Paczki Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 35 min. + rising Cook: 5 min./batch
Filled with jelly and coated in sugar, paczki are a treat worth seeking out on Fat Tuesday.

Updated: Jan. 04, 2024

If you’re a lover of all things sweet, a day dedicated to decadence is your kind of holiday. When it comes to Fat Tuesday—or Mardi Gras if you prefer, many folks enjoy Mardi Gras treats like king cake and beignets. But for many midwesterners, this holiday isn’t complete without paczki.

What are paczki?

PaczkiTMB Studio

If you live outside the Midwest or other parts of the country with large Polish-American populations, paczki might be a new phenomenon to you—and you’re in for a real treat!

Paczki, pronounced poonch-kee, are traditional Fat Tuesday snacks that originated in Poland. This donut was developed hundreds of years ago to use up all the rich ingredients that were considered off-limits during the fasting period of Lent: namely butter, sugar, lard and milk.

Today, paczki are still traditional Fat Tuesday fare. You’ll find them filled with jellies and creams and dusted in sugar. Essentially they’re filled doughnuts, but a special, once-per-year kind of doughnut.

The Paczki Tradition

Outside of Poland, you’re likely to only find these treats on Fat Tuesday and the few days prior, which is what contributes to an annual frenzy and long lines at many bakeries—it’s also why many Midwesterners refer to Fat Tuesday as Paczki Day.

Most folks are looking to get that last good sugar fix before Lenten fasting begins, however, there is a bit of Polish superstition that might play into this as well. It’s been said that if you don’t indulge in paczki on Fat Tuesday, you could face bad luck for the rest of the year.

If you’re worried about a bit of bad luck (or are just craving a good Fat Tuesday treat), you can make them yourself.

Paczki Ingredients

  • Sugar
  • Active dry yeast
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2% milk
  • Shortening
  • Water
  • Egg
  • Seedless raspberry jam (or the jam of your choosing)
  • Oil for deep frying (our Test Kitchen uses peanut oil)


Step 1: Make the paczki dough

Making Paczki DoughTMB Studio

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together a quarter cup of sugar with yeast, salt and two cups of flour. Then heat the milk, shortening and water in a saucepan until it reaches about 110ºF—you don’t want to go past 115ºF or you’ll kill the yeast.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and beat on medium speed with a stand mixer for two minutes. Add the egg and beat on high for another two minutes. Then stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. The dough will be sticky, but don’t worry—it’ll come together as you knead it.

Step 2: Knead the dough and let it rest

Paczki Dough Being KneadedTMB Studio

After you’ve mixed up the dough, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Knead until the dough is smooth, elastic and springs back when you touch it—about seven minutes. You can also knead dough in a stand mixer; three minutes should do the trick.

When the dough reaches the right smooth texture, place it in a greased bowl and cover it with a tea towel. Let the bread rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. This should take about an hour.

Editor’s Tip: If your home is a bit chilly, use these tips to get a good rise even in the cold.

Step 3: Roll out the dough (and proof again)

Paczki Being CutoutTMB Studio

After the dough has rested and risen, punch it down (that just means pushing out some of the air with your fingertips). Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it’s a half-inch thick. Then, using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out individual doughnuts.

Place the cutouts on a greased baking sheet, cover and let rise again until doubled. An hour should do it.

Step 4: Fry

Paczki Being FriedTMB Studio

Now comes the part where doughnuts become doughnuts, not just another bread. To fry paczki, heat oil in an electric skillet or deep fryer set at 375ºF.

Our Test Kitchen uses peanut oil for frying, but you can check out these other oils suitable for deep frying. If you don’t have a countertop deep fryer, you can use a Dutch oven for frying, too. Just be sure to have a candy thermometer on hand to test the temperature.

Once your oil is at the right temperature, carefully place the paczki rounds (two or three at a time) in the oil and fry until golden brown—2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the fryer with a wire spider or skimmer. Drain the donuts on paper towels and let them cool slightly.

Step 5: Coat and fill

Paczki Being FilledTMB Studio

After the paczki are cooled a bit (but not quite at room temperature) roll them in the remaining cup of sugar.

Then, with a small knife, pierce a hole into the side of each doughnut. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small tip with seedless jam or the filling of your choosing and fill each paczki. If you want to go old-school Polish, opt for prune. We like raspberry jam, though.

Once it’s all done, do your best not to inhale them all before sharing with friends and family.

Paczki Variations

Paczki are a delicious blank canvas, and you can fill them will all kinds of flavors. A good seedless jam is a great place to start. We used raspberry, but you can go for any fruit jam or marmalade. You can also fill paczki with pastry cream, lemon curd or—if you’re feeling traditional—a prune jam or poppyseed filling. Customize them however you like!

Paczki Tips

How do you pronounce paczki?

Paczki is pronounced poonch-kee. Polish is a tough language!

What’s the difference between paczki and doughnuts?

Paczki is just a type of doughnut, the same way a cruller, beignet or cider doughnut is. Paczki are also Polish in origin and some recipes call for a splash of vodka—very Polish indeed!

Watch how to Make Paczki


Prep Time 35 min
Cook Time 5 min
Yield 15 doughnuts.


  • 1-1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam


  1. In a large bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar, yeast, salt and 2 cups flour. In a small saucepan, heat milk, shortening and water to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Add egg; beat on high 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  2. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 3-in. round cutter. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 350°. Fry doughnuts, a few at a time, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Cool slightly; roll in remaining 1 cup sugar.
  5. Cut a small hole in the tip of a pastry bag; insert a small pastry tip. Fill bag with jam. With a small knife, pierce a hole into the side of each doughnut; fill with jam.

Nutrition Facts

1 doughnut: 183 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated fat), 8mg cholesterol, 105mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate (17g sugars, 1g fiber), 2g protein.

My mom used to make these when I was growing up. She filled them with raspberry or apricot jam, but prune filling is pretty traditional in Polish and Czech households. —Lisa Kaminski, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin