Easy Twisted Korean Donuts (Kkwabaegi)

Difficulty Medium

A popular treat in Korean cafes and bakeries: Twisted Korean Donuts, also known as Kkwabaegi! Crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside. Make all your cinnamon-sugar dreams come true.

During my first pregnancy, my one true love was Kkwabaegi — twisted Korean Donuts from H Mart. Fluffy on the inside. Crispy with a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar on the outside.

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!

What are Kkwabaegi or Twisted Korean Donuts?

Twisted Korean Donuts, also known as Kkwabaegi, is a popular Korean treat or snack. The twisted shape comes from a long strand of rich, eggy dough that is rolled around itself.

The stretchy twist of yeasted dough is what makes this Korean donut so delicious. The texture is crispy, slightly chewy, soft and fluffy — and utterly delicious. Basically, it’s a twisted braid of cinnamon-sugar-covered fried dough!

Although the dough needs enough time to rise twice, it’s well worth the effort to make these Korean treats. A rich, brioche-like dough ensures a soft and fluffy interior. Covered in a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar, it’s absolutely delicious!

Make these with your kids. Or, make them a weekend project with friends. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated to be enjoyed on another day.

Ingredients:

  • Flour. Regular, all-purpose flour is all you need.
  • Milk. Whole, 2%, or 1% is recommended. Adds richness and flavor. Makes the dough pillowy soft!
  • Butter. For a rich, buttery dough.
  • Egg. Adds structure, flavor, and richness.
  • Yeast. I use instant yeast because it’s easier to work with and doesn’t need water to activate. But regular, active yeast also works.
  • White Sugar. Helps the yeast rise and adds sweetness to the dough.
  • Brown Sugar. Added at the end, after the Korean donuts are fried. The deep, caramel-like flavor is delicious.
  • Cinnamon. For that dusty, spicy-sweet bite of flavor!

Instructions:

  1. Make the dough. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix until a ball forms with a spatula. Knead lightly until smooth. The dough will be sticky.
  2. Let the dough rise. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Deflate the dough by punching it down (push down the middle of the dough with your fist until it deflates). Knead a few times. Cover and let rise again. (Yes, the dough needs to rise twice).
  3. Make donuts. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces. Take one piece and roll out (with your hands) into a long strip, about 10 inches long. Twist one end upwards while simultaneously twisting the other end downward. Hold the ends and lift the dough off the surface, in a U-shape. The donut should naturally twist. If you need to, give it a little extra twist to help it along. Pinch the ends together and tuck under each other. Repeat until you have 16 donuts!
  4. Let the twisted dough rise. Cover the twisted donuts and leave undisturbed until doubled in size, about 15-30 minutes.
  5. Deep fry. Heat a dutch oven with 2-3 inches of cooking oil to 350F. Fry donuts until puffy and golden, about 3-4 minutes each. Make sure to flip the donuts. Do not crowd the pan!
  6. Dust with cinnamon sugar. Transfer hot Korean donuts to the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donuts and spoon extra cinnamon sugar on top. Flip around and around until they are thoroughly coated. Enjoy!

PRO Tips:

  • 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.
  • Give the dough time to rise. To achieve the proper texture, the dough needs to rise until roughly doubled in size. The time can vary depending on the temperature of your home. In warmer weather, it will rise faster. In cold weather, it will take longer.
  • Pinch the twisted ends tightly! Otherwise, they will separate while frying.
  • 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.
  • Add cinnamon sugar while the donuts are hot. The sugar will stick better.

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 will 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?

There are 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.

More recipes to love:

tray of korean donut twists with hand grabbing one

Twisted Korean Donuts (Kkwabaegi)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
A popular treat in Korean cafes and bakeries: Twisted Korean Donuts, also known as Kkwabaegi! Crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside. Make all your cinnamon-sugar dreams come true.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Rising Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Korean
Servings 16 donuts
Calories 155 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Bowl (for dough)
  • Sheet Pan lined with parchment paper (to transfer twisted donuts)
  • Dutch oven (for deep frying)
  • Sheet Pan with cooling rack (to transfer deep fried donuts)
  • large, shallow bowl (for rolling in cinnamon sugar)

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; instant yeast or active yeast)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Instructions
 

  • Make the dough. In the microwave, heat melted butter and milk in 30 second bursts until lukewarm to the touch (110F), but not hot or steaming. Sprinkle yeast over the liquid and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Add egg directly on top and beat lightly with fork. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix with a spatula until a ball forms. Knead lightly until smooth. The dough will be sticky.
  • Let the dough rise. Cover and transfer the dough to a dark, warm place. Leave undisturbed until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Deflate the dough by punching it down (push down the middle of the dough with your fist until it deflates). Knead a few times. Cover until doubled in size again, about 30-45 minutes. (Yes, the dough needs to rise twice).
  • Make donuts. Lightly flour the surface of a cutting board. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide dough into 16 equal pieces. Take one piece and roll out (with your hands) into a long strip, about 10 inches long. Twist one end upwards while simultaneously twisting the other end downward. Hold the ends and lift the dough off the surface, in a U-shape. The donut should naturally twist. If you need to, give it a little extra twist to help it along. Pinch the ends together and tuck under each other. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you have 16 donuts.
  • Let the twisted dough rise. When all the donuts are twisted, cover. Leave undisturbed in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 15-30 minutes.
  • Deep fry. Heat a dutch oven with 2-3 inches of cooking oil to 350F. Fry donuts until puffy and golden, about 3-4 minutes each. Make sure to flip the donuts. Do not crowd the pan!
  • Dust with cinnamon sugar. In a large shallow bowl, combine the cinnamon and brown sugar. Mix well. Transfer hot Korean donuts to the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donuts and spoon extra cinnamon sugar on top. Flip around and around until they are thoroughly coated. Enjoy!
  • 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.  
Tips:
  • 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.
  • Give the dough time to rise. To achieve the proper texture, the dough needs to rise until roughly doubled in size. The time can vary depending on the temperature of your home. In warmer weather, it will rise faster. In cold weather, it will take longer.
  • Pinch the twisted ends tightly! Otherwise, they will separate while frying.
  • 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.
  • Add cinnamon sugar while the donuts are hot. The sugar will stick better.

Nutrition

Calories: 155kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 3gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 102mgPotassium: 61mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 97IUVitamin C: 0.05mgCalcium: 31mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Donuts, Korean
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
All Recipes, Deep Fry, Dessert, Game Day Food, Korean, Potluck, Snacks

29 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?

    • I�ve 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. (I�ve 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?

    • I�ve 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! It�s a really great donut base but I�ve 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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  16. 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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