22 fried desserts from around the world that you need to try

Fried desserts are beloved by many.

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Fried desserts are beloved by many.
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Leah Rocketto/INSIDER

  • Fried desserts are common around the world.
  • In South America, many people eat tiny buñuelos, which symbolize good luck.
  • Beignets, a popular New Orleans specialty, originated in France.

Fried desserts are a common treat around the world. No matter how you make it or what you top it with, it seems like nearly every culture has a take on these sweet treats.

Below, you can get an idea of what fried treats look like around the world, and you’ll probably feel inspired to add them all to your food bucket list.


In South America, many people eat tiny buñuelos, which symbolize good luck.

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These bite size dough balls are made differently in South American countries.
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Wikimedia Commons/Juan Mejuto

Buñuelos are bite-size dough balls popular in South American countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, as well as Spain, among other places. They are made with slightly different ingredients in each – in Mexico, for example, they’re often served with a sweet syrup called piloncillo, while in Colombia they are usually made with cheese and are a traditional Christmas treat. They can be tricky to make, but they are said to be a symbol of good luck.


Bombolone is Italy’s version of a doughnut.

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This fried dough can be filled with custard or Nutella.
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Flickr/Gail

Bombolone is round fried dough, usually filled with créme patissiére, chocolate, Nutella or jam. They are often topped with icing or powdered sugar – sort of similar to something like a jelly or Boston creme doughnut. They are made and eaten in various parts of Italy, although the ingredients change with the region.


People in Finland enjoy munkki, sometimes known as May Day doughnuts.

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Munkki is made with cardamom.
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Flickr/Maria Rantanen

Munkki look just like jelly doughnuts, but they have more dough and a different flavor. They are actually made with cardamom and are known as a Vappu, a carnival at the start of spring, tradition. They are really popular on the eve of May Day.


Balushahi is a traditional Indian pastry.

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Balushahi has a different texture and taste than a doughnut.
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Wikimedia

Balushahi is popular in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. It’s similar to a glazed doughnut, but with a different texture and taste. They are typically deep-fried in melted ghee, then soaked in a sweet liquid that hardens to a sugary frosting shell. Balushahi are usually crispy on the outside and softer and fluffier on the inside.


Portuguese sonhos are round balls of fried pastry dough.

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These fried dough pastries are soaked in syrup and dusted in cinnamon-sugar.
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Flickr/Edsel Little

Popular in Brazil and Portugal, sonhos are light and fluffy, round doughnut-like balls of fried pastry dough. They’re fried, soaked in syrup, then dusted in a cinnamon-sugar mix. They’re usually the most popular around the holidays.


Berliners are the German version of jelly doughnuts.

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This is a sweet fried dough with jam filling and powdered sugar.
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Quanthem / iStock

Berliners are a traditional German pastry made of sweet fried dough with a marmalade or jam filling and a powdered sugar topping. They used to be cut in half and filled with jam but today, jam is typically inserted with a pastry pipe.


Beignets, a popular New Orleans specialty, originated in France.

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Beignet are famous in New Orleans.
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Flickr/BacktotheCuttingBoard

You might know beignets from New Orleans, but they were originally invented in France. The word “beignet” is French for “fritter” or “doughnut.” They are traditionally a member of the French choux pastry family, which means they have a hollow center, giving them the light, fluffy texture they’re known for, along with the sweet, sugary outside.


Pączki are a popular Polish dessert similar to Berliners.

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These are made with a splash of vodka.
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Flickr/Simon James

If you just look at pączki, you might think they’re the same as Berliners, but they’re slightly different. These Polish doughnuts stand out because they’re made with a splash of Polish vodka called Spiritus, along with flours, eggs, milk, sugar, yeast, and butter. It’s a tradition to serve them on Fat Tuesday, and in some places, the Thursday before Mardi Gras is known as Pączki Day.


Japanese mochi doughnuts are one of the most beautiful fried treats out there.

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Mochi doughnuts are made from rice flour.
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Flickr/Joy

Mochi doughnuts are made with rice flour, which makes them light, chewy, and even a little crispy. They also look really cool, usually made in a Pon-de-Ring style. They are typically topped with a sweet glaze and made in different flavors.


Zeppoles, from Southern Italy, are sweet and often topped with fruit.

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Zeppoles are topped with ricotta cheese.
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Wikimedia Commons

Zeppoles, a popular dessert made of fried dough, likely originated in parts of Southern Italy. Traditional zeppoles are fried, then topped with ricotta cheese or pastry cream. They are soft and airy, and the inside is usually fluffy and sometimes even full of fruit.


Jalebi is made up of fried dough and syrup.

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This fried dough is soaked in saffron syrup.
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Wikimedia Commons/Mahakalxx

Jalebi, a popular dessert in India and Pakistan, looks really similar to funnel cakes, which are popular in the US. The fried dough is soaked in saffron syrup to make the inside moist and the outside crunchy. It’s chewy, sweet, and varies depending on where it’s being made.


Churros are popular in Mexico and Spain.

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These fried dough sticks are coated in sugar and cinnamon.
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nelea33/Shutterstock

These fried dough sticks coated in sugar and cinnamon are a really popular dessert in Mexico and Spain. In Mexico, they used to be served as a breakfast food, although now they’re a dessert. In Spain, they are typically eaten with melted chocolate for dipping.


Many people in West Africa love puff puffs.

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This is a spongy, round snack.
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Wikimedia Commons

Many places in West Africa claim origin to the fried treat puff puff or togbei. It’s typically a ball of fried yeast dough, sometimes topped with sugar.


Oliebollen are popular in the Netherlands and filled with raisins.

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It’s sweet and crispy.
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Patsy73 / iStock

Oliebollen is a deep-fried Dutch pastry filled with raisins and dusted with powdered sugar. They can also be made with chopped apple, currants, and cinnamon. Some believe that American doughnuts evolved from oliebollen. In some places, they’re traditionally served to ring in the new year.


Sufganiyot are popular in Israel during Hanukkah.

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They can be filled with many different things.
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Yoninah/Wikimedia Commons

Sufganiyot are similar to Germany’s Berliners and Poland’s pączki. They are filled with various creams or jelly fillings, and they are usually served during Hanukkah, but also year-round.


Malasada originated in Portugal, although they’re now very popular in Hawaii.

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These are filled with custard or coconut-flavored pudding.
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Wikimedia Commons

Malasadas are a fried dough treat made with yeast, eggs, butter, and sometimes evaporated or fresh milk. Once they’re fried, they’re rolled in sugar, and sometimes they are filled with custard or coconut-flavored haupia pudding. According to Eater, they were from the island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores. They made their way to Hawaii and became incredibly popular there.


Sfenji is a Moroccan treat usually eaten in the morning for breakfast.

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These are sticky yeast dough.
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Wikimedia Commons/Jc wik m001

Sfenji is a sticky yeast dough that is made without sugar. While they aren’t as sweet as other treats on this list, they can be eaten with a dusting of sugar or other types of fillings and toppings.


Youtiao is like China’s version of churros, without all the sugar.

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These are similar to churros.
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Wikimedia Commons

China’s version of fried dough is called youtiao, also known as Chinese crullers, a breakfast favorite. They are usually served with porridge, soy milk, scallion pancakes, or steamed sticky rice.


Sopapilla is a popular Central American treat.

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This fried dough is usually topped with honey.
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Wikimedia

Sopapilla can be made several different ways, but the most popular form is as a sweet pastry. They are basically puffy, flat pastries made with masa flour, then topped with honey and powdered sugar after being fried.


Loukoumades are a Greek favorite.

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These puffs are deep fried and then soaked in honey.
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Wikimedia Commons

A popular Greek dessert is loukoumades, which are bite-sized sweet honey puffs. They are deep fried until golden, then soaked in hot honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon, and garnished with chopped walnuts or toasted sesame seeds.


Koeksisters come in a few different varieties.

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This is braided and coated with syrup.
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Shutterstock / Elize Lotter

This pastry is made of fried dough, which is braided and coated with syrup. There are two versions: the Afrikaner version, or the Cape Malay version. The Afrikaner version is sweeter and crisper, while the Cape Malay koeksister has a texture like a soft cake and is often spicier and covered in coconut.


In Nepal, many eat sel roti.

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This is known as a thin rice bread.
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Wikimedia Commons

Sel roti is known as a “sweet rice bread.” It’s often thin and is crunchier than most other fried desserts.

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