Donut Holes (Ponchiki)
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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
4. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
*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)
- 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
In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
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.
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.
Remove donuts to a paper towel lined plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
*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.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen
Now the real question is, GOT MILK?
Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review
Made the cheese which came out perfect! Made the donut holes this morning- yummy! We have a deep fryer but I used a pan on the stove, it was tough keeping the oil temp perfect but I used an instant read thermo to take internal temp so they were good! Thinking about making these for our Chicken wing food truck dessert menu if I can get a good deal on from our distributor for the milk. Yum!
Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Patty! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Hello!!!! I was wondering if you could put a recipe for sata andagi on here?
also I just loved the donut holes. Thnx for all your amazing recipes!!!!
Thank you for your suggestion, I’ll check out that recipe and try to add that to our list.
I love all your recipes and enjoy making them. But this specific recipe failed for me. It’s all of the above problems that people mentioned. I followed the recipe. However, instead of baking powder I used baking soda and I also used cottage cheese because I didn’t know that cottage cheese cannot be used. To me cottage cheese and farmer cheese is the same thing:) To my surprise they came out horrible: too greasy, oily, didn’t hold a round shape, wet inside. I never failed with ponchiki before when I used proven cottage cheese old school recipe. Looks like this specific recipe is extremely ingredient sensitive.
Hi Inna, I highly recommend making the recipe as written. Cottage cheese has much more moisture than farmer cheese and they don’t substitute straight across.
Hi Natasha, can I use cottage cheese in this recipe?
Hi Anna, 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.
Huge disappointment, unfortunately. They are nothing at all like ponchiki. They don’t hold shape, too soft inside. Way too much salt and baking powder, killing the taste.
Hi Svetlana, it sounds like you might have used a different cheese? Make sure to use a well-drained Farmer cheese that has a dryer curd. If it is too moist, it will be the way you described. Also, the baking powder and salt are minimal here and you shouldn’t be able to taste them. Did you possibly use baking soda instead or mismeasure the salt?
Thanks for the recipe, Natasha! These are so addictive, I will have to double the recipe next time. The first time I made them, they were sticking to the bottom of my wok, though.
So here’s a tip for those who are struggling, I rolled them in flour covered hands and then gave each ball a quick whirl on a flour covered cutting board. This prevented sticking while frying and gave them a more perfectly round and smooth appearance which I like. Also, you can add lemon rind for flavor. Yum 🙂
Glad you loved it! Thank you so much for sharing some tips with us, that is so useful. We appreciate it!
Hi Natasha, love your blog and recipes and videos! Can’t wait to try these ponchiki!
Thank you for that wonderful compliment Valentine! I hope you love this recipe!
Hello! What if you don’t have an electric hand mixer – I only have a Kitchenaid mixer.
Hi Natalie, you can use a Kitchenaid mixer the same way. Use a whisk attachment.
Thank you for Farmers Cheese recipe
You’re welcome Cheryl. Hope you liked it!
What is Farmers milk?
Hi Cheryl, are you referring to Farmers Cheese? We use it in this recipe. I have a link to Farmers Cheese here.
I am absolutely looking forward to trying these Ponchiki!
I attempted making the dough, but when I put them in the fryer, the ball separated itself. I went back through the recipe to see what I may have done wrong, but can’t recall skipping anything. Do you have any idea what I may have missed or done wrong to have them fall apart in the fryer?
This is the first recipe of yours that I managed to mess up haha, your directions for each of your recipes are perfectly explained!
Hmmm…. It sounds like maybe the ratio of wet to dry ingredients may have been off. Here are some things to consider: did you use a large egg? The egg is the binder in this recipe. Also, make sure to measure flour by spooning it into a dry ingredients measuring cup and scaraping off the top – this can be especially critical if the farmer’s cheese you are using is extra dry to maintain the moistness that holds everything together. If the mixture is too dry with too much flour, it will more likely fall apart. I hope that helps!
Hi Natasha! I want to make these donuts, but I do not have a baking powder. Will baking soda be good?
Hi Karyna, I can’t suggest that without testing it first since baking soda is 4x stronger and requires an activating agent. The recipe would need modification and testing. I would suggest sticking with baking powder.
Hi Natasha! Can I substitute farmers cheese for Galbani Ricotta cheese instead?
Thank u in advance😁
Hi Luda, 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.
Can you make these without cheese perhaps?
Hi Jennifer, that would have to be a completely different recipe but we do have a great baked donuts recipe that does not require cheese.
Wow, these are DELICIOUS! I was making another batch right after the first one. That never happened before. Such an easy recipe too. You always have the most delicious recipes. Have not found a recipe that I didn’t like on your blog. Keep a great job.
Hi Irene, I’m so happy you love our recipes! Thank you so much for the fantastic review and your encouraging words. I am smiling big reading your comment 🙂
Can these be made gluten free?
Hi Sherry! That is a great question! I haven’t tried that myself. It would need a little experimenting! If you try it please let me know how it goes!
Natasha, one more question- how much farmers cheese do I need to make about 80 of ponchikis?
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.
Natasha, are they good cold?
Natasha, are they good cold?
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.
The recipe is amazing, everything was perfect.I am your fan
Thanks for following Martha! I’m happy to hear you enjoy the recipe! 🙂
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?
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.
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?
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”
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.
Have you tried making these with ricotta cheese? I don’t think I have the patience to make farmers cheese
Natasha i really love this recipe of ponchiki! My whole family loved it.
Olga, thank you for such a nice review. Reading your comment is making me hungry 😋.
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!:)
Katharina, donut holes stay fresh for around 6 hours and are best consumed within that time frame. I haven’t tried freezing them.
Ok thanks! Will tried them anyway! I was just thinking cuz the kind of donuts we make the freeze very well!
If you try freezing them, let me know how it works out. I’m so curious! 🙂
Maybe I did them wrong but mine tasted like oil:( is there something I should change?
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!
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
Thank you so much for sharing your awesome review! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear they reminded you of your nan’s cooking 🙂
Thank you for this recipe..I made it for my nephews and they loved them =) Everyone else loved them as well.
I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for sharing that with me 🙂
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! 🙂
Awesome! I’m happy to hear that Monica! Thanks for following!! 😀
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! 🙂 😛
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! 🙂 😛
I’m happy to hear everyone enjoys the recipe Monica! Thanks for sharing 😀
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!
Carolyn, I’m so happy you enjoyed them. Thank you for sharing that with us!
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 😉
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! 🙂
Mine also turned out very oily and I followed the recipe excactly.
Hi Rimma, anytime you are cooking in oil, be sure your oil is hot enough when you add the dough to the oil or it will absorb too much oil and seem oily. Hope that helps!
I just made this and it’s delicious!
Thanks for the recipe! oh i made the mushroom soup today too:)
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 😉
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.
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!
Natasha, can cottage cheese be substituted for Farmers Cheese in your Ponchiki recipe?
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.
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.
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! 🙂
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! 💖)
I’m all smiles reading your comment :). Thank you so much for sharing that with us 🙂
Would love to make these, could I use ricotta cheese instead?
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.
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.
I’m so glad your family liked the recipe!! That’s wonderful! 🙂
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 😉
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 🙂
Could these be made with cream cheese if I don’t have any farmers cheese? Ps they look amazing!
Hi Vika, Thank you! I haven’t tested these with any other kind of cheese but I don’t think cream cheese would work.
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.
That’s cute!! I love that “Timbits” 🙂 Now I need to create a word with my name in it, lol 🙂
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.
That’s so sweet that these make you think of your Grandma 🙂 Yes, kids really love these!
Oh wow! Those look amazing!
Thank you Roxana! 🙂
Mmm. They looks delicious! Can’t wait to try them. Thank you for the recipe. 🙂
You’re very welcome! Enjoy! 🙂