour?

    Haven’t tried, but give it a whirl – might work, but they might just crumble into pieces… Sorry I can’t be more sure, but I just don’t know. PJH

  8. dyergroup

    Could you make this with Gluten Free flour mix?

    Sorry, haven’t tried it. No guarantees, but it’s worth experimenting to see what happens. The hot oil may just seal the surface and hold the doughnut hole together, in the absence of gluten. PJH

  9. darissa

    Could you use the King Arthur Gluten Free flour for the recipe? We only cook/bake gluten free in our home. Thanks

    No guarantees, Darissa – but if you’ve successfully used the GF flour blend in other non-GF recipes and found it works for you, why not give it a try? Good luck – PJH

  10. oldone

    How about using my Presto Kitchen Kettle with the one inch of oil in the bottom? This works well for shoestring potatoes.


    Sounds like a good plan, Old One – go for it! PJH

  11. AnneInWA

    I have been trying to master the “doughnut” for a while. One problem that I seem to have is that my doughnuts are really greasy. I use a candy thermometer and it reads 350. I also use vegetable oil as I have a nut allergy child in the house. Is there a way to limit the greasy texture? Maybe it is just me because I don’t like fried foods and I am doing it correctly, but I feel like they are dripping in oil when they come out of the pan. Also, could I use a yeasted recipe, cut the doughnuts with a doughnut cutter and fry as you did?

    Thanks for the help!

    Anne, try frying at 375°F, and only fry a few at a time; the more doughnuts you put into the oil, the more its temperature is lowered, the more oil they’ll absorb. And sure, go ahead and try this with a yeasted recipe and doughnut cutter – should be yummy! PJH

  12. marythompson

    Is there a reason you pan fried over deep frying them? Just curious!

    They’re effectively deep-fried, Mary – you get the same result with just an inch of oil, instead of 4″ or 5″ of oil or more. It’s a cost-saving, labor-saving trick for me – PJH

  13. kl0hurose78

    Greetings Everyone! I just finished cleaning up after making these doughnut holes. First, they are easy. Dough came together quick and simple, 5 stars. Second, too greasy…the dough was crispy all the way through on most of them, oil not hotenough or too hot? Oil drained in a stream when I picked them up to put on papertowels, 0 stars. Third, those that weren’t crispy all the way through had a very tender center, and very tasty…after making one pan, I added some cinnemon, a couple dashes of cloves and a few swipes of nutmeg across a plane, 5 stars. I don’t know what I did in error but because I like the ingredients in this recipe and how easy it is, I’m going to try making these doughnut holes in my cast iron Ebelskiver pan and use butter instead of oil in the holes. Thanks for letting me comment. Note: I’m at 5200 feet, would that be a problem with the temp of oil? I did check it with my probe thermometer.

    It could be you were trying to fry too many at a time. Each time you add dough to the hot oil it lowers its temperature; so it might be the temperature was cool enough that the holes absorbed too much oil. Try frying fewer holes at a time – I think it’ll make a difference. As for being at altitude – I apologize, but I don’t know how 5200′ altitude affects deep-frying. Readers, any advice? PJH

  14. kl0hurose78

    Thanks, PJH. I’ll remember to fry lessin the pan the next time.
    Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays!

    The same to you – and Happy New Year, too! PJH

  15. "chef girl1"

    I finally sat down today and saw this posting. I will be making them tomorrow for the holiday. I am so excited!! I will already be making my latkes so the donuts will be a wonderful addition. In fact the whole dinner may just be the two!!

    I will keep you updated!! Happy holidays everyone!

    Latkes and jelly doughnuts? Sounds like a complete meal to me! Happy Chanukah – PJH

  16. amazonium

    Here’s a tip for frying any round “object”- don’t wait until one side is brown before flipping (or attempting to) them over. As you probably know they will simply flip themselves right back over to the brown side down and you will end up trying to coax them onto their unfried little selves. What happens is the brown side is heavier because it has been absorber some of the oil and as we know the lighter side will want to stay sunny-side up (isn’t that one of Newton’s Laws of Cooking?). The answer is to let the doughnuts baaaaarely start to cook on one side before flipping them over, let the under side cook, them roll them back over to finish browning. Try it!

    Wow, I never knew that. Thanks so much for sharing this tip – I’m definitely trying it next time (which will be Thursday…) PJH

  17. Jess

    I know it won’t taste as nice, but can I sub oil for the melted butter in the batter? I want to make these dairy free. And how do these compare to the Vermont Doughnut Holes, taste-wise? I made those last year and they were delicious. (I’m planning on making them w/o the jelly.) Thanks and happy holidays.

    Jess, these are the same as the Vermont Doughnut Holes – but with jelly. And substitute oil, but use 1 tablespoon less, to make up for the dairy solids in butter. Enjoy! PJH

  18. speechlisp

    Wow! Made these sufganiyot with my special preK kids. The easiest to make in a lesson on following directions; the fastest to made when you’ve got limited time (no yeast rising!); and the best tasting. The kids were “wowed” and the teachers were doubly “wowed!” King Arthur — you’ve done it again!

    Thanks so much – glad they worked well for you. Happy holidays to you and the kids! PJH

  19. sroth224

    Absolutely delicious and so easy to make. Didn’t double the recipe, but made them twice. Took them to work and they were gone in about 15 minutes. Happy Chanukah! Made more of them and just lit my first night candle. It’s a a special night of delicious holiday food.

    Happy Chanukah to you, too – glad the doughnut holes were a hit! PJH

  20. Nora

    Could you please tell me what brand of electric frying pan you guys use to fry? I have tried frying in mine and it never makes it up to temperature. I’m thinking mine is too old or too cheap(or both)!! Thank you.

    Nora, I use an electric frying pan that’s 30 years old – it’s so old I can’t read the brand anymore! Sorry I can’t help… Maybe, as you say, you simply need a new one? PJH

  21. pleasespammenow

    Had to come back to report that these were amazing!! Granted, mine somehow didn’t come out round (despite using the cookie scoop) and I didn’t coat in the sugar. I took the advice here about not putting too much in the pan (I did about 6 at a time) and my yield was 19. Filled with an amazing raspberry jam, and the family never wants to go to Krispy Kreme again! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!
    Yippy Skippy, it’s doughnut time!!! ~ MaryJane

  22. tomnjerry589


    These look great. what do I add to make them ” chocolate ” doughholes ?

    You can try to substitute up to 1/3 of the flour with cocoa powder in the recipe. While we haven’t tried this substitution in our test kitchens, it sounds like a fun (and yummy) experiment to me! Give it a try! ~Mel

  23. Rocky-cat

    I’m going to try making these with the cocoa substitution and cross my fingers. What can be bad about chocolate? I’m a little phobic about deep-frying, though, and was wondering if I should just pull out my electric deep-fryer with the nice temperature dial rather than using a pan. Anything different I should do for a deep fryer?
    You can definitely use a deep fryer for this. Nothing will change. You’ll use the same frying temperature. Happy doughnut making! ~Mel

  24. Chefsteph55564

    I tried this recipe in my electric mini donut maker and was not that pleased with the results. They were soggy and not like a cake donut hole or cake donut. What would be a better recipe for the machine. Thanks

    Try our Baked Doughnuts recipe – it’s probably better suited to the machine… PJH

  25. sroth224

    After the great results for Chanukah, made them for Christmas. Baked them last night and delivered in the brown paper bag that I used for shaking them with sugar, as a gift to for a Christmas party this afternoon. Filled them with red raspberry jam using a very old decorating syringe and tip (used to be my mom’s). Were devoured by all and many wanted the recipe. Gave King Arthur Flour all the credit. Had a print out with me and copies were made. Thank you again for this delicious multi-holiday treat.

    Great to hear! And one last time – Happy Chanukah. PJH

  26. Rocky-cat

    Following up after making 2 batches yesterday. I made the first batch chocolate and measured by weight replacing about 1/3 of the flour with cocoa powder. I made one test doughnut and all tasters felt that the batter needed more sugar. I felt that an additional 1 Tbs. worked well, the kids thought it needed even more sugar. The second batch was as per the recipe, but the 9-year-old mixed the batter without supervision. The texture of this batter was very different than that of the chocolate batter and it behaved differently in the oil so that I think there somehow was not enough flour in this batch. The kid swears that she weighted it out correctly, though.
    The biggest problem was in filling them. Having had a bad experience earlier in the week filling some jelly donut muffins, I opted to pass on the pastry bag and use a condiment bottle. By the end, I had one very sore hand from squeezing, but very little jelly in each donut. I’m definitely not happy with that filling method. Would a regular decorating tip, say a #10, work better?
    I’ll give this recipe a go again next year, but I wish I could rave about the results the way other posters have.
    Sorry to hear you had difficulty filling the doughnuts. I would try a larger piping bag tip, or cut a larger hole in the squeeze bottle. Slightly warming the jelly would also aid in filling, as it would be more liquid. Give us a call on the Baker’s Hotline if you’d like more help troubleshooting! ~Mel

  27. "chef girl1"

    Well I made the jelly donuts and they were a huge hit!! I had so much fun making them. I started to fill them with Strawberry Jam abut alas it was not to be. Too chunky. I switched to Grape jelly and it was a breeze. I coated them in sugar and they became heavenly balls of joy. It made Chanukah 2011 the best week ever!!!

    So glad to hear we could help your Chanukah be not only a happy, but a delicious occasion. If you’re after another flavor, try seedless raspberry jam – that’s my favorite. PJH

  28. Doris.Mini@gmail.com

    My husband and I LOVE home made donuts and so looked forward to trying this recipe as it sounded so easy. I was prepared to question the recipe after our attempt came out way too greasy, but after reading all the ++++positive comments have come to the conclusion that our fry pan is probably at fault. Does anyone agree with me that if our grease was not hot enough (350 deg per the recipe) the donuts would be grease soaked and barely edible? Maybe we’ll try again with either a new fry pan or a new thermometer. Love King Arthur!!

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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!!

  35. 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!


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