Malasadas (Portuguese donuts)

You all know that I am planning on retiring in Hawaii, right? What’s not to love about a tropical paradise where the weather is always in the 70s or 80s, air conditioning is optional, and everyone is always in a good mood? Oh, and did I mention the food?

My husband and I are diligently saving up to retire in Hawaii. We dream about eating ahi tuna poke on a weekly (if not daily) basis, and being able to visit the beach and surf on a whim (don’t worry, I’ve already located the nearest ice skating rink). One thing we’d like to eat for breakfast every day is a malasada from Leonard’s Bakery. Every morning without fail, there is a line out the door. You can buy plain malasadas, ones filled with custard and various fruit jams. Oh, and in case you’re not familiar with malasadas, they are Portuguese donuts.

I’ve been meaning to make malasadas for several years now, but I never found the time or occasion to try them. Donuts are always best the day they are made, and what on earth was my husband and I going to do with 24+ donuts? My skating friend  K and her husband recently moved to a new house and invited several of us over for their annual Memorial Day party and housewarming, so this was the perfect excuse to make malasadas (her husband had also been begging for me to make malasadas as well).

I made the mistake of dropping the dough into the oil when it was too hot, so a bunch of them came out burnt. The outsides were blackened while the inside was still raw. Make sure you get your oil nice and hot, but then allow it to cool down before you begin frying the donuts. I made chocolate and vanilla pastry cream to fill the donuts, but I wasn’t able to get that part to work. My pastry tip wasn’t secure enough, and I ended up with a gloppy mess. So, I brought the pastry cream separately and let the guests dip their donuts instead.

I’m happy to report that these were a huge hit at the party, and I’m looking forward to making these again. Hope you try these wonderful malasadas from the 50th state.

Malasadas (Portuguese donuts)

Malasadas are a staple breakfast item in Hawaiian culture. They're essentially stuffed donuts!
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Resting time2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Keyword: Breakfast
Servings: 36
Author: Eva Bakes


  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tabslespoon granulated sugar divided
  • 2/3 cup milk heated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs well beaten
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter melted
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Cinnamon-sugar for coating about 1/4 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon to taste


  • In a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water and 1 TBSP of sugar. Gently mix it and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes or until it becomes frothy. Add the heated milk (I zapped mine in the microwave for about 90 seconds), vanilla, eggs and melted butter. Mix well and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, or in a large bowl if mixing by hand, whisk together the flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, salt and nutmeg. Turn the mixer on low and slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Increase the speed until the flour is fully incorporated and you get a soft, pliable dough. Add more flour if the dough is too wet. If mixing by hand, form a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the yeast mixture and gently knead until a soft dough forms.
  • Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and allow to rest in a warm spot until doubled in size (about 1-2 hours). My dough did not rise initially, so I stuck it in the microwave and heated it in two 30-second increments. Then I allowed the dough to rise for another hour.
  • After the dough has doubled, punch it down and pinch off golf-ball sized pieces. Shape into a ball (do not roll the dough - pull the sides of the dough away from the center and gather it in the back. Twist the "sides" of the dough together in the back). Cover and allow to rest for another 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a heavy high-sided pot, SLOWLY heat about 1-2 inches of oil to 325 degrees. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot or else your malasadas will be burned on the outside and raw on the inside.
  • Working in small batches, drop the malasadas into the hot oil. Flip them over once they start to turn golden brown on the bottom. Each batch will take about 7-10 minutes to fry.
  • Transfer the donuts to a paper-towel-lined plate and allow the excess oil to run off. Once the malasadas have slightly cooled, roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  • If desired, you can add various fillings to the insides of the malasadas - vanilla or chocolate pastry cream or fruit jam/cream would all be delicious.


Serve these the day they are made. If needed, they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature but will start getting soggy.
Source: Chef Leonard Rigo of Leonard's Bakery, via the Food Network

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