Carnival Italian Recipes Italian Pastries

The Fritole (Carnival Sweet Fritters)

The Fritole or Carnival Sweet Fritters. A yeasted sweet fritter laced with liquor-soaked raisins and fragrant pine nuts, and coated abundantly in granulated sugar.

Frìtole are considered an institution of the carnevale di Venezia.

They are the most popular fried sweet treat of the city’s pre-Lenten celebrations, and the pristine bakery cases and storefront windows of every pasticceria (pastry shop) has trays overflowing with frìtole every year.

If you do not like pignoli or are allergic to nuts, simply omit them.

If you cannot consume alcoholic beverages for any reason, you can rehydrate the raisins in hot water.



  • ¼ cup raisins (golden or dark)
  • 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier (you can also use rum, grappa, or Marsala)
  • scant 1 cup milk (whole or 2%), warmed to 100°F -110°F 
  • 2½ Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • scant 2 cups 00 flour or all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar + more for coating
  • ¼ cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 1 small orange or lemon
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying (The amount you use will vary on the size of pan/pot you use.



  1. Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour the Grand Marnier over them. Set aside for the raisins to soak and rehydrate.
  2. Make the sponge: Place the milk in a mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast, whisking well to incorporate the yeast into the milk. Add in ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons of the flour and mix in to incorporate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for half an hour. The mixture will bubble as the yeast activates.
  3. While the sponge is resting, drain the raisins through a colander, reserving the Grand Marnier in a small bowl. Place the raisins on a paper towel and pat dry. Transfer the raisins to the bowl of remaining flour and toss to coat. This will prevent the raisins from sinking to the bottom of the frìtole as they fry.
  4. After the sponge has rested, uncover the bowl and add in the remaining flour-raisin mixture, sugar, pine nuts (if using), egg, orange zest, and reserved Grand Marnier. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate all the ingredients until a thick batter forms, being careful not to over-mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm and draft-free area for 30-45 minutes to rest. After the batter has rested, it will be doubled in size, bubbly, and airy.
  5. Prepare your frying station: Line a baking sheet with 2-3 layers of paper towels and set near the stove. Fill a small bowl with some granulated sugar and set it near the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Place a serving platter next to the bowl of sugar.
  6. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or cast iron skillet over medium heat, pour in the oil, and heat the oil until it registers 350°F  on an instant read/candy thermometer. Use a spoon or a cookie scoop to drop the batter (carefully) into the hot oil in large dollops, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. You want to make the frìtole approximately the size of golf balls, or a touch larger.
  7. Use two forks or chopsticks to flip the frìtole–they will only need to be flipped once because they cook quickly. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the frìtole onto the baking sheet lined with paper towels. Get more frìtole cooking in the hot oil right away. Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the oil from burning.
  8. Take the frìtole that have just finished cooking and turn them a couple of times over the paper towels to dry off any excess oil, then drop them one-by-one into the bowl with the sugar and toss to coat. *Keep a close eye on the frìtole that are frying. Place the sugar-coated frìtole on the serving platter and serve warm.


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