Donut Holes (Ponchiki)

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

These donut holes (ponchiki) are heavenly soft, lightly sweet and so delicious. Ponchiki are made with (mostly) farmers cheese and very little flour. This results in a billowy soft and slightly moist center, plus you can actually taste the amazing little cheese curds inside. Equally as impressive – most donut recipes say to eat the donut holes soon after they are made because they lose their lovely fried texture much like a french fry does sitting out too long, but not this recipe!

These cheese donuts are amazing all day long! I kept popping them in my mouth and each time my eyes would roll, my lips would smack and I’d be on cloud 9 indulging in my yummy treat.

Here’s the true story behind these… I made the first batch, worked on them some more and then I made a second batch and thought – yes, this is it! I served that 2nd batch to my hubby and he was not impressed. I then proceeded to throw a small fit letting him know he was being ridiculous and that they were good enough to share. I also rashly told him I was quitting making donuts (lol). I slept on it, came to my senses and worked on the recipe some more.

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My husband was right and because of him, these are seriously the best and easiest donut holes (ponchiki) that I’ve ever put in my mouth. My husband was impressed and I apologized (double lol).

Ingredients for Donut Holes (Ponchiki):

1/2 cup all-purpose flour *measured correctly
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 large egg
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups farmer cheese (click here for recipe)

Vegetable oil or extra light olive oil to fry
Powdered sugar to dust

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

How To Make Donut Holes (Ponchiki):

1. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

2. In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat 1 egg for 20 seconds on high speed then add sugar and vanilla and continue beating 1 minute. Add 2 cups farmers cheese and beat on low speed just until well blended (20 seconds). Add flour mixture and stir together with a spatula just until well blended. Dough will be thick and sticky.

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

3. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Once oil is hot (360˚F), using a small ice cream scoop (*see notes below), scoop a flat scoop and plunk it out into the hot oil. Add balls one at a time just one after the other and fry over medium heat until golden brown on all sides (3-4 min total), turning the donuts halfway through if they don’t roll over on their own.  Don’t overcrowd the pan or the oil will lose heat. You want to keep it about 350˚F while cooking.

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

4. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

Notes:

*Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil. If oil gets too hot, donuts will darken too quickly leaving the center undercooked. If it’s too cool, donuts can absorb oil and become greasy.

*Using a small ice cream scoop that releases the dough quickly and easily and the donuts turn out perfectly round. I love that I keep finding uses for this tool. If you don’t have this scoop, you can use 2 teaspoons; 1 to scoop and the second to scrape the dough off into the oil.

Donut Holes (Ponchiki)

4.94 from 15 votes
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!
These donut holes (ponchiki) are heavenly soft, lightly sweet and so delicious. Ponchiki are made with (mostly) farmers cheese and very little flour. This results in a billowy soft and slightly moist center.
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: Varies by price of cheese
Servings: 20 (1-inch) donuts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups farmer cheese
  • Vegetable oil or extra light olive oil to fry
  • Powdered sugar to dust

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat 1 egg for 20 seconds on high speed then add sugar and vanilla and continue beating 1 min. Add 2 cups cheese and beat on low just until well blended (20 seconds). Stir in flour mixture with a spatula just until well blended. Dough will be thick and sticky.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot (360˚F), using a small ice cream scoop (*see notes below), scoop a flat scoop and plunk it out into the hot oil. Add balls one at a time just one after the other and fry over medium heat until golden brown on all sides (3-4 minutes total), turning the donuts halfway through if they don't roll over on their own. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the oil will lose heat. You want to keep it about 350˚F while cooking.
  4. Remove donuts to a paper towel lined plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Recipe Notes

*Use a thermometer to monitor temp of the oil. If oil gets too hot, donuts will brown quickly leaving the center undercooked. If oil is too cool, donuts can absorb oil and become greasy.
*If you don't have a small ice cream scoop, you can use 2 teaspoons; 1 to scoop and the second to scrape the dough off into the oil.

 

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

Now the real question is, GOT MILK?

Billowy soft and lightly sweet Donut Holes (Russian Ponchiki). These donut holes are made with cheese giving them unforgettable flavor. Easy donut recipe!

natashaskitchen

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Natalue
    April 27, 2017

    Natasha, one more question- how much farmers cheese do I need to make about 80 of ponchikis? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 27, 2017

      Hi Natalue, this recipe makes 20 (that info is in the print friendly recipe towards the bottom in case you’re looking for it again in the future). So, for 80 of them, you would need to make four times the recipe. Reply

  • Natalue
    April 27, 2017

    Natasha, are they good cold? Reply

  • Natalue
    April 27, 2017

    Natasha, are they good cold? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 27, 2017

      I think they are the very best when they are warm and fresh, but they are still very tasty at room temperature for several hours after being fried. Reply

  • Martha Calle
    March 31, 2017

    The recipe is amazing, everything was perfect.I am your fan Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 31, 2017

      Thanks for following Martha! I’m happy to hear you enjoy the recipe! 🙂 Reply

  • Victoria
    November 29, 2016

    Hi Natasha, I have made a dozen or so of your recipes. Some worked, a few didnt turn out as quite perfectly.. before I make this recipe, I was wondering if you have a recipe for donut holes without farmers cheese. I am not a fan of cheese- maybe just skip the cheese? Will that work? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 29, 2016

      Hi Victoria, I really only have this one with farmers cheese. It would not work correctly without the cheese and would need quite a bit of modification. Reply

  • Tania
    August 23, 2016

    Hello!
    I’m new to your blog (I found a link to your recipe somewhere on tumblr ) and it looks delicious. However, I have a question about the farmers cheese. I saw the recipe and tbh I don’t think I would have the time or patience to make it :(. I live in Mexico and I don’t think I have ever heard about “farmers cheese” does it have another name? Or any suggestions about what I could use instead?

    Thank you! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      August 23, 2016

      HI Tania, I really haven’t tested this recipe with any other cheese to say if it would work or not. Farmer’s cheese is on the dryer side and it’s crumbly. It looks like feta but tastes nothing like feta. It tastes a little tangier than cottage cheese. It is also commonly called “Tvorog” Reply

    • Alexandra Kalugin
      September 6, 2017

      Ricotta is a good substitute for farmer’s cheese. Very similar taste. You may want to drain the water out of the ricotta because it has more water than farmers cheese. Reply

      • Lena
        October 4, 2017

        Have you tried making these with ricotta cheese? I don’t think I have the patience to make farmers cheese Reply

  • olga
    August 15, 2016

    Natasha i really love this recipe of ponchiki! My whole family loved it. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      August 15, 2016

      Olga, thank you for such a nice review. Reading your comment is making me hungry 😋. Reply

  • Katharina
    August 3, 2016

    Hi Natasha! I have a question how long do these donut holes stay soft, and are they freezer friendly?
    BTW I enjoy making food from your recipes , so easy! Thanks!:) Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      August 3, 2016

      Katharina, donut holes stay fresh for around 6 hours and are best consumed within that time frame. I haven’t tried freezing them. Reply

      • Katharina
        August 3, 2016

        Ok thanks! Will tried them anyway! I was just thinking cuz the kind of donuts we make the freeze very well! Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          August 3, 2016

          If you try freezing them, let me know how it works out. I’m so curious! 🙂 Reply

  • Ann
    June 20, 2016

    Maybe I did them wrong but mine tasted like oil:( is there something I should change? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 20, 2016

      Hi Ann, as with any fried food, if they taste like oil, most likely the oil was not hot enough when they were fried which causes food to absorb oil. For best results, it really helps to use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oil. I hope that’s helpful for next time! Reply

  • Kit
    June 13, 2016

    Wow these are amazing I loved them and so easy to make (I bought the cheese )! Ive started making lots of recipes my nan made for me as a kid she was Polish and she made something similar to these cant remember the name.Have been making all sorts of pierogi recently as well and they are so much easier then I thought also Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 13, 2016

      Thank you so much for sharing your awesome review! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear they reminded you of your nan’s cooking 🙂 Reply

  • Diana
    June 10, 2016

    Thank you for this recipe..I made it for my nephews and they loved them =) Everyone else loved them as well. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 10, 2016

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for sharing that with me 🙂 Reply

      • Monica Abramchuk
        April 29, 2017

        Hi, my name is Monica. I’m 14 years old and I love to cook. I’m Belarussian and some of your food reminds me of our food too! Every time i would like to make something, I can always look forward to go on your website and see what amazing food i should make next! Me and my Mom love all of your recipes! I really love this recipe to! Of course, my mom made the farmers cheese (tvorog) for me though, like actually made it. I am a big fan! 🙂 Reply

        • Natasha's Kitchen
          April 29, 2017

          Awesome! I’m happy to hear that Monica! Thanks for following!! 😀 Reply

      • Monica Abramchuk
        April 30, 2017

        Hi, my name is Monica. I’m 14 years old and I love to cook. I’m Belarussian and some of your food reminds me of our food too! Every time i would like to make something, I can always look forward to go on your website and see what amazing food i should make next! Me and my Mom love all of your recipes! I really love this recipe to! Of course, my mom made the farmers cheese (tvorog) for me though, like actually made it. I am a big fan! 🙂 😛 Reply

        • Monica Abramchuk
          April 30, 2017

          Hi again, i really liked the first time i made this recipe, so i decided to make it again but for a family gathering! They really loved it! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂 😛 Reply

          • Natasha's Kitchen
            May 1, 2017

            I’m happy to hear everyone enjoys the recipe Monica! Thanks for sharing 😀

  • Carolyn
    June 3, 2016

    Hi Natasha,

    I made these ponchiki using your farmers cheese recipe and I HAVE to tell you they are SO AMAZING!

    Thank you for your wonderful recipe! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 3, 2016

      Carolyn, I’m so happy you enjoyed them. Thank you for sharing that with us! Reply

  • Olga
    May 23, 2016

    I was really excited to make these today because my mama made them back in Ukraine when we were kids. But unfortunately they weren’t as good as I though they would be 🙁 I though they were really oily and not sweet enough😁 and wet. But I will make them again I’ll just probably add more flour and sugar, maybe the flour would make them a little less oily. Your blog is awesome especially the videos 😉 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      May 23, 2016

      Hi Olga, It’s definitley not normal for them to be oily at all. Usually, if they are oily, it is because the oil was not hot enough. When this happens, any fried food will absorb the oil and turn “oily.” If you like frying foods, I highly recommend purchasing a candy thermometer to keep on the edge of your pot to monitor the temperature of your oil. They aren’t very sweet inside because they are meant to be dusted with powdered sugar but you can add more sugar to the batter if you prefer it sweeter. P.S. I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog and videos! Thanks Olga! 🙂 Reply

  • Jen D
    May 7, 2016

    I just made this and it’s delicious!
    Thanks for the recipe! oh i made the mushroom soup today too:) Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      May 7, 2016

      Oh that’s awesome!! I’m so happy you’re enjoying the recipes! Thank you for sharing that with us 🙂 Now the question is, can I come over? ha ha, I kid, I kid 😉 Reply

  • Valentina
    May 2, 2016

    Sooo good! but the reicepe is not right, you put 2 cups(250gr) when 1 cup is 250 gr. I put 2 cups of farmers cheese and a little more flour,turned good. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      May 2, 2016

      I’m so glad you liked them! It’s possible that I wrote it down wrong when I weighed it – yikes! I removed the grams until I make it again and re-weigh. Thanks for the heads up! Reply

  • April 26, 2016

    Natasha, can cottage cheese be substituted for Farmers Cheese in your Ponchiki recipe? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 26, 2016

      Hi Eldonna, I don’t think it would work well because cottage cheese would make the mixture too wet. Maybe if you drained and squeezed dry the cottage cheese first but I haven’t tested that myself to really say if it would work well. Reply

  • Anna
    April 22, 2016

    Hi natasha, i had a question, i made these ponchiki and they are amazing!. But i was wondering is there a way to make ponchiki without tvorog-cheese? Thank you. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Anna, there are recipes out there for ponchiki without cheese but I haven’t tried one that works as well as this one. Other recipes tend to lose their flavor and texture unless they are eaten right away. These stay great for awhile. Maybe I just haven’t discovered a good one without tvorog? If you come across something, let me know! 🙂 Reply

  • Luda
    April 21, 2016

    Natasha, I just made these, and allow me to confirm: they are heavenly! Thank you, THANK YOU! 😃I had a little over a cup of farmers cheese left from the the other day, and wanted to give ponchiki a try. I adjusted the recipe to amount of cheese I had….honestly, i pretty much eye balled the rest of ingredients. My toddler ate half of them with sour cream, and wanted more! I’ve been making syrniki before, and the recipe is very similar, but these are by far the best! This recipe is definitely a keeper in my family! Your blog is such an inspiration to yummiest dishes! (Let me confess as well….. For lunch today we had sorrel soup…..mmmm yummmm….so your blog fed us today! Thank you again! 💖) Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 22, 2016

      I’m all smiles reading your comment :). Thank you so much for sharing that with us 🙂 Reply

  • Natalia
    April 21, 2016

    Would love to make these, could I use ricotta cheese instead? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 21, 2016

      Hi Natalia, I haven’t tested it with ricotta but I think ricotta would be too wet to work with this recipe. It’s possible that with other adjustments such as changing flour amounts (which I haven’t tested) that it could work, but I just haven’t tried it to say for sure. Reply

  • Nina
    April 20, 2016

    They looks delicious!!!!!!!!. My husband did it for our kids. They like them soo much. Natasha you are sooo Ukrainian momochka. Happy for your family. God bless your life. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 20, 2016

      I’m so glad your family liked the recipe!! That’s wonderful! 🙂 Reply

  • yana
    April 20, 2016

    made them twice already and both times I had to add more flour to keep them from melting while frying. but both times were delicious!! thank you 😉 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 20, 2016

      I’m so happy you like the recipe! 🙂 I wonder if maybe your cheese was more moist than mine if you needed more flour since I didn’t have any of them melt. But I am so glad you enjoyed the ponchiki 🙂 Reply

  • Vika
    April 20, 2016

    Could these be made with cream cheese if I don’t have any farmers cheese? Ps they look amazing! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 20, 2016

      Hi Vika, Thank you! I haven’t tested these with any other kind of cheese but I don’t think cream cheese would work. Reply

  • OMG Natasha, these look so good!! It’s funny… whenever I see them called “donut holes” I think about how genius Tim Horton’s marketing is. They’re basically Canada’s #1 coffee/donut/lunch fast food place. They call then “Timbits” and they’re more popular than their donuts. It took me until I was in my 20s to realize that they’re just donut holes haha. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 20, 2016

      That’s cute!! I love that “Timbits” 🙂 Now I need to create a word with my name in it, lol 🙂 Reply

  • April 20, 2016

    These look like something my Russian grandma would have made so it makes me happy to see something like this posted. I love small sized desserts too to serve up to the kids. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 20, 2016

      That’s so sweet that these make you think of your Grandma 🙂 Yes, kids really love these! Reply

  • April 19, 2016

    Oh wow! Those look amazing! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 19, 2016

      Thank you Roxana! 🙂 Reply

  • April 19, 2016

    Mmm. They looks delicious! Can’t wait to try them. Thank you for the recipe. 🙂 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 19, 2016

      You’re very welcome! Enjoy! 🙂 Reply

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