There are some foods that are universally enjoyed across the world. Some excellent examples include ice cream, tea, or sandwiches. However, doughnuts around the world are remarkably inconsistent.

The sugary, circular pieces of fried dough (with a hole in the middle) that may come to mind when we think of doughnuts today are not what you’re likely to find among doughnuts around the world. However different they may seem, these doughnut variations are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. So brew a cup of coffee and read on about 30 delicious doughnuts around the world:

1. An-doughnut (Japan)

This Japanese doughnut is made with fried dough that is filled with a red bean paste. It is similar to the anpan, a Japanese sweet roll that is also often filled with red bean paste.

2. Balushahi (India, Pakistan, Nepal)

Popular in North India, as well as in the neighbouring Pakistan and Nepal, the Balushahi is similar to the glazed doughnut. The dough is made with yoghurt and fried in ghee (clarified butter). It is then soaked in syrup, giving it a moist, sugary centre and a flaky rich exterior.

Balushahi doughnuts around the world
The Indian sweet, Balushahi
3. Bánh rán (Vietnam)

Bánh rán is a deep-fried ball of dough from Vietnam. It is usually made with glutinous rice flour and filled with sweetened mung bean paste scented with jasmine. It is then topped with sesame seeds. A similar dish is the bánh cam, which is not scented but may be covered in sugary syrup.

4. Beignets (France, USA)

Now considered a New Orleans tradition, beignets were originally invented in France. These fluffy squares of dough are fried until golden brown and then dusted with confectioners’ sugar. They are best enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee.

French or New Orleans style beignets
French or New Orleans style beignets are best enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee
5. Berliners (Germany)

Also known as bismarcks, Berliners are puffy dough rounds that are filled with cream, jam or chocolate and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. A popular practical joke involves filling the doughnut with spicy mustard!

6. Bombolone (Italy)

The bombolone (or bomboloni) is also a filled doughnut. Primarily connected with Tuscany, they are filled with a thick creamy custard; tough jam and marmalade are also popular.

Bomboloni doughnuts around the world
Homemade Italian bomboloni filled with berry curd filling
7. Buñuelos (South America)

These bite-sized doughnuts are found throughout Latin American. Though they vary from region to region, they usually consist of thinly rolled balls of yeast dough, often soaked in flavoured syrup, or sprinkled in cinnamon sugar and served with warm honey. This dessert is also said to symbolize good luck.

8. Churros (Spain, Mexico)

Churros can now be found all around the world, but these ridged flute shaped doughnuts originated as a Spanish breakfast and found renewed popularity across Latin America. They are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar after deep frying, and may also be filled with jam or dulce de leche.

spanish tapas churros
Spanish churros served with chocolate and blueberry sauce
9. Fánk (Hungary)

This traditional Hungarian sweet is often flavoured with rum. The light doughnut-like pastry has no hole, and is dusted with sugar and is often filled with thick jams.

10. Faschingskrapfen (Austria)

Similar to the German Berliner, the Austrian Faschingskrapfen is also a round ball of fried dough that has a jam or custard filling. Literally translating to “little carnival cakes,” they are served during St. Joseph’s Day.

Austrian Faschingskrapfen
Marmalade filled Austrian Faschingskrapfen
11. Filhós (Portugal)

These small balls of yeast dough are allowed to rise before being deep-fried. They are then sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

12. French Cruller (France)

Crullers are twisted fried pastries that can be found across Europe. However, the French cruller is known for its light and airy texture. Originating in France, this ring-shaped doughnut is made with choux pastry (also used in profiteroles) that is topped with a simple sugar glaze.

French Cruller Doughnut
A French Cruller doughnut
13. Frittelle (Italy)

Also known as fritole, these Venetian doughnuts are rather like bomboloni, but are only served during Carnival. There are various types, including the Fritelle Veneziane which has pine nuts and raisins in the dough, and versions filled with cream, apples, or chocolate.

14. Fritule (Croatia)

These festive Croatian pastries are similar to the Venetian frittelle and the Dutch oliebollen. However, the fritule are usually flavoured with rum and citrus zest.

Croatian Fritule
The festive Croatian Fritule
15. Gogoși (Romania)

Gogoși are flattened spheres of dough that are deep-fried and dusted with icing sugar. They are often filled with jam, chocolate syrup, or even cheese. It is believed that they date back to Roman times.

16. Hjortetakk (Norway)

Also called hjortebakkels, these small Norwegian doughnuts are usually made with rolls of dough flavoured with cardamom and brandy. However, they do not have any glazing or filling.

17. Jalebi (South Asia and the Middle East)

Jalebis are a popular sweet treat found across South Asia. Sticky flour dough is deep-fried and then soaked in a sugar and saffron syrup. This preserves the juicy interior while giving it a crunchy exterior. In North India, it is often eaten with rabri, a sweetened condensed milk dish.

Jalebi
Jalebis are fried in pure ghee, and are a popular sweet treat found across South Asia
18 Koeksister (South Africa)

Koeksisters are a South African delicacy. These long braided cakes are usually fried and soaked in a cold sweet syrup with cinnamon, ginger, dried tangerine, aniseed, and lemon. They may also be coated in coconut.

Koeksisters
The traditional South African and Afrikaner delicacy, Koeksister
19. Krofne (Central Europe)

These airy filled doughnuts are found across Central Europe. A variation of the German Berliner, they are also often filled with custard, cream, jam, marmalade, or chocolate. In countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia, krofne are popular during the annual Winter Carnival, New Year’s Day and other holidays.

20. Kuih keria (Indonesia)

Kuih keri are essentially sugar-coated, fried, sweet-potato doughnuts also known as Donat Kentang. The sweet potato is mixed with flour, laced with granulated sugar and can be covered with a variety of ingredients. It is found all over Indonesia and Malaysia.

Homemade loukoumades donuts with honey and cinnamon
Homemade Greek loukoumades doughnuts with honey and cinnamon
21. Loukoumades (Greece, Turkey)

Called Lokma in Turkey and Loukoumades in Greece, these delicious deep-fried dough balls are covered in thick honey or syrup then sprinkled with cinnamon.

22. Malasadas (Portugal)

Malasadas are Portuguese doughnuts similar to filhós. The circular, eggy dough is fried and dusted with sugar. They were traditionally eaten the day before Lent and became popular in Hawaii. Malasadas were brought there by early Portuguese settlers.

Malasada
Malasadas were taken to Hawaii by early Portuguese settlers.
23. Oliebollen (Netherlands)

While the name translates to ‘oil balls,’ these deep-fried sweet doughnut-like dumplings are actually quite heavenly. They are dusted with filled with raisins or nuts and dusted with powdered sugar. Sold during the cold winter months, Oilebollen is extremely similar to the Belgian smoutebollen.

24. Pączki (Poland)

These Polish treats have been around since the Middle Ages. The round jam-filled doughnuts are made with grain alcohol, which prevents the absorption of oil, making the light and spongy. The Pączki is celebrated in Polish-heavy American cities on Fat Tuesday. The doughnuts are also similar to the Russian ponchiki.

Oliebollen
The deep-fried sweet doughnut from the Netherlands, Oliebollen
25. Pampushka (Ukraine)

These small yeast-raised doughnuts can be both baked and fried. The pampushka can either be sweet (filled with fruits or preserves, and topped with sugar), or savoury (topped with garlic sauce).

26. Puff-Puff (Central Africa)

Found across various African countries, puff-puffs are made of sweet dough that is deep-fried and rolled in sugar and spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Puff-puffs have numerous varieties, such as bofrot in Ghana, mikate in Congo, beinye in Cameroon, or kala in Liberia, among others. They may be served with a fruit dip and coffee.

Sel roti
Sel roti is a homemade circular-shaped bread popular in Nepal.
27. Sel Roti (Nepal)

This Nepalese delicacy, known as “sweet rice bread” is enjoyed during special celebrations such as the festivals of Dashain and Tihar. The red, crunchy doughnut is made with rice flour and can also be found in Sikkim and Darjeeling in India.

28. Sfenj (North Africa)

This light and spongy Maghrebi doughnut gets its name from the Arabic word for sponge (safanj). Sfenj is not made with sugar and can be eaten plain, sprinkled with sugar, or soaked in honey. Popular in Algeria, Tunisia, Israel, and in Morocco, it is often accompanied by tea or coffee.

Sfenj Morocco
Traditional fresh baked sfenj with tea in Morocco
29. Smultring (Norway)

Similar to the hjortetakk, the Norwegian smultringer (literally “lard ring”) are most popular during Christmas. The thick, heavy, doughnuts are often served with riskrem (ice cream) from stalls and vendors.

30. Sonhos (Brazil Portugal)

Sonhos, which literally means “dream,” are commonly seen in Brazil and Portugal. The light and airy balls are deep-fried, soaked in syrup, and then dusted with a sugar-cinnamon mix.

Sonhos are commonly seen in Brazil and Portugal.
Sonhos are commonly seen in Brazil and Portugal.
31. Sufganiyot (Israel)

This traditional Hebrew dessert is synonymous with Hanukah. The sufganiyah is a deep-fried doughnut filled with jam or custard, and topped with powdered sugar.  It is similar to the Maghrebi sfenj, and the Polish paczki.

32. Tulumba (Turkey)

These small oval-shaped pastries are made with crispy deep-fried unleavened dough which is then soaked in flavoured sweet syrup. It can be found across the Arabic world, where it is called balah alsham.

youtiao doughnuts around the world
A stack of Chinese tradition fried bread sticks or youtiao
33. Vitumbua (East Africa)

Vitumbua is a popular East African Swahili sweet. It is made with rice flour and coconut that is deep-fried, creating a melt-in-your-mouth vegan treat that is often enjoyed at breakfast.

34. Youtiao (China)

This Chinese doughnut is a twisted fried savoury dough stick which is meant to be dipped in warm soy milk and eaten for breakfast. It is known by a variety of other names in other East and Southeast Asian cuisines, such as cakwe in Indonesia, e kya kway in Myanmar, and pathongko in Thailand.

Zeppole pastry
Home made Zeppole pastries typical from south of Italy
35. Zeppole (Italy)

The traditional zeppole comes from Southern Italy. These soft and airy doughnuts are fried until golden brown and topped with ricotta cheese or pastry cream.

Of course, there are lots of other varieties of doughnuts around the world, such as the Bulgarian mekitsas, Norwegian smultring or the Icelandic kleinuhringir. If we’ve missed any, be sure to share them in the comments below.

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