Vegan Chanukah Donuts (Sfinj)

Chanukah is the holiday of lights, miracles, and sufganiyot (Jewish donuts). I usually make the classic sufganiyot filled with jelly, but this year I decided to go back to my roots and make sfinj, Jewish Moroccan sufganiyot. Mostly because the recipe is without butter, milk or eggs.

First time I wasn’t very confident because my mother never made them. I assumed it would be hard. When I called my mom to brag about my sfinj and tell her that it was actually fun and therapeutic to make it she said she doesn’t like sufganiyot or any other fried pastry, or frying in general. I’m glad my grandmother did.

The dough is very soft and sticky indeed, but dipping your hands in oil before shaping it into melted-looking rings, makes it easier. You do have to work quickly. However, don’t try to make them even or perfect, even when your friends are watching as you fry them. They are supposed to look chubby and weird like a defective floaty.

The traditional way to eat sfinj is to coat them in sugar immediately when they come out of the oil. However, I prefer to let them cool for a minute then dip them in honey, maple syrup or jam. My husband likes them with sugar mixed with cinnamon, like churros.

The best thing about them, besides being vegan, is that they are fluffy as a cloud and light as a feather. The worst thing is your partner must take away the fifth sfinj from you and tell you, “Stop, you’re going to get yourself sick.”


  • Before you start, you should know the dough needs at least 1.5 – 2 hours to rise in a warm place (above the fridge or near a radiator).
  • If you have small children or a clumsy partner, I recommend you place the frying pan on the rear burner.

I would make only Sfinj on the first night of Hanukah and make latkes (levivot) another night. When I make sfinj I make a salad or simmered vegetable dish for dinner. To balance things out.

Chag Sameach! Happy Chanukah!

Vegan Chanukah Donuts (Sfinj)

Vegan, light and fluffy Hanukah donuts (sufganiot).
Prep Time10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Jewish
Diet: Vegan
Keyword: Hanukah, Holiday, Vegan
Servings: 25
Author: Shelly


  • 8 cups 1 kg unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1.8 oz. 50 g fresh baker’s yeast or 4 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • cups coconut sugar - or cane sugar
  • 3⅓ cups 800 ml. lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil in a small bowl – for dipping hands while working with the dough
  • 1 bottle canola or another vegetable oil

Serve with:

  • maple syrup, honey, jam


  • Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients. Pour the water in and stir with your hand for 5 – 10 minutes. The dough should be very soft and sticky, so DON'T be tempted to add flour.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a moist kitchen towel and place it somewhere fairly warm – just over room temperature – but not too warm. Don’t leave it near a radiator! Let it proof until it doubles its size – about 1 ½ hours. Take a picture of the dough so you can see later if it doubled in size.
  • Give the proofed dough a quick stir with a wooden spoon dipped in oil, then cover it and let it rest until it doubles in size – about 30 minutes.
  • Cover a large flat plate with paper towel and place it near your frying station. Put also the bowl with oil near by.
  • Put enough oil for deep frying in a wide deep skillet (about 3" deep). Put the skillet over medium high heat.
    To check if the oil is hot, put a small piece of carrot or a small peace of dough. If there are no bubbles around the carrot, then the oil is not hot enough. If the carrot turns brown in less than 15 seconds, then the oil is too hot.
  • When you're ready to fry the sfinj, put the dough bowl near the skillet. Grease your hands then grab a handful-size dough with one hand, pull it away and with the other hand pinch off the piece. (See illustration.)
    Hold the dough with two hands and punch a hole in the middle of it with your fingers. It only sounds complicated. Stretch the dough to create a ring and then gently place the ring in the hot oil. Fill the skillet with as many rings as you can fit BUT without crowding it. The sfinj would huff and puff tremendously so make sure you have enough space.
  • Cook until the bottom is golden brown then using a stainless steel tongs or slotted spoon, carefully flip them. Cook each side for about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the skillet and place on the paper towel plate. Repeat until no more dough left.
  • Serve immediately. Eat them warm. Don't wait. Drizzle or dip in maple syrup, honey, jam… or honey.


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  1. Shelly,
    Astounding Sfinj – and being one of the only ones to have actually tasted them straight from your kitchen, I must admit that these donuts are the delight of Chanukah: they taste amazing and have a texture to die for…
    Once again, good job!

  2. When I lived in israel I remember a morrocain friend made a similar fried dough but she let the dough free form into the oil. When they were stacked up on the plate they were dripped with lots of honey. Is sfenj the same thing????

    • Ronna, I think so. But perhaps it was shbakia, which is also fried and covered with honey? You just reminded me to make this recipe for chanuka. Thank you!

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