Sicilian Zeppole di riso are rice pancakes invented by the nuns of the Benedictines Monastery of Catania, in the sixteenth century.

In Catania, in fact, they are also known as “rice crepes in Benedictine style” or simply Benedictine”.

Their flavour is tasty and sweet, thanks to the mixture of rice, milk and to the orange zest which makes them particularly delicate. The addition of honey as a seal is the final touch of class. According to the Sicilian tradition, these cakes were prepared on the occasion of the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, or at Carnival. Nowadays, they are prepared throughout the year, closing on a sweet note any Sunday meal.

Here’s their recipe

Ingredients of zeppole di riso (rice pancakes):

For the dough:

  • 3,100 ml milk
  • 25 g salt
  • 1 kg rice
  • 700 g flour
  • 10 g yeast
  • 100 g sugar
  • grated zest of 4 oranges
  • oil for frying

For the garnish:

  • Orange honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)


Place the milk with salt and the orange zest in a saucepan over medium heat and let it boil. Add rice and cook over low heat, without stirring, until rice is cooked and milk is completely absorbed. Let it cool and rise for a couple of hours.

Place the flour on a board, make a well in the centre and put the cooled rice and the yeast. Take the rest of the milk (600 ml approximately ) and let the sugar dissolve into it. Add the milk and the grated rind of 2 oranges to the dough and mix well until you get a dough with the right consistency (not too runny, nor too solid).

Take small portions of the dough and shape them into many cylinders, the thickness of a finger, and put them into the oil preheated to 180 degrees C.

After you have fried all the dough, fry the zeppole again until golden brown, to get the right crispness, then drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Serve with orange honey and a dusting of icing sugar and ground cinnamon (if you like it).