How to Make Malasadas

How to Make Malasadas

An incredible buttery, sweet taste on a delightfully crunchy outside coupled with a surprisingly light, fluffy inside is what makes malasadas, or Portuguese doughnuts as they’re often called, a unique and delicious pastry that are loved by many.  If you are looking for an alternative to the usual doughnut or similar type of pastry, your taste buds, and also your sweet tooth, will both surely thank you after giving sugary malasadas a try.

How to Make Malasadas: An Introduction to Malasadas

Malasadas, once traditionally spelled malassadas, originated on the small island known as Sao Miguel, which is the most populous of the Azore Islands, a Portuguese archipelago of nine nestled together in the Atlantic Ocean.  These fried desserts are rather similar to the more familiar doughnuts that people enjoy all around the world, particularly in the west, but with one very distinct and noticeable difference, malasadas have no hole.

The isle of Sao Miguel was first colonized by the native Portuguese people, who like many others throughout Latin countries are known for their decadent desserts and delectable pastries, including the sugary malasadas, which were actually referred to as filhos by the local Azorians who inhabited the other eight islands of the archipelago.

These scrumptious treats are still regular fare on the island of Sao Miguel today, but also in the American state of Hawaii, thanks to the immigration of Portuguese workers back in the late 1800s.  Throughout Hawaii, malasadas have now come to be a well known tradition to island’s natives and are a regular part of their elaborate feasts and celebrations which feature a variety of foods and desserts.

While malasadas are routinely enjoyed all the year round, and are absolute must haves for parties and social gatherings, they’re most faithfully eaten on what is known as Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday in the U.S., which is the day before the beginning of Lent preceding Ash Wednesday.  Since many people “give up” something they truly enjoy for the holy season before Easter, such as sweets and pastries, malasadas have long been a standard on Shrove Tuesday as a way to have “one last hurrah” before Lent arrives.

It is said that the very first commercially made malasadas were produced in the year 1952 in Hawaii at a small place called Leonard’s Bakery, opened by the grandson of a Portuguese immigrant and also where the tradition is kept alive as malasadas are still being deep fried and rolled in sugar today.

Here’s How to Make Malasadas That Look This Good!

How to Make Malasadas

While delicious malasadas are not a difficult pastry to make at all, you’ll see that they’re even easier, and faster, to make when you have all the ingredients and supplies readily at your fingertips before you even begin.

How to Make Malasadas: Ingredients:

– Oil that is suitable for deep frying
– 6 cups of flour
– 6 medium to large eggs
– 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
– 3/4 cup sugar PLUS another teaspoon
– 1/2 cup of half and half
– 1/4 cup of melted butter
– 1/4 cup of warm water (approximately 110 degrees)
– 1/4 teaspoon of salt
– 1 package of active dry yeast (1/4 ounce size)
– The coatings: plain sugar, or a mixture of sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon

How to Make Malasadas: Equipment

– Deep fryer or a large, deep pot
– Electric mixer, including a dough mixing tool
– Whisk
– Rolling pin
– Slotted spoon
– Sharp knife
– Plastic wrap
– Small mixing bowl
– 2 larger mixing bowls, 1 that is lightly coated in oil
– An open, flat surface for rolling the dough in flour

How to Make Malasadas:

First, combine the package of yeast together with a quarter cup of warm water in the small mixing bowl and then set it aside.  With the electric mixer and the beater attachments firmly in place, beat the six eggs on medium to fast speed in the large bowl without the oil coating until they are thick and fluffy.  Now, change the mixer’s attachment to the dough mixer, or the dough hook as it is sometimes called, and then add the yeast mixture from the small bowl, the quarter cup of melted butter, three quarters of a cup of sugar, one and a half cups of whole milk, a half cup of half and half, and the quarter teaspoon of salt, or “a pinch,” if you prefer.

Begin mixing all of the ingredients and then slowly adding the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough starts to softly form into a large ball.  Put the dough ball into the bowl coated in oil and tightly cover with plastic wrap, adding a kitchen towel or two to the top for extra warmth if you’d like to speed up the process a bit, while allowing the dough to double in size and shape, which usually takes a little more than one hour before reaching the right size.

As the dough is busy rising in the bowl, begin heating the oil in the pot or in the deep fryer until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees.  Using a deep fryer is a bit more convenient as it easily allows you to see the temperature of the oil, and gives you the ability to set it to stay there while cooking the malasadas.  They also can be safer to use, especially if the little ones are helping out, as they come equipped with a basket for raising and lowering the food into the hot oil to help eliminate the risk of burns from the oil splattering.

After the dough has risen, scatter flour on a flat, even surface to make rolling the dough easier, aiming for a thickness of about a quarter of an inch or so, and then using the sharp knife, cut into one-inch sized square pieces.  Drop the pieces of dough squares into the heated oil for about three minutes, or when they become a golden brown color, or actually anywhere from two to four minutes depending on your personal preferences.  While the malasadas are frying in oil, stir often to avoid them becoming stuck to one another or getting uneven spots of brown.

If you aren’t using a deep frying with a basket attached, remove the malasadas with a slotted spoon to help the excess oil drain away before placing on a few paper towels.  Before the pastries become cool, roll them in the remaining white sugar, then serve while warm and enjoy.

How to Make Malasadas: 5 Quick Tips You Should Remember When Making Malasadas

1. The oil used for frying malasadas should be maintained at an even 350 degrees.

2. Malasadas dough should be mixed until the consistency is completely smooth and without any lumps.

3. Three minutes is usually the optimal cooking time for deep frying malasadas, and you will notice a golden brown shade developing that indicates when they are done.  Some people prefer their malasadas to be lighter in color while others enjoy the taste of the pastries that have been fried until they are the deepest brown color.

4. Malasadas should be rolled in sugar, or in any coating of your choice, immediately after removing from the fryer and quickly draining to remove any excess oil.

5. Malasadas are at their most flavorful and delicious when eaten while still warm, although they can be reheated either in the microwave for a few seconds, or in the oven on a cookie sheet for a few minutes.

A Few Malasadas Variations to Try:

In addition to trying different sweet spices as the coating, here are two incredibly simple variations for making delicious malasadas, especially if you’re short on ingredients, and time.  Try these unique takes on the traditional recipe, or use your own imagination to come up with a concoction that will quickly become a family favorite:

1. Quick But Tasty Malasadas

You Will Need:

– 1 can of buttermilk biscuit dough
– 1 cup of sugar and a mixing bowl
– Cooking oil
– Deep fryer or medium to large pot


While heating the oil in the deep fryer, or in the pot to 350 degrees, roll bits of the pre-made dough into medium sized balls.  Carefully drop the balls into the hot oil, removing them when golden brown, which is usually after two to three minutes or so. Immediately roll the fried dough into the sugar and serve while they’re still warm.

2. Too Easy Malasadas

You Will Need:

– Cooking oil
– Deep fryer or medium to large pot
– 5 slices of white bread with the crusts completely removed
– 1 1/2 cups of Bisquick-type baking mix
– 1 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon of white, granulated sugar
– 1 medium to large egg
– 3/4 cup of whole milk
– 2 tablespoons of cinnamon (optional)
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– A brown paper lunch bag


Combine the one and a half cups of baking mix, the teaspoon of baking powder, the cup of sugar, egg and the three quarters of a cup of milk and blend until there are no lumps, usually about the same consistency of pancake batter but slightly thicker.

Now arrange the five slices of bread with the crusts removed into a single stack and cut into four equally sized pieces.  Dip the squares of bread into the batter mixture and carefully drop into the heated oil.  Add the remaining tablespoon of sugar, and cinnamon if you wish, to the paper bag while the pastries are frying in oil until just golden brown in color.

Remove the malasadas from the oil with a slotted spoon or the deep fryer’s basket and immediately put into the brown paper bag, shaking well to cover each thoroughly. Serve the malasadas while still warm.

How to Make Malasadas Trivia:

– Although they are most popular in Hawaii, as far as the United States is concerned, malasadas are slowly finding their way to the mainland as more and more people discover the tasty treat that was once only associated with the Portuguese culture.

– While mainly eaten on Shrove Tuesday in order to indulge before the beginning of the Lenten season, malasadas have now become rather popular fare at carnivals and celebrations during other times of the year as well.

– No one is really sure when the second letter “s” was dropped from the spelling of malasadas.

– The earliest of recipes for malasadas used only white sugar for coating the fried pastries.

– Although using a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon along with sugar to coat your malasadas may indeed be a rather tasty choice, using anything other than plain, white sugar while visiting Hawaii will prompt the locals to playfully brand you as a “haole,” which is a term for a foreigner or outsider that is slightly less than favorable in the Hawaiian language.  So now that you know how to make malasadas what are you waiting for?!