Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (2024)

A delicious, authentic Polish Pączki recipe (Polish donuts), traditionally made for Fat Tuesday or Thursday in February, to celebrate the last day before Lent fasting begins.

Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (1)

When it comes to Fat Tuesday, I’m all about the Polish tradition of Paczki! The Polish do it right, because these Polish donuts are definitely a worthy Fat Tuesday splurge!

Jump to:

  • Ingredients and Substitutions
  • Step-by-Step Photos
  • Recipe Tips
  • Making Ahead, Storing and Freezing
  • Get the Recipe: Authentic Polish Paczki
  • More Donut Recipes to Love!

What are Paczki?

Pączki are essentially donuts, made by frying dough, filling with a variety of fruit or custard fillings, and coated with sugar. Paczki are made from a rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk, so they tend to be a little more rich and dense than a typical donut.

Packzi can have a variety of fruit or cream fillings. They can be glazed or covered with either granulated or powdered sugar. In Poland, a stewed plum jam or a wild rose hip jam are the most traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, apple, prune or custard.

When are Paczki eaten?

In Poland, Paczki are eaten on Fat Thursday, which is the last Thursday prior to Ash Wednesday (prior to lent). The traditional reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, in preparation for the fasting of Lent ahead.

In North America, Paczki Day typically occurs on Fat Tuesday, the last day before the beginning of Lent. In some communities with large Polish populations, Paczki day is celebrated on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday.

How do you pronounce Paczki?

While there are slight variations, the typical North American pronunciation of Paczki is POONCH-key. Some prefer more of a PAUNCH-key.

What are traditional Paczki fillings

Traditionally, Paczki are filled with a prune filling, plum jam, custard or a poppy seed filling, but that said, you can fill with any filling you enjoy. I love fruit jam, such as raspberry, strawberry, blueberry or plum. Apple jam/compotes are also good. On the creamy side, Bavarian Cream would also be nice.

Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (2)

Ingredients and Substitutions

Yeast – You can use either Active Dry or regular Instant yeast such as SAF Brand Instant Yeast (my yeast of choice)

Flour – Use regular all-purpose flour. I like to use unbleached all purpose flour, as a rule, though regular bleached all purpose flour will work well here as well.

Milk – Whole milk is recommended, for best flavour and texture. Whole milk is full-fat milk, known as hom*o milk here in Canada. It is generally 3-3.5% butterfat.

Filling – I have used raspberry jam here, as it is my favourite, but any jam is fine here. As noted above, you could also fill with apple, cream or custard. You want to make sure whatever filling you use is not too thin, but also, not too thick, as it needs to be pipe-able to fill the donut.

Oil – for frying the paczki. I like vegetable oil, for frying, though any neutral-tasting oil with a higher smoke point will work here.

You will also need – Eggs (2), white sugar, butter, vanilla, salt.

Tip! Sometimes, traditional Paczki recipes call for a small amount of vodka to be added to the dough, to enhance the flavour and foster a more light and airy texture. If you’d like to experiment with this addition, add about 1-2 Tablespoon of vodka to the dough with the eggs.

Step-by-Step Photos

This is a visual summary of how the Paczki come together. Always refer to the complete instructions in the Recipe Card below.

Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (3)
Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (4)
Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (5)

Recipe Tips

  • I like my Paczki rolled in granulated sugar. There’s just something about that sugar crunch! Some Paczki are made with a thin glaze of icing sugar and milk, if you’d rather go that route. You could also dust them in icing/confectioners’ sugar. Any way you eat them, they’re a really delicious treat and definitely a splurge.
  • You don’t need a deep fryer to make these, although that’s definitely the easiest route, as it keeps the oil a constant temperature and is safer. If you don’t have a fryer, use a deep, heavy pot and a portable thermometer to monitor the temperature. Do be careful though and have a lid handy, just in case. In the unlikely event the oil ignites, simply cover the pot with the lid to extinguish. Keep kids well away from the deep frying process and take care yourself!
  • When deep frying, be sure to use a thermometer to keep the oil temperature constant. If the oil is too hot, it will cook the outside before the inside is cooked. If it is not hot enough, the dough will absorb oil, rather than just cooking the outside to seal the oil out. Also, avoid frying too many Paczki at one time, as it will lower the oil temperature.
  • Be sure to coat your Paczki in granulated sugar while they are still warm, so the sugar will stick. If opting for powdered sugar, obviously you’d want to wait until the Paczki are cool before coating, to avoid melting it. As powdered sugar will dissolve over time, add powdered sugar just before serving.
  • Every deep fryer is a bit different, so if you find the specified 360F oil temperature is either too hot or too cool, don’t hesitate to adjust up or down as needed, until you find the sweet spot for your fryer.
Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (6)

Making Ahead, Storing and Freezing

Paczki are best enjoyed the day they are made, though they are still nice the next day. Don’t store too tightly wrapped, or the sugar coating will get quite moist. Paczki freeze beautifully, so rather than let them get stale, wrap well and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter for 30 minutes to enjoy.

Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (7)

Get the Recipe: Authentic Polish Paczki

Paczki are traditionally eaten on Fat Thursday or Fat Tuesday. Roll fried donuts in granulated sugar, icing sugar or dip into a thin icing sugar glaze. These can be filled with jam or custard. Makes 10-12 paczki donuts.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes mins

Cook Time: 30 minutes mins

Rising Time:: 2 hours hrs 20 minutes mins

Total Time: 3 hours hrs 20 minutes mins

Yield: 10 paczki

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 tsp (7 g) dry active or instant yeast, not rapid or quick-rise yeast
  • 1 cup (227 ml) whole milk, (3% b.f.) scalded and cooled
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups (360 – 420 g) all-purpose flour, use only as much as you need to make a moist, but not sticky dough
  • Oil, for frying
  • White Granulated Sugar, for dusting after frying
  • Jam or custard, for filling (suggested: Raspberry, Blueberry, Cherry or Strawberry Jam)

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk until steaming with small bubbles forming around the edges (about 180F). Do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm (about 105F). *It's important to ensure the milk has cooled to lukewarm, of it may kill the yeast.

  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour. Mix together and let stand for 20-30 minutes, until really bubbly.

  • In the meantime, beat the yolks in a small bowl until they are light and fluffy.

  • To the yeast mixture, add the melted butter and sugar and mix. Add salt and vanilla. Add beaten egg yolks. Slowly add more of the flour to bowl in small increments, adding flour just until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky dough. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 1 minute (adding a bit more flour if it is sticking to your hands or the work surface). Form dough into a ball.

  • Grease a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in size. (This dough is a bit of a slow riser, so expect this rise to be up to 90 minutes).

  • Deflate dough and pat out onto a floured cutting board. With a rolling pin, gently roll into a 1/2-inch thick circle. Gently cut out circles with 3-inch biscuit cutter. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). *You can re-roll the scraps and cut more pieces, though they are never quite as neat as the first cuts. I like to use the ugliest of these ones as "test" ones, to test the temperature of the oil. I fry one, let cool, then cut it open to make sure it is cooking all the way through. I can then adjust time/temperature, as needed from there.

  • Meanwhile, heat oil to 360°F. in a deep fryer or in a large, heavy pot. Fry the Paczki until golden on one side, flip and fry the other side. *Tip! chopsticks are great for flipping the Paczki! Don't try to cook too many at a time, so you don't reduce the temperature of the oil by adding too many at once. Don't rush the frying, to ensure that they are cooked all the way through well. Fry until they are a deep golden colour. Remove paczki to a cooling rack for about 30 seconds, then immediately roll in granulated sugar. Let stand until completely cooled.

  • Once cooled, using a sharp knife, poke a hole on the side. Use a pastry bag with a large plain tip to pipe the jam or custard filling inside.

  • Paczki are best enjoyed when freshly made, but you can freeze any extras up to 3 months.

Notes

Be sure to read the notes above the recipe card, for more tips on making this recipe, as well as step-by-step photos that you may find helpful.

Cuisine: Polish

Course: Snack

Author: Jennifer Maloney

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 227kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 46mg, Sodium: 146mg, Potassium: 95mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 159IU, Vitamin C: 0.002mg, Calcium: 42mg, Iron: 2mg

Tried this recipe?Mention @seasonsandsuppers on Instagram or tag #seasonsandsuppers.

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Jennifer Maloney

Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!

www.seasonsandsuppers.ca/about/

Sweet Recipes Sweet Rolls, Buns and Donuts

originally published on Feb 28, 2014 (last updated Aug 17, 2023)

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195 comments on “Authentic Polish Pączki Recipe”

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  1. Becca GurbaReply

    I plan on making these tomorrow. I was wondering tho, how much oil should I use? Obviously, I need a lot but should it be about an inch or 2 deep?? Maybe more??

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      Hi Becca, you need enough oil that they will float and not rest on the bottom of the pot. Allowing for expansion when it cooks, I think you’d want at least 3 inches, but 4 inches would be even better.

  2. Jennifer FaberReply

    Could you use an air fryer? I know that they taste better deep fried but as just curios is all. We love paczki! My husband is from Poland and his mom used to make them but she never wrote down the recipe so I can carry on the tradition. I am looking forward in trying to make these. Thank you for sharing and Happy Fat Tuesday!

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      Hi Jennifer and no, I really wouldn’t ever go that route. An air fryer isn’t a fryer. It’s a convection oven, so what you’ll get is a bun, not a donut. If you’re goal is to carry on the tradition, fry them :)

  3. MaddyReply

    After letting the dough sit for 20-30 minutes, you say until it’s really “bubbly”. do you mean when you mix it it’s bubbly, or should I be able to physically see the bubbles coming from the dough? Excited to make these! :)

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      Hi Maddy, Normally mixed dough isn’t bubbly, but here we’re starting by just adding 1 cup of flour to the water and yeast mixture, so it will indeed be actually bubbly after it sits 20-30 minutes. As you continue to add flour after that, it won’t be bubbly any more, but will transform into a smooth and moist dough. Hope that helps. Enjoy!

  4. HeidiReply

    I think you are missing the word sticky on step four between the words not and dough. Happy Fat Tuesday! making these right now. 😂

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      Thanks Heidi :) Fixed! Happy Fat Tuesday to you, as well!

  5. StephanieReply

    Paczki in Detroit are up to $35/dozen, so we’re going to try making our own today! Thank you for the recipe and detailed instructions!

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      Thanks Stephanie :) Enjoy!

  6. AnitaReply

    Could one bake these instead of frying?

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      No not really Anita. The frying is what makes these Paczki (and what makes them taste delicious also :)

  7. AmberReply

    Authentic Polish Paczki Recipe | Seasons and Suppers (11)
    This is the most delicious recipe! I filled mine with a cream cheese filling and coated with sugar. Will be making again in the future.

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      Sounds delicious, Amber! So glad you enjoyed them :)

  8. Denise ChrosniakReply

    I have never had one but decided to try to make these today on Fat Thursday! Next time I will use a biscuit cutter (I don’t own one yet) but they still turned out amazing. Used homemade strawberry jam and didn’t fill but glazed inside basically. Also used confectioners sugar. Great instructions in this recipe! Thank you!

    • Jennifer MaloneyReply

      I’m so glad to hear, Denise :) Thanks so much!

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