Meal Prep & Recipes

Sugar Cinnamon Donuts Recipe

Sugar cinnamon donuts made by grandma - her famous recipe perfect for the holidays!

When there is a special occasion like Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, in my family, it is a Portuguese tradition to make sugar cinnamon donuts known as filhós in Portuguese. This recipe uses the most simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. It is the technique that makes it so special.

They are such a hit in our family that it all gets eaten up pretty quickly either after our feast or beforehand while waiting for everyone to arrive and have dinner or lunch.

My grandma is the one that makes them the best. A few others in the family know how to make them but not like grandma. I wanted to learn how to make them so just this Mother’s Day, we made them in her kitchen and I wrote down how to do it step by step. I know this is not the healthiest of recipes, but hey, it is only for special occasions.This recipe serves about 2-3 big full trays of donuts, enough to serve about 10-15 people.

Grandma’s Sugar Cinnamon Donuts (Filhós)


For the yeast mix:

1 and 1/2 tbsp Fleischmann’s Quick Rise Instant Yeast

1 and 1/2 tbsp sugar

For the dough:

1/2 tub (small) of margarine (about 1/2 lb or 200g)

6 eggs

zest of 1/2 fresh lime

5 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1  cup milk

2 and 1/2 cups water

6 cups flour

5 cups vegetable oil for frying

Sugar Cinnamon Coating:

5 tbsp of sugar

1 tsp cinnamon (or to your own taste)



1. In a large bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 tbsp Fleischmann’s Quick Rise Instant Yeast with 1 and 1/2 tbsp sugar. Add water just enough to cover and let sit until yeast rises (about 20 minutes).

2. In a small pot, add 1/2 tub (small) of margarine (about 1/2 lb or 200 g) and melt on low-medium heat.My grandma uses Imperial margarine but any margarine will do.

3. In a medium sized pot, add 1 cup milk, 2 and 1/2 cups water, and place on medium heat just to warm up the milk and water.

4. In a large mixing bowl, add 6 eggs, zest of 1/2 a lime, 5 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Beat with a mixer or like my grandma does, with her hands (great tool).

5. Add the warm milk mixture in while beating. Then add the melted butter but leave a little in the pot for later. Continue to beat slightly to mix.

6. Now for this step if you have a dough hook to knead dough use this instead of beating. If you don’t have this, use your hands for this step, folding your hands to make a dough mix come together.While continuously beating with your hands or with the dough hook, add in 6 cups of flour. Keep kneading  the dough by folding and squeezing the dough. If dough is still too sticky, add a little more flour. Finally add the remaining melted butter to the bottom of the pan by pouring through the sides of the pan once you lift the dough slightly. This helps the dough not to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add a little dusting of flour on top and cover pan with a tea towel. Set aside to rise (1 hour).

7. Once dough has risen (about 1 hour), add about 5 cups of vegetable oil in a medium pot for frying. Depending on your pot size, you may need more or less oil. Oil should be about half about half way up the pot. Heat on medium to high heat.

8. In a small bowl add water. This bowl will serve to dip your fingers in before making the donuts to help prevent sticking.

9. Once vegetable oil is warm enough (few minutes), dip fingers in bowl of water and grab piece of dough and quickly form a ring and gently dip in the vegetable oil. Repeat until top of pot is covered in donuts. Let brown and turn over with a large spoon or spatula to brown the other side. Don’t worry if the donuts don’t always form a donut shape. Grandma always said it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make a whole in the middle. The important thing is that it comes out fluffy and moist on the inside:)

10. Once browned, place on a tray lined with paper towels to let cool slightly. The inside of the donut should come out a little fluffy. Here’s how it looks on the inside:

11. This step is great to get kids to help out or have someone else help out. This is the part I would do while growing up.While you are still frying and placing the hot donuts on the tray to cool slightly, have someone lightly coat the donuts that have already cooled slightly with sugar cinnamon. In a bowl, add 5 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon and mix together.

12. Once the donuts are cooled slightly coat each donut all over with the sugar cinnamon.

13. Place donuts on a tray to serve.

14. Enjoy 😀


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Sugar Cinnamon Donuts

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