Christmas Struffoli

Christmas Struffoli

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 12 to 14
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
336 Calories
4g Fat
71g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 14
Amount per serving
Calories 336
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 37mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 71g 26%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 44g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 6mg 32%
Calcium 24mg 2%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 110mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Struffoli, or tiny balls of crisp-fried dough, are either shaped like a wreath or piled into a pyramid. They're topped with a honey glaze and colorful candy sprinkles or candied fruit. The treat is now an absolute requirement at the end of a traditional Neapolitan Christmas Day dinner. However, in introducing them in La Cucina Napoletana, Caròla Francesconi says their inclusion is relatively recent. They are mentioned several times in an Italian cookery book from 1634, but aren't included in that book's Christmas menu.

The recipe for struffoli is quite old, as is indicated by the presence of variations throughout the Mediterranean basin—they are related to the loukoumades of the Greeks and also to the precipizi that Italian Jews make for Hanukkah.


For the Dough: 

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon grain alcohol

  • 1 pat butter

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/2 lemon, zested

  • 1/2 orange, zested

  • 1 pinch sea salt

  • 2 quarts olive oil, or enough for frying

For the Glaze and Serving:

  • 1 cup honey

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 4 candied cherries, halved

  • 2 ounces candied orange peel, half cut into strips and half finely diced

  • 2 ounces candied citron, half cut into strips and half finely diced

  • 2 ounces candied melon rind, half cut into strips and half finely diced

  • 2 ounces tiny, multicolored candied almonds (diavolini)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for struffoli Neapolitan Christmas treats

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Combine the flour, eggs, alcohol, butter, sugar, both citrus zests, and salt to make a workable dough. Knead it well and let it sit for at least 1 hour, covered.

    dough ball in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Pluck off pieces and roll them out using your fingers to form snakes about as thin as your pinkie and cut them into 1/4 inch-long pieces.

    Cut up pieces of dough

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat until hot. Fry the dough pieces a few at a time in the hot oil until brown and drain them on absorbent paper. Should the oil start to froth after a bit and the froth overflows the pot, change the oil.

    fry dough in a pot with oil

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Take a second, preferably round-bottomed, pot and put the honey, sugar, and water in it.

    Honey, sugar, and water in a pot
  6. Boil the mixture until the foam dies down and it begins to turn yellow. At this point reduce the heat as much as possible.

    sugar mixture in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Add the struffoli and the diced candied fruit.

    struffoli and the diced candied fruit added to the sugar mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  8. Stir to distribute everything evenly through the honey and turn the mixture out onto a plate.

    Christmas Struffoli in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  9. Shape the mixture into a wreath with a hole in the middle, dipping your hands frequently into cold water lest you burn yourself.

    Christmas Struffoli on a platter

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  10. Sprinkle the candied fruit strips and the diavolini over the ring and arrange the cherry halves evenly.

    Christmas Struffoli on a platter

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack


  • Struffoli will keep a week or more if covered and improve with age.​​