The Pignolata and the Carnival in Sicily

The Pignolata and the Carnival in Sicily

A characteristic element of the Palermitan pignolata is the consistency of its fried dough balls, crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside, covered with flavored honey that makes this typical Sicilian dessert irresistible, delicious, unforgettable to your palate.

It is a typical dessert of the carnival period, very good and above all easy to prepare.


February, in Italy, is the month of Carnival.

Each city is invaded by masks and confetti, lights, and colors that create a unique party atmosphere. The origins of the Carnival are very ancient and can be traced back to the Roman Saturnalia which was celebrated in honor of the New Year.

Sicily boasts about it as one of the richest traditions of the carnival. The place to thank is Acireale, in the province of Catania, dating back to the end of the sixteenth century – in ancient times accompanied by the battles with citrus fruits – and currently famous for its parades of allegorical floats and for the imposing floats.

Acireale Carnival
Acireale Carnival
Acireale Carnival

Then there is the ancient tradition of the Carnival of Sciacca, whose origins date back to the Roman period; renowned for the beauty of its papier-mâché works made by local ceramic masters, it is characterized by parades of beautiful allegorical floats that run through the ancient center of the city accompanied to the theme of the music. Every year this carnival ends with a stake in which the king of Carnival, “Peppe Nappa”, and his chariot are burned.

Acireale Carnival

The Sicilian sweets that have become typical of Carnival are many, but the Pignolata for me remains the typical dessert of this period.

The Pignolata and the Carnival in Sicily

Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cookies, sicilian dessert, strufoli
Servings: 6


  • 400 g 00 flour 2 2/3 cups
  • 250 g honey 12 tbsp
  • 4 large eggs
  • 60 g sugar ¼ cup
  • 5 spoons oil
  • grated lemon peel
  • colored sugars
  • a pinch of salt
  • oil for frying


  • In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the oil, the 00 flour, the salt, and the grated lemon peel and knead until a homogeneous mixture is obtained.
  • Subsequently spread the dough on a pastry board forming sticks of 10 mm (0.4 inches) thickness.
  • Then cut the sticks into chunks 15 mm (0.6 inches) long each.
  • Fry the pieces of the pignolata a little at a time in plenty of hot oil, turning them from time to time until golden brown, and finally, put them on absorbent paper.
  • Dissolve the honey in a pan with a drizzle of water, pour the pieces of the pignolata into it and mix them well.
  • Transfer the pignolata to a serving dish giving it the shape of a mound and sprinkle it with colored sugars.


Heat the oil in a pan until reaching 170°C (338°F), this is the ideal temperature to obtain perfect frying.
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