March 19th St. Joseph's Zeppole Celebration

Saturday, March 19, 2011
Every year I try to update my photo this is from 2017 and I used a star cookie tip to make them swirled. The filling I used is the last one on this page hope you like them these were beautiful!


Zeppole are special fritters, fried doughs, or donuts, made in expectation of the Feast of St. Joseph that falls on March the 19th. They are one of the numerous recipes of the Neapolitan tradition. There are several recipes that vary by years past and present. Here are a few we have made and loved through the years in the family.

San Guiseppe is the day for zeppole. The pastry shops and friggitorie (fried food stands) churn them out in astonishing quantity, for eating Zeppole on the 19th is another of those traditions in Italy that must be observed. Despite their size, everyone eats at least two or three, or even four, because the sweet, delicate pasta bigné, flavored with a hint of cream and one or two bits of candied cherry, is so good and creamy delight.

The current, refined version of zeppole became a tradition quite late, perhaps towards the end of the 19th century. Among the [older] cookbooks called "Tortanetti di pasta bigné" (1865); the zeppole for San Giuseppe are instead made from a flour-and-water dough that's fried, and dusted with sugar and powdered cinnamon or dipped in honey. It's known that this traditional version was quite ancient. It's also known that on March 19th they were made by the ton in a pastry shop and frying stall, as well as at home, and that they were offered to guests and whoever else happened to come by and you were really especially lucky to celebrate that if you were named Giuseppe (Joseph).

St Joesph's Day pastry homemade recipe with a ricotta cream filling and cherry on top bakery style

St Joesph's Day pastry homemade recipe with a ricotta cream filling and cherry on top bakery style

zeppole fried

zeppole homemade recipe

Grandma's Roman Zeppole Version( with honey  she called them Crispelles):

dough for zeppole or crispelle

1 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup raisins (soaked in Brandy till plump)

Canola oil, for deep-frying (she used vegetable oil)
Honey preferred or
Powdered Sugar

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.

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 dough from sticking). Drain on paper towels. Place zeppole in a large bowl and pour honey(grandma's style) or powder sugar over them.
fried zeppole

italian fried dough for St Joseph's day recipe

This is a fried Italian dough, you can fry it and add anything on it you want to.  Some like it with cinnamon and sugar, confectionery sugar, regular sugar. Some spread with butter, peanut butter or jam. At Italian feasts, this is very popular Italian fried dough in many States. 

Zeppole (fritter style)

1 tablespoon  vanilla
1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 stick butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
Olive oil, for frying

Add the 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take 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. 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.

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.

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.
recipe for ricotta puffs

Sicilian Style (My husband's background)

2-1/2 cups self-rising flour  
 1- 1/2 lb. Ricotta Whole Milk( 1- 16 oz and 1- 8 oz container)
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon and sugar mixture (enough to coat after frying) 

Heat a dutch oven 2 inches deep with vegetable oil

Beat 4 eggs, the ricotta, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Add the flour and mix well. In case batter is a little stiff add a small amount of milk and mix well.
Gently drop by tablespoons into the hot oil. Drain on paper towels.
Roll freshly fried zeppole in cinnamon and sugar mixture or powdered sugar.

ricotta fried doughnuts

this is mom's cream puff recipe homemade
Mom's Favorite Cream Puff Recipe

Zeppole DI San Giuseppe (St. Joseph's Day Cream Puffs)

 Mom's Version (Bari Style) Creamy
1 cup of water
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Beat eggs in bowl set aside. Measure 1 cup flour and set aside.
In a heavy non stick 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 flour is dissolved and comes together.
Remove from heat, add eggs and beat very rapidly with the wooden spoon until a ball of dough if formed...Note its very important to beat this fast.
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.
You can fill with puffs whipped cream, Italian pastry creme, vanilla pudding. Eclairs also will have chocolate frosting on top filled with vanilla pudding
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:

Ricotta Filling
3 cups Ricotta cheese
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chips and beat with electric mixer about 10 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

Or Make:
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.

In a bowl add ricotta, sugar and almond flavoring, stir till completely mixed. Fold in pudding. Fill cream puffs. Keep refrigerated. These also look nice with a mixture of powdered sugar and water glaze with a cherry on top.


  1. Those zeppoles look so lovely after coated with sugar.
    Didn't know there's such a celebration..

  2. I just did a post about these, too!It was interesting doing the researchon them. I was trying to replicate what I recall as a child, and the closest I came was Giada's which sounds much like the first one, although one version of hers were cinnamom sugar coated

  3. We have two Giuseppe in the family and I know my Father-in-law would love to try out the baked version.

    Thanks for such an array of possibilities towards such a celebrated event in my family ;o)

    Have a great weekend,

  4. How many zeppole versions! And all very tasty! My mom filled them with custard and black cherry. What pleasant memories. Bye, have a great we

  5. I'll take a dozen of each. They look great Claudia!

  6. You don't realize how much I love zeppole! I am so happy to have this recipe. I will even fry for these. Love getting these at festivals but it's not very often. Thanks!

  7. Always wondered about zeppoles being sold in Little Italy. Thanks to you, I now know their cultural significance & that they're similar to........mmmm.. .beignets.

  8. Soooo good! These look like sweet Cayman fritters. I'm gonna have to give these puppies a try :)

    By the way I've given you an award over at Deep Dish today. Thanks for being an awesome blog.

  9. I'm looking forward to trying some of these. My husband's mother is from Bari. She calls them efritt. Thanks for the post.

  10. I remember crispelli! We use to eat them at the big celebration for the Feast of the Three Saints in Massachusetts. You could get them plain, with powdered sugar, or savory with a small piece of anchovy inside them. The anchovy ones were actually quite delicious!

  11. I adore these and used to down them regularly at the Feast of Saint Gennaro in NYC. These days I bake them (it's an age thing.) I'm really interested in the ricotta version - although all of them have great appeal!

  12. You always share the best family recipes! Each one of these looks better than the next!! The cream one at the end - OMG Delicious!!!

  13. Now this is the way to celebrate. Beautiful zeppole, Claudia.

  14. I am so glad that you posted about St. Joe's Day and zeppele! I didn't make any this weekend cuz I was outside all day gardening, but I am living this tradition through your great post, Claudia. Thank you for carrying on and educating others about this wonderful tradition!

  15. I am in awe of these doughnuts! Here I am born on St. Josephs day and I have never had one of these. Amazing. I'm going to have to remedy that soon.You've done a brilliant job as always Claudia.

  16. Oh wow... they look so delicious! And so many different versions, which I'm sure resonates around the different cultures around the world as well... we all loved deep fried goodies!

  17. Claudia This is a gorgeous display and lovely tribute! I'm I'm holding a small Nutella (brunch) party tomorrow otherwise I would try your Mom's version!

    I want to mail you a Nutella travel cup and some coupons. Please email me your address.

  18. I love this Claudia! I think it's fascinating to learn about different food traditions from different cultures. I also love that within your family you have so many versions of this dish. Are you familiar with sopapillas from hispanic cuisine? The first recipe sounds similar. They are usually eaten with honey. They all sound delicious. Thanks for the education.

  19. A great way to spend the holiday eating these treats!

  20. I wish I read this yesterday but that didn't stop me. I had to share it anyway with our Montillo Italian Foods' Facebook fans. Nicely done and thank you!

  21. Double yum! Both such fabulous desserts...thanks for sharing some of your family's recipes, Claudia~

  22. While these aren't the same St. Joseph's Day pastries I'm used to, they all look delicious!

  23. Oh this all looks so good and yummy!

  24. These are all so scrumptious! I might need to taste test them all!!

  25. Claudia your Zeppole look so delicious..I am making them often because my kids just love it! And I have an eye for that cream to check that out :))
    Have a wonderful week!

  26. Wow! Another post about zeppoles - they are calling me! The recipe that was on My Kitchen Rules (TV Show in Australia) included potatoes. Love that there are so many variation!

  27. The Zeppoles look fantastic!!! I love St. Josephs Day. We do the Sicilian Style, I have never seen so many varities, I will have to spread my wings here!!! Thanks :)

  28. Ive never had a zeppole but they do look delicious!!

  29. You had me at "soaked in brandy"


Thank you so much for your kind words and questions, I will try and reply to each of them. If you need help right away, contact me on Facebook or my email