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Nana Fontana’s Struffoli (Italian Honey Balls)

Nana Fontana's Struffoli

One of the sweet delights of Italian cooking, struffoli are often served at wedding feasts.



  • 1 stick salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 cups flour + 1/2 cup in reserve for rolling out dough
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup honey
  • Sugar sprinkles


  • 1/2 to 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 24 festive cupcake liners


  1. Whisk melted butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl. Add the orange and lemon zest. Mix in the 3 cups of flour, a little at a time, until the dough becomes firm and you can handle it without it sticking to your hands. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.
  2. Take enough dough to fit in the palm of your hand, about the size of a golf ball, and roll it between your hands to make a "rope" about one-fourth inch in diameter. (Note: You can also roll the rope gently on the surface with both hands to make the width of the rope more uniform.) Dust with tiny amounts of additional flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut the rope into pea-sized slices and gently pinch the ends to form a small rectangle. These will form into little balls when deep-fried. Place them on a lightly floured cookie sheet, covering with wax or parchment paper. (Note: You can also stop here, and place them in the fridge overnight and fry them the next day. If you do that, cover with plastic wrap.)
  3. Fill a large heavy bottomed saucepan with enough oil to fill the pan about one-third of the way. Heat the oil to approximately 375 degrees F degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, test the temperature with one of the balls, which should take only 1 to 2 minutes to turn golden brown.
  4. Fry the balls in small batches, using a slotted spoon or fry basket. Once they're golden brown remove from the oil and place them on a paper-towel covered cookie sheet in one layer. Allow to cool for 10 minutes (Note: Do not stack them on top of each other until fully cooled.)
  5. In a large bowl, drizzle the fried balls with honey. Use a spatula or your hands to mix them gently so that all the balls are coated with honey. Add more honey as needed, as the fried balls will soak up some of the honey. (Optional: You can also add chopped walnuts or pecans to the honey balls and mix gently.)
  6. Mound up a tower of honey balls or scoop out enough to fill up a cupcake liner. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Nurse Practitioner Barbara Dehn, RN, MS, NP.

Recipe and photo credit (used with permission): National Honey Board