Sonhos | Portuguese Doughnuts

Portuguese Doughnuts Recipe

Sonhos are fried cakes like small doughnuts but much lighter in texture. There are many variations on the theme all over Portugal. Generally speaking, fried cakes are intended for the Christmas season, but, being so popular, sonhos are made at other times as well, and some specialty patisseries sell them freshly made on a daily basis.–Edite Vieira

How to Serve Sonhos

Sonhos, in Portuguese, means “dreams.” We can think of no more fitting name for something so dreamy. This recipe suggests dusting the deep-fried dough with cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar, although we have it on good authority that they are also often dunked in a simple syrup, warm fruit jam (pictured), or caramel sauce.

Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer

Portuguese Doughnuts Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 24 sonhos


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Ground cinnamon


  • 1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to form a ball. Take the pan off the heat and place it in your kitchen sink after you partially fill the sink with cold water. (This helps cool down the mixture.)
  • 2. After the mixture has cooled a bit, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Continue beating the dough to aerate it. Add enough oil to a deep pot to fill it partway and heat it over medium heat until the oil registers 360°F (180°C) on a deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer. When the oil is ready, deep-fry spoonfuls of the dough until golden. Using a slotted spoon, tongs, or a spider, transfer the doughnuts to paper towels to drain.
  • 3. To serve, dust the hot-from the-oil sonhos with a mixture of confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon to taste. Serve warm.
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