St. Joseph's Day Zeppole

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
St. Joseph's Day Pastry is a tradition that started in the 19th century in Italy that is celebrated on March 19th.

There are so many different versions of these fabulous Italian pastries made in all parts of Italy along with worldwide.

Zeppole are special fritters, fried doughs, or donuts, made in expectation of the Feast of St. Joseph that falls on March the 19th.

There are several recipes to chose from different parts of Italy that make them entirely different along with here in America.

San Guiseppe is the day for zeppole, and I make them every year to celebrate the day.

In Italy, the pastry shops make these in huge quantities on March 19th and give them out free to anyone who was lucky enough to be named "Giuseppe," (Joseph)

We just love making Italian pastries like Cannoli, Cannoli Pie, Mom's Italian Easter Cassata, and all-time favorite Eggless Tiramisu.

Our family's favorite is the creamy ricotta filling in our cream puff style pastry for our step-by-step instructions visit St. Joseph's Day Pastry blog.

Just scroll down to see all the different recipes and versions of this delicious Italian pastry called St. Joseph's Day zeppole.

these are pastries to celebrate St. Joseph's Day made with ricotta filling and cream puff dough

this is cream puff dough filled with a creamy ricotta filling for St. Joseph's Day.

Sicilian Style Zeppole

These are fritter-style batter and deep-fried with ricotta added in the batter.

They are then drained on paper towels and rolled into cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.

this is a glass bowl of fried donuts zeppole

Italian Fried Dough (also know as pizza fritta)

this is fried pizza dough dough with sugar on top

Easy To Make Dessert

You will find this at most Italian feasts in upstate new york.

Usually, pizza fritta is deep-fried right in front of you at those church feasts, then sprinkled with powdered or granulated sugar.

this is a cast iron pan frying dough in oil

Grandma's Roman Zeppole Version

Made with honey and raisins, Grandma called Crispelles (these were often made around Christmas stuffed with anchovies).

This is a yeast-risen dough.

yeast risen dough with raisins frying


These were always traditional fried honey glazed and yeast-risen treat during the holidays.

Grandma was from Rome, Italy and crispelles were her specialties.

The honey glaze made them extra sweet and the dough is soft and pillow-like.

this is an Italian dough frying in oil called crispelles

Crispelles After Frying

After the dough is fried, they are drained on paper towels then coated with honey.

Again, at Christmas time they were stuffed with anchovies for Christmas Eve traditions of the 7 Fishes.

these are deep fried risen dough in honey

Zeppole Fritters

These are much like a donut and with simple pantry ingredients and cinnamon in the dough.

These are served also rolled in granulated sugar, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.

these are fritters fried

Mom's Cream Puff Dough and Recipe

These are just filled with whipped cream.

The cream puff dough is the recipe I use for filling with St. Joseph's Pastry Cream.

This is what the cream puffs look like after filled with regular heavy cream whipped.

this is a st joseph's day cream puff

My Pastry Cream Version of  American Style Bakery St. Joseph's Day Pastry filled

I do use a cafe creamy style pastry filling with ricotta cheese and it's all made from scratch.

You will find these in most American pastry shops during St. Joseph's Day.

I also make the puff pastry recipe mom used for her cream puff recipe.

Here are the photos below of two different years I made them.

these are cream puff pastry filling with a creamy pudding and cherry on top

Cafe Cream Filled

I always go back to this recipe, which is the first in the recipe card.

Our family enjoys the ricotta creamy filling much like a cannoli filling just a little thicker.

See the recipe below in the printable recipe card.

Puff Pastry with Ricotta Cream Filling

Same cafe-style filling just with sprinkles on top using the cream puff pastry filling.

Every year I make a different style.

The puff pastry on these has been piped through a pastry tube to form the swirling effect.

St. Joseph's Day Pastries with sprinkles on top

Pin St. Joseph's Day Zeppole Celebration for Later

this is a pin for later on how to make zeppole all different ways

Step By Step Photos of St. Joseph's Day Pastries

If you would like to have step by step photos of these pastries, you can find that on

another post I made on how to make St. Joseph's Day Pastries using a pastry tool.

St. Joseph's Day Zeppole

March 19th St. Joseph's Zeppole Celebration

Yield: 1
March 19th St Joseph's Day. These pastries are made completely different in every Region in Italy from fritters to a creamy filled puff pastry. Here in America we also have a version. There are more that 3 versions here to choose from over the years I have had them by many pastry chefs.


  • Here is the Version I use every year in the photo used above
  • St. Joseph's Day Pastry and mom's cream puff recipe that follows:
  • Cafe Style filling this is the one I use most often:
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2/3 cup Ricotta cheese whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • In a small heavyweight saucepan, beat the yolks, sugar, salt, and flour all at once until all lumps are gone. Slowly add milk and whisk to make a smooth consistency. Heat slowly over medium heat till this mixture thickens stirring constantly.
  • At the very start, whisk slowly and then a little quicker as the cream starts feeling thicker. Wait for a simmering boil to appear. At this point lower the heat to very low as you finish getting the perfect creamy consistency. As the whisk leaves a trail as it stirs, this is the indication that the cream is ready. When the pudding has thickened remove from stove and cover with wax paper not to form a skin. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
  • Ricotta
  • In a bowl add ricotta, sugar and almond flavoring, stir till completely mixed. 
  • Fold in the pudding. 
  • Fill cream puffs. I like to roll the edges in mini chocolate chips.
  • Keep refrigerated. These also look nice with a mixture of powdered sugar and water glaze with a cherry on top.


How to cook March 19th St. Joseph's Zeppole Celebration

  1. Zeppole DI San Giuseppe (St. Joseph's Day Cream Puffs)
  2. Mom's Version (Bari Style) 
  3. Cream Puff Dough
  4. 1 cup of water
  5. 1 stick butter
  6. 1 cup flour
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  9. 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  10. Beat eggs in a bowl set aside. Measure 1 cup flour and set aside.
  11. In a heavy nonstick saucepan, pour 1 cup water and a stick of butter (not margarine) add zests and bring to a boil on medium heat, leave on heat and add flour stirring quickly with a wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved and comes together.
  12. Remove from heat, add eggs and beat very rapidly with the wooden spoon until a ball of dough if formed...Note it's very important to beat this fast.
  13. Spoon one tablespoon of dough or teaspoon for small puffs on an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape into logs for eclairs or round for cream puffs. Bake on 400 for 1/2 hour, do not open oven or puffs will not cook correctly. When browned remove from oven, cool, cut in half to fill.
  14. You can fill with puffs whipped cream, Italian pastry creme, vanilla pudding. Eclairs also will have chocolate frosting on top filled with vanilla pudding
  15. Remove to a rack and cool completely. Cut a slit in the side of each puff and fill with below filling or sweetened whipped cream:
  16. Mom's  Creamy Ricotta Filling
  17. 3 cups Ricotta cheese
  18. 1 ¼ cups sugar
  19. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  20. 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  21. 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  22. 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
  23. Combine all ingredients except chips and beat with electric mixer about 10 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
  24. Here is another version called fried Italian dough.
  25. The link will have the recipe for the dough and how to make it.
  26. Some like it with cinnamon and sugar, confectionery sugar, regular sugar. Folks spread them with butter, peanut butter or jam. At Italian feasts, this is a very popular Italian fried dough in place in Upstate New York.
  27. Zeppole (fritter style)
  28. 1 tablespoon vanilla
  29. 1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
  30. 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  31. 1 stick butter
  32. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  33. 1 cup of water
  34. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  35. 4 eggs
  36. Olive oil, for frying
  37. Add the 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside.
  38. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. 
  39. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Return pan to the heat and stir continuously until mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl. 
  40. Using an electric hand mixer on low speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Beat until smooth. If not frying immediately, cover with plastic wrap and reserve in the refrigerator.
  41. Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees.
  42. Using a large tablespoon carefully drop about a tablespoon of the dough into the hot olive oil, frying in batches. Turn the zeppole once or twice, cooking until golden and puffed up about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss with cinnamon-sugar. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.
  43. Grandma's Verison ( with honey she called them Crispelles):
  44. 1 pkg. dry yeast
  45. 1 1/2 cups warm water
  46. 4 cups flour
  47. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  48. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  49. 2 eggs
  50. 1 cup raisins (soaked in Brandy till plump)
  51. Canola oil, for deep-frying (she used vegetable oil)
  52. Honey preferred or
  53. Powdered Sugar
  54. Mix dry yeast with warm water in a small bowl. In a large bowl, add flour, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the flour with a wooden spoon, and add the eggs, water, and yeast. Mix dry ingredients into well, little by little, until it reaches bread dough consistency (if the dough still sticks to the bowl, add more flour). If using raisins drain, and fold in this point. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
  55. In a Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375 degrees. Fry dough by the tablespoonful in hot oil (dip a spoon in flour, if necessary, to keep the dough from sticking). Drain on paper towels. Place zeppole in a large bowl and pour honey(grandma's style) or powder sugar over them.
  56. Sicilian Style Italian Zeppole
  57. 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour
  58. 1- 1/2 lb. Ricotta Whole Milk( 1- 16 oz and 1- 8 oz container)
  59. 4 eggs
  60. 1/2 cup sugar
  61. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  62. cinnamon and sugar mixture (enough to coat after frying)
  63. Heat a dutch oven 2 inches deep with vegetable oil
  64. Beat 4 eggs, the ricotta, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  65. Add the flour and mix well.
  66. In case the batter is a little stiff add a small amount of milk and mix gently.
  67. Gently drop by tablespoons into the hot oil. Drain on paper towels.
  68. Roll freshly fried zeppole in cinnamon and sugar mixture or powdered sugar.
dessert, Italian dessert, St. Joseph's Day pastry,pastry cream, pastry cream puff dough, fritters, fried dough, zeppole
Italian pastry, St. Joseph's Day, holiday, puff pastry recipes, pastry cream recipes
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St. Joseph's Day Pastry Step by Step Instructions

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2011. It was edited and re-published in 2020.