This Papanasi Recipe Will Satisfy All Your Romanian Cravings

Papanasi. The holy grail of all things Romanian + doughnut. This delicious Romanian dessert is made with a dough formed mostly by cottage cheese. It’s then fried and topped with fresh smetana (sour cream) and runny jam. Simple but drool-worthy. It’s also got all the characteristics I love about Romanian food; it’s dense, comforting and full of character. Which is why I eat way too many of them and have consequently created a step by step papanasi recipe to satisfy my undying sweet tooth for Romanian dessert.

The origins of Papanasi are spotty at best however its thought that the name comes from the word “pappa” meaning “food for children” in Latin. Papanasi first came about in Romania’s eastern region of Moldova and can now be found all over the country. I ate my weight in them while road tripping Transylvania last year.

The best part? They aren’t that hard to make. This Romanian staple comes together with just a few pantry ingredients. The only tricky part is the dough. With papanasi, you want a slightly sticky, shaggy dough that is not at all smooth or perfect. The key to a good papanasi is in the cheese. After all, the use of cheese is what makes papanasi papanasi and not just a plain jane doughnut with jam and cream. To get that perfect not too dense not too fluffy dough I suggest using a 0% cottage cheese or straining full fat cottage cheese.


  • 1 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting/kneading

  • 1 egg

  • 2 cup cottage cheese see notes

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1 cup runny jam of choice see notes