Twisted Korean Donuts (Kkwabaegi)

Crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside. If you’re going to fry donuts once in your life, make Kkwabaegi, Twisted Korean Donuts!

During my first pregnancy, my one true love was Kkwabaegi — a twisted Korean Donut from H Mart.

I loved Korean Donuts to the point of obsession. I woke up thinking about them. I planned my days around them. And when I finally got one in my hands, I took big bites and licked my fingers. I smacked my lips and didn’t offer to share. Good manners be damned when you’re pregnant and eating the one item you crave most in the world!

Imagine my wonder when I discovered you could make Kkwabaegi at home!

Homemade Kkwabaegi require time and patience. The dough needs to rise twice. Then shaped into the characteristic Korean twist. One more quick rise. Then deep fry. Finally, roll in copious amounts of cinnamon sugar! (I made a visual below, to help you get started.)

Even with the amount of work involved, I think you’ll find great pleasure in the making and eating of these crispy, sugary treats. Enjoy the tactile sensation of rolling out the dough. Delight in the yeasty aroma. Experience the thrill of creation: you’ve made something from nothing, built meaning out of raw materials. That first bite will taste all that more delicious.

Ingredients:

Basic pantry ingredients that you probably already have in your home!

  • Flour.
  • Milk.
  • Butter.
  • Egg.
  • Yeast.
  • White Sugar.
  • Brown Sugar.
  • Cinnamon

How to Make Twisted Korean Donuts:

  1. Make the dough.
  2. Let the dough rise twice.

To Twist the Donuts:

  1. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces. (Use a bench scraper to cut the dough in half, then keep halving until you have 16 equal-ish pieces.)
  2. Take one piece and roll out (with your hands) into a long strip, about 10 inches long.
  3. Twist one end away from you while simultaneously twisting the other end towards you.
  4. Hold the ends and lift the dough off the surface, in a U-shape. The donut should naturally twist. If you need, give it a little extra twist to help it along.
  5. Pinch the ends together and tuck under each other.
  6. Repeat until you have 16 donuts. Then let the dough rise another 15 minutes.

Now it’s time to deep fry and coat in cinnamon sugar! YUM! Enjoy!!

tray of korean donuts with parchment paper underneath

PRO Tips:

  • Pinch the twisted ends tightly! Otherwise, they will separate while deep frying.
  • Create a warm, draft-free area for the dough to rise. Pre-heat the oven to 175F. When the oven reaches the correct temperature, immediately turn it off. Place the covered dough bowl in the oven, door closed. This warm, draft-free environment makes a great place for the dough to rise undisturbed.
  • Add cinnamon sugar while the donuts are hot. The sugar will stick better.
  • Roll donuts in cinnamon sugar. Easiest way to coat the donut twists. Flip around and around until they are thoroughly coated!
  • Set up a deep frying station. Clip a thermometer to a cast iron dutch oven to gauge the oil temperature. Transfer to a cooling rack fitted over a sheet pan so the donuts don’t get soggy.

FAQ:

Can I freeze Kkwabaegi?

Yes, Twisted Korean Donuts freeze well! Since I rarely finish all 16 donuts in one day, I often freeze leftovers. Cool completely then store in a plastic Ziploc bag, making sure to remove as much air from the bag as possible. Transfer the bag to the freezer, where it should keep for 2-3 months. To reheat, place in a 325F oven for 5 minutes. They will taste the same as the day you made them.

Why isn’t my dough rising?

I’m not sure why your dough is not rising. But there’s a number of reasons that can cause this. Too much heat can kill the yeast. Not enough heat can slow down the rising process. Old, expired yeast might be dead.

To check if your yeast is alive, follow the recipe directions: sprinkle yeast on top of the slightly warm milk and wait 5 minutes. If the yeast foams, it’s alive.

Make sure the milk/butter mixture is not too hot! Yeast dies at 120F. If you want to use a thermometer, I suggest heating the milk/butter to 110F.

Also, if your kitchen is cold, the yeasted dough will take longer to rise. The rise times are approximate. Look for dough that’s doubled in volume and noticeably puffy.

Other easy recipes you may love:

tray of korean donut twists with hand grabbing one

Twisted Korean Donuts (Kkwabaegi)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Crispy, sugary twists that crunch softly when you bite down. Korean Donuts will make all your cinnamon-sugar donut dreams come true.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Rising Time 2 hrs
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Korean
Servings 16 donuts
Calories

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Instructions
 

  • Heat melted butter and milk until lukewarm to the touch, but not hot or steaming. Sprinkle yeast over the liquid and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Add egg and beat lightly with fork. Set aside.
    white bowl filled with flour and small saucepan with milk and butter and yeast
  • In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and mix with spatula until dough forms. The dough will be very sticky so feel free to sprinkle with a little more flour if needed. Cover and put in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough. Let rise again, about 45 minutes. (Yes, the dough needs to rise twice.)
    dough in white mixing bowl on white background
  • Lightly flour surface. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. I cut the dough in half, then keep halving until I get 16 equal-ish pieces.
    16 pieces of dough on white surface
  • Shape dough into twists: Take one piece and roll out (with your hands) into a long strip, about 10 inches long.
    10 inch piece of dough rolled out on white surface
  • Simultaneously twist one end away from you and one end towards you.
    long piece of donut dough twisted on both ends
  • Hold the ends and lift the dough off the surface, in a U-shape. The donut should naturally twist. If you need, give it a little extra twist to help it along.
    donut twist on white surface
  • Pinch the ends together and tuck under each other.
    korean donut twist on white cutting board
  • Transfer to parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until you have 16 twists. Let the twisted donuts rise until puffy, another 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels and cooling rack so the finished donuts have a landing place once they're finished frying. Also, prep a large cast iron dutch oven (or stock pot) with a candy thermometer and 2 inches of vegetable oil.
    sheet pan full of korean donut twists
  • Heat oil until thermometer reaches 325F. Gently lower donuts into oil in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. (I fry 4 donuts at a time.) Maintain an even temperature between 300-325F, lowering and raising heat if needed. Turn the donuts and cook until both sides are golden, about 2-4 minutes total.
    cast iron dutch oven with candy thermometer attached
  • As the oil heats, prep the cinnamon sugar. Add brown sugar and cinnamon to a large shallow bowl and mix with a spoon. Once the donuts have finished frying, use tongs to transfer hot donuts to the cinnamon sugar. Use the spoon to sprinkle and thoroughly coat each donut with cinnamon sugar. You may need to turn the donuts with tongs to ensure that all sides are well coated.
    tray of korean donut twists with hand grabbing one
  • Eat immediately! Korean donuts taste best when they are still warm.

Notes

*Leftover donuts can be frozen and reheated in a 325F oven until crispy and hot, about 4-5 minutes.  
**Yeast is finicky.  There are many ways to kill yeast.  Yeast can also die if it’s too old.  To determine if your yeast is still active, sprinkle a small amount (a pinch) over warm water.  If it foams, it’s still good.  If it doesn’t foam, then you may need to get a new batch.  
Keyword Donuts, Korean
All Recipes, Dessert, Korean, Popular Recipes, Potluck, Snacks

30 Comments

  1. Hi Lis,
    Is it regular yeast or instant yeast? Can I use instant yeast? and if I do does the recipe need to be changed at all? Thanks!

  2. Hi is this plain flour please

  3. I’ve made this recipe for my family and they loved it. So good that they keep asking me to make more. Can I double the recipe and by how much of everything!
    Thank you

  4. 5 stars
    Loved it! I made them vegan and used soymilk and egg-replacer.
    Didn’t hold their shape that well but I think that’s cause the yeast kinda “overproofed” when I let it rise in my oven which was too hot. Thank you for the recipe! I made half the batch and me and my boyfriend ate them all while still warm. So so good

  5. I will give it a try as well and see how they turn out. I read to increase the fat content by adding more butter. Thanks for your reply! I’m excited to make these!

  6. Hi Lis, this looks absolutely delicious. I LOVE me a good donut. I was wondering if you know if substituting the milk with let’s say almond milk or soy milk will give the same outcome – fluffy and soft. Thank you

  7. Popcornfreaks

    5 stars
    Easy to make and the donuts were soft and tasty! Kids loved making and twisting the donuts.

  8. 5 stars
    i love this recipe so much!
    Have made the doughnuts using this recipe 3x now
    It’s so east n straightforward!! Ty<333

  9. Nice and quick to follow recipe ??
    Was wondering if it’s possible to bake them in the oven instead of frying?

  10. Nice and quick to follow recipe ?
    Was wondering if it’s possible to bake them in the oven instead of frying?

  11. 5 stars
    Can the dough be frozen to fry later?

    • Ive never tried freezing the dough but it should work the same as any frozen dough.

      If you freeze in a ball, thaw at room temp then twist and let proof for a 2nd rise before frying.

      If you freeze in twists, bring to room temp and they should naturally proof while defrosting. (Ive done this with frozen challah and it works beautifully). Good luck!

  12. Same yuminess in donuthole bite sizes?
    What if i add fillings? Would it hold?

    • Ive never added fillings but Koreans sometimes add red bean filling before deep frying to Glutinous Rice Donuts. Is that what you were thinking of?

      Otherwise, feel free to experiment away! Its a really great donut base but Ive only made this recipe in twist form.

  13. 5 stars
    Is it possible to make it without yeast?

  14. upendro nahakpam

    Can I half the recipe?

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  17. Arie DeVries

    These doughnuts are the BEST! I have now made them 4 times, and I thought that I should leave a review. They are easily my family’s favourite doughnut, and they get really excited whenever I make them. They truly are one of the BEST doughnuts I have ever had. Thank you so much!

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