The rice fritters/doughnuts recipe is one of the main recipes of the Tuscan confectionery tradition. We prepare the delicious sweet “frittelle di riso” during the period of Carnival and for St. Joseph’s Day, every 19th March, when we also celebrate Father’s Day.

Making rice fritters is so much rooted in our tradition that we have an adagio saying “San Giuseppe non si fa senza frittelle” which means that there is no St. Joseph Day without rice doughnuts.

Joseph has always been an essential figure in the Catholic religion. He is the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus. In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared him protector of the Catholic Church. He is the Patron Saint of some Italian towns, and also the patron of workers, orphans, young nubile girls, and the poorest people.

Following the Latin Catholic Church traditions, on 19 March in Italy, we also celebrate another recurrence, Father’s Day. While many other countries do it on the third Sunday of June, we honor our fathers and their love for us on the day of Saint Joseph.

My grandma’s recipe for rice fritters

In my hometown, Cecina on the Etruscan Coast, the patron saint is exactly St. Joseph. Being a holiday, schools, offices and even some shops are closed. So people use to spend the day with family and kids, having nice walks in the open air, and relaxing in the courtyard. And eating dozen of mouth-watering rice doughnuts!

As with most of the recipes we posted on the blog, even the rice fritters recall a memory of my childhood. It reminds me of the time spent with my dad. Due to his job, we could not spend too much time together and St. Joseph’s Day was the opportunity to go out with him for a bike ride, a walk, or a tennis game.

In the meantime at home, mum was waiting for us to prepare something for lunch and rice donuts as dessert, following her grandma’s doughnuts recipe.

If you have never tried to prepare sweet rice fritters, I suggest doing it as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.

The recipe we propose is very “easy to make”. You have to start the preparation the day before, cook rice and make a kind of pudding that needs to rest for at least one night.

The final result is a golden brown, fluffy, and tasty doughnut that will make your kids and friends super happy! Do not forget to roll them into the sugar before serving, together with a glass of sweet dessert wine.

Happy St. Joseph’s Day everybody and happy Father’s Day to all Italian fathers!

St. Joseph rice fritters recipe

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Resting Time12 hours
Total Time13 hours 10 minutes
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Tuscan recipes


  • 1,5 cups Originario Rice
  • 34 fluid oz. milk
  • 4 tbsp white caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp Sambuca or Rhum
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 17 oz oil for frying
  • white caster sugar for coating
  • 0.5 oz baking powder for desserts


The day before…

  • Zest the lemon and the orange, then squeeze out the orange juice into a glass. You will need zests and juice.
  • Place milk, sugar, lemon and orange zest into a saucepan and wait until the milk boils.
  • Add rice and cook it over low heat for about 30/40 minutes until rice and milk become a creamy dough. Blend with a wooden spoon avoiding that rice stick to the saucepan.
  • Pour the dough into a bowl, wait until it cools down, cover with a food wrap, and then place it in the fridge for the night (or few hours).

The day after…

  • Remove the bowl from the fridge, add the eggs, flour, orange juice, the baking powder for desserts, Sambuca (or rum) and mix well.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot. Check the temperature of the oil: drop a small quantity of dough into the oil. When little bubbles come around the dough, the oil is ready.
  • Use a teaspoon to get small fritters and drop them in the hot oil.
  • Turn doughnuts using two forks and wait until they are golden brown, and then drain them on a plate with a paper towel.
  • Coat doughnuts with sugar and serve right away.


Take note that rice needs to sit for a night or for a few hours before to use it. Enjoy!

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