Struffoli (Italian Honey Ball Cookies)

November 26, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: These classic, bite-sized Italian Christmas cookies are lightly fried and drenched in a sweet honey glaze. Angela Brown

Makes: about 2 pounds of dough


  • 8 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups nonpareils
In This Recipe


  1. Add the eggs, flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla, salt, and citrus zest to a large bowl. Mix by hand until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Form the dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough ball for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut the dough into six equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into long, thin ropes, about 1/2-inch thick. Cut off 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces of each dough rope and roll each one into a small ball shape (don’t worry about making them perfect; imperfect shapes work perfectly fine here).
  2. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan to fill it about one third of the way. Heat the oil to 350° F. Meanwhile, prepare a dish lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. When the oil reaches the desired temperature, carefully drop in the dough balls in small batches and fry until they puff up and become golden brown on all sides. Using a metal spider, carefully remove the fried dough and transfer to the paper towel-lined dish. Continue until all dough balls are fried.
  3. While the dough balls fry, add the honey and the remaining teaspoon of vanilla to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir occasionally and remove from heat once the honey reaches a syrup-like consistency, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the still-warm fried dough balls to a large bowl. Pour the hot honey glaze and the nonpareils into the bowl and mix until incorporated. The struffoli can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container for 2 days.

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Reviews (12) Questions (0)

12 Reviews

Jo P. October 29, 2017
Grandma always called them pinolatties (not sure on spelling).
Lauri December 8, 2017
That's the siciliano way 😉
Florence S. October 9, 2018
Florence S. October 9, 2018
Syrup like is tricky, too hot and turns out like hard candy and can't bite cookie, not hot enough and doesn't stick and need to dip twice. Wish I knew of easier way to test the honey
Maggie January 2, 2017
We used to put citron in ours, but none of the kids liked it so we stopped using it. Still delicious without it. My favorite part of Christmas!
creamtea December 17, 2015
Fascinating! Eastern European Jews make a similar dish for Rosh Hashanah, Teiglach (Teig=dough). Dough balls fried and simmered in honey mounded into a pyramid shape, often with nuts and dried fruit added. So I did a little research; apparently both are descended from an ancient Roman dessert adapted by Sephardic Jews of Italy and Spain and probably brought to Eastern Europe in aftermath of the Inquisition: I am wondering if croquembouche is another descendant of this ancient dish.
Franca December 8, 2014
My mother made these every year, my sister and I knew it was Christmas. :)
Corinne December 6, 2014
Ours never had citron either. Maybe it's regional.
Lorraine F. December 6, 2014
Angela: About 50 years ago, I remember the Struffoli piled high for the Holidays ready to give a scoop for Christmas cheer. No citron in ours either. Thanks for the memories.
Lorraine December 6, 2014
Where's the citron? Can't have strufoli without the citron.
Corinne December 5, 2014
They're delicious but a lot of work!
Gloria K. April 2, 2015
I,m so grateful for the receipt,my parents are gone now,and I sure do miss them and there gift of strufoli,we also had them at Easter.Does anyone have any ideas how to keep them fresh?