Why I Don’t Like Sufganiyot

Bloggers, like all writers, can’t always choose their subject. Sometimes a subject chooses you. So while I would prefer to write a light, meaningful or amusing post in honor of Chanukah,  you will be reading (if you dare) about a rather heavy subject.

I’m talking about Sufganiyot, the traditional jelly doughnut with its loose connection to the Chanukah miracle, because doughnuts are fried in oil . Bakeries begin offering them about 6 weeks before the holiday and continue until close to Purim about two months afterward.

I haven’t had a single sufganiyah this year, and not (mainly) because I am afraid of the 600 or so calories they each contain. I just don’t like them. Lest you think I’m picky, I enjoy pita, burekas, meat-filled “cigars,” cheesecake, rogelach, chumus, felafel, and matbucha.

At first I feared I must be missing out on something and tried one or two.  I am talking about your standard, bakery or supermarket sufganiyah and not the upscale type, which are usually better. But when the standard ones are served people of all ages are reaching for them, except for me. Here’s why:

  1. The cake part is not sweet enough. Since I generally dislike overly sweet foods, and Israelis love everything sweet, I don’t understand why no one else minds. The filling and powdered sugar just don’t make up for the tasteless dough. Not all of them have filling either.
  2. The sugary, artificial red filling in the middle is unappetizing.
  3. I’m allergic to the red food coloring anyway.
  4. They are too big, especially for kids. My daughter says the ones served at the shul party today were a miniature version (although they looked pretty big to me), so I guess progress is being made.
  5. They are almost never served at their best, when they are fresh and warm. Considering that this means a window of half an hour from coming out of the pan, there’s not much to do about it most of the time.
  6. Whenever I eat one, it sits in my stomach like a ton of lead. Indigestible.

I adore the other traditional Chanukah food, latkes, which are potato pancakes fried in oil. I can eat a lot of those. But I make them only once or twice during the week as a side dish, because aside from being a lot of work, reason #6 applies here too. I am getting too old for this kind of thing.

On a different note Chanukah has brought some good news along with the sufganiyot. I’d like to wish Mazal Tov to one of my favorite bloggers and commenters, Lion of Zion, along with the Mrs. and Junior, on the birth of a daughter. LoZ sent me a question by email before the birth so even though I didn’t know the answer, all of us here at MiI share in your simcha.

And Haveil Havalim #247 can be found at The Israel Situation.

Chag sameach—Happy Chanukah to all.


  1. Mazel tov to LoZ! Nice when families develop evenly by gender (boy, girl sort of thing).

    I prefer sufganiyot to latkes, but the only ones I eat are my own, which are best eaten one half hour after making. I wish didn’t like them. We use upscale, ridiculously expensive jam in the few that we stuff.

  2. Now those sound good, Leora. Last night my daughter saw a recipe for baking them with whole wheat flour–5 cups of it and only 3 tbsp. of sugar.

  3. I agree 100%. I will eat a couple over the course of hannukah (usually will eat half a sufganiya each time), generally when serving to the kids who seem to like them, but I really have no interest in them

  4. The jelly ones are icky. Really, no way around that. I am ISO a ribat chalav one that actually has a decent amount of filling.

    Oh, and my SIL served freshly made, unfilled ones Friday afternoon between the two candle lightings. Those were amazing.

  5. Rafi, glad I’m not alone.
    Kate, I’m impressed you had time to eat in between the two lightings!

  6. You never looked like you had anything to fear from 600 calories.

  7. try roladin sufganiyot – they give you a calorie count, and theirs are REALLY REALLY yummy

  8. we made eshel sufganiyot at work today (i work in a gan). they were good (eaten fresh) and we also made them small. jam was optional, but as we had some homemade jam i added some of that

  9. You are definitely buying sufganiyot in the wrong places MIL. Our local artisanal bakery cooks them right outside in front of your very eyes (so what you buy is very fresh and still warm) and you choose your filling – no icky fake red jelly in sight. They have both regular and mini-sized and everything is prepared to order.

    I succumbed and had my second one of the year this afternoon – a mini ribat chalav one that was utterly delicious. And, since it was made just for me, I was able to tell them to skip the powdered sugar. Maya was equally happy with her chocolate and sprinkle topped confection 🙂

    PS Rolladin is advertising that theirs have “only” 170 calories per (fairly small) jelly sufganiya.

  10. I too prefer latkes. I prefer savory food anyway and shrug at anything full of sugar and oil.

  11. I don’t care for filling at all, or for regular sufganiot. But my family and I all like the ones I make. A few years ago I found a great recipe on the Aish site for sufganiot, and they were very successful and delicious. Last year, my neighbor made sufganiot, and they were even better. (Eshel ones — she shared her recipe and I plan to try it this year). On Friday when I made the Challah dough, I took out a bit and made a dozen tiny ones. Smaller ones cook faster and you don’t have to fill the pan with as much oil. And people appreciate them more. Even though I make my challah pretty sweet, these still weren’t as sweet as sufganiot should be, so I sprinkled powdered sugar on top. They were great, and not much trouble!

    We had falafel for Shabbat, since my family doesn’t like latkes.

  12. I am so relieved to hear you say you don’t like sufganiot. I was so shocked the first time I had one. Actually, I am shocked EVERY time as I continue to believe that there will be some improvement…

    Chag urim sameach!

  13. Shh, don’t tell anyone but I don’t like them either, along with doughnuts of all stripes and fried food in general. However, I have to have one anyway sometime during Chanukkah or else it doesn’t feel like Chanukkah. Same goes for latkes though I like those a bit better. I made a batch of quick eshel sufganiyot for my son’s gan and got a lot of raves, so maybe I’ll try one from batch #2. (By the way, no eshel around here so I had to sub yogurt + milk, and it seemed to work.)

  14. Now why do I virtuously turn my nose up at sufganiyot but succumb to latkehs? I can even resist the fancy Roladin sufgies. Just show me a hot latkeh though and I become a spineless, willpower-less…latkeh eater.

    The more onion in it, the better.

    But I’ve decided that once Chanukah is over I’m going on a diet of sawdust and small pebbles.

  15. I just blogged about how I feel about sufganiyot as well. Just give me the spoonful of ribat chalav and never mind the tasteless doughy stuff.

    On kibbutz years ago they used to make the sufgie dough and stuff it with Israeli salad.

    Tomorrow, I’ll make levivot for the first and last time this Chanukah. I’ll enjoy them while I eat them and be up all night with indigestion.

  16. I also don’t like sufganiyot, but the ones with custard are usually okay.

  17. I agree that the dough is tasteless, the filling unappetizing and that they are way to big. I made sufgayniot for the first time today and the first thing I did was add more sugar to the dough. I also used good raspberry preserves for the filling which made a huge difference in how they tasted.

  18. I agree with you 100% about the sufganiot. I haven’t had one in years. However, I don’t like most fried food. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like them.

  19. This recipe looks divine: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/dining/094hrex.html?ref=dining

    My brother made really fresh ones at home in a deep fryer, no filling. They were great but I’m sure an hour after coming out of the fryer they would have been “eh”. Freshness is the key.

    Mazel tov to LOZ!

  20. Now I LOVE sufganiot but my family doesn’t, so I don’t make them. Store-bought ones just don’t do it for me – it has to be the real thing with real jam. I like the idea, however, of making them from challah dough. Why didn’t I think of that? After all, I use challah dough to make babka.

    OTOH, I was never that fond of latkes either until I started making them from sweet potatoes instead of white ones. What a difference! The other day I experimented a bit and made up a new recipe – sweet potato puffs.

    Bake sweet potatoes (either in the oven or microwave)
    Remove the skins and cool the innards.
    Mash with beaten egg, grated onion, salt and pepper.
    Add enough flour or matza meal and a pinch or two of baking soda so that it holds together.
    Use a small cookie-scoop (or a spoon) to drop spoonfuls into very hot oil. Remove as soon as they are brown and crisp, and drain on paper.
    Make a low-fat version by scooping the mixture onto a greased pan and baking at 400F for about 30 mins.



  22. Mrs Belogski says

    Well, we like doughnuts! We have been working our way through a selection from the 2 bakers where we have protectsia – jam, cream and jam and hazelnut/choc cream. All the ones i have had have been yummy! My daughter made latkes too, which were good, but too thin, so it looks like I will have to make another batch to show her how to do it! also thinking about making doughnuts, but i don’t like using margarine and when i have tried with oil, they weren’t so good. Any suggestions?

    waiting for a delivery of mince pies – yes, kosher bakers make them here. Also Xmas pudding – should be coming soon…

  23. I had 2 sufganiyot this hanukah, one that was store-bought and a quick one that I made (without yeast) from whole wheat and banana. Mine was far, far superior 🙂

  24. I was stunned to find out that modern day sufganiot are horrible. I remember them as being delicious when I was a kid. When I tasted them after our return to Israel, I was disappointed.
    I don’t think the end result justifies making them at home. All that waiting for the dough to rise and frying don’t do it for me. Frying challa dough sounds interesting, but doesn’t that type of dough make for a very dense sufgania?
    May I add that I don’t love (Dunkin’) Donuts either. They and sufganiot make me feel ill. I don’t know why.

  25. Mrs Belogski says

    So i made a recipe called “easiest ever doughnuts” and they really were! 1/2 hour to rise, then another 15 minutes once they were in balls. They fried quickly and easily and were delicious hot, rolled in sugar and edible cold!

  26. The locally-made sufganiyot are just sweet enough, not that I would refuse them anyways. Yes, I said them, as in I can consume a family box of them in 2 days. By myself. I cannot help myself.

    BTW nice new layout 🙂