Each of these fresh homemade jelly-filled donuts are deep fried to pillowy golden brown perfection, then dusted with powdered sugar for an extra special touch of sweetness. I fill them with strawberry jelly, but you can use any jelly you like!
Like my crumb cake donuts, these are yeast-raised brioche donuts, but they're a bit smaller — about half the size of a jelly donut you'd get at a bakery.
Never made donuts before? Don't worry! I've got all my best tips for using brioche dough for donuts, how to fill jelly donuts, as well as deep frying tips for beginners to guide you through the process.
I usually make these deep fried jelly-filled donuts along with my extra-crispy potato pancakes for Hanukkah (and because I can reuse the oil from the donuts to fry the potato pancakes), but they're honestly great all year round.
In Poland, jelly-filled paczki are served on Fat Tuesday, a tradition that has carried over in the United States, particularly in the heavily Polish-American communities in Michigan, where Fat Tuesday is officially known as "Paczki Day."
Whether you call these them Polish packzi, Jewish sufganiyot, German berliners, Italian bomboloni, or British jam donuts, lots of cultures agree: deep fried yeasted jelly-filled donuts dusted with powdered sugar are a real treat!
About This Recipe
The dough for these homemade jelly-filled donuts is my base brioche bread dough, plus the addition of vanilla for a more dessert-y vibe. So if you've made that, the first part of this jelly donut recipe will feel very familiar to you!
You could also use the softer version this dough from my brioche hot dog buns recipe which uses an extra egg yolk and milk powder to make even softer, fluffier homemade jelly donuts.
Another thing that makes these homemade jelly donuts unique is that they're quite a bit smaller than the giant pillowy jelly donuts you'd get at a bakery.
This is because I'm not the biggest fan of jelly-filled donuts in part because they're so huge and messy to eat. So these are my ideal size: three-bite jelly donuts. They're about twice the size of a donut hole, but half the size of a full-size jelly donut. The small size makes them much easier to eat quickly without making a mess!
While some people make jelly donuts by dividing the dough and rolling it into flattened balls (similar to my homemade burger buns), I've found that method is less forgiving for anyone who is new to shaping dough balls.
Instead, I roll the brioche dough flat and cut round donut shapes out of it. It's a much more reliable and beginner-friendly method.
Yes, it does leave you with some scrap donut dough leftover, but you can simply use a smaller 1" round cutter to cut homemade donut holes out of the excess, and fry up the scraps so none goes to waste.
Filling the jelly donuts is where things can get a little messy, but once you get the hang of it it's quite easy. The trick is to use a true jelly (not jam or preserves) and to open up the center of the freshly fried donuts with a paring knife to make room for the jelly.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Here's what you need to make these fresh homemade jelly-filled donuts.
Here's what you'll need to make these homemade fried jelly-filled donuts with a powdered sugar coating! See recipe card for ingredient quantities.
- Jelly - I use strawberry jelly, but any fruit jelly will work. It's important that you use jelly and not jam or preserves here. Both jam and preserves have fruit bits in them, which makes them hard to pipe. Jelly, on the other hand, is made from fruit juice and will be easy to pipe.
- All Purpose Flour - No fancy flour needed! I use King Arthur Baking's all-purpose flour which has a slightly higher protein content which makes it a little chewier. If you're using store brand flour, you may see better results with a bread flour. But regular all purpose should work just fine!
- Milk - Whole milk works best — the fat content is an important part of this enriched dough.
- Large Egg - If you use a different-sized egg, you may find the dough stickier or drier than it should be. It will still work, you just may need to add more milk or flour in the initial mixing stages! In the U.S. a large egg (without the shell) weighs 57 grams (approximately 2 ounces).
- Honey - To sweeten the dough. You'll want to use a honey that has a flavor you really like here. Yum!
- Instant Yeast - Instant yeast is sometimes also called "rapid rise," "quick rise," or "bread machine" yeast. Active dry yeast can be used as well, see recipe notes for how to adjust.
- Vanilla Bean Paste - I like the concentrated flavor of a vanilla bean paste, but vanilla extract or the seeds from one vanilla bean pod will also work!
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. As long as you measure your salt by weight, it doesn't matter what brand or type of salt you use. If you're measuring by volume (teaspoons) cut the amount of salt in half.
- Unsalted Butter - Make sure your butter is softened truly to room temperature. The colder and firmer your butter is, the longer it will take to incorporate into the dough. If you use salted butter, cut the amount of salt in the dough in half or omit it entirely.
- Powdered Sugar - For dusting! This is also sometimes called "confectioner's sugar."
- Neutral Oil - For frying the donut holes. You'll want a neutral oil like canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, or grapeseed oil.
🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
Mise en place is a French culinary term that literally translates to "putting in place."
It basically means: Measure all your ingredients and make sure you have all the right tools and equipment ready to go when you need them before you start working.
This can make a huge difference in a) how enjoyable you find the baking and cooking process and b) the success of your recipe!
Here's the mise en place you'll need before you begin this recipe:
- Soften the butter - The best way to soften butter to room temperature is to leave it out for 1-3 hours (or overnight if it’s very cold in your kitchen). If you don't remember to do that, you can microwave the wrapped stick of butter for 4-5 seconds per side.
- Warm the Milk - Microwave the milk in 10-15 second bursts in the microwave until it is warm to the touch but not hot (90°F).
- Bring the egg to room temperature - Submerge the egg in very hot water for 5-10 minutes.
How to Make Brioche Dough for Jelly-Filled Donuts
These donut holes are made from a basic brioche dough. Brioche dough is enriched with fat from butter, whole milk, and eggs, as well as sugar (or honey, in this case). The milk, eggs, vanilla, and honey are liquids, so they get mixed and kneaded with the dry ingredients first.
The softened butter is added in a second mixing stage because it's a solid fat; if added with the liquid ingredients, it would coat the flour and prevent it from absorbing them.
Psst! I've gone into more detail about brioche and how to troubleshoot it in my brioche bread loaf post, and I recommend heading there to read more about it if it's your first time making brioche.
Here's the basic donut dough process:
- Mix the dough - Whisk the dry ingredients together, then whisk the liquid ingredients together and pour them into the dry ingredients. Mix everything together with the dough hook until it comes together in one mass on the dough hook and there aren't any dry bits of flour left in the bottom.
- Knead the dough - Increase the speed and knead on medium until the dough passes the windowpane test.
- Add the butter - Add the soft, room temperature butter 1 tablespoon at a time, letting it fully incorporate between each addition. You're asking the dough to incorporate quite a lot of fat each time you add a new chunk of butter, so be patient. It can take 60 seconds for each cube of butter to incorporate.
- Knead the dough - Once the butter has been added, knead the dough again on medium speed until it passes the windowpane test a second time.
After mixing, before kneading.
After kneading, before adding butter.
After adding butter and kneading.
Finish by shaping the dough into a ball by tucking all the ends under so the top is nice and smooth and place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover it to rise.
You can either let the dough rise for 1 hour at room temperature until doubled in size followed by 1 hour in the fridge to firm up the butter OR pop it directly in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.
With either approach, once the dough is in the fridge it will be fine in there for up to 24 hours. So it's really up to you how far in advance you want to make the dough before cutting and frying the donut holes.
Cutting & Frying Donuts
Turn the cool donut dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Try to get it all in one piece or as un-wrinkled as possible to make it easier to roll out smoothly.
It's okay if it's not perfect, or if you need to scrape a few stuck bits out of the bottom of the bowl and stick them onto it. It'll just make things a little easier for you if you can get it in one clean piece.
Use a rolling pin to gently roll out the dough. The butter in the dough will warm up as you work it, so dust in more flour (lightly) only if needed to prevent sticking.
Keep rolling until the dough is about a quarter inch thick all the way around, though it's okay if the dough is a little thinner in some spots.
Use a 2.25" or 2.5" round cutter to cut as many donuts out of the dough as possible. Keep them as close together as you can.
Arrange the donuts and any scrap dough on a lined sheet pan, cover, and let rise somewhere warm for 45-60 minutes.
It can be a little hard to tell when the donuts have completed their second rise because they're so flat. You're basically just looking for them to look a little puffy and airy, a little taller than they were when you first cut them.
Towards the end of this rise time, begin heating about 3-4 inches of oil in a large pot OR Dutch oven with a candy thermometer attached. Bring the oil to 350°F.
To check if the oil is ready, fry up a single sacrificial donut hole or donut to check for doneness — that will give you a sense of how long it will take for them to fry!
Working in batches, use a wire spider to lower about 4-5 donuts into the oil all at once.
Use a toothpick, paring knife, or the pointy end of a thermometer to gently poke any large air bubbles that appear.
Fry the donuts for 4-5 minutes total, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 350°F.
Flip the donuts every 30-60 seconds OR flip them once halfway through, around 2 minutes in.
Remove the donut holes to a sheet pan lined with paper towels and a wire cooling rack set inside it.
This allows any excess oil to drip off, and leaves room for air to circulate around the donuts so they don't get soggy.
Let the fresh donuts cool on the wire rack for at least 15-20 minutes before proceeding with the filling. You don't want to burn yourself on the hot donuts!
How to Fill Jelly Donuts
Before you begin filling the jelly donuts, you'll want to make sure there's space inside for the jelly to fit. You'll also want to have a paper towel nearby to wipe the tip of the piping bag clean and to wipe any overflow jelly off the donuts if needed.
Insert a paring knife into the side of the donut, then carefully rotate and wiggle it around inside to create a pocket.
Insert the tip of the piping bag into the hole and slowly pipe in the jelly as you withdraw the piping bag.
In an ideal world, every jelly donut will have the same amount of filling, but even when I make them I end up with some that have more filling than others.
One of the hardest things to learn when you're making a filled dessert like this is figuring out how much filling is actually inside when you can't see it. In pastry school we were taught to get a feel for the weight of the jelly inside the donuts.
If I'm being honest, I never quite got the hang of that. So I just do my best to feel like I'm applying the same amount of pressure for the same amount of time with each donut. And that's what you should do too.
If you're squeezing jelly into the donut and suddenly it all starts squishing out at the top, that's a good sign the donut is full!
Regardless of how much filling is actually in the middle, they'll all taste great. So don't sweat it if they're not all perfectly even; it's the taste that matters!
Once your donuts have been filled with jelly, lay them all flat on the cooling rack and dust both sides with powdered sugar. Start by dusting the bottoms, then flip them over so the prettier top side is facing up and dust that too.
That's it! Your homemade jelly-filled donuts are done and ready to serve.
These jelly-filled donuts are best enjoyed within the first 2-4 hours after filling. Donuts are always best eaten while still fresh.
I don't recommend trying to store jelly donuts for later, though you can keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours if you really need to. They just won't be as good as if they were fresh, because the jelly will have absorbed into the dough, making them kind of soggy. But if you don't mind that, have at it!
Deep Frying Tips for Beginners
- Use a heavy-bottom pot for your frying. I use this all-clad stock pot but a dutch oven is also a great option. Basically just don't use pots that are copper or aluminum.
- My favorite thermometer to use while frying is one of these though candy thermometers also work really well. The clamp holds the stem at an angle so you can be sure you're getting the temperature in the center of the pot. Adjust your burner regularly to maintain 350F. You may even need to turn the burner completely off for a little bit.
- DON'T WALK AWAY! Hot oil looks a lot like cold oil in the pot, it doesn't start bubbling and boiling like water does. It will start bubbling once you add your doughnut dough. You might need a higher burner temp than you think to get it to the right temp, but once it's at temp you'll likely only need the burner on low-to-medium to maintain the right heat while frying.
- Use a wire spider, metal tongs, or slotted spoon to transfer your food in and out of the hot oil without splashing yourself.
- Dispose of your oil properly — don't pour it down the drain. Use a funnel to transfer the oil (once cool) back to the bottle it came in, then throw out the sealed container. There are great tips for how to reuse oil to reduce waste here.
Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- Always make more donuts than you need — you want a few extras in case something goes wrong with the frying or filling.
- Optional: Add 2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest to the dry ingredients when making the dough for a sweet, citrusy flavor.
- Use a stand mixer to make this donut hole dough. You cannot use a hand mixer to make brioche dough.
- If you have one of the tilt-head KitchenAid stand mixers, the motor may struggle with this dough; you may need to hold the bowl in place to make sure it doesn’t unscrew or come loose. You can always lower the speed and knead for longer if your mixer is struggling with the higher speeds. If you have a bowl-lift stand mixer, you'll still want to keep an eye on it the whole time it's mixing and kneading so it doesn't walk itself off the counter.
- You shouldn't need to go above speed 6 on your KitchenAid mixer at any point while you're making this dough. Most of the time speeds 2-4 are just fine!
- Room temperature = 72-75°F. If it's cold in your kitchen, the dough may need an extra 30-60 minutes to rise. I've been using this seed starting heat mat to help my dough rise properly in my cold kitchen. It's less than $15 and has a very gentle heat; I just put my mixing bowl or sheet pan right on top of the mat. It works beautifully.
- Don't discard the dough scraps! Fry them up at the end as a little snack for you.
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of dry and liquid ingredients so that the cookie dough behaves the way we want it to. I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to volume measurements, I would be using Google — just like you would. And there's no set standard for how much "1 cup" of flour weighs (I use 120 grams, like King Arthur Baking does, but other recipe developers use as much as 150 grams as "1 cup"), which means I wouldn't be able to promise you'd get the same delicious results!
I don't know! I don't have an air fryer. If you try them in an air fryer, please leave a comment below and let me know how they turn out!
To get the lighter colored ring around the middle of the donuts, flip the donuts just once halfway through. For donuts that are evenly browned all the way around, flip them more frequently.
TL;DR — Recipe Summary
- Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Use dough hook to mix until combined in a shaggy dough.
- Knead until windowpane stage is reached, adjusting dough as needed.
- Add room temperature butter 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated.
- Knead until windowpane stage is reached again.
- Cover and rest the dough for 3-24 hours in the fridge, or 1 hour at room temp followed by 1-24 hours in the fridge.
- Roll the dough ¼" thick and cut the donuts using a 2.25"-2.5" round cutter. Arrange them in rows on a lined sheet pan, cover and rest 45-60 minutes.
- Fry the donuts in 350°F oil for 4-5 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer to a cooling rack to drain.
- Poke holes with a paring knife, then fill the donuts with jelly and dust with powdered sugar.
Fresh Homemade Jelly-Filled Donuts
For the Dough
Frying, Filling & Finishing
- 2-3 quarts canola oil (or other neutral oil)
- 260 grams fruit jelly (NOT jam or preserves)
- 80 grams powdered sugar
- Mix the dough. Combine flour, salt, and yeast the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a separate bowl, whisk together warm milk, honey, vanilla, and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together in a shaggy messy ball on the dough hook, about 3-5 minutes. The dough will look dry at first, but will hydrate as it mixes. Be patient!
- Knead the dough. Increase speed to medium-low and knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, ideally until it passes the windowpane test. If it doesn't pass, cover and let the dough rest for 5 minutes, knead 1 minute more, then proceed to the next step.
- Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Let each piece fully incorporate before adding more. Pause the mixer to scrape the butter down into the bowl occasionally as needed. It can take up to a minute per piece of butter. Be patient!
- Knead the dough again. Increase speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth, shiny, and passes the windowpane test again, about 5-7 minutes.
- Cover and rise. Tuck the edges of the dough under so you have a nice ball with a smooth top. Place in a lightly greased container and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour until doubled in size, then 1-24 hours in the fridge to cool it down before cutting. Alternately, place it in the fridge immediately and let it rise for 3-24 hours in the fridge before cutting.
Cutting & Proofing Donuts
- Roll out the dough. Turn the chilled brioche dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Use your hands to gently flatten the dough trying to avoid any big wrinkles or creases in the surface. Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thick, dusting lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- Cut the donuts. Use a 2¼"-2½" round cutter to cut as many donuts out of the dough as possible. Get them as close to each other as possible to get the most out of the dough. Use a 1" cutter to cut donut holes out of the scrap dough.
- Final Rise. Arrange the donuts, donut holes, and any scrap dough on a parchment lined sheet pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 45-60 mins, until the donuts are looking a little bit puffy.
- Heat the oil. Toward the end of the rise time, begin heating about 3-4 inches of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, using a candy thermometer or frying thermometer to bring the oil to 350°F. Line a second sheet pan with paper towels and place a wire cooling rack inside it.
- Fry the donut holes. Use a wire spider to gently lower 4-5 donuts at a time into the oil all at once. Fry each batch for 4-5 minutes total, flipping the donuts every 30-60 seconds or once at the halfway mark. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain an oil temperature of 350°F. Remove the donuts to the cooling rack to drain and cool.
Filling Jelly Donuts
- Make sure you have paper towels nearby to wipe off the piping bag and to wipe the donuts if any jelly overflows while you're filling them.
- Poke the holes. Use a paring knife to carefully poke a hole through the side of each donut. Wiggle the knife around, back and forth inside the donut to create a pocket for the jelly.
- Fill with jelly. Fill a small piping bag with jelly. Snip off a small bit at the end and insert the tip of the piping bag into the donut hole. Gently squeeze from the top of the piping bag (where it's twisted to keep the jelly in) to fill the donut with jelly. Slowly pull the piping bag out of the donut as you fill it.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Arrange the jelly donuts on the wire cooling rack so their bottom sides are facing up. Dust with powdered sugar. Flip them over and dust the top sides with powdered sugar too. Serve immediately!
- Optional: Add 2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest to the dry ingredients when making the dough for a sweet, citrusy flavor.
- If using active dry yeast, use 7 grams instead and mix with the warm milk before adding to the dough instead of adding it to the dry ingredients.
- Room temperature = 72-75°F. If it's cold in your kitchen, the dough may need an extra 30-60 minutes to rise.
- Don't discard the dough scraps — use a small 1" cutter to cut donut holes out of the scraps, or fry the scraps at the end as a little snack for you!
- To get the lighter colored ring around the middle of the donuts, flip the donuts just once halfway through. For donuts that are evenly browned all the way around, flip them more frequently.