Ricotta Donut Holes

Homemade donuts are a true labor of love, but these Ricotta Donuts couldn’t be easier to make.

Despite being fried, they’re much lighter and fluffier than your typical doughnut. And since they’re yeast-free, you won’t believe how quickly they come together.

Once crisp and golden brown, the warm donuts are tossed in homemade lemon cardamom sugar. The citrus zest adds brightness, while the hint of ground cardamom lends a lovely warmth.

Ricotta Donuts Rolled in Sugar

There is a time and a place for a great baked doughnut. These baked olive oil doughnuts with chocolate glaze are excellent, especially when sprinkled with flaky salt. In autumn, these baked pumpkin doughnuts are my go-to.

But too often, baked doughnuts are closer to cake or muffins in texture. Not these ricotta donuts. The outside becomes crisp and golden brown, while the inside remains unbelievably soft and fluffy!

These donuts are such a fun treat to serve alongside a special breakfast or brunch.

Why You’ll Love These Ricotta Donuts:

  • Ease! The batter can be made in a mixing bowl in less than five minutes, plus there is minimal clean up. No yeast, no proofing, no multiple rises. Once you prepare the simple batter, you can fry the donuts and put on the table in less than 20 minutes.
  • Texture! What makes these donuts stand out? The ricotta. By mixing the silky, creamy Italian cheese into the batter, we add richness in flavor, but a lightness and fluffiness in texture. If you’re feeling ambitious, here’s a recipe for homemade ricotta cheese.
  • Flavor! The flavor possibilities for these donut holes are endless. While I’m partial to rolling them in lemon cardamom sugar – feel free to get creative with spice blends or other mix in’s. [See flavor variation ideas below.]
  • Preparation! The donut batter can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Once the frying oil is preheated to 350°F (175°C), the donuts take only 3 to 4 minutes to cook through.
Ricotta Donut Ingredients

Don’t be daunted by the frying! I rarely prepare fried donuts – or fried anything – but these are an exception. Why? They’re special, yet not too rich or sweet, and so much easier to make than you might assume.

How to Make Ricotta Donuts:

  1. Prepare the Donut Batter: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until smooth. Using a spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the ricotta mixture until just absorbed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Ricotta Donut Holes Wet Ingredients in Bowl
  1. Prepare the Sugar Topping: Choose the flavor(s) you prefer. I’m partial to the lemon cardamom sugar, but have included several flavor variations in the recipe note section.
  2. Fry the Donuts: Add the vegetable oil to a large, wide heavy-bottomed pot. (There should be 2-3 inches of oil and at least 2 inches of clearance from the top of the oil to the top of the pot). Using a fry or candy thermometer, heat the oil until the temperature reaches 350°F (175°C). Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the batter and drop into the hot frying oil. Fry the donut holes, flipping and turning them frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until deeply golden brown on all sides.
  1. Roll in Sugar and Serve: Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the donuts to the paper towel-lined sheet pan or plate. While warm, roll the donuts in the lemon cardamom sugar until evenly coated on all sides. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Ricotta Donuts Rolled in Sugar

Flavor Variation Ideas:

I love to roll these ricotta donuts in a simple flavored sugar. The sugar can be adapted in so many ways, so feel free to change up the spices and flavorings to what you’re craving. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

  • Lemon Cardamom Sugar: Substitute other citrus varieties, such as orange, for a simple twist.
  • Cinnamon Sugar: A classic for a reason. Leave out the lemon zest and substitute the ground cardamom with one teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • Vanilla Bean Sugar: Speckled with vanilla bean adds an entirely new dimension. Scrape the beans from one vanilla bean pod into the sugar, rubbing the mixture with your fingers until fragrant.
  • Strawberry or Raspberry Sugar: To add flavor and color, mix sugar with finely ground freeze-dried strawberries, raspberries, or other fruit.
  • Herbs or Edible Flowers: Infuse sugar with dried lavender flowers or herbs, such as rosemary.
  • Serve Donuts with Jam, Caramel, or Chantilly Cream (sweetened whipped cream) for dunking.
Ricotta Donut Holes

Make Ahead Instructions

  • The donut batter can be made up to a day in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • Prepare the sugar mixture in advance and store in an airtight container in your pantry for up to a month. If it has clumped, pulse in a food processor briefly before using.
  • Leftover frying oil can be poured through a fine-meshed sieve – to remove any fried bits –  and reused for another batch or pastry recipe.

If you are looking for a more traditional fried yeast doughnut, try these grapefruit curd stuffed doughnuts which are soft, doughy, and filled with a tart homemade grapefruit curd.

Ricotta Donut Holes

Ricotta Donuts with Lemon Cardamom Sugar

5 stars (5 ratings)
Homemade donuts are a true labor of love, but these light and fluffy Ricotta Donuts couldn’t be easier to make. The batter can be made in a mixing bowl in less than five minutes, plus there is minimal clean up. No yeast, no proofing, no multiple rises. Once crisp and golden brown, the warm donuts are tossed in a homemade lemon cardamom sugar and drizzled with lemon glaze (optional).
Recipe Note: Try to keep the oil temperature as steady as possible and only remove them from the oil when they are golden brown on all sides and relatively light in weight. Since the batter is relatively moist, these steps will ensure that the ricotta beignets are cooked all the way through.

Ingredients

Donut Batter:

  • 1 cup (240g) whole milk ricotta cheese I recommend Bel Gioiso ricotta con latte
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (24g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup (90g) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) baking powder
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 5-6 cups vegetable oil for frying

Lemon Cardamom Sugar:

  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Lemon Glaze (Optional):

  • 1 cup (120g) sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice

Instructions 

  • Prepare Batter: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until smooth.
    Ricotta Donut Holes Wet Ingredients in Bowl
  • Add the all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt to the wet ingredients. Using a spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients until just absorbed. The batter will be relatively thick. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the lemon cardamom sugar mixture and, if desired, the lemon glaze.
    Ricotta Donut Hole Batter in Bowl
  • Prepare Lemon Cardamom Sugar: Combine the granulated sugar lemon zest, and ground cardamom on a large plate or in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the mixture together until fragrant. Set aside.
    Lemon Cardamom Sugar for Donuts
  • Prepare Lemon Glaze (Optional): In a separate bowl, whisk together the sifted powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth and thick. If the glaze is too thin, add a touch more powdered sugar. If too thick, add a touch of lemon juice. Set aside.
  • Fry the Ricotta Donuts: Remove the batter from the fridge. Add the vegetable oil to a large, wide heavy-bottomed pot. (There should be 2-3 inches of oil and at least 2 inches of clearance from the top of the oil to the top of the pot). Using a fry or candy thermometer, heat the oil until the temperature reaches 350°F (175°C).
    Use a small cookie scoop or spoon, scoop the batter (the scoops should be no larger than 1 tablespoon in size) and drop into the hot frying oil. Fry the donut holes, flipping and turning them frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until deeply golden brown on all sides. Once cooked through, the donut holes should be relatively light in weight.
    Tips for Success: Fry the donut holes in batches to avoid over-crowding the pot, which will cause the frying oil temperature to drop.
    How to Fry Ricotta Donut Holes
  • Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the donuts to the paper towel-lined sheet pan or plate. While warm, roll the donuts in the lemon cardamom sugar until evenly coated on all sides. Repeat with the remaining batter.
    Fried Ricotta Doughnuts
  • Serve the donuts warm, drizzling lightly with lemon glaze (optional) if desired.
    Ricotta Donut Holes Rolled in Sugar

Tips for Success: 

  • Ricotta donut batter can be prepared the day before and stored in a covered container for 24 hours. 
  • The donut holes are best served immediately after frying, but leftovers can be stored at room temperature for up to 1-2 days. The exterior will soften after frying. 
  • Leftover frying oil can be strained through a fine-meshed sieve, stored, and used again for another sweet frying application. 

Flavor Variation Ideas:

  • Lemon Cardamom Sugar: Substitute other citrus varieties, such as orange, for a simple twist.
  • Cinnamon Sugar: A classic for a reason. Leave out the lemon zest and substitute the ground cardamom with one teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • Vanilla Bean Sugar: Speckled with vanilla bean adds an entirely new dimension. Scrape the beans from one vanilla bean pod into the sugar, rubbing the mixture with your fingers until fragrant.
  • Strawberry or Raspberry Sugar: To add flavor and color, mix sugar with finely ground freeze-dried strawberries, raspberries, or other fruit.
  • Herbs or Edible Flowers: Infuse sugar with dried lavender flowers or herbs, such as rosemary.
  • Serve Donuts with Jam, Caramel, or Chantilly Cream (sweetened whipped cream) for dunking.
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 104kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 26mg, Sodium: 81mg, Potassium: 34mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 90IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 68mg, Iron: 1mg