Pączki Day (Detroit Style) aka Fat Tuesday

It’s Pączki Day, and in Detroit that means you should be sure to wear your stretchy pants or, as my old friend Denise used to say, your expando clothes!

Pączki, or Polish doughnuts, are eaten on Fat Thursday in Poland and Fat Tuesday in the United States. It’s the last splurge before Lent begins.


When I was still working, my employer provided huge boxes of them with every available filling next to the coffee machines in various areas of the building.  My personal favorites are custard-filled and lemon-filled, but they are all delicious (and fattening.) Yum!

Depending on the size and filling, each pączki will be from 400 – 700 calories. Since they are deep fried, they aren’t low-fat either, up to 20 grams per serving.

According to Wikipedia:

Pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidl (stewed plum jam) and wild rose hip jam are traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry, and apple.

The traditional reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.

paczki3In North America, particularly the large Polish communities of Chicago, Detroit, and other large cities across the Midwest and Northeast, Pączki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. With its sizable Polish population, Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday; pączki are also often eaten on Casimir Pulaski Day. In Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, Pączki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday.

The Pączki Day celebrations in some areas are even larger than many celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day. In Hamtramck, Michigan, an enclave of Detroit, there is an annual Pączki Day (Shrove Tuesday) Parade, which has gained a devoted following. Throughout the Metro Detroit area, it is so widespread that many bakeries attract lines of customers for pączki on Pączki Day.

This year in Detroit, according to the Metro Times, if you’re looking for other ways to celebrate this Feb. 13, here’s a list for you:

The 2018 Accidental Paczki crawl will take you across Hamtramck to a myriad of different bakeries and bars beginning at 7 a.m. New Dodge, Whisky in the Jar, P.L.A.V Post #10, Smalls, Trixie’s, Baker Streetcar Bar, Hamtramck Moose Lodge #1670, and The Painted Lady are all on the list.

Want to feel a little better about eating a 450-calorie doughnut? Participate in the Paczki Run on Saturday, Feb. 10. Three thousand 5K runners will dash through Hamtramck, only to be met with beer, polka music, and paczki at the finish line.

Rochester Mills Brewery is having their own celebration, but this one is more akin to a Mardi Gras party. They’ll be serving up cajun- and creole- inspired food with live music and drink specials all day. 400 Water St. Rochester; Open at 11:30.

Motor City Gas in Royal Oak will have $2 paczki from Hermann’s Bakery paired with their unique selections of bourbon and whisky. 325 E. 4th St. Royal Oak; Open at noon.

A Mini Mardi Gras celebration at the Monroe County Museum is free and will highlight the French influence on Fat Tuesday. The family friendly event will have lots of activities and carnival games. 126 S. Monroe St., Monroe; 4 to 7 p.m.

Small’s Bar is putting on their biggest party of the year. Open all day, there will be live music, Polish food, and, of course, the paczki bomb. The Hamtramck bar is famous for serving the liquor-infused jelly donut every Fat Tuesday, and they sell out every year. 10339 Conant, Hamtramck; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

If you want to get a taste of some of Metro Detroit’s more eclectic paczki variations, stop by The Union General Store and Honcho’s Latin Street Food and Coffee in Clarkston. They’ll be serving specially made varieties like the Fat Elvis (banana custard filling, peanut butter glaze, candied bacon, peanut brittle), the Violet Beauregarde (blueberry filling, lemon zesty sour cream glaze, oatmeal streusel), the Birthday Cake (vanilla custard, sugar glazed and vanilla streusel and sprinkles, and the Blood Orange Margarita (blood orange marmalade, salted caramel icing, white chocolate shavings). Pre-order this pack for $13.95 or get them individually for $3.95.

Eat coney paczki at American Coney Island. The blessed union of Detroit’s most iconic dishes will only set you back $5.

If you just want to eat a paczki, for crying out loud, you can check out this list of places to get them here.


paczki2Ironically, I have no pączki in my home today, so I will simply draw on my memories! If you would like to try making them yourself, here’s a YouTube video for a less caloric baked version:

Whatever we indulge in today to celebrate the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday, it all represents preparation for the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting, self-examination and penitence, leading up to the death and rebirth at Easter.

It is a season in which we follow Jesus the Savior from His temptation in the wilderness, to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and to the cross on Good Friday. Lent is a season of hope. It looks to the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world and anticipates the joy of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

This entry was posted in History, Holidays, Recipes, Religion, The Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Pączki Day (Detroit Style) aka Fat Tuesday

  1. Reblogged this on Special Connections and commented:
    Here’s a Polish tradition that’s taken root in Detroit & beyond!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Menagerie says:

    Reblogged this on The Last Refuge and commented:
    Stella gives us the details on this delicious Detroit custom. I was actually in Detroit one year on Fat Tuesday and I got to try them. Very good! Go check out the post at Stella’s!

    Liked by 7 people

  3. wolfmoon1776 says:

    Loved that video. So THAT’S how the filling gets in there!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Menagerie says:

    I need one of those bombs from the bar! Now I’m going to watch the video. We might get a special dessert tonight instead of cake.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lburg says:

    What a fun article!

    In Pennsylvania, my Polish Catholic friends eat fasnacht. It’s a big Big deal – the churches have sign up sheets and you’d better be on their list or “No fasnachts for YOU!” Grocery stores bring them in and the local paper runs a list annually about every and any conceivable place to get your fasnachts.

    I was wondering what the difference between fasnacht and paczki were and found this interesting article on the Donuts of Fat Tuesday:

    I’m going with the Cenci for my Italian mom…..

    Liked by 4 people

  6. gotoJoseph says:

    One local bakery here in gReen Bay will sell over 30,000 of these on Tuesday. http://www.wearegreenbay.com/news/local-news/paczki-day-in-pulaski/663974347

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Gary says:

    Thank you Stella, from the bottom of my heart. My mother could bake, I mean bake! This woman could burn a bowl of cornflakes but pazcki,chrusciki, nutmeg and poppy seed rolls. All gone for me now.

    Thank you so much for a taste from my past. I’m not ashamed to admit this brought a tear….

    Liked by 7 people

  8. Gil says:

    Ive never heard of these but here in CA nobody celebrates mardi gras either. I think Ive seen a king cake once. Indulgence for sure. 800 calories, oh my goodness!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Plain Jane says:

    Awesome post. Ah, memories.

    I do Keto because of diabetes 2. But, am sending DH to the local bakery for cherry and a lemon onefor me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. YvonneMarie says:

    YEP! 🎉🎊🎭


  11. YvonneMarie says:

    Thanks for the Detroit Catholic plug. We have had our share of local government push to crush our culture in the past forty plus years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • G-d&Country says:

      Be strong! God Bless 🙂


    • nikkichico7 says:

      We lived in a Polish/German neighborhood and when the little girls were walking home from church for their first communion dressed up like little brides i couldn’t believe their moms and dads let them get married so young, I was little so it concerned me but I was straightened out about that fast. Boy was I relieved, plus they looked so pretty. All white all the way down to their shoes and socks!



  12. Pingback: Pączki Day (Detroit Style) aka Fat Tuesday – American Divide

  13. G-d&Country says:

    What a great post! I never heard of these yummy pastries, but then around here growing up it was mainly Irish, Italian, English, and further north in NH, French Canadian.
    “Lent is a season of hope. It looks to the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world and anticipates the joy of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.” Love “Lent is a season of HOPE”. Many people forget that.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. G-d&Country says:

    Here is my offering for Fat Tuesday goodies. The bacon candy is for Zurich Mike if he is lurking about 😉
    7 – 12 slices [1/2lb] thick-cut bacon
    1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
    2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
    1 shot bourbon whiskey
    1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper/chile powder
    1/2 cup chopped or whole pecans
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top.
    Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, and bourbon to make a crumbly paste. [and chop/process the pecans and chile if used, until the pecans are well ground].
    Cut each bacon slice in half and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching. Evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. If it’s underbaked, the bacon won’t crisp as it cools.
    While it’s hot, transfer the bacon to a rack set over a sheet of foil to cool completely (at least 30 minutes). Serve at room temperature. (The caramelized bacon can be made early in the day and stored at room temperature.) The picture has pecans –

    Here is a cake I just thought was so lovely, even though it looks simple, I would not attempt to make it. The little fan candy is the insignia of the chef. The tan bottom is cake. He actually makes cake ruffles on the bottom of some of his cakes.

    I think it’s cocoa, raspberry, and vanilla with a sugar rose. I am fascinated by the shiny top.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. maiingankwe says:

    Stella, thanks for including the video. I fell in love with her kitchen and she had a warming drawer! How cool is that? Loved, loved her stove, I need one of them. I can’t wait to take mine out to where we target practice and give a well needed pay back. Two of the burners are slower than molasses and the oven? Don’t get me started. It’s not like they come cheap either. I really need a double oven for all the cooking I do too. Oh my goodness, and six burners on top of the stove. Oh my, it would definitely make my life easier.

    I also fell in love with her glass bowl for her mixer; now I know what to ask for my birthday🎁. Much cheaper to ask for that than her beautiful counter tops. 🙃

    The recipe looks pretty easy. I would make a double batch though. If you know of any tricks to go with that recipe, please share. Anything to make our lives easier in the kitchen.

    Thank you for the story to go with Fat Tuesday. I used to live in an area with a lot of Polish people, but I had never heard of this. I may have been young, but I know I would’ve remembered those once a year donuts. Yum!

    Thank you Stella, this was a great way to start a happy smiling day. I wish you and yours the same. 😃

    Liked by 3 people

  16. John in IN says:

    My grandparents from Lithuania called these Spurgos.


  17. Jacqueline Taylor Robson says:

    We don’t have those where I live. Would a Krispy Crème Jelly or Bavarian do?


  18. nikkichico7 says:

    Love read Stella, brings back real nice memories ❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹😉

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.