BEST Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe

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BEST Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe are authentic Italian cream-filled pastries for the Feast of St Joseph. Follow the step-by-step photo guide to achieve perfect results. The pastry is light and airy with a luscious cream filling topped with amarena cherries!

close up of finished baked zeppole  filled with Italian pastry cream and Italian Amarena cherries.
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BEST Zeppole di San Giuseppe Recipe

Starting in February, in preparation for St. Joseph’s Day, you will see these baked zeppole or little nests filled with pastry cream filling in pastry shops all over Italy.

This is a tried-and-true recipe with clear instructions for achieving the best-baked zeppole. Trust me! You’ve landed on an authentic Italian recipe you can trust and come back to every time you crave these sweet treats.

You will also love Bomboloni Recipe (Italian Donuts with Cream Filling), Chiacchiere di Carnevale RecipeZeppole Recipe (Easy Italian Donuts), and Authentic Struffoli Recipe (Italian Honey Balls).

What are Zeppole Di San Giuseppe?

Italian Zeppole di San Giuseppe, St. Joseph’s pastries, bignè di San Giuseppe, or Neapolitan Zeppole (many different names for these delectable treats!) are Italian pastries made to celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph (March 19th), which is also Father’s Day in Italy.

They are cream puffs made with classic choux pastry dough, filled with traditional Crema Pasticcera (Italian pastry cream), and topped with amarena cherries. The presentation is beautiful, and they taste delightful! My uncle’s name is Giuseppe, and these always remind me of him.

They are easier to make than you think and worth it for a special day! These Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian) should not be confused with the fried zeppole popular for Italian Carnevale.

close up of finished baked zeppole filled with Italian pastry cream and Italian Amarena cherries. In the background there is a stack of unfilled zeppole and cherries.

Simple Ingredients

ingredient shot for recipe

Choux Pastry Dough

  • Unsalted Butter divided 
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt (a pinch of salt)
  • Water
  • 00 flour or all-purpose flour 
  • Large Eggs

Italian Pastry Cream

ingredient shot- Italian pastry cream

Toppings

See the recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Make the Choux Pastry Dough

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- whisking eggs in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 400℉—place rack in the center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Beat the room-temperature eggs in a medium bowl, cover with cling wrap or plastic wrap, and set aside. 

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- whisking dry ingredients.

Whisk together flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- melting butter and water in a pot.

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the water and butter over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. After boiling for about 30 seconds, remove the saucepan from the heat.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- mixing flour to butter and water mixture

Add the flour mixture in one addition and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to combine the wet and dry ingredients.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- cooking dough on the stove in a pot.

Return the saucepan to the stove. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep stirring until the mixture forms into a smooth ball and comes away from the sides of the pan (5 minutes total). This is KEY to letting some of the water evaporate- skipping this step yields to a runny dough. 

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- letting cooked dough cool before adding the eggs.

Transfer the choux dough mixture to a large mixing bowl. Let cool for a few minutes.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- adding the eggs to the dough mixture a little at a time.

Add the beaten eggs, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition with a wooden spoon, stand mixer paddle attachment or hand-held beaters.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- mixing eggs and dough to form a sticky choux pastry dough. Dough will hold to a wooden spoon.

It may seem like the dough won’t incorporate, but it does- keep mixing.

How to assemble baked Zeppole

ingredient shot- Italian pastry cream

Make Italian pastry cream and set it in the fridge to cool. Make it up to 24 hours ahead of time.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- piping choux pastry on parchment lined cookie sheet into a round donut like shape.

Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. I like to place my pastry bag in a tall cup for easy filling. 
Pipe dough into 2″ nests on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Turn off the oven and open the door slightly.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- piped choux pastry with a large star tip on baking sheet ready to bake.

The dough resembles a donut’s shape and size with a hole in the middle.
Place in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- baked choux pastry cooling on baking sheet.

Let the pastries cool for about 10 minutes in the oven. 
Remove the pastry shells from the oven and let them cool completely. 

Assemble the Baked Zeppole 

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- cutting the baked zeppole in hald to fill with pastry cream.

Once cooled, cut the baked zeppole in half with a serrated knife.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- filling zeppole with pastry cream.

Fill another pastry bag fitted with an open star tip with Italian pastry cream and pipe on one-half of the zeppole shells; you can also use a spoon for the pastry cream.

Process of making Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe (Italian)- baked zeppole filled with pastry cream add other half of pastry back to top and add amarena cherries on top.

Cover with the other half of the baked zeppole and pipe another tablespoon over the top, OR make a small hole and pipe pastry cream directly in the cavity; and top with more pastry cream. You can also leave the tops plain.

Top the baked zeppole with amarena cherries and a dusting of icing sugar (powdered sugar). Enjoy!

Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe

There is much debate about how to cook these. They are delicious, both baked and fried (al forno or fritte). You can fry them, but I prefer them baked. They are lighter and still produce a crispy and airy doughnut texture.

finish zeppole di san Giuseppe on a serving platter with cream and Amarena cherries on top.

Substitutions

If you are in a hurry and want to make an easier variation, try Puff Pastry filled with Italian Chocolate Cream.

Zeppole Variations

Filling

The traditional Neapolitan pastry was made with a lemon-infused pastry cream piped over a fried dough.

You can fill these traditional zeppole with Italian Pastry Cream (Crema Pasticcera)Best Italian Pistachio CreamItalian Chocolate Pastry Cream, Nutella, or jam. They are delicious plain as well.

stacked baked zeppole recipe on a ruffled plate serving platter.

Topping

You can use the following cherry variations to top the baked zeppole.

Add a dusting of powdered sugar or icing sugar to give an extra special touch.

close up of finished baked zeppole filled with Italian pastry cream and Italian Amarena cherries. In the background there is a stack of unfilled zeppole and cherries.

Tools for Making Italian Baked Zeppole

You’ll need large, heavy-duty piping bags or a pastry bag to pipe out the choux pastry dough and a large open star tip.

How to Store Baked Zeppole

Store the non-filled zeppole in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Once filled, keep them in the refrigerator and consume them within a couple of days.

It is not recommended to store the raw dough. Make the choux pastry fresh before baking the zeppole.

Top Tips for Choux Pastry Dough (Zeppole di San Giuseppe)

Choux pastry sounds fancy but is pretty easy to make following the best recipe.

  • Use room temperature ingredients.
  • Stir the flour vigorously until combined with the hot liquid.
  • Important to cook the pastry in the pan for 5 minutes so that the water can evaporate. If you skip this step, the dough will be runny, and the final choux dough will be flat and dense.
  • Let the mixture cool immediately after it forms into a smooth dough ball.
  • Beat the eggs first, then add 1/4 cup additions to the dough.
  • Cool the finished pastry in the oven with the door open.

FAQs

What is choux pastry?

Italian baked zeppole uses a French choux pastry dough- don’t ask me why! Pâte à choux is a classic French dough that starts on the stovetop with the wet and dry ingredients before adding the eggs. It is used to make cream puffs, éclairs, and more. Choux is pronounced like “shoe.” Choux means cabbages in French; the baked puff pastry looks like small cabbages after they are baked.

Why is my choux pastry runny?

The most common reason for the choux pastry to be runny, causing the final pastry to be flat and rubbery, is not cooking the dough in the pot for enough time. Allowing the dough to cook for 5 minutes is critical to let the water evaporate and create a solid dough before adding the eggs. The initial cooking causes the starch in the flour to gelatinize, helping the choux pastry hold onto steam and puff up when baking. This essential step will result in a choux pastry that is light and airy!

How do you know when choux pastry is done cooking?

Before baking choux pastry, you cook it on the stove. This is essential in achieving a light and airy choux. You will know when the choux pastry is done cooking in the pot when it is glossy, doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan, and forms into a soft cohesive dough ball. Then it is ready to cool, add the eggs, and bake.

Why is choux pastry cooked on the stove first?

Cooling the choux pastries in the oven is recommended. After the recommended baking time- turn off the oven, open the oven door, and let the pastries cool for about 10 minutes. The remaining heat will further crisp the pastry without over-baking them.

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BEST Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe

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5 from 3 reviews

These Italian Baked Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipe are authentic Italian cream-filled pastries for the Feast of St Joseph. Follow the step-by-step photo guide to achieve perfect results. The pastry is light and airy with a luscious cream filling.

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

Choux Pastry Dough

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (a pinch of salt)
  • 1 cup (240g) water
  • 1 cup (120 g) 00 flour or all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Italian Pastry Cream

Toppings

Instructions

Italian Pastry Cream 

  1. Make the pastry cream first and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. 

Make the Choux Pastry Dough

  1. Preheat oven to 400℉—place rack in the center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Beat the room-temperature eggs in a medium bowl, cover with cling wrap or plastic wrap, and set aside. 
  3. Whisk together flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the water and butter over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. After boiling for about 30 seconds, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  5. Add the flour mixture in one addition and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Return the saucepan to the stove. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep stirring until the mixture forms into a smooth ball and comes away from the sides of the pan (5 minutes total). This is KEY to letting some of the water evaporate- skipping this step yields to a runny dough. 
  6. Transfer the choux dough mixture to a large mixing bowl. Let cool for a few minutes.
  7. Add the beaten eggs, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition with a wooden spoon, stand mixer paddle attachment or hand-held beaters. It may seem like the dough won’t incorporate, but it does- keep mixing!

Shape and Bake the Dough

  1. Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. I like to place my pastry bag in a tall cup for easy filling. 
  2. Pipe dough into 2″ nests on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The dough resembles a donut’s shape and size with a hole in the middle.
  3. Place in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Let the pastries cool for about 10 minutes in the oven. 
  5. Remove the pastry shells from the oven and let them cool completely. 

Assemble the Baked Zeppole 

  1. Once cooled cut the baked zeppole in half with a serrated knife. 
  2. Fill another pastry bag fitted with an open star tip with Italian pastry cream and pipe on one-half of the zeppole shells; you can also use a spoon for the pastry cream. Cover with the other half of the baked zeppole and pipe another tablespoon over the top, OR make a small hole and pipe pastry cream directly in the cavity; and top with more pastry cream. You can also leave the tops plain. 
  3. Top the baked zeppole with amarena cherries and a dusting of icing sugar (powdered sugar). Enjoy!

Notes

CHOUX PASTRY TOP TIPS

  • Use room temperature ingredients.
  • Stir the flour vigorously until combined with the hot liquid.
  • Important to cook the pastry in the pan for 5 minutes so that the water can evaporate. If you skip this step, the dough will be runny, and the final choux dough will be flat and dense.
  • Let the mixture cool immediately after it forms into a smooth dough ball.
  • Beat the eggs first, then add 1/4 cup additions to the dough.
  • Cool the finished pastry in the oven with the door open.

 

 

STORAGE

Store the non-filled zeppole in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Once filled, keep them in the refrigerator and consume them within a couple of days.

It is not recommended to store the raw dough. Make the choux pastry fresh before baking the zeppole.

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
  • Category: Sweet
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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5 Comments

  1. I am apprehensive about trying new recipes because you don’t know if they have been tested. I was so glad I tried yours.
    The pastry is light and fluffy and for my first attempt quite impressive.
    Thank you Elena!






  2. I made the St. Joseph pastry last night for the first time. Elena’s recipe was great. My cream came out great but I used the almond extract which was a little strong, I will make again with the vanilla. My pastry looked ok, tasted good but came out very small so I think I need a larger star tip. Make sure you use a pastry bag/large star tip because the filling is thick and breaks through a plastic bag. Elena’s directions are very clear and helpful. Read through everything before you start and you should be fine. I will be making again soon. ❤️






  3. The most authentic Zeppole di San Giuseppe recipe you can make at home! The choux pastry dough is fool proof!