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Frittelle {Ciambelle} – Italian Doughnuts

Frittelle {Ciambelle} – Italian Doughnuts

Frittelle, ciambelle or simply legendary Italian doughnuts.

These is a special treat that should never be missed during Christmas time and especially during Carnival (Mardi Gras) period.

And honestly, any other time of the year when you have cravings for a soft, lemon-flavored doughnut that simply melts in your mouth.

Frittelle {Ciambelle} - Italian Doughnuts Step By Step!!

This an original and authentic recipe from my mother-in-law, who, you might already know by now, is truly an awesome cook and baker!

Did you know the word frittelle comes from the Italian verb friggere which means to fry.

The word ciambella or plural ciambelle means something in a form of a ring or simply donut.

So there you have it, fried Italian doughnuts or donuts (not to get into spelling debate of the century, lol).

Like with chiacchiere (and all other things “deep fried”) here are some secrets to making an unforgettable Italian doughnuts that all your family, friends and neighborhood will talk about.

  1. Use half bread flour half all purpose flour. This will make your fritelle even more porous and light.
  2. Instead of lemon zest you can also use orange zest or a combination of both! Only important thing is to choose organic, non-treated lemons/oranges.
  3. If you like an extra sweet dough add another tablespoon of two of sugar to the basic dough. I like mine almost unsweetened as you have all that beautiful sugar layer on the top.
  4. Speaking of sugar, when you start dipping and rolling the first batch of fritelle, use only a portion on sugar, just enough quantity to cover the first doughnuts. Add more sugar to the bowl as needed. Otherwise sugar will absorb some oil and will not stick well to the next batch of doughnuts.
    And last, but probably the most important, vegetable oil.
  5. Vegetable oil should be between 350F-360F when you start frying. If the oil is not hot enough fritelle will absorb too much oil and will become greasy. If the oil is extra hot (burning/smoking) it’ll give and unpleasant burned oil flavor the the pastry.
Frittelle {Ciambelle} - Italian Doughnuts Step By Step!!
Frittelle {Ciambelle} - Italian Doughnuts Step By Step!!

Frittelle {Ciambelle} – Italian Doughnuts

Soft, lemon or orange flavored doughnuts that simply melt in your mouth.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 50 doughnuts


  • 2 cups milk lukewarm
  • 6 – 6 ½ cups (30 oz) flour more if needed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz butter room temperature
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 lemon or orange zest only
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup sugar for dipping


  • Start by dissolving yeast in lukewarm milk. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • In a bowl of a standing mixer add 6 cups of flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.
    Using a dough hook attachment start to mix on low speed.
  • Slowly pour in the milk with yeast.
    Add eggs and butter cut in cubes.
  • Increase the speed and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it starts to wrap lightly around the dough hook and come off the sides of the mixer bowl.
  • The dough should be soft but NOT sticky.
    NOTE: If the dough doesn’t come together or it’s too sticky add another ½ cup of flour and a few more table spoons at a time if needed.
  • Transfer the dough into a large clean bowl, cover with a linen towel and let it rise in a warm, draft free place.
    It’ll take anywhere between 1.5 to 2 hours at 75-80F and it’ll take much longer in a cooler place.
  • Once the dough has almost tripled in size, turn the bowl upside down and let the dough come out in a floured surface. Work the dough with your hands for a minute or two, dust with more flour if needed.
  • Using a dough scraper cut off a fourth of the dough and with a rolling pin roll it out approx ⅓ -¼ of an inch thick.
  • Using a doughnut cutter cut out the doughnuts and place them on a well floured surface leaving enough space in between. Cover them with a dry linen/kitchen towel and let rise (always in a warm place) for about an hour.
    Frittelle {Ciambelle} - Italian Doughnuts Step By Step!!
  • In a deep pan preheat vegetable oil suitable for frying. The best temperature to start frying the doughnuts is about 350F. You can measure it with a kitchen thermometer.
  • But if you don’t have one try frying a small piece of the dough first. If it comes up floating in less than 5 seconds the oil is ready.
  • Once oil is heated turn the temperature on medium low to prevent oil from overheating.
  • Fry fritelle for a few minutes on each side continuously covering them with hot oil when frying. Once they’re lightly brown on both sides discard on paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  • Dip each doughnut quickly in fine sugar.
    Serve hot, warm, cold or re-heated.
Liked this recipe?Follow @italianrecipeb for more!
Frittelle {Ciambelle} - Italian Doughnuts Step By Step!!

They are delicious even the next day! 😋

Recipe Rating

Elisabeth Pellerito

Monday 6th of December 2021

Can you hand mix if you don't have a standing mixer with dough hook?

Italian Recipe Book

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Yes, ELisabeth, you can absolutely mix and knead the dough for fritelle using your hands, it might take a few minutes longer to get the perfect dough. Happy Holidays!


Tuesday 14th of April 2020

[…] To this day, some of my favourite dishes remain cacio e pepe, parmigiana, nut-free pesto pasta, ragu alla bolognese and the family’s homemade wood-fired pizza. When it came to snacking, I found myself opting for schiacciata croccante (a crispy, thin bread), tomatoes seasoned with basil, olive oil, and salt, fior di latte gelato and several lemon doughnuts (called frittelle (ciambelle)). […]


Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

I'm curious if this recipe is possible to bake instead fry? Thanks ! It definitely looks so good to try !

Italian Recipe Book

Thursday 19th of September 2019

Hey Angel, thanks for stopping by and sorry for my slow reply! YES, you can definitely bake ciambelle in the oven. I've cooked them this way when I was pregnant, in attempt to healthy eating you know :) I brush them with sugar water and roll in confectioneer's sugar after baking. They turn out really good. BUT I have to be honest, fried ones are still the best.

The untold truth of New York bagels – Marie Pruitt

Wednesday 10th of April 2019

[…] “Ring-shaped breads have a long history in other countries, too: Italy has taralli and ciambelle, and China has girde.” While it’s difficult to say exactly where the signature round shape […]


Saturday 17th of February 2018

These look like heaven!!

Italian Recipe Book

Sunday 18th of February 2018

Aww thank you! Yes, these doughnuts truly look AND taste heavenly