Doughnuts of the World

A doughnut is a doughnut is a doughnut, right? Not quite! While most Americans envision a sugary piece of round fried dough, you’ll need another word to get something doughnut-like abroad!

Berliner (Germany)

Rows of powdered jelly doughnuts on display at a market. One row is labeled as apple flavored
Photo by Leon Ephraïm on Unsplash

This yeast-based pastry is fried and filled with jam, much like your typical jelly doughnut. While delicious, the Berliner is probably most famous for its historical impact. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy made one of the most important speeches of the Cold War era – and also declared himself a jelly doughnut (depending on how you interpret the translation of “Ich bin ein Berliner”).

Fartons (Valencia)

Photo of Fartons with glass of horchata on a wooden table

A long, fluffy, sweet stick, it’s recommended to enjoy these while dipping them in an ice-cold glass of Horchata. (Which is the reason they were invented in the first place!)

Zeppole (Italy)

8 round pastries on a plate, topped with cream and a berry
“Zeppole” by IllyVR is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Most people will refer to it as a Zeppole, but this treats full name is “Zeppole di San Giuseppe”! These fried doughnuts are generally filled with custard or cream, and topped with fruit. March 19th, the Feast of Saint Joseph, is when most people enjoy these delights!

Picarones (Peru)

fried dough snacks sitting on a white plate, on top of a wooden table.

Doughnut purists may say these don’t qualify as doughnut as these are a savory snack, but this typical Peruvian treat is so tempting, you might just change your mind! These round fried doughnuts typically use squash and sweet potato in their dough and make for a great dessert.

Beignet (France)

Photo of powdered sugar covered beignets in a box
“Beignets” by Sam Howzit is licensed under CC BY 2.0

They might be famous in New Orleans, but these powdery treats actually come from France! French cooks developed choux pastry, which uses its own steam to rise (creating the delicious doughy pillow that is the beignet). French settlers would later bring beignets over with them during emigration to Canada. Later, residents of this region would migrate south to the Louisiana area, where the beignet would later be crowned the official state doughnut.

Koeksister (South Africa)

Two clear plastic containers with koeksister donuts insider

Picture a doughnut and then imagine it with more sugar! Loosely based on a similar Dutch pastry, these are a sweet, braided dough that’s dipped into a cold sugar syrup after frying.

Beavertail (Canada)

Three flat pastries on a wooden table wiht a variety of toppings
“File:Three BeaverTails pastry flavours.jpg” by BeaverTails is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

For Canadians, a beavertail is about as Candian as Poutine. These flat pastries are made of whole-wheat dough, deep-fried, and served with toppings. The traditional topping is cinnamon sugar, but as you can see you can top them with whatever your heart desires! In some regions, you can even find more savory options, like salmon, or ham and cheese.

Churro (Spain & Mexico)

In focus cup filled with churros topped with chocolate, in front of a blurred street background
Photo by Rolande PG on Unsplash

Everyone loves a churro. These fried sticks of dough are covered in sugar and served warm. If you’re enjoying them in Spain, you’ll likely have them served with a side of thick hot chocolate for dipping. In Mexico, they prefer a dulce-de-leche filled version, while Uruguay is all about cheese-filled!

P.S. Even the “usual” doughnut can take on a different form abroad. Check out this Krispy Kreme doughnut from Thailand, in the delectable flavor of “Butter Cheese”!

Got a favorite doughnut from around the world? Let us know! And if you’re drooling for more food reading, check out the most popular foods in each U.S state!

Article written by Nikki Fabrizio

Nikki Fabrizio
Nikki creates content and enjoys highlighting the exuberance of experiential learning. In her free time you can find her traveling, hiking and practicing circus arts.