Mr.CBB’s British SpudNuts a.k.a Zeppole Potato Donuts

Italian Zeppole Potato Donuts

Italian Zeppole Potato Donuts

Ring in 2013 New Year’s with a sweet or savoury Italian potato donut also called zeppole. Zeppole in Italy is a traditional fare that is served on Saint Joseph Day March 19 and during the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.

Last week when I posted my Thai Fish Cakes recipe which is also a great New Year’s finger food I mentioned our mates Marco and Christina and their famous Italian recipe for savoury potato donuts. Being British and all I joke around and call them spudnuts donuts just because that’s what we call potatoes in the UK. I turned their zeppole donut into my Zeppole Spudnut based around the same concept adding my own flavours.

Since moving to Canada and being exposed to Tim Horton’s and the famous Boston Cream donut I always wondered; how do I make donuts? It can’t really be that difficult and with the myriad of donut flavours available you can’t go wrong with a homemade donut recipe.

From what I understand there are 2 types of donuts a cake donut and a yeast donut but heck I’m not a donut connoisseur. Is a donut a cake? Well when you bite into a Boston Cream Donut for example that is a yeast donut which is light and puffy. When you bite into a sour cream glazed donut that is a cake donut. The textures are very different in the mouth and for me they both appeal to my sweet desires.

When Christina and Marco introduced us to this incredibly odd mashed potato donut recipe we thought, ah what the heck and we tucked in. Surprisingly they are amazing! Their donut is crispy on the outside and light and chewy in the middle.

They don’t have to be a sweet donut like the one I will show you today although I have tinkered with the thought of making a baked sweet potato donut. Every time we go to Marco and Christina’s house for dinner we know they will fill the table with Italian food dishes that simply amaze us. You can make a few variations of this Italian fried donut all of which we’ve tried and enjoy. There is also the sfinge which is a baked cream puff also called zeppole.

Zeppole Variations we’ve tried at Christina and Marcos:

  • Zeppole filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate

zeppola (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Zeppole Donuts (the Italian name) which is a plain potato donut which you can keep savoury or roll in granulated sugar

zeppole (Photo credit: [phil h])

  • Italian Potato donuts filled with salty anchovies which is a savoury donut

Donut frying is likely one of the reasons many people shy away from making homemade donuts. Frying with oil can be scary but not if you are prepared and take your time. Always think safety first if you are deep-frying and keep all water away from hot oil. These donuts are best served piping hot then rolled in granulated sugar or left plain. They can easily be stored in the freezer and taken out as needed. We have also taken the dough which we made ahead of time and froze it for a later occasion.

Recipe for Italian Potato Donuts a.k.a Mr.CBB’s Spudnuts


  • Huge tinfoil lasagne pan to roll donuts in sugar
  • large pot
  • spoon
  • measuring cups
  • large bowl
  • peeler
  • strainer
  • potato masher or ricer
  • tinfoil
  • deep-frying thermometer


  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 5 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (you may not need it all)
  • 2.5 cups plain mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup warm buttermilk (or make a buttermilk substitute: milk with a tablespoon vinegar) Takes about 5 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • zest of 4 oranges
  • 3/8 cup melted butter (6 tablespoons)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of ground fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups granulated sugar divided 2+2
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • Vegetable Oil for deep-frying
  • 1/2 cup bench flour for the surface


  • Boil potatoes in salted water then mash them or put them through a ricer 

Mashed Potatoes

  • Warm your buttermilk but not too hot or you will kill the yeast then add in your yeast and let stand until activated (bubbly)
  • In a bowl add your mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, orange zest and buttermilk yeast mix and combine it all
Wet Ingredients Zeppole potato donuts

Wet Ingredients Zeppole potato donuts

  • On a clean surface add 4.5 cups of flour,2 cups sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix them around to combine then make a well.
  • Add the wet ingredients into the middle of the dry and start combining the wet and dry with your hands until it forms a soft dough. Add more flour if you need to as you have 5 1/2 cups but may not need it all. You do not have to knead the dough yet.
  • Transfer it all to a large bowl and cover with a tea towel for up to 3 hours
Zeppole potato donuts dough

Potato Donut Dough after 3 hour rise

  • Turn the bowl onto a floured surface and divide it in half  or quarters and knead the dough.
Zeppole potato donut dough divided

Zeppole potato donut dough divided

  • Start to rip off balls of the dough and roll it on the floured surface until you make a 1 inch rope like shape then twist it to form a ribbon, or leave them as balls or form them into a simple round donut. It’s up to you.
Twisted Zeppole potato donuts

Twisted Zeppole potato donuts ready for deep frying

  • Get your vegetable oil hot around 360-375 degrees for best results
  • Frying takes just a couple of minutes or until golden brown… I suggest timing cooking one then tear it open to make sure it cooked all the way through as everyone has different stoves and deep fryers.
  • As soon as they come from the oil toss them into the big tin foil lasagne pan filled with your granulated sugar to coat. Shake off the excess sugar from the donuts.
  • Enjoy these hot and with your favourite beverage.
  • You can make the same recipe without the orange, cinnamon and nutmeg for a plain zeppole Italian potato donut that is crispy and chewy


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  1. iheartbudgets says:

    MMMMmmmmm, I am drooling at the moment… sec….’

    Sorry about that. Man, these look deliscious. Now if I could just find that ol’ sack o’ potatoes…

    • Haha.. you’re awesome mate… good thing I didn’t call them love nuts… already getting hits on nuts.. haha!! Have a Happy New Year mate… let’s think about working together in the New Year.. I think it would be a great union! Mr.CBB

  2. I’m definitely a cake donut man. Blueberry old-fashioned donut is always my first choice.

    As far as mashed potatoes, my great-grandmother always made the best ones. They were “lumpy” (my name for them as a child), but what she did was separate out some of the potatoes before she mashed them and used those to only cut into cubes and then mix them back in.

    • I prefer both types of donuts but back in the UK I never really got into them as they are certainly not as popular as in Canada. I like Boston Cream donuts.. as I just love custard. Happy New Year Mate

  3. Those look delicious! Very tempting but I am trying to stay away from too many carbs in the new year!!! =)

    Happy New Year!

  4. This looks like my favourite thing you have made so far. It looks similar to chirros.

  5. Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy says:

    I am in donut heaven. Nom nom nom. It always is such a pleasure to stop by and indulge in your tasty midnight picture snacks. Happy New Year, Mr. CBB, sir!

  6. Should I eat these before or after my Weight Watchers meeting?

  7. Christine Weadick says:

    They look good!!!, I’m not fond of deep frying things but…… I do find it funny that you will mention using a ricer for mashing potatoes… I’ve used one since I was a kid and my Mom used one all her married life…. But when ever I mention ricers to other people I get the blankest looks from them including my sisters-in-law, so I have to explain to all just what a ricer is and how it’s used.
    The story I got from my Momwas that when she married Dad he told her there was no way he was going to eat mashed potatoes unless she could guarantee no lumps!!! His mother(my English Grandma) was a wonderful intelligent woman but not the greatest cook I’m sorry to say. Mom went crying to her Mom and Grandma told her to just use a ricer and that was that. So that is why Mom used one and as that was the only way I knew to make mashed potatoes was with a ricer…..I’m on my second one as hubby used mine once to try to crush raw rhubarb and popped the rivet……

    • oh they are the best for smooth potatoes for sure or you could put them in the food processor. We don’t deep fry often at home but yes we have to be very careful when frying but traditionally that’s what they used to use. Happy New Year Christine

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