Sufganiyot for Hanukkah

A sufganiyot is a round-shaped donut that is injected with red jelly or custard, then topped with powdered sugar and eaten warm. In Yiddish, sufganiyah (plural for for sufganiyot) are called “ponchkes.”

The Hebrew word sufganiyot is derived from the Hebrew word for “sponge.” This is a reference to describe the way a sufganiyot absorbs oil, somewhat similar to a sponge. At Hanukkah, Jews observe the custom of eating fried foods in commemoration of the miracle associated with the Temple oil.

The sufganiyot was originally made from two circles of dough surrounding a jam filling, stuck together and fried in one piece. An easier technique commonly used today is to deep-fry whole balls of dough and then inject them with a filling.

Sufganiyah are widely consumed in Israel in the weeks leading up to and including the Hanukkah holiday. Potato pancakes, or “latkes,” are also eaten in Israel, but sufganiyah are more popular. While in Israel this is a national tradition and bakeries everywhere compete to sell the best sufganiyah, here in the United States most Jews will find the jelly donuts at their local donut shop.

If you want to experience a “hot off the stove” sufganiyot, keep reading for a recipe!

Adapted from
Makes 40 donuts


  • 2 (1/4 oz) envelopes dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons margarine
  • 5 cups flour
  • Oil, for deep frying
  • 1 (13 1/2 oz) jar strawberry or other fruit jelly
  • Powdered sugar


Sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, margarine, and 2 cups flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed. Beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead dough for about five minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and gently roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into circles. Cover with a clean kitchen towel on your counter, and let rise again until doubled in bulk.

Heat 4 cups of oil in a deep fryer or heavy pot to 350F. Carefully slide donuts into hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn the donuts over as they rise to the surface. Donuts are ready when both sides are golden brown.

Fill each donut with 1 tablespoon jelly using a pastry injector, or by cutting a small slit in the side of the donut and inserting the jelly with a baby spoon. Close tightly, then roll in powdered sugar.