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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, and unforgettable to your palate.

It is a typical dessert of the carnival period, delicious and easy to prepare.

February, in Italy, is the month of Carnival.

Each city is invaded by masks, confetti, lights, and colors, creating 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 of having one of the richest carnival traditions. The place to thank is Acireale, in the province of Catania. It dates back to the end of the sixteenth century—in ancient times accompanied by battles with citrus fruits—and is currently famous for its parades of allegorical floats and for the imposing floats.

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 by 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.

Many Sicilian sweets have become typical of Carnival, but the Pignolata remains the typical dessert of this period.

Carnival -Acireale
Carnival -Acireale
Carnival -Acireale
Cooking Method
Difficulty Intermediate
Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 20 mins Total Time: 40 mins
Best Season Winter

Pignolata is a traditional Sicilian dessert popular during Carnival season, though it is also enjoyed throughout the year. It consists of small, fried balls of dough that are typically dipped in honey or sometimes chocolate and then formed into a mound or ring shape. It's often adorned with colorful sprinkles or candied fruit.

  • 2 2/3 cups flour 00
  • 12 tablespoons honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons Evo oil
  • lemon zest
  • colorful sprinkles
  • a pinch of salt
  • frying oil
    • 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, the dough was spread 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 mound shape, and sprinkle it with colored sugars.

Heat the oil until it reaches 170°C (338 °F), the ideal temperature for perfect frying.

Keywords: Pignolata, Carnival