A World of Donuts

Fried dough is a universal delight, and around the world, it comes in all shapes and guises, be it round or oblong, raised or flat, cooked in oil or simmered in ghee, filled with just about anything or simply dough through and through.

bomboloni Italian donut

Custard or jam is usually piped into Tuscan bomboloni, raised, round donuts that come in all kinds of flavors, such as this Nutella cream version topped with toasted hazelnuts.


Jalebi, ubiquitous in South Asia and the Middle East, are brittle syrup-soaked coils of lightly fermented batter, often tinted orange-red, green, or yellow, and best eaten hot from a street vendor.


Sufganiya, Israel’s fried Hanukkah sweet, is traditionally a jelly-filled donut, though in recent years, creative fillings such as halvah, pistachio, and champagne creams have appeared.

Chinese donut youtiao

The lightly salted cruller called youtiao, or “Chinese oil stick,” is creased in half so it can be easily torn for dunking into rice porridge or soy milk for breakfast.


Enjoyed in northern India, Pakistan, and Nepal, yogurt-rich balushahi are fried in ghee.


In the Netherlands, fritters called oliebollen, studded with raisins, dried currants, apples, and sometimes candied lemon peel, are typically eaten around Christmas.


Turkish tulumba, the word for kettle drum, is an extruded donut called by different names and eaten all over western Asia. The small ridged batons are piped into oil and saturated in sugar syrup.

Mexican donuts churros

In Mexico, churros are often filled with dulce de leche or pastry cream, and in Spain these fluted wands of eggy pastry are dunked in hot chocolate. See the recipe for Churros

Korean donuts
Chal Ke Bahang

Savory chal ke bahang is a Korean black sesame-speckled donut made especially chewy with wheat gluten and tapioca flour.

Japanese donut

Korea, China, and Japan lay claim to an, a soft sugar-dusted yeast donut with a sweetened red bean center.

Loukoumades Greek donuts

Golden nuggets doused in honey called loukoumades are popular in Greece and Cyprus.

jin deui Chinese donuts
Jin Deui

Chinese jin deui, nutty fried orbs crusted with sesame seeds and with a sweet bean- or lotus seed-paste center, are often eaten as dim sum.

koeksisters South African donuts

This version of South African koeksisters, which originated in Cape Malay, are donut holes soaked in a spiced syrup, then rolled in coconut flakes.

shahi tukra Indian donuts
Shahi Tukra

Indian shahi tukra are cubes of syrup-soaked fried bread pudding usually served with a rosewater and cardamom milk sauce.

Canadian donuts Persians

A specialty of the Canadian city of Thunder Bay in Ontario, the fried, raised buns called Persians are frosted with thick pink icing.

beignets New Orleans donuts

Airy New Orleans’ beignets, a regional American classic, are buried in powdered sugar and typically enjoyed with a cup of chicory-blended cafe au lait.

buñuelos Mexican donuts

Mexican buñuelos are cinnamon sugar-dusted disks that fry up bubbly and crisp, much like tortillas.

Buñuelos Columbian donuts

Buñuelos from Columbia are hand-formed spheres of sweetened or cheese-enriched fried dough.

French donuts pets de nonnes
Pets de Nonnes

Featherlight powdered sugar-dusted fritters from France are cheekily dubbed pets de nonnes (“nun’s farts”).

Cardamom Syrup-Soaked Donuts (Gulab Jamun)

In South Asia, gulab jamun, made from a cooked-milk reduction called khoya, are fried at low temperature in clarified butter and soaked in rosewater or cardamom syrup. Get the recipe for Cardamom Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts (Gulab Jamun) »

sfenj North African donuts

Rough-hewn, ring-shaped sfenj, Arabic for “sponge,” are a sweet street food eaten throughout North Africa.

bolas de fraile con dulce leche Argentine donuts
Bolas de Fraile con Dulce Leche

Introduced to Argentina by German immigrants, round, yeasted bolas de fraile con dulce leche are slit down the top and piped with dulce de leche.

sel roti Nepalese donuts
Sel Roti

Nepalese sel roti are both a breakfast food and special occasion treat, made with rice flour and fried into thin, crisp rounds.

struffoli Italian donuts

The walnut-size honey-glazed fritters called struffoli are stacked in festive pyramids, can be sprinkled with nonpareils, Jordan almonds, or candied fruit, and start to appear in Naples during Christmastime.

Chal Korean cinnamon donuts

Chal sticks, Korean baby carrot-sized cinnamon donuts, come half a dozen to an order.

Kkwabaegi Korean donuts

Kkwabaegi, Korean yeasted twists, are oversized and coated in caramelized sugar.

zeppole Italian donuts

Italian cruller-like zeppole are often topped with ricotta or pastry cream, then finished off with powdered sugar and a single cherry.


The festival sweet is consumed on St. Joseph’s Day. Faschingskrapfen, raised donuts filled with jam, custard, or a flavored cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar, are everywhere in Austria and Germany during carnival celebrations.

sopaipillas Mexican donuts

Central American sopaipillas, puffed-up pillows of dough, are lavished with honey and powdered sugar. There are also savory versions topped with meat, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and tomato.

sonhos Portuguese donuts

Portuguese for “dreams,” sonhos are fried pastry bites soaked in syrup or dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

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