• Cop coffee ice-cream sandwich (Roland Persson)Source: Roland Persson
All around the world, the doughnut scores a hole in one for indulgence.
26 May 2020 - 1:11 PM  UPDATED 11 Mar 2022 - 8:00 AM

There's just something about the combination of light, chewy dough and a supreme sugar sprinkle. Even better when the 'hole' is filled with a jammy or chocolatey or fruity surprise.

Take our global trip and see how the world interprets this treat. A Berliner in Berlin? An Italian bombolini? Gulab jamun in India? Or maybe sufganiyot for Hannukah?

Keep the celebrations going with this world tour of doughnut delights. 

Before take-off: 8 Aussie favourites

1. An oldie, but a goodie

Inspired by the sugary delights at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets, these jam doughnuts are made with cake flour, which carries a lower gluten content and delivers a finer crumb.


2. Chocaholics, step right up

Serve these chocolate balls warm for maximum molten effect.

Chocolate molten doughnut balls

3. Iced doughnut cookies

Don’t like the idea of deep-frying your doughnuts? These biscuit treats are an excellent cheat. Pipe yours into ‘O’ shapes, ice in your favourite colour, then sprinkle with hundreds and thousands for rainbow fun.

Good news, you don't have to give up all your favourite sweets.

4. Citrus kick  

Somewhat reminiscent of Greece’s loukoumades, these bouncy ricotta balls are glazed with orange blossom and honey. Serve with white chocolate sauce for maximum sweetness.

Ricotta doughnuts with orange blossom glaze

5. Nutty, but nice  

The muffin-style batter gets a doughnut-y treatment with these cute-as-a-button treats. Sprinkled with pecans and a drizzle of lemon glaze, these nutty bites won’t last long.

Mini pecan crumble doughnuts with lemon glaze

6. The sweet life

A soft, pillowy doughnut piped with sweet jam, custard or cream, berliners are thought to have been created in Germany. Variations of this sweet treat can be found under different nom de plums across the globe: be it jelly doughnuts in the US or jam buns back home. This particularly pleasant recipe is filled with a rhubarb and vanilla jam.

Rhubarb and vanilla jam berliners

7. It’s a date

Walnuts and Medjool dates team up for this cup-of-tea companion. Glazed with apple juice icing, these cakey doughnuts come with a sweet, fruity kick.

Date and walnut cake doughnuts

8. Sprinkles on top

Like the look of these chocolate sprinkles? Why not make your own from scratch! If you’re not a fan of cocoa, you can use natural colourants, such as beetroot or carrot juice or food dyes. Here, the sprinkles are the ‘cherry on the top’ of Dutch cocoa-glazed doughnuts.  

Chocolate sprinkle doughnuts

First stop: India

9. Festival favourite

A sweet favourite during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, gulab jamun are India’s answer to the doughnut. Light, fluffy and soaked in sugar syrup until they double in size, these dumplings are often paired with citrus or rose petal flavours. In his recipe from Tonka, chef Adam D’Sylva pairs ricotta-based dumplings and a cardamom, cinnamon and saffron syrup.

Ricotta gulab jamun with saffron syrup.

10. Spice things up   

Entering savoury territory, vadai are crisp, spiced doughnuts made from urad dhal (split small black beans). This recipe incorporates turmeric, ginger, cumin and chillies, and calls for a side of coconut chutney for a cooling touch.

Vadai with coconut chutney

Over to the Middle East

11.  Emirati offering

Known as lgeimat, these Emirati dumplings are coated with saffron and cardamom-infused syrup. Unlike other doughnuts, this recipe includes Greek yoghurt in the batter.


12. Surprise in the centre

You can find Shane Delia’s Turkish delight-filled doughnuts on the menu at his Melbourne restaurant Maha, but the origin of this recipe harks back to the family home. Feeling experimental, Shane took an old Lebanese doughnut recipe from my mother-in-law Guitta, then decided to stick a slice of Turkish delight in the middle. Drizzled with rosewater honey and toasted pine nuts, it’s a fabulous sweet fusion.

Turkish delight filled doughnuts with rosewater honey

Beach break in Africa

13. Tropical tastes

Dusted in a granulated ‘sanding sugar’, reminiscent of their beachy birthplace, these drop doughnuts are commonly found along coasts of Ghana. You can use any sugar you like, but don’t forget to add condensed milk into the batter for a sweet, creamy twist.  


24 hours in Japan

14. A different kind of doughnut

For a unique doughnut hit in Japan, bypass Tokyo and head to the island of Okinawa. In this former US Navy base, you’ll find Okinawan black sugar doughnuts. These cake-y balls are made with island’s famed black sugar, and hence carry a rich, molasses-like sweetness you won’t find elsewhere.  

Next stop: Europe

15. Light and fluffy

They might look more like poffertjes than a regular doughnut but these Danish apple bites, known as aebleskivers, are a wonderfully doughy treat. Containing fried apple and dusted with icing sugar, the doughnuts are best served with raspberry jam.


16. The Dubrovnik doughy

Keen for a different kind of doughnut? This Croatian specialty, fritule is made potatoes (Desiree or Sebago) and laced with nutmeg, dark rum, vanilla, plus lemon and orange zest. Interestingly, these sugar-coated delights are more commonly served as a welcoming snack – with dried figs and grape brandy – rather than dessert.    


17. Feeling fruity?  

Traditionally eaten as a New Year's treat, these Dutch doughnuts known as oliebollen are bejewelled with currants, raisins and bites of granny smith apple.   


Next on the itinerary: Mediterranean meandering

18. This is the bomb-olini!

These Italian bombolini are made from a sweet yeast dough of honey, instead of sugar. Filled with vanilla bean custard and dusted with icing sugar, they’re as visually appealing as they are tasty.  


19. Step up on the cinnamon doughnut

There are few things more delightful than a warm cinnamon doughnut, but this vegan-friendly recipe goes one better by filling the insides with Spanish quince paste. If you’re less fruity, more cocoa crazy, try this chocolate pâté (vegan, too) for dipping wonderment.  


20. Hola, dear bola

This Portuguese specialty, known as bola de Berlim, ticks all the right boxes. Fluffy dough, sugar crusting and a luscious filling of crème pâtissière. The secret to this formidable custard is the generous amount of egg yolks, yielding a rich, pleasing result.

Portuguese doughnuts (bola de Berlim).

Across to the Americas

21. Choux know it  

The Mexican buñuelo is a descendant of Spanish churros and comes in many forms: a flat disc of dough, a classic ring-shaped doughnut or a simple ball. Usually scented with anise and soaked in brown sugar syrup, this twist on the recipe and adds pecans and coffee Anglaise to wonderful effect.


22. Piped to perfection

You may think of churros as a Spanish speciality, but these cinnamon-coated sticks are adored in Brazil, too. Serve with the sweet, thick caramel called dulce de leche – or doce de leite in Brazil – for a doughnut dipping dream.


And landing in the United States

23. Jamin’, Jewish style

Named after the Hebrew word for sponge, sufganiyot, these Jewish doughnuts are fluffy and light. Spiked with cinnamon and lemon zest, these dough balls are traditionally filled with raspberry jam and commonly served at Hanukkah.


24. If jelly rings are more your thing

For those who like edible experimentation, here’s the Hanukkah jelly doughnut with a twist. Coated in chocolate, like a classic American candy, these baked treats are filled with raspberry jam by way of an injector syringe – available from all good cake shops.  

Mini chocolate doughnuts, filled with raspberry jam using a syringe.

25. The bacon effect

Fans of sweet-salty-meaty combos will adore these maple-glazed doughnuts with ‘bacon chips’ on top. Use thinly sliced, streaky bacon here for extra crunch.


26. Begin your day the beignet way

Made with copha (vegetable shortening) and evaporated milk, these American doughnuts, or beignets, are an absolute deep-fried joy. Dust generously with icing sugar and enjoy warm.  


27. Hold up, healthy doughnuts?

Doughnuts aren’t generally thought of as a ‘health food’ but these gluten-free goodies carry plenty of wholesome ingredients. Oat and almond flours come together for the batter, while psyllium husk delivers fibre and structure in the absence of gluten. We can’t explain the health benefit of the mocha-glaze, but hey a little indulgence is allowed!


28. Sandwich styles

An ode to the coffee-doughnut combo loved by American cops, this recipe sees coffee-flavoured ice-cream sandwiched between two deep-fried doughies.  

Cop coffee ice-cream sandwich

29. Spike of cider

Laced with nutmeg and cinnamon, these cakey, cider-flavoured doughnuts are perfect for the cooler months. It can take some effort to deep-fry your doughnuts at home, but the result is always worth it!   

Yeasted apple cider doughnut stack

30. Perk up  

Coffee jelly, chocolate custard and buttermilk doughnuts come together for this truly decadent dessert. For an extra caffeine hit, dust your balls in cinnamon and instant coffee sugar.


Want more? Check out SBS Food's doughnut collection here.

Doughnut stop eating
Cinnamon doughnuts

These ones are baked in a doughnut pan making them simple and quick to make and the rapadura sugar, with its rich, slightly caramel flavour, takes them to a whole new level.

People cry eating the sourdough doughnuts here – they're that good
Comeco Foods makes food accessible for all, from sourdough doughnuts and vegan sushi to gluten-free rice bread that owner Yu Ozone flew to Japan to master.
Mung bean and coconut doughnuts

These doughnuts are a delight of textures - a crispy outer shell surrounding a springy glutinous rice dough, with a delicious sweet mung bean ball at the centre.

Use em’ up: doughnut meets pancake in these banana fritters
Here’s another delicious way to use up those almost-black bananas.
Hotteok salted caramel doughnuts

Fresh, spongy doughnuts, a toasted peanut and sunflower seed filling, and salted caramel glaze - there's nothing not to love about these adorable little treats.

Gula melaka doughnuts

Gula melaka is a type of palm sugar that comes from the sap of flowers from the coconut palm, and has a smoky flavour and smell. It’s used for a glaze on these sweet-potato doughnuts. 

Gremsjelies (Dutch fruit doughnuts)

Doughnuts? Beignets? Pancakes? These are like a Dutch combination of all three, where matzo, spices and dried fruit create a unique Passover dish.