Sweet Potato-Spiced Sufganiyot (Gluten-Free)

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

These sufganiyotsufganiyotסֻפְגָּנִית"Jelly doughnuts;" traditionally eaten in Israel during Hanukkah; singular: sufganiyah.  are very easy to make, and using sweet potato not only adds great flavor, but replenishes some of the fiber that’s lost when using gluten-free flour.

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄3 cup cooked, peeled sweet potato
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or vinegar
1⁄4 cup honey
1 1⁄2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour
1⁄2 cup brown rice flour
1⁄2 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
Canola oil for frying
Approximately 3⁄4 cup grape, raspberry, or strawberry jelly (not preserves or jam)
1⁄2 cup sugar combined with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for coating (optional)
  1. Place the butter in a 3-quart glass bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds until melted. Add the cooked sweet potato and whisk until the potatoes are smooth and the butter is completely incorporated.
  2. Combine the milk with the lemon juice or vinegar and let rest for 1 minute. Add this to the sweet potato mixture. Mix in the honey. Whisk to combine.
  3. In a 2-quart bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  4. Add the flour/spice to the liquid ingredients, gently folding the mixture with a whisk until just combined. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Crumple paper towels, place them on a large plate or platter, and set aside.
  6. Place the jelly in a pastry bag fitted with a plain metal or plastic tip with a one eighth-inch opening (#0 is the size to buy from a store selling cake decorating supplies). Set aside.
  7. Transfer the cinnamon/sugar mixture to a soup bowl. Set aside.
  8. Add enough oil to fill a fryer, wok, or electric pan to a depth of approximately 2 inches. Heat at 375ºF or on medium high heat. Do not let the oil smoke.
  9. Using a 1-ounce food portion scoop or ice cream scoop with a release wire, gently scoop up a portion of the batter and place it into the hot oil. Quickly repeat with 5 more scoops of batter. Do not stir the batter as you proceed.
  10. When the doughnuts look golden on the underside (about 1-2 minutes), gently turn them over. Continue to fry them until golden brown and puffed up (about another 2 minutes). They shouldn’t be too light or too dark.
  11. Immediately place the doughnuts on the crumpled paper towels and allow them to drain while you cook another batch.
  12. In between frying, toss the slightly cooled but hot doughnuts in the sugar mixture (if desired) and set on a new plate.
  13. When all the doughnuts are done, fill each one with about 1 teaspoon of jelly by holding the doughnut in one hand and inserting the tip of the pastry bag 1⁄2 inch into the doughnut. Gently squeeze the bag until you begin to see the jelly show on the outside of the opening. Alternatively, you can make a 1-inch opening in the doughnut, use a spoon to place the jelly in the center, and then close the doughnut. However, this method is not as pretty or as easy as using a pastry bag and tip.
  14. Serve immediately or within 1–2 hours for the best consistency. Do not cover (or the doughnuts will become heavy and dry).
Additional Notes
  • If you use gluten-free flour, it should not change the flavor of your finished product, but can have a big effect on its consistency. Gluten provides the protein structure of a baked good, allowing it to stretch and rise when the leavening agent creates carbon dioxide; its absence can result in a dense, pasty product. For a good consistency, incorporate an additive such as xanthan gum or guar gum, both of which are now available to the home cook. Also, since gluten-free flours are generally light, medium, or heavy in texture, when substituting one flour for another, make sure its texture is the same weight/density. For more information and recipes, read Karina Allrich’s blog, “The Gluten-free Goddess,” or visit the Celiac Sprue Association's website. For Jewish recipes, including challah, mondel brod, and potato kugel, visit “Arnel's Originals: Good and Gluten Free,” the blog of Arnel McAtee of Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, CA.
  • It is extremely important to handle gluten-free dough as little as possible to preserve any layers of air trapped in the batter. Using a scoop and not scraping down the sides of the bowl creates a lighter baked good.
  • The smaller the circumference of your pan, the less oil you will need to achieve a good depth for frying foods. If you don’t have a deep fryer, a wok or a 3-quart saucepan are good alternatives.

Looking for more holiday dishes to round out your menu? Find additional recipes for a festive Hanukkah.