Italian Honey Balls – Traditionally served at Carnevale & Christmas

Every year as soon as December hits we get calls at the markets asking when we are going to make these! They are labor intensive and they don’t keep well or last long but they sure are worth it. There’s just something about the ooey-gooey pure honey and the colorful nonpareils that strike up nostalgia and childhood dreams.


  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon Fior di Sicilia or vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Vegetable oil for frying, 5-6 cups
  • Honey, 2 pints
  • Rainbow nonpareils
  • Candied cherries, red & green
  • Confetti, sugar coated almonds
  • Citron candied, optional


In a large bowl use a hand mixer to beat eggs, orange zest, vanilla, sugar, and melted butter. Mix until well combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the egg mixture, mix with your hands until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. You don’t want to overmix because a tough dough will make for hard struffoli. Knead until the texture isn’t sticky, but tacky and workable.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

When dough is cold, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into four even sections. Roll each section into a long rope, about the same thickness as your finger.

Cut each rope of dough into sections ½ wide, about the size of a dime.

Very lightly sprinkle the balls of dough with flour to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Add  2 to 3 inches of cooking oil to a heavy bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Allow oil to reach a frying temperature of 350°F. (Tip – Use an instant-read candy thermometer to determine the oil temperature.)

Make sure the oil is hot enough, oil that isn’t hot enough will soak into the struffoli, also check in between batches to make sure it’s’ still hot at 350°F. Fry struffoli in batches making sure not to overcrowd the pan, use a long slotted spoon to turn balls in the oil so they cook golden brown evenly on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, lift them out of the oil and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Allow to cool.

In a separate large saucepan over medium heat just one pint of honey until it’s liquidy. Remove from the heat and add the fried dough balls into the saucepan and toss to fully coat with the melted honey.

Mound the honey’d struffoli balls on a pretty plate and sprinkle with rainbow nonpareils. Drizzle with a little extra honey to taste. Press candied cherries and sugared almonds on top for decor.

Struffoli are best enjoyed the same day!