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Pennsylvania Dutch Fasnacht Doughnuts | Angled photo of 3 rows of different Pennsylvania Dutch Fasnacht Doughnuts | Image and Copyright Policy: © Beyond the Butter, LLC

Pennsylvania Dutch Fasnacht Doughnuts

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 3 hours (includes rest time for dough)
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes (for frying, plus 45 minutes for decorating and filling)
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: Approx. 32 fasnacht doughnuts
  • Category: Donuts & Doughnuts
  • Method: Deep-Frying
  • Cuisine: Dessert, Breakfast


Celebrate Fastnacht Day with these homemade Pennsylvania Dutch Fasnacht (meaning "the night before fast") Doughnuts! These delicious fasnacht doughnuts are deep fried to a golden brown and covered with sugar, cinnamon sugar, and powdered sugar. To be a little fancier, fill some of them with this perfect vanilla pastry cream! 

Fasnacht doughnuts were made using a 2.5" circle cutter.



pennsylvania dutch fasnacht doughnuts

  • 2 cups Milk, scalded and then cooled
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 cup Warm Water
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 7 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 3-4 cups Canola Oil (for frying the Fasnachts)
  • Additional Sugars for Coating the Fasnachts - Granulated Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Cinnamon Sugar)

vanilla pastry cream (for doughnut filling, optional step)

  • 1, 3.4 ounce box  of Vanilla Pie Filling and Pudding Mix
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

additional items needed

  • circle cutter (I used a 2.5" dia circle)
  • candy/deep fryer thermometer
  • deep, heavy skillet or large stock pot
  • baking sheets (for placing the cut doughnuts on before and after frying)
  • paper towels (to absorb any grease from frying the doughnuts)
  • cooling rack (optional, but can be placed on top of the paper towels to help catch any extra grease from the doughnuts)
  • tongs or slotted spoon (for taking the doughnuts out after frying)


pennsylvania dutch fasnacht doughnuts

  1. Using a small saucepan, scald the milk and allow to cool. 
  2. Combine the 2 packets of active dry yeast and the warm water in the mixing bowl of the stand mixer that's fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let the yeast proof (or sit) for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the melted butter, cooled milk, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and eggs. Then set the mixer speed to low and add in the flour one cup at a time, until the dough begins to form. There will be a lot of dough and it will be sticky, but it should pull away from the sides of the bowl easily. If you find that the dough is just way too sticky, you can add 1 tbsp. of flour until the dough is slightly tacky.
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5-8 minutes until smooth.
  5. Then place in a lightly greased, medium size bowl, flipping it over once to coat the entire ball of dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap (do NOT use aluminum foil) and also place a clean, dry kitchen towel over top, and place in a warm, draft free spot for about 1 - 1.5 hours or until it's almost doubled in size. That last part is very important!
  6. Gently punch the dough down in the center, then turn it out on to a clean and lightly floured surface and, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about a 1/2" thickness. Coat your circle cutter (mine was 2.5" dia in size) with some flour and then cut out the fasnacht doughnuts, placing them onto a parchment lined baking sheet (space them out about 1" a part, they will get bigger). With any leftover dough you may have, you can roll some into balls to make donut holes.
  7. Cover the fasnacht doughnuts with a clean tea or dish towel and allow to rest for 1 hour or until they've almost doubled in size.
  8. Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with about 2-3 layers of paper towels with a cooling rack placed over top. Set aside. Note, the cooling rack part is optional.
  9. When ready to fry the fasnacht doughnuts, place the canola oil into a deep heavy skillet or stock pot and heat until it reaches 365ºF. Two important notes here: 1. Add in the oil BEFORE you turn on the heat to heat up the oil. 2. Do not guess at what you think the temperature might be — use a candy/deep fryer thermometer.
  10. Place 2-3 doughnuts in at a time for approx. 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side, turning them over with either tongs or a slotted spoon. You want the donuts to be a nice medium golden brown in color. At the correct temperature, they will fry quickly, so please pay attention while you're doing this part! If you're new to making homemade doughnuts, I would recommend only frying one at a time until you get the hang of it.
  11. When the doughnuts are ready, carefully remove them from the oil and place them onto the cooling rack or paper towels to let any excess oil drain off of it. Allow them to cool slightly before adding the opening for the filling (optional).
  12. When doughnuts are still warm and ready for coating, place 2-3 in a large ziplock bag with either the sugar or cinnamon sugar, and toss around until covered. Place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet or just begin to eat them.
  13. The doughnuts should be cooled before adding the vanilla pastry cream filling.

vanilla pastry cream (for doughnut filling, optional step)

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla pudding mix and milk until it thickens.
  2. Using your hand-mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on high speed for several minutes until medium peaks form.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the vanilla pudding mix with a spatula until completely blended.
  4. Take a large piping bag fitted with a piping tip of  your choice (I used the Wilton 1M tip) and fill with the vanilla pastry cream. Pipe into the doughnuts until filled.


  • Additional items mentioned in the ingredients list are recommendations only. Use what items you have available to you or what you've used before that works well.
  • If you don't have any cinnamon sugar on hand, it's very easy to make! Check out my Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe for some pointers!

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