Chinese Sesame Doughnuts

These crunchy, deep-fried sesame balls are one of my favorite treats during the Chinese New Year. In Cantonese, it means 'laughing dates' because these sesame balls crack open like a laughing mouth. They carry the meaning of bringing lots of laughter and happiness to your family. They are very easy to make, crunchy, and aromatic. Cool before storing them in dry, air-tight containers.

Prep Time:
40 mins
Cook Time:
4 mins
Additional Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 29 mins
12 servings


  • ½ cup white sugar

  • 5 tablespoons hot water

  • 1 egg

  • 2 cups cake flour

  • 2 tablespoons cake flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • ½ cup raw sesame seeds, or as needed

  • vegetable oil for deep frying


  1. Mix sugar and water together in a small bowl until melted. Let cool, at least 15 minutes. Add egg; mix until combined.

  2. Combine 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix in sugar-egg mixture and 2 tablespoons oil with a wooden spoon. Knead by hand until dough sticks together, adding 1 teaspoon water at a time if too dry. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; let rest for 30 minutes.

  3. Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into long tubes. Cut tubes into small pieces and roll pieces into balls about 1/2-inch wide.

  4. Spray balls lightly with water. Place sesame seeds in a shallow dish. Dip dough balls into the sesame seeds and roll to press in the seeds.

  5. Heat deep-frying oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add dough balls; reduce heat to low. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Cook's Notes:

Pastry flour may be substituted for the cake flour. Using cake or pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour helps forms the cracks and the texture of the doughnuts.

Deep-frying on low heat helps cook the inside thoroughly and form the crunchy texture on the outside without burning the outside.

Editor's Note:

We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. Amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density, and specific type of oil used.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

209 Calories
9g Fat
30g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 209
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 16mg 5%
Sodium 100mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 4g
Calcium 87mg 7%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 61mg 1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.