Authentic homemade Struffoli is such a fun Christmas dessert! Cute little balls of fried dough are coated in sweet honey and topped with your favorite holiday sprinkles. They’re also called Honey Balls and are a holiday tradition!
Make sure to try my Italian Ricotta Cookies too!
Homemade Struffoli for Christmas
I mean, frying dough is a fabulous idea for any celebration lol, but this struffoli is one of those special recipes my house reserves for Christmas. My Mother in Law makes Struffoli every year and I’ve always wanted to give it a try! You will need to designate a few hours to make this, however, because the little balls are tiny and you literally make hundreds! The process is easy, it’ just takes a little time, so grab a friend and a bottle of wine and have a Stuffoli making party!
The fried dough balls are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the honey makes this dessert even more irresistible!
Struffoli is also super easy to decorate. You can use red and green sprinkles to add some Christmas spirit or white sugar pearls to give the illusion of snow. Either way, the golden little fried dough balls will be the star of the show!
What is Struffoli?
Struffoli is a Neapolitan dessert made of chickpea-sized balls of fried dough and fresh honey. Struffoli gets its name from the Greek word “strongulos,” which means round. There are various versions of Struffoli across Italy with different names depending on the region.
The fried dough balls are light and airy on the inside with a perfectly crisp outer layer. Served in the shape of a bundt cake, struffoli is basically an edible Christmas wreath! If you’re looking for a sweet treat to spoil your family with, this simple struffoli recipe is the way to go.
Struffoli is made with only 7 ingredients and a handful of sprinkles. Using mainly kitchen staples, this is one of the least expensive Christmas desserts ever!
- Orange Zest
- Vegetable Oil: You’ll need some oil for the dough as well as oil for frying.
- Vanilla Extract
- Kosher Salt
- All-Purpose Flour: In addition to the flour for the fried dough, you’ll need some to dust over your baking sheet.
How to Make Struffoli
Simply make your dough, form it into balls, fry them, coat them in honey and assemble your dessert. I told you Struffoli was easy!
- Whisk Eggs: Place the eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until well whisked.
- Make Dough: Turn the mixer to medium and add in the orange zest, oil, vanilla, salt and 2 cups of flour. Mix for 2 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky.
- Knead Dough: Remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand for 1-2 more minutes, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Add the extra 1/4 flour 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. Cover the dough with a clean towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
- Dust Baking Sheet: Dust a large baking sheet with flour and set it aside.
- Form Dough Balls: Break off a small portion of the dough and roll it into a long rope. Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut the rope into 1-cm pieces and roll each piece into a ball (no larger than the size of a chickpea). Place the dough balls onto the prepared baking sheet, cover with a towel and repeat with the remaining dough.
- Line Baking Sheet: Line another large baking sheet with paper towels and set it aside.
- Heat Oil: In a 5-6 quart deep pot (or Dutch oven) heat the remaining 5 cups of oil over medium heat until the temperature reaches 350°F.
- Fry Dough: Working in batches of about 20-25 balls, place them in the hot oil. Cook for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. If necessary, press the balls down into the oil using a slotted spoon to ensure the browning is even.
- Transfer to Baking Sheet: Once golden, remove from the dough balls from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer them to the lined baking sheet. Repeat with all the dough.
- Coat With Honey: Place the honey in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds to thin the honey slightly. Remove the paper towels from under the fried dough balls. Pour the honey on top of the balls and use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to stir, coating them completely in honey.
- Assemble: Arrange the honey-coated balls on a large platter in a mound or wreath shape. Alternatively, you can make individual servings by placing portions into muffin liners. Top with more honey, if desired, and then sprinkles.
Tips for Success!
- Add Flour as Needed: If the dough is still sticky after you knead it for a couple minutes, it probably needs more flour. Add a tablespoon at a time until your dough has reached the right consistency.
- Brown Evenly: Fried dough tends to float in the oil, especially when it’s shaped in little balls. You can use a slotted spoon to press the dough balls down into the oil to help them brown evenly.
- Heat Oil Completely: Your oil needs to be at 350°F when you add in the dough. To ensure the oil has come to temperature, check it with an instant read thermometer.
- Microwave Honey: Warming up the honey makes it so much easier to get a perfect, even coating on your fried dough balls!
How to Store Struffoli
Store your struffoli in an airtight container at room temperature and enjoy it within 3 days. You can also store it without the honey for up to 5 days. If you make struffoli ahead of time, hold off on adding the sprinkles to prevent the colors from bleeding.