How to Make Pignolata, Sicilian Fried Dough Balls With Honey and Pine Nuts

How to Make Pignolata, Sicilian Fried Dough Balls With Honey and Pine Nuts

A recipe for making Pignolata which are traditional Sicilian Carnival-time fried dough balls covered in honey and pine nuts.
  • Preparation:
  • Cooking:
  • Total:
  • Serves: 10 persons



  1. Step 1

    Place 1 cup of the flour on a wooden mixing board. Form the flour into a small volcano shape and break the eggs into the center, one at a time. Add the salt and knead together gently, using your hands.
  2. Step 2

    Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a medium-soft, easily molded dough.
  3. Step 3

    Knead the dough until smooth, then divide it in half.
  4. Step 4

    Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured board into a circular piece about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Roll each strip gently between your palms to form a small rope, then cut 1/4-inch-long pieces from the rope. Each cut piece of dough should be about the size of a small marble. Distribute the pieces on a lightly floured board. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
  5. Step 5

    Heat the oil in a deep-sided pot. When very hot, gradually add a few dough pieces and fry in batches, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Brown lightly for 1 to 2 minutes; then remove the fried dough balls from the oil with a perforated spoon or wire-mesh skimmer and drain them on a paper-towel-lined plate or tray.
  6. Step 6

    Mix the sugar and honey in a deep, wide skillet; and heat over a low flame, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved. When very smooth, add the fried dough pieces, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the dough is evenly covered in honey. Remove quickly and arrange on a large platter in a ring or in small clusters, using a spoon to mold the bits together. Sprinkle with pine nuts and candy confetti. Let cool.
  7. Step 7

    Serve by breaking off individual pieces with a fork. Pignolata keeps fresh for 2 weeks when stored in an air-tight container.