Romanian Papanasi Recipe

Romanian Papanasi Recipe with sour cream and jam, or fried no-yeast cheese doughnuts, a dessert that tastes like heaven, and we are so proud of it. It only takes a few ingredients to put it together, but be sure that everybody will fall in love with them.

A white plate with papanasi

What are papanasi?

Papanasi (read papanashi) are a traditional Romanian dessert made of cow’s cheese. They are similar to a fried donut that is topped with a donut ball, and served with lots of sour cream and jam.

You will find papanasi in any Romanian restaurant, and anywhere else where traditional Romanian food is served.

As a nation, we love cheese, and cow’s cheese is my favourite. From appetizers, to mains or dessserts, we like addding cheese in lots and lots of dishes.

Now, there are two types of papanasi, the fried ones, and boiled papanasi. Of course, the boiled ones are healthier, but you will agree with me that fried are tastier. Right?

Romanian Papanasi Recipe with sour cream and jam, or fried no-yeast cheese doughnuts, a dessert that tastes like heaven, and we are so proud of it. It only takes a few ingredients to put it together, but be sure that everybody will fall in love with them.

How do you make Romanian papanasi?

If you can’t find cow’s cheese, feta cheese is a very good substitute. Crumble or grate the cheese, add the egg, bicarbonate of soda, lemonn zest, sugar and flour, and mix to get a dough.

At this stage the dough will be pretty sticky. Leave to rest for 15-20 minutes, then transfer to the work surface and divide it into 4 balls. Use flour to dust if the dough is still sticky.

Eaach ball will be divided into 2, one ball will be bigger. From the bigger ball, we will shape a round donut with a hole in the middle, where the second one will be the shape of a ball (see photo above).

Heat up the oil, and deep fry until light brown. Repeat with the rest of the donuts. Once cooled, serve with plenty of sour cream and jam, my preferred one being sour cherry, it goes nicely with the richness of the donuts.

A white plate with romanian papanasi

Traditional Romanian meal

If you ever visit Romania, you’ll be welcomed with lots of delicious food and lots of plum brandy, which is our traditional drink. Red wine is another favourite of ours.

We absolutely love food, and every important holiday is a good excuse to cook a proper feast with lots of dishes, both sweet and savoury. So, how about we put together a proper Romanian meal?

We can start with some amazing appetizers like mayo eggplant canapes, or some chicken liver pate.

We can’t possibly not taste the delicious “Ciorba Radauteana”, or chicken soup with sour cream and garlic.

As a main meal, our sarmale, or meat and rice rolls in cabbage (or grape leaves) have no rival. They find their way on the table more often than you think.

As for desserts, apart from papanasi, we can enjoy some “Salam de biscuiti” or chocolate salami, or a good old cremeschnitte (Cremsnit). Or, why not some no-yeast beignets (Gogosi).

A good savoury snack are these amazing cheese crackers (saratele).

And the list is endless.

Overhead shoot of a white plate with papansi and a teaspoon ont he side

If you’ve tried my ROMANIAN PAPANASI or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

5 from 2 votes
Cheese doughnuts aka Romanian papanasi
Romanian Papanasi Recipe
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Romanian Papanasi Recipe, or fried no-yeast cheese doughnuts with sour cream and jam, a fantastic dessert that we treasure.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Romanian
Keyword: Romanian desserts
Servings: 4 papanasi
Calories: 1189 kcal
Author: Daniela Anderson
  • 1 1/4 cup cow's cheese (or feta cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups vegetable oil to fry
  • sour cream
  • cherry jam
  1. Grate or crumble the cheese and add it to a large bowl.

  2. Mix in the egg, sugar, lemon zest and bicarbonate of soda.

  3. Add the flour and knead until you get a dough that is still very slightly sticky. Shape it into a ball.

  4. Let the dough to rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 4 smaller balls.
  6. Each ball will then be devided into 2, we will need about 3/4 of that dough for the main doughnut and 1/4 for the small ball that goes on top.
  7. We will then have 4 doughnuts and 4 small balls in total.
  8. To make the doughnut, just use your thumbprint to make a hole in the middle of the dough and give it a nice round shape.
  9. Heat up a large pan and add the oil.
  10. Add one doughnut and one ball and let them fry on each side for about 2 minutes until golden.
  11. Remove with a spatula and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorbe any excess oil.
  12. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts and balls.
  13. Serve with sour cream and cherry or any other jam you prefer.
Recipe Notes
  • To see the measurements in cups and ounces, please click on the US CUSTOMARY link.
  • The amount of ingredients listed can be adjusted depending on the number of servings you need, just click on the number next to SERVINGS.
Nutrition Facts
Romanian Papanasi Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1189 Calories from Fat 999
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 111g 171%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Cholesterol 85mg 28%
Sodium 731mg 30%
Potassium 78mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 37g 12%
Sugars 14g
Protein 11g 22%
Vitamin A 5.4%
Calcium 25.7%
Iron 10.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.






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  • Reply
    August 6, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Well, I’ve never heard of a papanasi before, but they sure do look tasty!
    Janie x

    • Reply
      Daniela Apostol
      August 6, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      Thank you!

    • Reply
      October 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      I had Papanasi when I was in Bucharest and they were probably the best doughnuts I’ve ever tasted. The waitress was laughing at my expression of delight as I ate them! I’ve been trying to discover what they were called an how I could make them and now I’ve found out, I will definitely be trying this recipe.

      • Reply
        Daniela Anderson
        October 25, 2018 at 5:55 pm

        We absolutely love papanasi, this is a super simple recipe, hope you like it.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I love the sweet and savory components of these Cheese Donuts! I typically don’t care for super sweet desserts so this one sounds perfect for me. Yum!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Oh my GOODNESS! These look divine! I would definitely fry them because I think if I am going to be naughty and eat a rich dessert, then I really want to enjoy it! They look easy to make too! I would love to try these! Thank you so much for sharing this and for participating! I will share this post next week! ?????❤❤??

    • Reply
      Daniela Apostol
      August 6, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Thank you, Natascha! I loved taking part in your challege. Also enjoyed eating them haha they are yummy ?

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