Struffoli Fried Honey Balls

Friday, November 29, 2019
Here's the story behind them behind these delicious fried Italian cookies called Struffoli.

Struffoli is an absolute requirement at the end of a Neapolitan Christmas day dinner.

For centuries they were prepared in convents by nuns and then distributed to noble families at Christmas as a thank you for their generosity.

Each convent had its own closely guarded secret recipe.

The sugary aromas drifted from the convent ovens Neapolitan's would gather near the convent gates waiting to purchase them through a barred window or the convent wheel which may explain the long-held preference for buying desserts rather than making them at home.

These deep-fried balls of dough are the size of marbles, crunchy on the outside,fluffy and light inside then covered in honey.

Some are decorated with colored sprinkles, pieces of candied orange rind or candied pumpkin.

An amazing honey glaze over delicate puffy fried dough rounds.

An Italian must make at Christmas time if they last that long before our Italian Christmas Eve traditions.

There are so many names for them beside Struffoli, like honey chichers, honey balls, fried honey cookies, pignolata, honey dipped dough balls, just to name a few from different Regions in Italy.

We love holiday foods, you may also like to scroll through our 25 Favorite Cookies and our One Stop Cookie Shop.

A traditional and classic fried cookie and it just wouldn't be Christmas without them in our family!

Buon Natale, scroll all the way down to the recipe card for printable instructions.

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

A Little More History

Struffoli recipe is a classic sweet of the Neapolitan cuisine.

Crispy honey balls with a tender heart seasoned with candied fruits or sugar decorations.

In Naples, this is traditionally a Christmas dessert, but in the rest of Italy, these delicious honey balls are a delicacy for all major festivities!

My mom taught me at 11 years old the traditions of an Italian Christmas and this is certainly one that lives on in my heart every year, a true classic and delicious way to remember her and grandma when they made these together.

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles


Currently, Struffoli is exclusively a typical Christmas recipe, but only in the Naples territory.

This custom dates back to the XVIII Century thanks to the nuns, which have been the habit to prepare these little honey balls as a present for the nobles of the city.

Originally, Struffoli were prepared all year long, and beyond Naples, they are still prepared for the major festivities, particularly Mardi Gras.

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

Easy and Delicious

I always make these around Christmas time myself.

I love to use fancy tins shaped into Christmas trees and give them out as gifts.

These are easy to make and very delicious even a day or two after they are prepared.

Just follow my step by step instructions.

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

Ingredients You Will Need to Make Struffoli Fried Honey Balls

  • flour
  • eggs, beaten
  • butter
  • white sugar
  • salt
  • Marsala wine or favorite white wine
  • vanilla
  • honey
  • colored candy sprinkles

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

Golden Brown and Light

I don't like these overcooked.

You will need to watch these carefully while frying so they don't get overly browned.

They should be light in color and golden.

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

The Honey

I like to boil the honey until it reaches a nice amber color.

Then just add the cookies to the honey while it's boiling, scoop them into your container.

They are very hot so don't try and eat one until they are completely cool.

this is stuffoli frying in oil

Floats to the top

The cookies are light and crispy outside.

Inside soft like pillows.

If you add lots of flour while rolling they will be harder inside.

Mom's Region was from Bari Italy and I make her recipe.

Many store-bought struffoli are hard cookies all the way through.

this is how to make Italian Struffoli and the pieces are cut in 3/4 inch pieces and getting ready to be fried

Making the Cookies

I like the cuts to be around 3/4 of an inch.

You can roll them into small round balls after cutting.

I tend to just cut and fry and they stay in squares.

My mom and grandmother took the time to roll them into balls, which is the traditional style and why they are called honey balls here in America.

this is how to make stuffoli rolling out the dough in long ropes and cutting into 3/4 inch pieces to make the cookies

Some Suggestions

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board.

Try to keep the dough from sticking, however, do not over the flour and dry out the dough.

You will get too much foam in the oil of flour while frying.

I also like them to sit for a few minutes on a cookie sheet before I fry them.

Every year I put them in different containers, some disposable tins and plastic they honey adheres well in both.

The honey tends to stay soft but will be very sticky, I seldom use anything but disposable hard plates.

this is the dough on how to make stuffoli fried honey balls its the Italian special dough made at Christmas time originating in Naples Italy

A Great Christmas Tradition

This is our holiday favorite.

It is also of both for the young and the old in Italy, their tradition.

Typically, Struffoli is assembled, one on top of the other, like a dome or pyramid on a plate, I just add them to the containers I am using.

Then the Struffoli is topped with sprinkles, colored sugars, or bits of candied fruits.

These delicious honey cookies are usually served during special occasions or festivities with espresso.

Although, you can totally adjust the honey mixture and toppings according to your preference.

These honey balls AKA, struffoli, are a super specialty in our home and tradition every year.

Check out some other Italian Favorite Recipes

Cafe Almond Paste Cookie
Cannoli Stuffed French Toast
Zeppole St Joseph's Day
Cannoli Homemade

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

Struffoli Fried Honey Balls Pin for later

this is a fried Italian cookie called struffoli with honey pin for later

Struffoli  Fried Honey Balls

Struffoli Fried Honey Balls

Yield: 8
prep time: 35 Mcook time: 4 Mtotal time: 39 M
These classic Italian cookies are called Struffoli that is a dough deep-fried then coated with honey. This is an Italian traditional cookie made at Christmas time.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons Marsala wine or favorite white wine
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 2 1/4 ounces colored candy sprinkles


How to cook Struffoli Fried Honey Balls

  1. Melt the butter or margarine over low heat.
  2. Mix together in a large bowl 2-1/2 cups of the flour. Add sugar, flavoring, and salt. Make a depression in the middle.
  3. Drop in the eggs, wine, vanilla, and the melted butter or margarine. Mix with a wooden spoon and then with the hands until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add remaining 1/2 cup of flour as needed just until it holds together and don't overwork the dough. 
  5. Knead dough on a floured surface with any additional flour left until it isn't sticky anymore and rolls out easily.
  6. Break off pieces of dough and roll into ropes about the size of a pencil. 
  7. Cut into pieces 1/4 inch long using plenty of flour so they don't stick together. Roll these pieces into little balls and set aside on a floured cookie sheet with wax paper. 
  8. Do not stack on top of each other.
  9. In a deep frying pan, heat oil about 2 inches deep or in a wok style pan fry on medium heat (it is number 3 or 4medium heat on my range). 
  10. Try one to see how fast it browns, if it's still raw in the middle, lower heat. 
  11. Every stovetop is different. Always experiment to see if the oil is cooking these all the way through before placing many in the pot.
  12. Fry balls until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  13. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring 1-1/2 cups of pure honey to a boil. 
  14. I add 2 teaspoons of sugar. Let honey boil gently until it looks a little darker almost a light caramel color and coats the spoon, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, before adding little dough balls, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until they are well-coated.
  15. Remove balls from honey with a slotted spoon and place them in a deep dish or mound them on a platter. Sprinkle surface evenly multicolored sprinkles. Cool
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struffoli. honey cookies, fried Italian cookies, honey balls, fried nuggets with honey, Italian fried cookie balls with honey
cookies, fried cookies, Italian desserts, Italian cookies, holiday, Christmas
Created using The Recipes Generator

Struffoli Fried Honey Balls Pin for later

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

Don't Forget to Try Some Other Family Favorite Christmas Recipes

Homemade manicotti
Homemade ravioli
Homemade cavatelli

this is how to make struffoli it is just fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2009. It was edited and re-published in 2019.


  1. ohh these are a christmas tradition in our house too!

  2. This is something tasty good! It looks almost like doughnut huh!

  3. That looks yummy! Did you make some for me?

  4. Oh my gosh! We used to go to an Italian bakery in Cicero years ago and they had these. Love love, I know they have to be delicious!

  5. I make these every year for Christmas, like my mother before me and her mother and so on. You forgot to write when to add the wine?

  6. I've never heard of these before and loved reading the history on them! Anytime a recipe involved deep friend dough and sugar, I'm there! Delicious!

  7. I'll take a whole Christmas tree tin of these please!! Anything fried and with honey is right up my alley

  8. These look like so much fun for the holidays!

  9. What a neat recipe- I have never seen anything like this. So delicious!

  10. I'm not Italian but I remember seeing these at every little Italian bakery in New York around the holidays, they always looked so good!

  11. Oh God, what a wonderful Christmas recipe. Very pretty dish! This look amazing! I definitely want to try your recipe, and I'm sure it's very tasty. THANK YOU!

  12. This will be one of my favorites on Christmas Day. Very nice presentation and my kids will definitely like it. I'm sure it is very tasty.

  13. We didn't have these treats at Christmas -- instead we had frittole which are like fried sweet Italian donuts. They are popular in the Trieste area. They are served at Carnavale but my mamma would make them Christmas Eve. I've never made them -- I think I will this year and carry on the tradition.

  14. Oh this sounds so interesting. My grand-mom use to make something similar for Christmas -deep fried and dusted with powder sugar. This looks good. Love tradition.

  15. These look and sound so great. I also really love the history behind them. It always makes holidays more fun when you have great traditions like these to pass down each year.

  16. They must be very addictive! Well, it's holiday, so let's indulge :-))


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