Castagnole Fritte Recipe (Italian Deep-Fried Sweet Pastry Balls)

Castagnole fritte are Italian deep fried sweet pastry balls – immensely popular during Carnival season. They are usually served piled high on a large serving platter. These sweet deep-fried pastry balls are to Italians the same of Timbits to Canadians.

Even though there are many variations to the castagnole fritte (you can find similar recipe that I’ve shared before on this page – deep fried pastries, known as Frittelle from my hometown Verona:

), lemon was the choice of flavor for both my cousins and the only way Francesco would eat them, simply because they evoked memories of his own mamma whipping up batches of these pastry balls with their very familiar lemon scent.

Unlike the Zeppole that are a ricotta based doughnut, these little doughnuts are leavened with yeast. They require a little more work and of course, there is also the rising time to factor in but they are so worth it! So here is the recipe:

Castagnole FritteCastagnole Fritte

Deep fried sweet pastry balls scented with lemon, filled with cherry jam and rolled in sugar.

Serves: around 50 pieces 


  • 8 grams active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon Limoncello Liquor
  • Canola or vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • more granulated sugar for rolling
  • approximately 1 cup of cherry jam (or some other jam by your choice)


  • Sprinkle the yeast in a bowl containing a ½ cup of lukewarm water and let this sit for a few minutes (till creamy) then stir to dissolve.
  • Add in 1 cup of the flour, a pinch of salt and stir till you get a soft batter. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let this sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Then, stir in the remaining flour, sugar, the lightly beaten eggs, lemon peel, Limoncello, and butter. Mix well.
  • Start kneading the dough by hand for about 5 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and just a little bit sticky.
  • Lightly flour a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, cover with saran wrap and let the dough rise in a warm draft-free place for 1 to 1½ hours. The dough will double in volume.
  • Transfer the dough to a work surface, lightly press it down with your hands and knead it for about 1 minute.
  • Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.
  • With floured hands, roll each piece of dough out into approximately a 24-inch long rope.
  • Cut each roll into one-inch pieces and place them onto a lightly floured baking sheet.
  • Pour 2 inches of oil in a medium sized saucepan or dutch oven and heat to 375 °F/ 190°C/ Gas Mark 5.
  • When the oil has reached 375 °F/ 190°C/ Gas Mark 5, carefully drop in about 6 pieces of dough at a time. (This will also depend on the size of your saucepan). Don’t over crowd them.
  • When the fritters are golden on one side, flip over to the other side.
  • Once golden brown on both sides, use a slotted spoon and drain the castagnole on paper towels.
  • Roll the castagnole in granulated sugar turning to coat all over.
  • Poke a small hole in the castagnole and use a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and pipe ½ to 1 teaspoon of cherry jam into each doughnut.
  • Serve while still warm, piled high on a serving platter.

Buon appetito!
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