Fry Up Sufganiyot for a Taste of Modern Israeli Hanukkah Traditions

Pay close attention, because you are officially running out of time. With just a few hours left of the Hanukkah festivities, it’s time to gear up for a Sufganiyot farewell to the Festival of Lights. So, call your friends, family, and pretty much anyone on over for what will certainly be a sweet goodbye to this year’s Chanukkah.

Sufganiyot, otherwise known as homemade jelly donuts, are the modern day, quintessential Chanukkah food. Prepared in a vat of oil, they can’t help but remind you of the miracle that occurred so many years ago: The discovery of deliciousness. And by the discovery of deliciousness, I really mean the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight long days. See for more information on the Chanukkah story.

While making these treats isn’t exactly a religious commandment, you ought to consider it a personal one. They are simply that good. Sufganiyot are most commonly found in the numerous modern bakeries in Israel, but you can find them here in the states, too. Though there are bakeries across the country frying away, if you find yourself out of range, we have the perfect recipe right here.

Perhaps this is your first year making Sufganiyot or another of many. Either way, it should be noted that friends and family are necessary in making this tradition whole. The prep isn’t difficult and the eating certainly isn’t either, but these fried treats are best enjoyed amongst a full room of friends and Chanukkah stories.

jelly donut centerIngredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk

  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 1 cup of apricot jam (you can substitute strawberry or any flavorful jam, dulce de leche, Nutella, or lemon curd)
  • Confectioners’ or granulated sugar for rolling


Dissolve 1 tablespoon yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the water, then add the milk and pour into a large bowl.

Add the egg and the additional yolk, salt, lemon zest, flour, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and the butter. Mix together with your hands, then knead dough on a pastry board until it becomes sticky yet elastic.

Cover the dough in a bowl and let rise in a warm place for at least an hour. If you want to prepare it ahead, place the dough in the refrigerator overnight, then let it warm to room temperature before rolling and cutting.

Dust a pastry board with flour. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using the top of a glass, cut into rounds about 2 inches in diameter, and let rise 30 minutes more.

Pour at least 2 inches of oil into a heavy pot and heat until it is about to bubble (or do as I often do – in an electric wok at 375 degrees).

Drop the doughnuts into the oil, 4 or 5 at a time. Cook about 3 minutes on each side, turning when brown. Drain on paper towels. Using a pastry or cupcake injector, insert a teaspoon of jam into each doughnut. Roll the sufganiyot in confectioner’s or granulated sugar and serve immediately.

Yield: about 2 dozen doughnuts

Happy Hanukkah!

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

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