If you’ve never tried Struffoli, you are in for a treat! Struffoli is made by frying little bite size balls of dough, then covering them in a delicious honey mixture and serving them in the shape of a wreath. This Italian inspired struffoli recipe not only tastes incredible, it’s also an easy showstopper dessert that your friends and family will love.
Reasons You’ll Love Struffoli
- If you love the fried dough taste of treats like churros, funnel cake and apple fritters, then you are sure to love this fun dessert.
- Crunchy on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside, it’s impossible to resist the amazing texture.
- The honey glaze with a hint of citrus is downright mouthwatering.
- This unique dessert always stands out on a dessert table.
- Kids can help make this, their little hands are a perfect fit for the tiny dough pieces.
- Also referred to as Honey Balls, this is a Neapolitan recipe is a Christmas Classic in many households. That said, once you make it, you’ll enjoy this one year round!
It’s hard to resist sneaking a bite of Struffoli. While this impressive dessert will wow your guests and appear complicated to make, it’s actually surprisingly easy to make. Get ready to add a delicious new dessert to your holiday, or any day, celebrations.
Let’s discuss how to make this Struffoli recipe, as well as the ingredients that are needed for it. Please take note that below you will find discussion, expert tips, and answers to frequently asked questions about this recipe to help you recreate it in your kitchen.
If you *just* want the recipe itself, scroll down. The full printable recipe itself, with exact measurements and instructions, is found at the bottom of this page
- Flour – This recipe is made using all-purpose flour. I have not tested it with a gluten-free flour, but if you have one you use successfully in similar recipes, it will likely work in this as well.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar is used in both the dough and the honey glaze.
- Lemon zest – One medium size lemon should provide you with two teaspoons lemon zest. If you don’t have a good zester, this is the one I recommend.
- Salt – Table or kosher salt will work.
- Baking powder – Make sure you are using baking powder, which typically comes in a can vs a box, and that it hasn’t expired.
- Salted butter – if you don’t have salted butter, you can use unsalted, just add in a pinch of additional salt to compensate.
- Eggs – Standard, medium size eggs.
- Vanilla – Pure vanilla extract is always the best choice.
- Canola Oil – You can use a different, neutral oil for frying if desired, but I’ve had great luck with canola.
- Honey – There are so many types of honey! The honey will play a big part in the flavor of this dessert, so select on that you love the taste of.
- Lemon juice – A hint for juicing your lemons, always roll them back and forth on the countertop, with your hand, prior to juicing them, it helps get more juice out.
- Rainbow sprinkles – While optional, traditional struffoli includes sprinkles! You can change these up depending on the season, holiday or celebration.
A reminder that the full printable recipe card is found at the bottom of this post. Here we will walk through the steps, with photos to show you exactly what to do. Aways take care when frying, I highly recommend reviewing the USDA’s tips for safety when frying foods.
Make The Dough
In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups of flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt and baking powder.
Cut the butter into small chunks and add this to the bowl as well. Mix until mealy. Blend in the 3 eggs and vanilla. A standing mixer is recommended, but this can be done by hand. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 2-3 minutes.
Shape into a ball, cover the dough and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. After an hour, lightly dust your hands and work surface so the dough doesn’t stick to you as you are working with it.
Roll out the dough, then cut it into strips about as wide as your index finger. Roll the strips into ropes about ¼ inch thick. Then cut into ¼ inch pieces (they should be about marble sized). It’s often easiest to line up the ropes and cut many at a time. Make sure all the pieces are separated on your board, so they don’t stick together while cooking.
Fry The Dough Balls
Heat oil to 375 degrees – hot enough so the balls of dough cook quickly and don’t absorb too much oil. A thermometer is extremely helpful.
Fry the dough balls in non-crowded batches, just until golden – it will only take a couple of minutes. Turn with a slotted spoon or wire strainer to make sure they turn golden on all sides. As each batch is cooked, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels.
In a large pot, boil together the honey, sugar, and lemon juice until melted and smooth. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the struffoli and stir gently until all of the balls are evenly coated.
Arrange the struffoli into a wreath shape, or mound like a Christmas tree, on a serving plate. Lightly cover with sprinkles and serve!
- You don’t need to roll the dough pieces into balls after cutting them, the little pieces round out on their own while cooking.
- To make in the shape of a wreath, place a glass in the middle of the serving plate. Then, place the glazed balls around it. Remove the glass when ready to serve. I find that spraying the glass lightly with non-stick cooking spray helps it pop right out.
Struffoli will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature if it is well covered. Or store the unglazed balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Add the honey and just prior to serving.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
Can I use a flavoring other than vanilla? Yes! Try using almond, rum or a citrus extract!
Do I have to include lemon zest? It’s not absolutely necessary, but it is really nice to have the brightness of the citrus flavor added. If you have an orange, you can use orange zest in place of the lemon zest.
All these tiny pieces seem like a lot of work, can I make larger pieces? Yes, if you prefer. Traditional struffoli has marble size balls but the recipe will still work if you make larger balls. You may just need a slightly longer cooking time.
Can I make the dough ahead of time and fry the balls the next day? Yes, just cover the kneaded dough with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. It may be kept this way for one day.
More Holiday Recipes To Try
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp salted butter softened
- 3 medium size eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups canola oil
- 1 cup honey
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp assorted sprinkles
- In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt and baking powder.
- Cut butter into small chunks and add to the flour mixture. Mix until texture is mealy. Add in the eggs and vanilla, mix. Remove the dough from mixing bowl and transfer onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes.
- Lightly dust hands and work surface with the flour so the dough doesn’t stick to you as you are working with it. Shape into a ball, then cover the dough and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- After one hour, roll out dough, then cut it into strips about as wide as your index finger. Roll the strips into ropes about ¼ inchthick. Then cut into ¼ inch pieces, approximately the size of marbles. Make sure all pieces are separated on the cutting board, so they don’t stick together while cooking.
- Heat oil to 375 degrees F – hot enough so the balls of dough cook quickly and don’t absorb too much oil. Use of a thermometer is highly recommended.
- Fry dough balls in non-crowded batches, just until golden, which should only it take a couple of minutes. Turn with a slotted spoon or wire strainer to make sure they turn golden all over. As each batch is cooked, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- In a large pot, bring honey, sugar, and lemon juice until melted and smooth. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the struffoli to the pot and stir gently until all of the balls are evenly coated.
- Arrange the struffoli into a wreath shape, or mound like a Christmas tree, on a serving plate. Lightly cover with sprinkles and serve!