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Middle Eastern Vegan Donuts (Zalabia) | The Mediterranean Dish. Simple, free-form vegan donuts; crisp and drenched in a cinnamon syrup. Make sure you make enough because these are addictive!

Middle Eastern Vegan Donuts (Zalabia)


Here is a super simple Middle Eastern Dessert: Vegan Donuts or Zalabia--AKA my childhood guilty pleasure, and the perfect Fat Tuesday treat! It takes 5 simple ingredients that you already have in your pantry! Now who can say no to a little crispy donut drenched in syrup?!


  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Confectioners sugar, optional

For the Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Stir the instant yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 1/4 cup lukewarm water; leave the mixture until it foams.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour and corn starch with the rest of the water, then add the yeast mixture. Stir everything together to combine. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm area for about 2 hours to rise. 3-4 times during the rising time, stir the dough with a wooden spoon to get rid of air bubbles.
  3. When the dough has risen, fill a small heavy saucepan about 1/3 of the way with canola oil. Heat on medium-high until the oil is hot and you can see small bubbles forming gently. Using two oiled spoons, drop the dough by the spoonful into the hot oil (do this in small batches.) The dough will float immediately and the bottom side will turn golden brown. Flip over on the other side. Remove quickly to a large tray lined with paper towels to drain.
  4. Prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan or pot, combine the sugar, honey, water and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to low and cook for a few minutes until the syrup thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  5. While the syrup is hot, drop the donuts in it. Do this in batches and make sure the donuts are completely coated with the syrup. Transfer the Zalabia vegan donuts to a serving bowl or plate. If you have any syrup left, feel free to drizzle it on the donuts or set it aside for individuals to add as they please.
  6. Alternatively, soak only half of the donuts in the syrup, and roll the remaining donuts in lots of confectioners sugar. Enjoy!


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  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Keywords: Vegan Donuts, Donuts, Zalabia, Middle Eastern Donuts