Italian Culinary Trips: Recipe for Frappe for Carnevale

March 1, 2022  |  By Peg Kern
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Frappe pastry, a Carnevale treat from our Italian culinary tripsAt The International Kitchen we love the Carnevale (Carnival) season, and one of our favorite parts of Carnevale in Italy are the special pastries that appear this time of year in every pasticceria. Stroll through the streets of any city or town and you’ll find the pastry shop windows full of wonderful confections for Mardi Gras season.

Learn more about Mardi Grad treats.

One of the traditions in my family is to make “frappe” with my two sons. These are thin strips of dough fried and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Super easy, super tasty, and something we do only for martedì grasso (Mardi Gras, or “fat Tuesday”). These are also called by other names – cenci, chiacchiere, cioffe – depending on where in Italy you find them.

They don’t keep especially well, so we recommend you eat them all while fresh. Don’t worry – it will not be a hardship!

A plate of freshly made frappe for Mardi Gras.Frappe (Carnival Fritters)

Prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook method: Fry
Serves: 3 dozen


  • 240 g flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 15 g sugar (about ! T)
  • 35 g butter, room temperature (about 3 T)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 T vodka or wine
  • 1 T water (approximately)
  • Oil for frying

Kneading dough during a culinary vacation with TIKInstructions:

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl or in a food processor. Add the butter and egg and pulse or mix thoroughly, then add the vodka and water until the dough comes together (you may need more water). The dough should not be sticky, but should be soft.

2. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Refrigerate 30 minutes, covered.

Learn to make frappe during an authentic cooking class in Rome!

Rolling dough to make homemade frappe pastries for Mardi Gras.3. Divide the dough into smaller pieces, then roll the pieces thinly either by hand or in a pasta machine. (The dough should be almost transparent). Use a pastry cutter or knife to cut the dough into strips 1 inch wide and about 5 inches long.

4. Some of the strips you can leave as they are, some you can knot. For others you can cut a diagonal cut in the middle of the strip, then pull one end through the other to form one of the classic shapes. There is really no wrong way to do it!

5. Heat the frying oil in a heavy pan on medium heat to around 200 degrees C (375 F). (Do not let the oil get too hot). Fry the frappe in batches until they puff and become golden, rotating them once during frying. This will only take a couple minutes total.

A Venetian in costume for Carnevale on a culinary tour of Italy6. Drain on paper towels, being careful not to overcrowd them, and while still hot dust them generously with confectioner’s sugar.

Try another Italian pastry: pasticciotti from Puglia!

You can store them once cooled at room temperature in an airtight container, but they lose some of their crispness, so we usually eat them all up!

Click here to learn more about our other favorite festival foods, or for a special Lenten recipe for Roman Baccalà e Puntarelle (Salt Cod and Chicory).

Make a savory French pastry: gougères. 

By Peg Kern

Learn more about all of our Italy culinary trips. If you have questions about these or any of our culinary trips, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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