Italian Pizza Fritta Fried Dough

Friday, April 1, 2016
Italian Traditional Fried Feast Dough, Italian Pizza Fritta or well known as Zeppole!

If you have never tried fried pizza dough, you are missing out.

This is a special Italian treat we make often here in our home.

Mom would start our Sunday breakfast off with this delicious fried dough before our big traditional Sunday Sauce meal.

We always looked forward to Sunday morning with that fresh smell of fried dough.

This is a specialty at every American Italian church feast in Central Utica, New York.

Utica, New York is noted for the best homemade fried dough at all the church events during the summer months and so many other fine Italian specialties.

Here are some other must-tries from my hometown: 
 Italian GreensItalian Lemon Ice Tomato pieChicken RiggiesManny's CheesecakeOscugnizzo PizzaPustiesRosato Chocolate Cookies.

It's usually fried right in front of you and served with either sugar or powdered sugar in paper bags.

This recipe is the true experience of delicious sugar-coated sweet treat that is fried to perfection in any Italian household growing up.

Scroll down for the complete recipe, it's easy, delicious and makes a wonderful memory etched in our family mind forever.

International Styles

Fried dough, Pizza Fritta, Pizza Fritte, Fried Doughnuts, Zeppole, Funnel Cakes, Beignets, Johnny Cakes are just a few names of fried dough.

There are so many versions on how to serve pizza fritta with toppings and many different shapes and sizes.

Italian fried dough is pizza dough, deep-fried, and usually sprinkled with either powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and some cinnamon sugared however some slather butter, peanut butter, jams and Nutella on top also.

Carnivals, feasts, outdoor picnics, and backyard events, sell these by the dozens on paper plates or in brown paper bags.

The smell of these frying makes your mouth water instantly whether home or festivals.

the different shapes of fried dough area all on this white plate and a paper bag full of fried dough in the background

The Best Fried Italian Dessert

This is another treat better known as Zeppole that we just called fried dough.

Mom and grandma would make fresh pizza dough homemade, fry it and sprinkle with sugar, still hot we always burned the roof of our mouth and enjoyed every bite back in the 1960s and still to date!

Fried dough is made anytime for an after-dinner or even breakfast dessert. Sometimes even stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta or anchovies on Christmas Eve then fried. Enjoy!

This can be made in a deep fryer, skillet, or even a side burner outside on the grill, it sure is easy and tasty!

Fried dough is popular throughout the world in so many shapes and forms.

The Italian version is simply pizza dough is sprinkled with sugar.

The other parts of the world can be very different in how they prepare it.

Even fried biscuit refrigerator dough is found on the Chinese American buffets!

these are all the different shapes of fried dough

Southern Italy

In the southern Italian region of Calabria, there's a saying which goes: A Immaculata a prima padejata ('the first fry-up on Immaculate Conception Day').

It's an expression that vividly illustrates the locals' anticipation to make zeppole (or zippule as they are known in the Calabrian dialect), dough fritters typical of the region at Christmas time.

Just to clarify, zeppola is a term used all over southern Italy to describe many different types of dough fritters.

Le zeppole di San Giuseppe, the deep-fried nest-shaped choux filled with pastry cream made on Saint Joseph's Day (March 19), is probably the most famous example.

fried pizza dough

Calabrian Zeppole

Then, on the other hand, are yeasted and more often than not, savory.

As with many Italian regional specialties, recipes for these addictive fritters vary enormously.

Zeppole are typical of Italian cuisine, especially that of Rome and Naples.

They are also served in Sicily, Sardinia, on the island of Malta, and in Italian-Canadian and Italian-American communities in Canada and the United States.

Zeppole are known by other names, including Bignè di San Giuseppe (in Rome), St. Joseph's Day cake, and sfinge.

Zeppole are traditionally consumed during the Festa di San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph's Day) celebrated every March 19, when zeppole are sold on many streets and sometimes presented as gifts.

In Istria, Croatia this pastry is called blenzi in the Croatian speaking places and zeppole in the Italian-speaking places.

They are always topped with sugar either powdered and a fried dough ball.

The version I knew growing up in Utica New York at the feast is a dough fried with powdered sugar or granulated sugar on top.

dough rising for fried dough in a stainless steal bowl

How To Shape The Dough

(by different Regions)

  1. rolled into a ball
  2. made in flat circles
  3. stretched flat then in rectangular shapes
  4. donut style dough with a hole in the middle
  5. made into ropes then cut
  6. stuffed dough with other ingredients

this is pizza dough frying in hot oil called zeppole or Pizza fritta Italian dessert

Topping Coating Options

  • powdered sugar
  • granulated sugar
  • cinnamon sugar
  • plain spread with butter or jam
  • plain spread with peanut butter
  • Nutella spread on top

this is Zeppole  an Italian Fried bread dough fried in oil and sprinkled with sugar or powdered sugar found at most Catholic feasts and carnivals

Try Some Of My Other Italian Favorites:

Italian Gravy or Sauce the big debate
Feast Upstate NY Style Sausage and Peppers Sandwich
Upstate NY Apple Pie
Pizza Dough

Pin for later

this is a pin for later plate of different shaped fried dough Italian Pizza fritta

this is  an Italian Fried bread dough also know as zeppole fried in oil and sprinkled with sugar or powdered sugar found at most Catholic feasts and carnivals

Lots of Confusion on Zeppole

Much like other traditional dishes in Italy (many of the pastries), Authentic Italian zeppole have different variations all over the Italian peninsula.

They can come in all shapes, sizes, and have all sorts of fillings and toppings.

Yes, it can be one of the most confusing pastries in the whole of Italy.

The two most popular varieties are the ones made with pizza dough and the other one made of puff pastry dough, which is commonly called choux.

However, kinds of authentic Italian zeppole can also depend on the holiday, feast, or celebration they are made for… or the region in which they are prepared.

pizza frotta, zeppole, fried dough, Catholic feast dough, church dough, fried zeppole, pizza fritte
pizza, dough, how to make fried dough, dessert,
Yield: 22
Author: Claudia Lamascolo

Italian Pizza Fritta Fried Dough

prep time: 15 Mcook time: 25 Mtotal time: 40 M
This is a popular Italian dessert called Pizza Fritta or Zeppole. Actually, throughout every Region in Italian, it may have a different name. Simply, it's a pizza dough fried and then coated in sugar.


  • 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1 package dry yeast dissolved in 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil


How to cook Italian Pizza Fritta Fried Dough

  1. Mix until dough forms a smooth dough and if still sticky add a little more flour by a tablespoon at a time. 
  2. Place in a bowl, cover with a towel that has been dampened, and wait until double in size as it rises. 
  3. Stretch out around two tablespoons of dough into a circle poking a hole in the center like a doughnut or shape into small round balls.
  4. . Place on a cookie sheet, lined with floured parchment paper. 
  5. In the meantime, heat the oil in a frypan, on medium-low heat. 
  6. Place a little piece of dough, (the size of a dime) in the oil to see if it sizzles and it hot enough. 
  7. Place the stretched out the dough or dough balls,  into the oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. 
  8. Take out of oil when done, place on paper towels to drain oil. 
  9. Sprinkle with regular white sugar, powdered sugar, or flavored sugar such as cinnamon and sugar.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Italian Pizza Fritte, Fritta ( Fried Dough) Pin for later

this is a pin for later how to make fried italian pizza dough

Do Try Some of My Favorite Recipes

St. Joseph's Day Pastry




  1. Okay, as fab as that video was, it's missing something .. what could it be?? Oh, I know! I want to see some fabulous glamour! We all demand the fabulousness that will make YOU the next food network star! Put Captain Nemo to work filming you, get that lipstick on, and fry, girl, FRY!

  2. Hi! I just found your blog from another blog that I follow, so I came over and LOVE your blog. What a yummie treat you posted today! I remember making these when I was a child with my brother and sisters! I started to follow you and will look forward to more of your delicious recipes and your Italian orientation (I'm Ital.American too). Hope you stop on by too! Ciao e' amore, Roz

  3. Yummm....I want some for breakfast with my coffee!! :)

  4. 'm fried, really sweet fried . They are simple and superb, at the same time, yum yum!

    Happy weekend!


  5. yes... but the problem is I would eat the whole batch!!

  6. @trix oh yea... Well I need a stunt woman are you up to it miss medieval thing? I am not meant for stardom and captain Nemo can only steer a boat lol. Thanks for the fun comment you are too funny!
    @bella thank you for your wonderful note that is so sweet I am going to check out your blog asap! Appreciate your follow :)
    @Daydreamer thanks for stopping by and thank you!
    @Gera thanks and you do the same

  7. this looks so good - quite addictive! I would eat the batch if I made this..i bet my hubby would help too!

  8. I know I would like your version better than the canned, homemade is always better - Italian beignets, would love a plate now ....that Trix, funny girl...

  9. I remember eating these for breakfast when I was a kid. They look so yummy Claudia!

  10. OMG...these look truely mouthwatering! Yummm...

  11. Hmm These are just my kind of sweet. Easy to make and not to sweet, not to mention addictive! Well done you on the video too!

  12. I love these, every so often we'll make them and they are gone in one day!

  13. Whether it's fried dough or zeppole, it's heavenly! My family used to make a savoury version at Christmas with anchovies in them. Not for me, but those who like "hairy fish" swore by them. I'll take the fishless, sugared ones any day.

    1. My grandmother and Mom used to make them with small tiny fish (smelts) not anchovies. They also made them with raisins. They were good and, plain with sugar as well. Yum!

  14. Gorgeous! These definitely deserve a line of people waiting for them.

  15. I can have this for afternoon tea. Looks delicious.

  16. Oh beautiful. Yes, they are in all the Italian feasts.Addictive, sweet,warm and yummy Italian goodness.

  17. Oh, I could so get into trouble with a plate of these...

  18. This really reminds me of my grandmother...she was always frying up some kind of dough for me and my cousins. Brings back happy memories!

  19. You can't beat fried dough for a quick snack!

  20. Fried dough is truly one of the best treats! Excellent video.

  21. I think it's fun to eat and lovely to eat. I would love to try sometime. Would be so good with a cup of coffee.

  22. That's a cute version. Isn't it awesome that almost everywhere has fried dough. Oh, I'm with Trix...Food Network!

  23. YUM! This would cure my sweet tooth!

  24. Oh, my goodness! Fried, sugary - what an treat. These would go over so well at my house.

  25. Oh yes... sugared fried food :) These look so good!

  26. Your title totally grabbed me...I LOVE pizza fritte! And never thought to make it outside on the grill. Growing up, we made it in the fryalator with extra dough at my uncle's restaurant. Talk about sweet memories! Mmmmm!

  27. I could overdose on these. Just lovely!

  28. Such heavenly treats! I hope you saved me a few! Loved the video too!

  29. Cool! I love these pizza fritta! It's called Berliner here in Germany, only filled with jam.

    Wish you a wonderful weekend!

  30. Oh my they look good. Anything deep fried with sugar is A-OK in my book. :)

  31. Claudia, the video was great, love to hear your voice it helps to get to know you better but lets see your lovely face! How do you stay so thin making all the yummy food you do?

  32. Oh my goodness, I can taste them now. Great recipe to share Claudia.

  33. This recipe just saved a pregnant lady in the midst of a craving for pizza fritte!

    Thank you, thank you!

  34. My great aunt made it the second way when I was a kid. I always begged her to make them. My version with the biscuits is to use a soda bottle cap and make them like donuts with donut holes to match. You do have to watch them because they will burn quick in the hot oil. Then I dredge them in a mixtue of homemade cinnamon sugar. It satisifies my sweet tooth and my friends, too.

    I also remember going to local church picnics & festivals and always buying pizza fritta, 3 at a time with plain sugar. It was always a treat. The older woman & men was always behind the stands making the dough, frying, and dredging them in sugar. For some reason, I remember them as being rectangular with a cut in the middle, not like the one pictured. Since I moved away, I don't know if it has been passed on to the younger generations.

  35. We had something similar on the Boardwalk in New Jersey - it was so good! Gonna try this recipe soon!

  36. These remind me of a carnival! My kids will be so excited to try them.

  37. I've never tried anything like this before, but it looks yummy!

  38. Zeppole is a staple here in NJ too! :) In fact, they give you a bag of them for free at the local pizzeria with every to go order! Love your homemade ones! They look soooo delicious!

  39. Omg yum!!! Never thought about fried pizza dough. I could snack on those all day!!

  40. Next time I make pizza, I'll need to make a double batch of dough! So yummy!

  41. This sounds incredible! I can't wait to give it a try!

  42. Yum, this reminds me of a treat called an elephant ear, but this looks even better because you get more of the crunchy edges with this treat. I would definitely wait in line for these!

  43. LOVE fritta! So excited to have found your recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  44. ok this sounds heavenly and so deliciously addicting! Can't wait to try it!

  45. It's great that you pass the original recipes over the years in your family! I wish I had written recipes from my grand parents.... And I never thought you can name fried dough pizza fritta, so cool!

  46. I've seen Zeppole on restaurant menus before but never tried it - now you have me craving some for breakfast!

  47. I love recipes that have been around for generations! This fried dough looks like the perfect recipe for my family! Thanks for sharing.

  48. I've never seen anything quite like this. Sounds delicious though. I wish I'd written down recipes from my grandparents. I'm sure they'd have had lots of interesting dishes to share.

  49. I love zeppole! They're popular at carnival too! Never made them myself. Going to try your recipe Claudia!

  50. My grandmother married into an Italian family( she was Irish) she made fried dough like this all the time. Some times she would stuff them with ricotta and sugar mixture fold them over then fry. Sadly she passed without giving us the directions for the filling. Does anyone know what it is? I know it’s a long shot but worth asking.

    1. TJ was it Sfogliatelle? I have a recipe on my blog its a pastry that looks like a clam shell filled with ricotta.

    2. Sounds like fried calzone. I would sweeten the ricotta with a little sugar like you said and maybe add some lemon rind. You really don't need more than that. Sounds delicious.

  51. I'm originally from Utica and my mom would bring us to St. Anthony's every feast season and I even worked at the pizza fritte booth when I was a kid. I live in Texas now as an adult, and was craving some of my favorites. I had to go through so many websites because none of the recipes looked/sounded like what I knew to be the real deal fried dough. So happy to find this page! I haven't tried the recipe yet but wanted to thank you for taking the time to share these recipes!

    1. thank you @Lauren H. I am from Utica and live in Florida, I was very lucky to have a mom make all these recipes from scratch and made the cookbook in her memory. This was one of our favorites hope you get to try it. No one ever heard of it here either.

  52. Did a search for Italian fried Dough....found yours first; what a wonderful surprise! My husband is from Utica area (Whitesboro); as soon as I started to read the beginning of this page, saw "Chicken Riggies" I knew where you were probably from! So excited to have found this blog; will definitely be bookmarking it! Going to try these Pizza Fritta's with the family this holiday season!

    1. Glad to have you here photonana2015 I love our hometown the best food in all of Upstate New York~!

  53. Grandma would make pizza fritta on Christmas Eve, with ANCHOVIES inside and some plain ones for us I like the ones with anchovies!

    1. yes my grandma did too but no one else like them so only a few for the uncles that came thanks for you comment Frank brought back memories

  54. This looks so fun and I'm going to absolutely try it the next time I make pizza. I'm going to double the pizza dough so I can use half for this. Such an incredible idea. I love it!

  55. I did not know that the dough used for this was pizza dough. I am so excited to make and eat this deliciousness.

  56. Fried dough!? I'm totally down! That fried sugary goodness looks soooo good!

  57. Woah didn't realize this was pizza sough, we'll have to try this on our next pizza night

  58. This looks amazing and wonderful! My family is going to love this! So excited!

  59. Oh this is heaven. Fried dough heaven! Heaven heaven heaven!!!!

  60. My grandmother put fennel seeds in her pizza fritta & sprinkled with sugar. A little savory and sweet, really good. Try it you may like it. Thanks for posting the recipe. Rosanne

  61. This is an excellent dough recipe! It was so easy to work with, barely needed to work it at all. I'm from a small town near Utica and enjoyed our Italian neighbors' pizza fritta as a child. I made these tonight in Israel for Chanukah! Came out light and crispy with air pockets in the middle which we filled with whipped cream:)
    Thank you for posting this great recipe, and for the pizza fritta nostalgia!


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