Appetizers,  Breads,  Panini / Sandwich

Italian Fried Dough

Fried…dough…really?  Just around the time when those healthy eating resolutions are starting to weigh heavy (no pun intended) and that strong willpower is beginning to weaken….ooh, I am so sorry.

But just take a bite…a little bite….warm and soft with a sweet sugary kiss on the lips.  If you grew up on these as I did, it is a sentimental kiss, one that warms my soul with precious memories.

Every so often my mom would surprise us by making fried dough.  Usually on a weekend, for lunch or an afternoon treat.  She would use her pizza dough,  extra from pre-making pizza crusts that she would freeze, and shape little balls of dough into flat rounds.  Larger ones, like pita bread size, were made first to have as a bread for making sandwiches; the favorite filling combination was salami and ricotta cheese.  With the warm fried dough, salami and ricotta cheese is a mix of flavors that marry together in much-loved harmony.

After our fried dough sandwiches where eaten, the dessert treat was served.  With a small amount of remaining dough, she would make these little balls of dough, frying them up in a shallow amount of oil – not deep frying – and then quickly rolling them lightly in sugar.  As soon as they were made, they were brought from stove to table and immediately devoured!  I don’t ever recall any left over!

There really is no recipe, other than using a good pizza dough recipe, a large skillet with about a quarter inch of olive oil heated to immediately brown up the dough, flipping one time.  For the larger size, my mom would prick them with a fork to keep them flat and not puff up too much.  From skillet to a paper towel lined baking sheet, she’d keep some warm in the oven until all were made.  Later, the pan was wiped clean, reheated with more oil and the little dough treats were made.  A bowl of sugar was nearby to immediately roll them in after they were placed on the paper towel but still warm.

I will be making these for the upcoming Superbowl game.  I plan on making a variety of pizzas and then for a special dessert treat, these little fried dough balls served with warm dipping chocolate….oh my!

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


  • SallyBR

    Never had one of these beauties, although I do make pizza from scrratch quite often… well, used to. Since we moved to the new house I have not yet made pizza….

    Your Super Bowl party will be a huge, huge success!

  • ChgoJohn

    I’m trying to figure out where I’ve had these, Linda. They weren’t something Mom or Zia made but yet I do remember them. This will drive me nuts until I can remember it. Looks like more calls to my siblings. 🙂
    Anywho, these are tasty, as I recall, and we loved them. Now that I’m older and cooking isn’t such a mystery, it’s amazing to read your recipe and see just how simple they are to make. I need to give them a try next time I throw a pizza into the oven. Thanks, Linda, for the recipe but, for the memory quiz? Not so much. 🙂

  • Judy @Savoring Today

    Your fried dough reminded me of the special times we would make doughnuts growing up — the ones dipped in sugar were my favorite. There is nothing like a fresh, warm doughnut … the crunch of the sugar, the chew of the doughy bread … sheer delight. 😀

  • Amy @ Elephant Eats

    Oh boy am I glad that I find frying things to be too much of a hassle (and messy), because otherwise I’d be eating these every day of the week! They look seriously delicious . Don’t you love foods that conjure up memories of childhood? 🙂

  • Chica Andaluza

    Oh god Linda this post bought back so many memories. My godmother lived next door to us (yes, she was Italian too) and every so often her cousin used to visit from Friuli. We called her Zia Mariuccia and she was a seamstress (taught me loads) but also made these incredible fried pizzas as a super special treat. We would all have to be sitting round the table and the dough would go into the oil in little batches then when it was all puffed up it was smothered in sugo and cheese then popped in the oven and out for us to eat – it was like eating souffle in that we had to wait for the food, it didn’t wait for us, but my god it was fabulous! Thanks for reminding me of a fantastic treat 🙂

  • david

    First I saw the sugar dusted ones. I thought “Oh man, that’d be good with my coffee.” Then you hit me with the salami and ricotta. Wow. I’m thinking about lunch and it’s only 8am! Have fun at your SB party!

  • Kathy

    Linda, I grew up going to the Jersey Shore every summer….one of my favorite memories was of the summer I was pregnant with my son, my cousins would go to the boardwalk every few nights and bring me back a bag of zeppoles (fried dough) covered in powdered sugar. It was what I craved and after seeing your photos, still do!!

  • Kristy

    Oh my goodness Linda! How much would we love these?!!!! I think maybe we’ll make it a make your own pizza weekend and I can surprise the kids with these for dessert. I’ll make sure to make enough so we don’t have any squabbles. 🙂 Hope your party was a blast!

  • Judy

    My grandmother, who was from Bari, made these, also. The most favorite way we liked them in our family was when she filled them with Fontina cheese and folded them over and sealed the edges and poked them with a fork and fried them. The final size was about the size of the larger “sandwich” size in your picture above. Everyone in my family loves these and we never have any left over. Yum.

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