Kkwabaegi, also know as Korean twisted donut, is a super popular pastry in Korea. It is made by twisting dough into a spiral shape and then deep-frying it until it is golden brown. They can be served plain or coated with sugar, cinnamon, or other sweet toppings.

Korean style twisted donuts (kkwabaegi) in a bowl.

“I have tried quite a few recipes and your recipe is by far the best. My husband (born and raised in Korea) says they are even better than what you get as street food.” 

ariana

Before lots of different Western sweets came to Korea, there was a simple, twisted donut (or doughnut) called kkwabaegi. The braided look is made by twisting dough into a spiral shape and then deep-frying it until it is golden brown. You can serve them plain or coat with sugar, cinnamon, or other sweet toppings.

Kkwabaegi is a favorite snack after school, just like the Korean corn dog. You can find them everywhere in Korea, at markets, bakeries, and street food stands.

With this classic kkwabaegi recipe, you can easily recreate the Korean donut treats at home. Your family will appreciate you.

If you like trying out Korean snacks, check out my Bungeoppang recipe, too. It’s a fish-shaped bread filled with sweet red bean paste. It’s fun to make and really tasty!

Korean twisted donut is showing its fluffy texture inside.

​What is twisted donut (kkwabaegi)?

A twisted donut is a kind of yeast-based, sweet fried bread that’s shaped by twisting the dough into a sort of braid before it’s fried. It’s usually puffy and soft, and often it’s rolled in sugar to make it sweet.

This kind of twisty donut is really popular and you can find it in lots of Asian countries, and comes with different names. For example, in China, people call it mahua (麻花), in the Philippines, they say shakoy, in Japan, it goes by the name sakubei (索餅), and in Korea, it’s known as kkwabaegi (꽈배기).

You can find Kkwabaegi at Korean bakeries with other pastries like Korean sausage bread and sweet rice donuts. But with any deep fried goodies, it tastes 10x better when you make it at home and eat it fresh.

Luckily, making homemade Korean twisted donuts is not that difficult. And they are fun to make. They will be a lovely treat to surprise someone, especially children. Treat them as an afternoon snack or as a fun family dessert. They will appreciate you.

Korean twisted donut is torn by fingers showing the crispy texture outside but the inside is soft and fluffy.

My Best Tips for making the perfect dough

  1. Use two different flours: I recommend mixing wheat flour (bread flour) with tapioca flour. The bread flour provides a delectable chewiness, while the tapioca flour softens the bread texture and enhances the springiness of the bread. The result is a fluffy, light, and spongey texture.
  2. Milk powder: Adding fresh milk is better than plain water. However, dry milk powder is even better when you make yeast dough. It helps loaves rise high while also boosting nutrition and flavor. It also makes the skin of the fried donuts crisp while keeping the dough inside soft and fluffy, just the way you want it to be.
  3. Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. The temperature of your liquids (water and melted butter) is important when making yeast dough. If the liquid isn’t warm enough, the yeast will take a lot longer to activate, and if the liquid is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
  4. Instant yeast: I like using instant yeast when I make sweet bread dough for a quick and easy way to mix. There’s no need to proof the yeast—just mix everything all together.
    • If you have to use active dry yeast, proof the yeast with lukewarm water first until it foams before adding it to the other
  5. Lightly oil your hands and the working surface: The dough is on the sticky side. A little amount of oil prevents the dough from sticking to your hands and the wooden board while you are working. Use a very little amount.
Ingredients for making kkwabaegi (Korean twisted donuts).

Ingredients and Notes

  • Water: Use water that’s warm to the touch to help the dough rise.
  • Butter: Melt it until it’s warm, not hot, so it mixes well without cooking the eggs.
  • Sugar: white granulated sugar to sweeten the dough.
  • Eggs: Bring them to room temperature so they blend easily with the other ingredients.
  • Bread flour: This makes the dough chewy and soft.
  • Tapioca flour: Also known as tapioca starch, this gives the donut a nice crisp texture.
  • Dry milk powder: It makes the donuts tender and gives a richer taste. Use full-fat for more flavor or non-fat for less richness. If you don’t have it, you can use liquid milk, but then you’d have to use less water.
  • Instant yeast: This type of yeast helps the dough rise without waiting for it to “proof” or activate.
  • Salt: Kosher salt is less processed; it’s bigger in grain size than table salt, so if you’re using table salt, use a bit less.

How to make twisted donut (kkwabaegi)

Before you start, make sure all the ingredients are at their proper temperature: liquids are lukewarm and the eggs are at room temperature.

To make the dough

Combine wet and dry ingredients:

In a bowl of an electric mixer, mix warm water, melted butter, sugar, and eggs. Add bread flour, tapioca flour, dry milk powder, instant yeast, and salt.

Knead the dough:

Mix the dough mixture with a wooden spoon until it becomes a sticky mass. Attach a dough hook to the mixer and knead the dough on a low speed until it becomes soft and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.

First rise:

Lightly oil your hand and the wooden board. Place the yeasted dough on the board and knead the dough a little more, about 30 seconds, to form it into a ball. Place the ball of dough in a large greased bowl and cover with a plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until double in volume, about 1 hour.

Cut the dough into pieces:

Deflate the dough and turn out on to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half. Cut 10-11 equal pieces from each dough making total of 20-22 pieces.

How to twist the dough

To twist the dough for making twist donuts, you’ll want to roll a piece of dough into a 12-inch rope, about the thickness of your finger. Then start rolling the ends of the dough rope in opposite directions, creating a twisting effect.

Pick up the dough by the ends and let it twist onto itself. Pinch the ends together. Place the dough onto the prepared sheet pan and repeat with remaining dough. Cover the twisted dough with a damp towel and let them rest again in a warm area about 20-30 minutes.

Let them rise again for the second time until double in volume.

Deep frying the donuts

Fill skillet with 1-2 inches of oil and heat the oil to 325˚F. When oil is hot, lift the twisted dough and slide it into the hot oil carefully.

You will need to deep fry in batches, 2-3 doughnuts at a time. Fry the dough until the bottom of the dough looks golden brown, about 30-60 seconds. Flip the dough to the other side and continue to fry until done. If the dough seems to be browning too dark quickly, reduce the heat.

Lift the donuts using kitchen tongs and strainer, transfer them to a wired rack or paper towel  to drip off the extra oil on the surface. Repeat the frying, in batches, with the rest of the dough.

While the donuts are still hot, roll them in the cinnamon sugar mix. Enjoy your hot Korean twisted donuts while hot!

Taste tested! After trying one piece, my husband proclaimed that it tasted far better than any street vendor’s donuts he’s had in Korea. He had two more as an afternoon snack, and three more after dinner (he exercised double the next day!).

Twisted donut coated with sugar in a serving bowl.

More sweet treats

Got sweet tooth? Here a few of my favorite sweet treats that you might like;

Love this recipe? Rate it and share your experience in the comments below! On Instagram? Tag me to showcase your creation. For more delicious recipes, subscribe to our newsletter!

Korean style twisted donuts (kkwabaegi) in a bowl.

Twisted Donut (Kkwabaegi)

Korean twisted donut (kkwabaegi) is a traditional Korean fried dough pastry. They are made by twisting the dough before deep-frying, resulting in a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy, and chewy interior. Coat with cinnamon sugar.
5 from 17 ratings

Recipe Video

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup (325 ml) water, lukewarm
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cup (560g) bread flour
  • 1 cup (160g) tapioca flour
  • 3 tbsp dry milk powder
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cup (480 ml) oil, for deep-frying

For cinnamon sugar

  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon

Instructions 

To make the dough

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix water, melted butter, sugar, and eggs. Add bread flour, tapioca flour, dry milk powder, instant yeast, and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a sticky mass.
  • Attach a dough hook to the mixer and knead the dough on a low speed until it becomes soft and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Lightly oil your hand and the wooden board. Place the dough on the board and knead the dough a little more, about 30 seconds, to form it into a ball.
  • Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until double in volume, about 1 hour.

To shape the dough

  • Deflate the dough and turn out on to a working surface. Divide the dough in half. Cut 10-11 pieces from each dough making total of 20-22 pieces.
  • Roll out each dough piece into a 12-inch rope. Using the palms of your hands on each end of the rope, start rolling the ends of the dough rope in opposite directions, creating a twisting effect. Pick up the dough by the ends and let it twist onto itself. Pinch the ends together.
  • Place the dough onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and repeat with remaining dough. Cover the twisted dough with a damp towel and let them rest again in a warm area about 20-30 minutes.

To make cinnamon sugar

  • In a shallow bowl wide enough to hold the twisted donut (a pie dish is ideal), mix sugar and cinnamon. Set aside until ready to use.

To fry the donuts

  • Fill skillet with 1-2 inches of oil and heat the oil to 325˚F. When oil is hot, lift the twisted dough and slide it into the oil carefully.
  • You will need to fry in batches, 2-3 doughnuts at a time. Fry the dough until the bottom of the dough looks golden brown, about 30-60 seconds. Flip the dough to the other side and continue to fry until done. If the dough seems to be browning too dark quickly, reduce the heat.
  • Lift the donuts using kitchen tongs and strainer, transfer them to a wired rack to drip off the extra oil on the surface. Repeat the frying, in batches, with the rest of the dough. While the donuts are still hot, roll them in the cinnamon sugar mix. Let your twisted donuts cool for a little before enjoying!

Calories: 243kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 0.05g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 134mg, Potassium: 57mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 55IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 0.4mg
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