Tortelli di Carnevale (Italian Carnevale Doughnuts)

Doughnuts are typical of Carnevale in Italy, the famous festival in the days leading up to Lent. Each region, and indeed each family, has its own recipe. In Milan and the Lombardy region, Carnival donuts are called 'tortelli' and they are flavored with anise liqueur, grappa, and lemon zest.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
12 mins
Additional Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 2 mins
8 servings


  • 12 fluid ounces water

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

  • 5 fluid ounces anise-flavored liqueur

  • ¼ cup white sugar

  • 3 tablespoons grappa

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 3 eggs, separated

  • 2 cups lard, or as needed


  1. Combine water, butter, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in flour until well mixed. Return saucepan to medium heat; cook and stir until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the saucepan, 3 to 5 minutes.

  2. Remove saucepan from heat and stir anise-flavored liqueur, sugar, grappa, and lemon zest into dough. Cool dough to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

  3. Beat egg yolks into the cooled dough until well mixed. Cover bowl with a clean towel and let rest for 3 hours.

  4. Beat egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form; gently fold into the dough until no white streaks remain.

  5. Heat lard in a heavy saucepan over medium heat or in a deep fryer. Form dough into balls the size of golf balls; fry in the hot lard in batches, until doughnuts are lightly browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Cook's Note:

Lard is traditionally used to fry Carnival doughnuts. However, you can replace it with vegetable oil if desired.

Editor's Note:

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

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

299 Calories
15g Fat
30g Carbs
5g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 299
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 94mg 31%
Sodium 49mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 19mg 1%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 59mg 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.

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