Serve these Greek donuts — Loukoumades — with a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some toasted sesame seeds. No wonder this is such a popular dessert!
Try your hand and making these homemade New Orleans style beignets, too!
Sometimes referred to as lokma, these are popular in Turkey, Egypt, and Greece. Some say these sweet Greek donuts were served at the first Greek Olympic games! One thing is certain: These syrup drenched dough balls have some staying power.
These sweet Greek donuts start with a yeast dough. Fried to golden perfection, they’re covered in a honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar for delightfully sweet treat.
Making yeast dough might sound daunting, but it’s really pretty easy. You’ll just need to make sure that you allow enough time for the dough to rise. In this case, about an hour. You don’t have to actually do anything while the dough rises — put your feet up and relax!
Flour — When I bake with all-purpose flour I opt for the unbleached version. Bleached flour is very white, but it’s also treated with bleaching agents that I don’t really need in my food.
Active Dry Yeast — This is the ingredient that makes the loukoumades dough rise.
Sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic.
Milk — Use whatever type you typically keep on hand. The addition of milk makes a more tender dough, though there is disagreement among Greek chefs as to whether or not milk is part of an authentic loukoumades recipe. (Disclaimer: I’m no expert on traditional Greek food, but I do love experimenting with recipes, especially desserts!)
Eggs — Let the eggs come to room temperature before adding them to the dough.
Butter — Allow the butter to come to room temperature for easy mixing. I used salted butter; if you prefer unsalted, that will work fine.
Honey — This is used as part of the drizzle for the cooked doughnuts.
Making these Greek doughnuts
Start by combining the yeast and water. This is called “proofing” and allows you to be certain that your yeast is fresh. It also gives the yeast a little bit of a head start. It should begin to get bubbly in 5-10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the milk, sugar, and salt to dissolve the dry ingredients. Add the yeast, butter, and eggs, then add the flour about a cup at a time, to create a smooth batter.
Note: You can mix the dough for Greek honey balls by hand or use a high speed stand mixer.
Cover the finished dough loosely with a towel and set in a warm environment to rise. While the dough is rising, you can make the honey syrup by combining the honey and water in a sauce pan and bringing it to a boil.
Once the dough had doubled in size, use a scoop or your hands to remove a small portion of dough, enough to create two-inch dough balls. This will make a soft dough — just do your best to form a somewhat uniform small ball. Gently place the balls in the hot oil. Safety is paramount when you’re working with hot oil. It can splatter and burn.
As the loukoumades cook in the oil, they may roll over on their own. If not, you’ll need to give them a little assist. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, then remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer. Drain fried dough balls on paper towels.
Once all of the loukoumades are golden brown, it’s time to dip and roll them in honey simple syrup. When they’re all coated, place the doughnuts on a serving tray and sprinkle with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and — optionally — toasted walnuts.
For a fun Greek-inspired meal, start to finish, serve this dessert following this homemade shrimp saganaki recipe!
- 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast, (2 packets )
- 1 cup warm water
- ½ cup lukewarm milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup butter, room temperature
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup water
- Oil, for frying (about 4 cups)
- Cinnamon, for garnishing
- Powdered sugar, for garnishing
- Stir yeast into lukewarm water and allow to proof for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar has dissolved.
- Stir in the yeast and mix until combined.
- Add the butter and eggs. Beat to combine.
- Slowly add the flour, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture creates a soft dough.
- Cover the bowl and allow to rest in a warm place free of drafts for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, add honey and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring as needed. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. There should be enough oil in the pot to measure about 1" deep; adjust quantity of oil if necessary. To test for the right temperature, insert a toothpick or bamboo skewer into the oil. If the oil temperature is right, it should bubble.
- Prepare a large baking sheet with paper towels for draining the cooked loukoumades. Place a small bowl of water close to your frying station to keep your tools and/or hands wet to make the dough easier to handle.
- Use a 1 tablespoon scoop or your hands to create a dough ball and carefully drop into the oil. Cook on one side for about 2 to 3 minutes before flipping. Some balls will flip themselves as they cook. Balls will double in size and should be browned on both sides when done.
- Remove the loukoumades from the oil and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
- In small quantities, roll balls in hot honey syrup and then transfer to a large platter or serving dish. Drizzle with any remaining honey syrup. Top with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar prior to serving. Serve immediately for best results.
If the oil is too hot, the dough balls can have a tendency to explode. Use caution as you're frying!
For a vegan drizzle, use maple syrup. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts or sesame seeds if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 20 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 175Saturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 158mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 5g
Originally published in November, 2019; this post has been updated.