Today I am so excited to share with you one of our most treasured family recipes, Portuguese Donuts called Filhos (pronounced FUH-Lahj.) My grandma and mom have been making these since I was a baby, and my mom made them with her grandmother. Filhos are a Portuguese donut-not an American donut, meaning they look a little different than you think. The dough is a yeast dough, that we have rise to about double the size. The soft dough, you then drop by spoonfuls into the hot oil until golden brown on each side. Then you coat them in white sugar…YUM!

Some will argue that they are Malassadas, but we have never called them that, and the malassadas we have had do taste a little different. Still delicious-just different. I am not sure if it is regional, (we are from the Portuguese island of Terceira.) Either way, they are amazing and this recipe is definitely an heirloom. You can find it in all our family’s recipe books. 

When I was younger, my job was to take the fried Filhos my grandmother had taken from the oil, and once I was able to pick it up I would coat it in white sugar and place it in the stock pot to stay warm. I graduated to frying when I was pregnant with my daughter and grandma showed me how. Typically we make them about twice a year. One of the times is usually the Tuesday before Lent the other around Easter . The rule in my grandma and mom’s house was eat as many as you can while they are hot! Some of my fondest memories is making them in my Grandma’s kitchen and my grandpa (VoVo) hovering and sneaking them out of the pot. I have a picture of him doing it below in the gallery. 

(This is the same recipe, just typed in a Holiday Recipe Book my mom made in the 80’s! It is the coolest book!)

Above you can see the recipe in my grandma’s handwriting. We recently made them together and we made sure to put exactly the amounts we used in the print out recipe you can find below. The key to the dough is to mix it enough so that it looks smooth and glossy. Also, make sure you use fresh Crisco and that it is hot enough at 375 degrees. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is my honor to share it with you. To be honest it is probably one of my most cherished. I feel even more blessed that I was given another year to make Filhos with grandma Mary Jane. And MY kids got to experience Filhos day with their VaVa (Great Grandma.) She said they turned out delicious…and she has been eating them for 89 years so she should know! Grateful to learn from the best. 

Normally, I do not post a ton of photos, but these were too special not to share… 


Portuguese Donuts (Filhos)

Filhos, is yeast dough that you drop in spoon fulls and fry then roll in sugar. Portuguese donuts. Some may call them Malassadas.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 10



  • 6 eggs
  • 2 yeast packets 4 1/2 tsp if not using packets
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup warm milk


  • Put eggs in large bowl of mixer.
  • Beat eggs and sugar.
  • Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  • Add yeast mixture, shortening, and butter to bowl and beat well.
  • Add salt to flour.
  • Add flour and milk alternately to egg mixture.
  • Beat well. dough should be smooth and shiny looking.
  • Add dough to large buttered bowl when done mixing.
  • Cover bowl with parchment paper. Place in a warm place (we turn the oven on for a few minutes then turn it off. Just make sure it isn't too hot) and let it rise until it reaches the top of the bowl. This usually takes about an hour.
  • Dough will be soft.


  • Melt crisco in an electric fryer or deep frying pan and let it reach 375 degrees.
  • Using a spoon dipped in oil and a fork, drop by spoonfuls, using the fork to spread them a little into the hot oil.
  • Fry on both sides until golden brown.
  • Drain, then coat in sugar.
  • Place in stock pot to keep warm.


  • Eat as many as you can while hot, but to enjoy the day after, heat in the microwave for about 9 seconds.
  • Our family also loves them dipped in molasses.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. 5 stars
    That is the same recipe my Mom used. I need to make some again! Thank you for sharing the pictures. I sincerely love (cousin) Maryjane ❤️ Give her a big hug from me, and your Mom too!

  2. This is the same recipe that my Avo made when I was growing up. She’s been gone nearly 50 years now and I’m going to attempt the recipe for the first time myself. I used to help her make them —- I was her taste tester. I remember her stretching the dough over her knee before dropping it into the oil. Ay the memories you are awaking! Thanks for sharing this special recipe!
    Merry Christmas
    I’ll rate the recipe after I give it my best
    I’m sure it’ll be a 5 star rating

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