You should be making Andrew Zimmern's Hanukkah donuts all year long

Andrew Zimmern's simple sufganiyot will make you actually want to make donuts at home

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published December 25, 2022 4:30PM (EST)

Sufganiyot (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Sufganiyot (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

In "Quick & Dirty," Salon Food's Mary Elizabeth Williams serves up simplified recipes and shortcuts for exhausted cooks just like you — because quick and dirty should still be delicious.

Chief among the things that even the most practiced home cooks get skittish about: projects involving yeast and projects involving frying. This is unfortunate, because those are your two primary paths to donuts. Hot, fresh, donuts. The kind that make your family go bonkers. And Hanukkah offers the perfect incentive.

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"Hebrew for donuts, sufganiyot are without question the most popular Hanukkah food in Israel," chef and "Family Dinner" host Andrew Zimmern tells Salon.

"These iconic fried treats are simply prepared yeasted gems, filled with chocolate, creams, curds or jellies. You will find bakeries and markets throughout the country filling their shelves and windows with these little darlings starting weeks before the actual holiday and petering out in the week after." And he adds encouragingly, "You, however, can now make them any time of year."

Despite the fact that I once started a grease fire substantial enough to bring an entire siren-wailing brigade to my door, I love to fry. But I do get impatient and antsy around things that expect me to wait for them to double in size and punch them down and rise again. There just seem to be too many places along the way for things to go wrong. This is why I am telling you, I get it. Join me on this adventure anyway. There are donuts on the other side of your angst.

I have taken very few liberties with Zimmern's recipe here. He uses superfine sugar in his dough, but because not all home cooks have it on hand, I've used granulated. It makes for a slightly less sweet donut, so if you prefer superfine sugar, go for it. He recommends Armagnac or apple brandy, but if that's not something you typically keep around, I suggest rum rather than buying a bottle of something you won't otherwise enjoy. A few other notes: Zimmern rolls his sufganiyot in granulated sugar; others prefer confectioners sugar or superfine sugar. And while the typical filling is strawberry jam, you can improvise with your own favorites here. 

The process of making donuts is long but leisurely, a job for a day you'll be hanging around the house anyway. Your task is mostly just to mix the ingredients, wait for them to do their thing, and then enjoy the heady aroma of sweet dough and the effusive praise of your guests. And once you realize you how easily you can create this kind of straight up magic in your own kitchen, you'll want to keep doing it all year long. As Zimmern says, "There is NOTHING to compare with a warm homemade jam-filled doughnut." 

* * *

Inspired by Andrew Zimmern

Year-round Hanukkah Donuts (Sufganiyot)
 24 donuts
Prep Time
 3 1/2 hours, mostly hands-off
Cook Time
 10 minutes


  • 3/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of softened butter 
  • 1 egg 
  • 4 teaspoons of dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
  • 5 cups vegetable oil (plus more for brushing)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 3 cups of strawberry jam (or your favorite flavor)



  1. In a small microwave safe bowl, gently warm the milk, about 15 seconds. It should not be too hot.
  2. Sprinkle the yeast into the milk and let stand about 10 minutes, until it begins to get foamy.
  3. In a big bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Add the milk and yeast mixture, the butter, egg, rum, vanilla and salt. With a hand mixer or dough hook, knead at low speed, periodically scraping down the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Rub a little oil in your clean hands and roll the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise about 2 hours, until the dough is about doubled. Nothing terrible will happen if you leave it out a little longer.
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and brush them with oil. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch log. Pinch each log into 12  pieces, then roll them into balls and arrange evenly apart on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest again until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. In a medium bowl, mix the rest of the sugar and the cinnamon. Prepare a large sheet pan by lining it with paper bags or parchment. Put a cooling rack on top.
  7. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat to 325 degrees or just crackling. Working in small batches, fry the doughnuts, turning once, until golden, 1 -2 minutes per side.
  8. Remove the donuts using a slotted spoon or kitchen spider. Roll them in the cinnamon sugar, then transfer to the cooling rack.
  9. Put a piping nozzle in a pastry bag and spoon in the jam. Gently squeeze about 2 tablespoons of jam in each donut. No pastry bag? No problem. Fill a Ziploc bag with the jam and snip off a corner. With the end of a spoon, work a small hole into your donuts and then squeeze in the jam. 

Cook's Notes

 These are obviously best eaten fresh and warm. I would not discourage you, however, from turning leftovers into some absolutely mindblowing French toast.

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Donuts Hanukkah Quick & Dirty Recipe Sufganiyot