Petulla – Albanian Fried Dough


Deep-fried alien-looking dough

Yeah, yeah I know….. fried dough doesn’t sound all that inviting…it’s not as pleasant-sounding as doughnut or as exotic as beignet but trust me, Petulla are fried pieces of heaven to our family.  There are many variations in the world when it comes to fried dough.  These petulla can be eaten alone (the way I like them) or with feta cheese or with honey or both as my husband and son like them.  They can also be covered with powdered sugar…to do this I place some powdered sugar in a clean paper lunch bag….toss in a couple of petulla and shake until they are coated with the sugar.   My son and I like to look at the odd shapes and see if we can identify objects in the shapes just like you would do with clouds in the sky.

Three petulla

Three petulla

I grew up on these but my mother didn’t teach me the recipe.  She is old school so she doesn’t measure her ingredients with measuring cups and spoons and I don’t like to cook or bake without those measuring devices.  I came across my recipe in the most unexpected of places….The Sopranos Family Cookbook.  I bought the cookbook because I loved the TV show and I love Italian food….but the recipe I’ve used the most in this book was the Zeppole recipe.   I was floored when I saw the Zeppole picture….they looked exactly like Petulla!  So I tried the recipe but I was slightly disappointed…it was close to my mom’s petulla but something was missing.  I thought back to the way my mom made it and I realized that she put eggs into her batter.  I tried the altered recipe and SUCCESS!  I turned an Italian zeppole recipe into an authentic Albanian petulla recipe.


Adapted  from the Sopranos Family Cookbook

Makes about 12 to 18 petulla

– 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F.)

– 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (not instant or rapid rise)

– 2 teaspoons sugar

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 egg

– Vegetable oil for deep-frying (I prefer corn oil for this recipe)

1.  Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water in a measuring cup.  Stir until the yeast dissolves.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and slat.  Add the yeast mixture and egg and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.  The batter/dough will be like a very, very loose bread dough.

3.  Pour about 2 inches of oil into a deep heavy saucepan or deep fryer.  Heat the oil until the temperature reaches 370 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer.

4.  Drop the dough/batter from a large soup spoon while using another spoon to scrape it off…try to stretch the dough as you drop it into the hot oil so it doesn’t lump up into a ball but into a flatter shape.  Once in the oil…use another spoon to very carefully splash the dough with the hot oil so it puffs up nicely. Add another 2 or 3 to the oil and splash carefully after each addition.  Fry the petulla until golden brown and puffed, then turn over and fry other side….3 to 6 minutes total.  Remove the petulla with tongs or slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

This recipe can easily be doubled.

Plate of petulla

Plate of petulla


30 comments on “Petulla – Albanian Fried Dough

  1. James says:

    I am Serbian and we have a version of these called Ushtipci, but I think that the Albanians make a far better version of these. Great job!

  2. Amrita says:

    No matter how much people talk, write, speak or eat whole foods, fried will always have a soft corner in every one’s heart (and arteries)! The petulla looks yummy!

  3. diane says:

    My mother is German/Polish and always made us “pluskies” This looks really good, my boys will love it.

  4. huntfortheverybest says:

    are you kidding? i love fried dough. these look perfect. i grew up with zeppoles. yum!!

  5. gj says:

    These looks great!
    I must say, they reminded me of the Dutch “oliebollen”. It’s the exact same dish, people in Holland eat them around New Years. Good food for when it’s cold.

    nice recipe, inspired me to make some again sometime soon

    • tortatebukura says:

      Thank you for your comment. You have proven to me that different cultures have more in common than they think. Fried dough seems to be universal. 🙂

  6. BarbMD says:

    I last had these when I was a child and they were called guanti (GWAN TEE) in Italian. Guanti, as I recall, means gloves – maybe called that because of the little finger-like projections that are formed. I just found your site and am enjoying it. I hope that you are feeling better soon.

  7. Katie says:

    Thank you for sharing the recipe! I spent a year living in Albania and simply adored eating petulla while I was there. It was such a treat when my friends or students would make some for me. Though I had the list of ingredients, I could never get the proportions just right. I am thrilled to have your recipe and can’t wait to test it in my own kitchen! Thank you!

  8. dh says:

    im an albanian from Kosova (Gjakova)…oh i loveee this petulla…

    • tortatebukura says:

      Faleminderit per komentin.
      Une kam punuar ne Kosove per 5 vjet. Gjakova eshte nje qytet i bukur.

      Ju uroj cdo te mire.

  9. Verona says:

    Une dua petulla tani.. =D
    shumee te mira jane!

  10. Emir says:

    I have eaten petula (petla) in many different locations, both homemade and even in restaurants. However, I have to honestly say, that my wife’s are better than even my mother’s petula.

    Thank you nuse, I am looking forward to petula when I get home.

  11. Bedri Hassan says:

    I tried for the longest time to make petula like my mother. Always had trouble. When she made them, they seemed to explode when the dough hit the oil. Mine always seem to come out flat. Her’s looked like a honey combed inside. I’m going to try this recipe. Hope they come out close to my mother’s. Thanks

    • tortatebukura says:

      Remember to carefully splash hot oil with a spoon onto the petulla as soon as you fully drop the dough into the oil. That’s when you’ll see the petull rise (explode). Let me know how they turn out. 🙂

  12. NazarBlue says:

    Yummmm!! Love these. I went to Puglia recently where they have Pitula, cousins of Petulla! Loves eating these on Durres sea front. I loved Kosova and I loved Albania ❤
    In Napoli we make these but we add chopped up zucchini flowers in the dough.
    Great blog, check mine out, looks like we love the same type of food 🙂

  13. Simitja says:

    Great blog, Im from central Albania and my mother (from Durres) always makes them as well. Honey or albanian yougurt for dipping, along with feta cheese as well as sugar. My favorite; honey and feta cheese, sweet & sour taste.

    In addition to the small version (above), she makes large ones as well. They look almost like a pita bread, but they are fried with plenty of delicious crispy bubbles. She also makes rolls of the dough before frying it and stuffs it with either GJIZE (albanian ricotta) or scrambled eggs, feta cheese and beef salami. She also make a variety of pettulla mixed with shredded squash-zucchini mixed in the dough 🙂

    She says oil temperature has to be really high and a flame (gas) stove is preffered.
    I have also learned that in the Laberia region around Vlora, they also pour a shot of RAKI (Albanian grappa) in the dough mix for better taste.

    Keep sharing…

    • tortatebukura says:

      Thank you for commenting. My family is from the area around Korce. I never heard of raki in petulla before… interesting.

    • Prof says:

      I was born and raised in Vlora and my mother always made this on Sundays, but I never heard of mixing raki or any type of alcohol in the dough. That would simply ruin the delicious taste of the traditional dish.

  14. emi says:

    une po i bej tani ka marre malli.shpresoj te me dalin te mira si ato qe bejne ne shqiperi.

  15. blerina says:

    Shume faleminderit, do ti provoj tani dhe shpresoj te me dalin si te mamit!! Mua me pelqejne me djath te bardhe po burrit e femijeve i pelqejne me mjalt. S’kam bere asnjehere petulla vete so wish me luck ! Blerina nga Tirana

  16. Eri says:

    Wow, I am from Vlora, born and raised, and so are my parents, but I never ever heard of using raki in Petulla dough. I believe it would totally ruin the delicious taste of the traditional recipe.

  17. Laura Braho says:

    I lived in Albania for almost 4 years & came to adore the petulla they served tek liqeni i Tiranes. My husband is Albanian & just asked me to please make him petulla. Shume faleminderit qe ke hedh kete recete… do kenaqet shume burri! 🙂

  18. Gulsah says:

    I’m albanian from Korcë Dïshnitsa.. my grandparents emigrated to Turkey in the first years of the great war. We never forgot our albanian racines and try to keep our traditional way of life.It’s great to share our cultural food with other people, so I would like another taste to our

  19. Gulsah says:

    Oops! it’s me again.. I just wanted to add the Kifkii, which my grandma used to serve with the Petula. It is a sauce made of the rest of the dough mixed with water, vinegar and garlic . The ingredients shall be cooked a little together and put them on the petula.. Mmmm
    and thanks for this great blog with a smell of my fatherland:)

  20. maausilein says:

    When I was 6 years old, I had a friend from Albania called Herolinda. We were inseparable, I spent most of my days at her house. One day, her mother made petulla – I loved them. I sometimes asked her to make them for me, and she did.
    Somehow, Herolinda and I grew apart as we got older, we had to go to different schools and I moved… But to this day, I remember her and her mother’s petulla every time I smell something fried. We used to dip them in sugar (just regular granulated sugar) and sometimes had them with cheese (soft, white, creamy), or just plain.

    Thank you so much for this post, I’ve been trying to figure out the name and recipe for this dish for the last 11 years… 🙂

  21. Mary R. Iarussi says:

    my mom used to make these Christmas but I don’t know if she made them with yeast or baking powder. I am going to try therm your way

  22. andrea says:

    I learned how to make them from my sister in law who is Albanian. I was in Kosovo for a few months and the recipe I learned was a bit different and the Petla looked a bit different as well. These are usually made & eaten at breakfast. The children eat it w/ sugar sometimes, but these are amazing when warm & w/ cheese!! (Monterey jack).

  23. Doriana says:

    I know petulla aren’t the fanciest of foods for Albanians but I’m starting to make these every 28-29 November in Canada ,for the independence day celebrations! Delicious comfort food always wins over pretty looking mediocre tasting dishes in my house lol. Thanks for the recipe.

  24. Lin says:

    Just made these and they came out Amazing! My husband is Albanian and he loved them, reminds him of his childhood. If you have a recipe for pite, please share! Thank you!

  25. Lina says:

    Making them right now! 🙂 Thanks, thinking about opening a restaurant in California!
    Come eat “Albanian Petla” if you happen to ever see this in the future 😉 I am from Kosova, Gjakove. Bringing my culture to the amazing south Cali. Will be made with lots of love, xoxo.

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