Filhoses (Portuguese Doughnuts)

These mouth-wateringly delicious Filhoses (or Portuguese Doughnuts) are so irresistible!  I promise you, you will not be able to have just one!

My memories of making these Filhoses (or Portuguese Doughnuts) with my grandma are some of my best memories! Here's how I make this yummy nostalgic treat! #tulipandsage #portuguesedonuts #malasadas #filhoses

Filhoses (aka oh-so-yummy Portuguese doughnuts) have been in my life for a very, very long time.  They are such a food memory for me.  With just their scent, I’m taken back to being a child at my grandmother’s (or avó’s) house gathered around the table watching as avó would knead the dough, and we would all talk and laugh. The best part was eating them after they’ve just come out of the fryer, it was warm and sugary goodness to the extreme!  Soooo incredibly yummy! These are such sweet memories I now cherish as an adult, and I’m so incredibly grateful to have them.

In our family, filhoses were special. They were not served as everyday desserts.  These were served on special days because they took forever to prepare (like hours y’all!), and they’re super indulgent, so they were a once-in-a-while kind of treat.  And boy, did we look forward to them!

When I’m craving filhoses, I follow Emeril Lagasse’s yummy recipe for Malasadas (another name for these delicious doughnuts!). You can check out Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Malasadas HERE.

I’ve made small changes to his recipe (like adding lemon zest and making mine a round doughnut shape) to reflect what I can remember from my avó’s recipe, which brings to life all the flavours of my cherished memories.


For this Filhoses (aka Portuguese Doughnuts) recipe, you’ll be using:

  • To prepare the yeast: 1 package of active dry yeast, with 1/4 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar;
  • For the dough: 6 eggs, 6 cups of flour (plus more if needed), 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups whole milk, 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and zest of 1-2 lemons (the zest really freshens the dough, with its ever so slight lemony flavour). 
  • For frying: you’ll need canola oil for frying (or an oil of your choice) and sugar for rolling the filhoses in.

So let’s get right into making these Filhoses (Portuguese Doughnuts):

My memories of making these Filhoses (or Portuguese Doughnuts) with my grandma are some of my best memories! Here's how I make this yummy nostalgic treat! #tulipandsage #portuguesedonuts #malasadas #filhoses

# 1

Before you do anything, start with preparing the yeast. 

In a small bowl, add the one pack of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar into warm water and stir. 

For best results, use a thermometer to ensure the water is 100 ̊F-110 ̊F.  I know this seems like a bit of work, but I promise you, the temperature of the water really can make a difference here. 

Let this stand for 10 minutes, until your yeast is foamy and doubles in size.  If this does not occur, your yeast may no longer be active.  I would suggest trying another yeast at this point, being sure to only use one in this recipe that is active.

# 2

Next, in a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixture, beat your ¾ cup of sugar and eggs together until forming a thicker consistency and a pale yellow colour. 

# 3

If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and with speed on low, add your yeast, milk, butter, salt, lemon zest and flour (a bit at a time) until your dough forms a soft ball. 

When your dough is ready, you will begin to notice it climbing up the hook and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  You may need to add a bit more flour at this point (a bit at a time) if you notice your dough is not ready after the 6 cups of flour used.  This process may take up to 10 minutes or more on low speed.

# 4

Once your dough has formed a soft ball, place it in a large, lightly greased bowl (I use canola oil to grease mine), cover this bowl with plastic wrap, then place in a warm, draft-free location until your dough has risen to twice its size, this will take at least 2 hours.

After at least 2 hours, the dough should have doubled in size.  If it hasn’t yet, wait some more (trust me, it’ll be sooo worth it!). Once it has doubled in size, punch your fist gently into the centre of your dough, pull the sides of the dough into the centre and remove the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead your dough with your hands for about 5 minutes.  Place dough back into the bowl, into a warm, draft-free location and wait 1-2 hours more for your dough to double in size.

# 5

Whoo-hoo!  You’ve made it to the frying stage!

In a deep frying pan, add about 3-inches of canola oil and heat this over medium-heat until you reach 350 ̊F.  Again, as mentioned with the yeast, I highly recommend you use a deep-fry/candy thermometer to help you determine when you’ve reached the right temperature.  Having the right temperature of oil is important, and a thermometer makes it so easy, so do yourself a favour and purchase one of these handy thermometers.

Next, have a bowl of water near to dip your hands as you go to help manage the stickiness of the dough.  Once your oil is ready, take a bit of your dough, roll it into a 2- or 3-inch ball, then begin to pull the ball of dough with both hands, stretching it gently, forming a hole in the centre using your thumbs, while also using your other fingers to form a round doughnut-like shape. 

Place this in the oil and fry for a couple minutes on each side, until golden brown on each side. 

# 6

As you remove your filhoses from the oil, place them into a shallow dish filled with sugar and roll in sugar as they come out, then place on a serving tray. 

My memories of making these Filhoses (or Portuguese Doughnuts) with my grandma are some of my best memories! Here's how I make this yummy nostalgic treat! #tulipandsage #portuguesedonuts #malasadas #filhoses

You may also place your sugar in a paper bag, place your filhoses into the bag and give it a shake.  This is another easy way to sugar your filhões.  Choose a method that works best for you. 

One note, I find it helpful to replace my sugar with a new amount every so often to avoid patches of sugar forming on your filhoses, after your sugar tends to get wet from the oil.

And you are done!  These are best served warm.  At our house, we freeze the leftovers and have them to snack on for weeks by just reheating them.

My memories of making these Filhoses (or Portuguese Doughnuts) with my grandma are some of my best memories! Here's how I make this yummy nostalgic treat! #tulipandsage #portuguesedonuts #malasadas #filhoses

This recipe makes about 24 filhoses with a diameter of about 3 ½ to 4 inches. But to be completely honest, this isn’t an exact science. Sometimes I make more smaller doughnuts, sometimes fewer larger ones. Because they’re free form, they’ll always turn out different. And that’s something I love about them!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and I hope you’ve been inspired to try making some of your favourite nostalgic treats! Talk soon, my loves <3

Let’s chat! Have you tried making these Filhoses aka Portuguese doughnuts?? What’s one of your favourite childhood treats?? Leave a comment below!

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