As in virtually every other pumpkin dessert, I think using pure canned pumpkin will give you the best results--it has more concentrated flavor than freshly roasted pumpkin. These light, not-too-sweet Italian doughnuts were adapted from a recipe by my old friend, Jennifer Perillo. I usually toss these in cinnamon sugar when they're still slightly warm.

Chef John
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Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a bowl.

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  • Whisk ricotta, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a separate mixing bowl until smooth. Pour mixture into dry ingredients. Mix together until mixture becomes a loose batter.

  • Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  • Use one spoon to scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough and a second spoon to carefully push dough into hot oil. Fry in batches for about 1 minute. If zeppole don't turn over by themselves after 1 minute, gently turn each with a strainer to brown on the other side, about 1 more minute. Remove with a strainer and drain on cooling rack.

Partner Tip

Reynolds® parchment can be used for easier cleanup/removal from the pan.

Nutrition Facts

272 calories; 14.8 g total fat; 55 mg cholesterol; 327 mg sodium. 27.4 g carbohydrates; 7.4 g protein; Full Nutrition

Reviews (18)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
11/25/2016
Poor Chef John must have had a bad experience with fresh pumpkin. It certainly depends on the pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern types don't have great flavor, and even store-bought sugar pie pumpkins aren't as good as some other varieties. Home-grown and locally grown pumpkins that have been allowed to ripen on the vine are the best! I made these with pureed, oven-roasted pumpkin from a Cinderella blue I got from a local farm, and they came out fantastic (as did the pie I made with it). The oil temperature has to be just right - too low and they take forever, too hot and the outsides burn while the insides are still dough. I did mine in a pan on the stove on slightly over medium heat (after some trial and error) and they came out perfect! Crispy outsides, light and silky insides. Next time I might increase the spices just a tad, but the pumpkin flavor was just right. We rolled them all in cinnamon sugar, cause we love it, and the whole family just gobbled them up! Can't wait to make them again! Also, as a note, I combined everything except the flour and baking powder the night before and kept it in the fridge, and the next morning, followed directions as written. It really saved a lot of time. Read More
(8)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
12/14/2015
I made this twice. The first time I followed the recipe exactly as told. I ate them with and without rolling them in cinnamon and sugar (I prefer them with). It was just okay for me. I normally enjoy pumpkin flavored desserts but I didn't like it so much this time. The pumpkin flavor was a bit too overbearing with each bite. However I loved everything else about it. I thought it was light and fluffy. I also enjoyed that they weren't too sweet. Because I liked everything else about the recipe except for the pumpkin I used sweet potatoes the second time around. They were heavenly! So if the pumpkin doesn't workout for you give sweet potatoes a try. I want to add that the batter is a little thick so it is important that the temperature of the oil is just right and that the portions for each ball is kept at about a tablespoon or smaller. Otherwise they will be gooey in the middle and/or burned on the outside... Not that that happened to me... I'm just saying you know just in case. Read More
(12)
22 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 16
  • 4 star values: 4
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
11/25/2016
Poor Chef John must have had a bad experience with fresh pumpkin. It certainly depends on the pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern types don't have great flavor, and even store-bought sugar pie pumpkins aren't as good as some other varieties. Home-grown and locally grown pumpkins that have been allowed to ripen on the vine are the best! I made these with pureed, oven-roasted pumpkin from a Cinderella blue I got from a local farm, and they came out fantastic (as did the pie I made with it). The oil temperature has to be just right - too low and they take forever, too hot and the outsides burn while the insides are still dough. I did mine in a pan on the stove on slightly over medium heat (after some trial and error) and they came out perfect! Crispy outsides, light and silky insides. Next time I might increase the spices just a tad, but the pumpkin flavor was just right. We rolled them all in cinnamon sugar, cause we love it, and the whole family just gobbled them up! Can't wait to make them again! Also, as a note, I combined everything except the flour and baking powder the night before and kept it in the fridge, and the next morning, followed directions as written. It really saved a lot of time. Read More
(8)
Rating: 3 stars
12/14/2015
I made this twice. The first time I followed the recipe exactly as told. I ate them with and without rolling them in cinnamon and sugar (I prefer them with). It was just okay for me. I normally enjoy pumpkin flavored desserts but I didn't like it so much this time. The pumpkin flavor was a bit too overbearing with each bite. However I loved everything else about it. I thought it was light and fluffy. I also enjoyed that they weren't too sweet. Because I liked everything else about the recipe except for the pumpkin I used sweet potatoes the second time around. They were heavenly! So if the pumpkin doesn't workout for you give sweet potatoes a try. I want to add that the batter is a little thick so it is important that the temperature of the oil is just right and that the portions for each ball is kept at about a tablespoon or smaller. Otherwise they will be gooey in the middle and/or burned on the outside... Not that that happened to me... I'm just saying you know just in case. Read More
(12)
Rating: 5 stars
11/25/2016
Poor Chef John must have had a bad experience with fresh pumpkin. It certainly depends on the pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern types don't have great flavor, and even store-bought sugar pie pumpkins aren't as good as some other varieties. Home-grown and locally grown pumpkins that have been allowed to ripen on the vine are the best! I made these with pureed, oven-roasted pumpkin from a Cinderella blue I got from a local farm, and they came out fantastic (as did the pie I made with it). The oil temperature has to be just right - too low and they take forever, too hot and the outsides burn while the insides are still dough. I did mine in a pan on the stove on slightly over medium heat (after some trial and error) and they came out perfect! Crispy outsides, light and silky insides. Next time I might increase the spices just a tad, but the pumpkin flavor was just right. We rolled them all in cinnamon sugar, cause we love it, and the whole family just gobbled them up! Can't wait to make them again! Also, as a note, I combined everything except the flour and baking powder the night before and kept it in the fridge, and the next morning, followed directions as written. It really saved a lot of time. Read More
(8)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/13/2016
These were so good, I ended up making them three times over the holidays! The first time I didn't leave them in the oil for the allotted time, taking them out when the outsides looked done. Big mistake. They were not done in the center. Second and third batches I followed the instructions and they turned out great. They are crispy on the outside and velvety on the inside. I rolled mine in cinnamon sugar which compliments the subtle pumpkin flavor beautifully! I will definitely make these again and again! Read More
(6)
Rating: 5 stars
11/09/2015
Absolutely delicious and so easy. Everyone loved them and will definitely make again. Thank you for a great recipe. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
10/19/2016
These were amazing! Similar to donut holes but with a moist center. Read More
(2)
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Rating: 5 stars
11/27/2017
The stars are for Chef John's entertaining hilarious video on making these. The delivery was fantastic! Thanks for the laughs Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
01/29/2019
I liked these. They were like a softer and fluffier version of donut holes. My 1 year old son loved them warm or cold the next day. I followed the recipe except I used some mashed lightly sweetened butternut squash I had in the fridge. It sort of tastes like fresh pumpkin anyway. I also just used store bought nutmeg and didn't use fresh grated. I made a 1/2 a recipe to try them and got 16 pieces using a cookie scoop. I suggest using one for ease. Then I just fried them in my deep fryer. They took about 3 minutes total. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
01/01/2020
I made this because I had some ricotta to use up. I thought they were excellent! I loved the light texture. Even my non-pumpkin liking husband said they were really good. He said he couldn t really taste pumpkin. I will definitely make these again. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
11/06/2017
Fun to make and amazing to eat! I used fresh pumpkin and they were amazing. Rather than roll in sugar and cinnamon I simply sprinkled with confectioners sugar. So good and the pumpkin flavor was "so fall"! Read More