You don’t need to wait for Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fastnacht Day, to enjoy this Pennsylvania Dutch classic.  Less sweet and chewier than donuts, Fastnachts are a potato and yeast dough that are often cut into irregular or trapezoid shapes and are cooked in hot oil, coated with cinnamon sugar, and are incredibly delicious.  Cook up a batch for your next camping trip and please the crowd.  The dough can be made up to a few days in advance and kept in your cooler, making campsite prep easy.

Cook in hot oil until golden brown.

Toss hot fastnachts immediately into a brown bag of cinnamon sugar, and shake the bag to coat.



  • ¾ cups potatoes, boiled and mashed, lukewarm
  • ¼ cup boiled potato water, lukewarm
  • 2 ¼ tsp dry yeast (1 package)
  • 5 ½ cups flour, divided
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Cinnamon sugar


  1. Dissolve yeast in potato water. Stir in ½ cup flour, mashed potatoes and salt. Let rise 1 hour in a warm spot until double in bulk.
  2. To the potato mixture, add milk and 2 ½ cups flour. Knead until well-combined. Let rise 1 hour in a warm spot until double in bulk.
  3. Add eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla to the dough, stirring until well combined. Knead enough of the remaining flour until the dough is a good consistency. Continue to knead for 10 minutes. Let rise 2 hours in a warm spot until double in bulk.
  4. Heat 2” of oil in a cast iron pot on med-high heat (until it is 360 deg or until a small piece of dough floats to the surface and browns quickly).
  5. Roll dough until it is ¼” thick and cut into squares, triangles or trapezoids. Cook a few at a time in the hot oil until golden brown.
  6. Place cinnamon sugar in a paper bag, and immediately upon removing from the oil, toss fastnachts in the bag and shake to coat with cinnamon sugar.
  7. Serve immediately.


After the final rise, the dough can be stored in a gallon-size ziploc bag for up to a few days in the refrigerator or cooler.

A million thanks to Len for taking these photos.

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