Loukoumades (Greek donuts with honey) made of a simple dough and fried until golden and crispy, while soft on the inside. To finish, dunk the little donut holes in the homemade honey syrup and sprinkle with nuts. This recipe makes a lot of donuts to share with family and friends!
Easy Greek donuts with honey syrup
Crisp and golden on the outside and soft on the inside, loukoumades are the Greek version of donuts or, more accurately, donut holes. In Turkey and parts of the Middle East, these are called lokmas, which literally means "little bites," an accurate description of these fried donut holes dunked in simply honey syrup. Add some crushed nuts or powdered sugar (or even cinnamon) to finish.
These loukoumades begin with a simple dough that's left to rise for an hour then rolled into donut balls, which are quickly fried then dipped into the honey syrup. The honey syrup contains just 3 ingredients and can easily be prepared while the dough rises.
My loukoumades recipe makes a good 60 donuts, so it is perfect for sharing with family or friends. But if you need to make a smaller batch, cut the dough ingredients in half.
What are loukoumades are made of?
This recipe is made of simple pantry ingredients. The loukoumades dough is very basic, made mainly of yeast, sugar, all-purpose flour, olive oil, and milk. The simple syrup is made of only three ingredients: water, honey, and sugar. T
For the Loukoumades
- Water - The water should be lukewarm, not hot or cold.
- Active dry yeast - The dough must rise before it can be formed into donuts.
- All-purpose flour
- Milk - Any dairy milk or nut milk will work. Like the water, it should be lukewarm.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Oil for frying - I used grapeseed oil.
- Crushed nuts - Walnuts, cashews and pistachios are all good options. I used a combination of walnuts and cashews.
- For serving - Ground cinnamon and powdered sugar to sprinkle over the top.
For the syrup
- Honey - Be sure to use pure honey. I use this Greek honey.
How to make loukoumades
This Greek treat is super easy to make, just make sure to account for an hour of rise time for the dough.
- Prepare the dough. Mix together the water, sugar and yeast. Set aside until the yeast begins to bubble and the mixture gets foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in the flour, cornstarch, milk and olive oil. Knead until the dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for an hour. The dough should double in size.
- Prepare the honey syrup. Combine a cup of water with the sugar and honey, bringing it to a boil. Allow it to simmer for 20 minutes then remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Form the dough into donuts. Punch the dough to deflate. Form the dough into golf-size balls with your hands then arrange them on a large tray or sheetpan.
- Fry the loukoumades. Heat the oil until bubbling. Carefully add the donut balls to the heated oil, taking care not to overcrowd the saucepan. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, turning with a spoon, until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined tray.
- Dunk in the syrup. Dunk the hot loukoumades in the cooled syrup and transfer to a serving plate.
- Serve. Once you've fried and dunked all donut balls, drizzle with more syrup then sprinkle with ground sugar and cinnamon.
Tips for success
For perfectly golden loukoumades, there are a few things to be aware of and keep in mind as you fry them.
- Be sure the yeast is good. If the yeast does not get foamy and bubble, it's no good. Throw it out and use different yeast. If the yeast isn't fresh, the recipe won't work because the dough won't rise.
- Don't crowd the pan. You will definitely need to fry these Greek donuts in batches. Don't try to squeeze too many in the pan at once or they won't get the crisp outside that you want and may even get mushy inside.
- Make the syrup ahead of time. The syrup should be room temperature before you roll the donuts in it. If you make it the day before, it has plenty of time to come to room temperature and you won't have to wait in the moment.
Loukoumades can be served with just honey, powdered sugar and cinnamon as I do in this recipe or if you want to be extra indulgent, you can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or chocolate sauce on top. I do recommend the crushed nuts for a little crunchy twist to balance the soft and sweet textures.
How to store leftovers
Loukoumades should be enjoyed fresh out of the pan. Unfortunately, they do not hold up well for making ahead or storing leftovers. You can try to store leftover donuts in an airtight container on the counter for a day or so (without the syrup) but I find that fresh is really the way to go. If you don't think you'll be able to finish off all 60 of them, you can easily cut this recipe in half as well.
More dessert ideas:
Loukoumades (Greek Donuts with Honey Syrup)
For the Loukoumades
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- oil for frying (I used grapeseed oil)
- ⅓ cup crushed nuts, such as walnuts, cashews or pistachios) (I used a combination of walnuts and cashews)
- ground cinnamon (to serve)
- powdered sugar (to serve)
For the syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup sugar
- In a large bowl, mix together the water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes until the yeast begins to bubble and the mixture gets foamy.
- Add the flour, corn starch, milk, and olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine, then knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside in warm place for 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the the honey syrup. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with the sugar and honey. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- When the dough is ready, punch it down to deflate. Lightly oil your hands (this helps so that the dough does not stick). Using your hands, form the dough into small golf-size balls and arrange them on a large tray or sheetpan (this will make anywhere from 40 to 60 small donuts).
- Fill a small saucepan about ½ up with grapeseed oil (or frying oil of your choice). Heat the oil over medium heat until bubbling (if you have a thermometer, the oil should measure at around 325 degrees F). Prepare a large tray lined with paper towel and set it nearby (you’ll use this to drain the donuts as they come out of the frying pan).
- Take a lightly oiled spoon and carefully add the donut balls to the heated oil (do not crowd the saucepan). Fry the loukoumades for about 2 to 3 minutes, turning them around with a spoon, until they are golden brown on all sides.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried loukoumades to the paper-towel lined tray and drain briefly, then dunk the loukoumades in the prepared syrup (they should still be hot while the syrup is cool). Toss them around and then transfer to a serving plate. Continue until all the loukoumades have been fried and dunked in the syrup.
- Once you have all the loukoumades on your serving platter, drizzle with more syrup (or save the syrup to the side in a small bowl to add as needed). Sprinkle with ground sugar and cinnamon to serve.