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How to Make Neapolitan Donuts – Graffe Napoletane Recipe 🍩

This zesty Neapolitan donut is tossed in sugar and typically served for Carnevale!

This traditional Neapolitan donut is light, zesty and delicious! Graffe are typically prepared for Carnevale in Napoli and made of a potato base with a hint of lemon then tossed in granulated sugar. These are easy to make at home but require a little time for rising! This recipe from Laura Vitale makes 24 graffe. 


  • 1/4 cup milk, slightly warm
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading the dough
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed boiled potatoes (from about 1 pound potatoes; peeled and boiled until very soft)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying


  1. Mix together the milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for a couple minutes.
  2. Mix together the flour, mashed potatoes, butter, limoncello if using, vanilla, salt, egg, lemon zest, the milk and yeast mixture and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl until it forms into a dough (it will be sticky at this point).
  3. Dump it onto a well-floured surface and knead until the dough comes together and is nice and smooth and no longer sticky (this might cause you to use a bit more flour than you might expect, so keep some on hand).
  4. Once your dough is ready, line a large baking sheet with a lint-free kitchen towel and sprinkle the towel lightly with flour.
  5. Cut little pieces (the size you cut depends on how big you want the doughnuts to be; I make them small, so I cut pieces as big as a golf ball) of the dough and roll each one out into a 6-inch rope, then pinch the ends together to form a circle.
  6. Place on the baking sheet, leaving a few inches of space between. Continue forming the rest and once you’re all done, cover them with another kitchen towel and allow them to rise in a warm spot until they have doubled in volume, about an hour.
  7. Put the remaining 2 cups sugar in a baking dish. Pour enough oil into a large pot to come up the sides a few inches and heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350 degrees F.
  8. Drop a few doughnuts at a time in the oil and cook until golden brown, turning once, about a minute per side.
  9. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate, then immediately roll them in the sugar to coat.
  10. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
    Best when they are hot so dig in!


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