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    Homemade Struffoli Recipe

    Published December 2, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    Learn how to make this classic Italian Homemade Struffoli Recipe, delicious fried dough balls coated in a sweet honey syrup. This is the perfect dessert to serve up for the holidays.

    Is there anything better than a tasty homemade sweet treat after an amazing meal? It’s pretty much a must-have in our house. If your family is similar, you must try my Apple Pie or Creme Brulee.

    struffoli on a plate

    Struffoli

    Struffoli is a traditional Neopolitano dessert consisting of sweet fried dough balls that are crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle and are often tossed with honey and molded into a specific shape like a ring or a mound.  They’re a smaller version of a classic zeppole recipe.

    While popularly Italian, the original root word struffolo is Greek, stróngylos, which means “round in shape.”  Italy imported this recipe back in the Greek Magna Grecia era, so it’s been around for a long time.

    Ingredients You’ll Need

    ingredients to make struffoli
    • Flour – I prefer to use Italian 00 flour. However, if you have trouble finding it, you can substitute it with bread flour.
    • Citrus – The zest of an orange and a lemon is incredibly classic in this recipe.
    • Leavening Agent – I use baking powder, but I have also seen many recipes use baking soda.
    • Fat – Classically, lard is used, but you can use unsalted butter.
    • Eggs – Large cold or room temperature eggs will work.
    • Sugar – You will use regular granulated sugar in the dough and the finishing syrup.
    • Salt – I always use sea salt in my cooking and baking recipes.
    • Anise Liqueur – Anisette or Sambuca or great to use. If you have no access to these, you can try rum, or for a liquor-free recipe, use 1 teaspoon of anise extract and ¼ cup of cold water.
    • Honey – This is used in syrup.
    • Vanilla – Fresh vanilla beans are preferred, but you can use 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract as a substitute.

    How to Make Struffoli

    Mix the flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and orange zest on a clean surface until combined.

    mixing flour and lemon zest

    Next, cut in the fat using a pastry blender or, better yet, your fingers, like in my S cookies recipe, to make sure it is mixed in with the dry ingredients and no bigger than the size of couscous.

    mixing flour and lard

    Form a well in the center for the flour.

    making a well in flour

    Add the eggs and anise liqueur and whisk together using a fork in the well.

    whisking eggs in a flour well

    Start to bring in the dry ingredients with the fork to combine.

    mixing whisked eggs with flour

    Using a bench knife or your hands, bring the ingredients together.

    combining flour and eggs

    You may need 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if it’s too dry or 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour if it’s too wet.

    adding water to dough

    Knead the dough for at least 5 to 7 minutes, but I recommend doing it for 10 to 12 minutes.

    kneading dough

    When finished, the dough should be smooth and soft. Transfer it to a bowl and cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    resting dough in a bowl

    Transfer the dough to a clean surface and divide the dough into 4 big pieces.

    cutting struffoli dough

    Individually roll them out using your hands into long ropes about ½” thick. 

    rolling out struffoli dough

    Then simply using a knife or a bench knife (Aff link), cut them into small pieces.

    cutting struffoli dough

    Coat the dough balls in a little flour and mix.

    resting cut struffoli

    Fry the dough balls in batches in your favorite neutral-flavored oil heated to 350° for only 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned while occasionally stirring it to ensure all sides are brown.

    frying struffoli

    Set them to the side on paper towels to drain.

    draining fried struffoli

    In a large-size pot, over low heat, add the honey, sugar, and vanilla beans while stirring with a spoon until the sugar is dissolved.

    heating a honey and vanilla sauce

    Add the fried dough balls to the honey and sugar mixture and coat by mixing with a spoon or rubber spatula.

    coating struffoli in honey

    Transfer to a plate and garnish with a sprinkle and any citron you may want. Serve.

    adding citron to struffoli

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 1 day ahead of time.

    How to Store: Keep them covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator covered for up to 3 days. This will not freeze well. I recommend reheating them slightly before serving, so they soften up a bit.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • Kneading the dough is crucial to incorporating the ingredients and ensuring you form strong gluten from the flour, so it does it for at least 5 minutes.
    • It’s essential to make sure you let the dough rest for 30 minutes so that it is not overworked, resulting in a tough dough.
    • Fry the dough in batches so that they do not stick together and form big clumps of dough balls
    • As the struffoli topping cools down, the dough balls will become very sticky, perfect when forming your desired shape, a ring, or a mound.
    • When making the dough, you may need 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if it’s too dry or 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour if it’s too wet.
    • I’ve seen several recipes with the struffoli formed into a ring/wreath-shaped mold, but feel free to serve in whichever shape you’d like.

    More Dessert Recipes

    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Video

    Homemade Struffoli Recipe

    Learn how to make this classic Italian Homemade Struffoli Recipe, delicious fried dough balls coated in a sweet honey syrup.
    Servings: 12
    Prep Time: 40 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Resting Time: 5 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

    Ingredients 

    For the Struffoli:

    • 3 ½ cups 00 flour
    • zest of 1 orange
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt
    • 6 tablespoons lard or unsalted butter
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 tablespoons anise liqueur
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
    • sprinkles
    • candied fruit or citron

    For the Syrup

    • 1 cup honey
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 vanilla bean pod, seeds extracted

    Instructions

    • On a clean surface, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and orange zest until combined.
    • Next, cut in the fat using a pastry blender or better yet your fingers, like in my S cookies recipe, to make sure it is mixed in with the dry ingredients and no bigger than the size of couscous.
    • Form a well in the center for the flour.
    • Add in the eggs and anise liqueur and whisk together using a fork in the well.
    • Start to bring in the dry ingredients with the fork to combine.
    • Using a bench knife or your hands, bring the ingredients together.
    • You may need 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if it’s too dry or 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour if it's too wet.
    • Knead the dough for at least 5 to 7 minutes, but 10 to 12 minutes is recommended.
    • When finished, the dough should be smooth and soft. Transfer it to a bowl and cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
    • Transfer the dough to a clean surface and divide the dough into 4 big pieces.
    • Individually roll them out using your hands into long ropes about ½” thick.
    • Then simply using a knife or a bench knife (Aff link), cut them into small pieces.
    • Coat the dough balls in a little flour and mix.
    • Fry the dough balls in batches in your favorite neutral-flavored oil heated to 350° for only 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned while occasionally stirring it to ensure all sides are brown.
    • Set them to the side on paper towels to drain.
    • In a large-size pot, over low heat together the honey, sugar, and vanilla beans while constantly stirring with a spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
    • Add the fried dough balls to the honey and sugar mixture and coat by mixing with a spoon or rubber spatula.
    • Transfer to a plate and garnish with sprinkles and any citron you may want. Serve.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 1 day ahead of time.
    How to Store: Keep them covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator covered for up to 3 days. This will not freeze well. I recommend reheating them slightly before serving, so they soften up a bit.
    Kneading the dough is crucial to incorporating the ingredients and ensuring you form strong gluten from the flour, so it does it for at least 5 minutes.
    It’s essential to make sure you let the dough rest for 30 minutes so that it is not overworked, resulting in a tough dough.
    Fry the dough in batches so that they do not stick together and form big clumps of dough balls
    As the struffoli topping cools down, the dough balls will become very sticky, perfect when forming your desired shape, a ring, or a mound.
    When making the dough, you may need 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if it’s too dry or 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour if it’s too wet.
    I’ve seen several recipes with the struffoli formed into a ring/wreath-shaped mold, but feel free to serve in whichever shape you’d like.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 336kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 6gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 120mgPotassium: 74mgFiber: 1gSugar: 33gVitamin A: 79IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 2mg
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American, Italian
    Author: Chef Billy Parisi