Dorchester doughnuts that pack a paczki

These traditional Polish pastries are the real deal.

by Michael Beckett
June 27, 2022

The Boston area may be the birthplace of a now-global morning pastry chain. But even before it pivoted to churning out lattes, the company’s doughnuts were nothing to write home about. 

For a truly satisfying doughnut experience, treat yourself to some paczki (pronounced POONCH-key). These traditional pastries can be found at small markets in the neighborhood known as the Polish Triangle in Dorchester, a short walk from Andrew Square.   

What are paczki?

In the world of doughnuts, there are two types: cake (the ones with a hole) and filled.  Traditionally, paczki are filled with raspberry jam, stewed prunes, cherry preserves, or rose petal marmalade. (Yes, it tastes like roses!) The shops in the triangle also sell paczki with chocolate, buttercream, Nutella, maple bacon, and other “modern” fillings.

Unlike typical chain store doughnuts, paczki have a slight crust and a bit of a chew. The yeast dough has less sugar and provides more depth of flavor than standard American doughnuts. The finishing touch is a dusting of powdered sugar or a light glaze, sometimes studded with dried orange peel for a citrusy sparkle. 

Where to get paczki in Boston

Depending on the day, some paczki in the Triangle markets are made on site. Others are delivered regularly from established Polish bakeries in Worcester and New York. This just widens the variety—and makes it worth visiting each market to find your favorite.

Dawn Morris is the pastry chef at DJ’s European Market and Deli. Like any baker, her day starts while it’s still dark outside—to make sure paczki are ready for commuters to munch on while walking to the T. 

Photo courtesy Dawn Morris

Morris explains that in addition to the usual flour, butter, eggs, milk, and yeast, she adds vinegar to the dough. (Some bakers use alcohol.) As the paczki fry, the vinegar evaporates—limiting the amount of oil they absorb. This secret helps give paczki their light, yet still substantial, texture. 

Paczki have been made in Poland for hundreds of years, originally as a tasty way for households to use up foods that were forbidden to eat during the pre-Easter season of Lent. Even today, many paczkis are eaten on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday—a Polish take on Fat Tuesday. Put another way: Mardi Gras has king cake; Fat Thursday has paczki! 

Boston Rob Does Beantown

We’ve got three great shows that highlight the best of Boston! Check out Boston Rob Does Beantown, Blind Kitchen Boston and Eat Play Stay Boston.

Morris says that she works all night long to make enough for the holiday. And this year, the tiny Baltic European Deli overflowed with 1,000 paczkis for Fat Thursday.

Dorchester’s Polish Triangle was formed when immigrants settled there in the early 1900s. While the demographics have changed over time, the area still hosts a large Polish community. The small local markets offer a taste of home, including imported packaged foods, condiments, and spices; prepared foods such as borscht and stuffed cabbage; breads and pastries; sandwiches – and, of course, deli cases stocked with Polish meats, sausages, and cheeses. (Fresh kielbasa on the grill, anyone?) 

And whether they’re longtime locals of Polish heritage—or new Boston residents from across the country—everyone enjoys their paczki. If you need a breakfast that will keep you fueled all morning or want to impress the work crew with a box of not-your-ordinary doughnuts, stop by one of these stores: 

DJ's European Market and Deli
Getting there
120 Boston St, Dorchester, MA 02125, USA
Mon-Fri 8am–6pm
Sat 8am–4pm
Sun Closed
More Info
Baltic Deli & Cafe
Getting there
632 Dorchester Ave # 1, South Boston, MA 02127, USA
Mon-Fri 8:30am–6pm
Sat 8am–6pm
Sun 8am–4pm
More Info
Getting there
808 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA 02125, USA
Mon 11am–6pm
Tue-Sat 8am–8pm
Sun 8am–2pm
More Info

Michael Beckett is an award-winning writer with experience in a variety of genres. Topical interests include lifestyle, wellness, travel, food, personal development, and social impact.

More Local Stories

Your Guide to the Barrel and Flow Pittsburgh Beer Festival

Lock in your spot; the nation’s only beer festival to put people of color in the spotlight is back for year three. Fresh Fest 2020 will be on Aug 8 in Allentown.

My Amazing Cheap Date: Orlando Festivals & Stand-Up Comedy

On this episode of “My Amazing Cheap Date” two couples explore bliss on a bun and get their game on. – for $50 or less.

What’s on the Menu: Pretty Plates

This episode of What’s on the Menu Baltimore is all about digging into the aesthetics of a perfectly plated dish and exploring the power of a beautifully designed restaurant.

Eat Play Stay: Lexington, SC

Fill your glass at a local winery, bite down on a gourmet biscuit, and cuddle up in a carriage house. Find this and more things to do in Lexington, S.C. on this episode of “Eat Play Stay Greenville.”

Restaurants on the Radar: Florida Flavors

This episode of What’s On the Menu showcases the best sandwiches in Baltimore and the restaurants that serve them

Here are 5 Coolinary New Orleans picks you need to try this summer

Coolinary is running from Aug. 1 to 31 and over 80 restaurants are participating. Here are five of our favorites that are offering something special this year.

Everything you need to know about glamping near Pittsburgh

The great outdoors with a bed and a hot shower, just 2 hours from Pittsburgh. Where to go glamping near Pittsburgh.

Eat Play Stay New Orleans: Mobile

“Eat Play Stay” is your guide to a weekend adventure near New Orleans.

What’s on the Menu Baltimore: Hometown Handhelds

This episode of What’s On the Menu showcases the best sandwiches in Baltimore and the restaurants that serve them

My Amazing Cheap Date Orlando: Newlyweds, Bakeries & Beer

On this episode of My Amazing Cheap Date Orlando, two couples take an international trip without going out of the city.  They find a food truck that offers the best Picanha in town and grab drinks at local bars in Orlando––all for $50 or less.

Boston mother-daughter duo help spread African culture with Tafari Wraps

With the bright colors and elegant fabrics, each piece is designed to uplift the spirits of those who wear them.

Boston Rob Does Beantown Guide to the North End

Boston Rob Does Beantown: Guide to the North End

Rob journeys back to his old stomping grounds, tastes some of the most authentic Italian food the city has to offer and tests his swing on the neighborhood’s popular pickle ball courts.

Boston Rob Does Beantown Guide to Seaport

Boston Rob Does Beantown: Guide to Seaport

From cycling on a party boat to practicing yoga in the great outdoors, Rob discovers that Boston’s newest neighborhood is full of surprises.

Boston Rob Does Beantown Guide to Downtown Boston

Boston Rob Does Beantown: Guide to Downtown Boston

Rob searches for secret rooms, blows off some steam and fire, and finds himself challenged to a duel when he ventures deep into Downtown Boston.