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How to Make Doughnuts

Turn your kitchen into a bakery and learn how to make your favorite breakfast pastry at home with these easy tips and tricks!
By Arlene Cummings

Few breakfast pastries are more popular than the humble doughnut. Doughnuts have generated so much buzz in America, that we even have a designated National Doughnut Day on June 6th to celebrate their existence. Light, airy and filled with cream or topped with sweet and simple glazes, it’s no wonder this morning treat has become a bakery mainstay—but making doughnuts at home, well, that’s a little trickier…until now! Don’t be afraid to DIY your doughnuts. It’s actually way easier than you think if you have a few hacks handy! Read on to get the deets on how to make the perfect doughnut in your PJs.

What Are Doughnuts?

Doughnuts are deep-fried round pastries, most commonly filled with cream or jam, or ring-shaped with a hole in the center. Sometimes, the dough from the hole cut out in the center is baked and served as a tiny treat called doughnut holes. Doughnuts have been around for a long time, though their actual point of origin is widely disputed. Most people can agree that these tasty pastries date back to the 19th century and are thought of as an American thing, though they are served in various forms and go by different names all around the globe. Who invented these delightful pastries, however, is still unknown.

Though the details of its early history are in question, there is no doubt that the doughnut really hit its stride in America in the 20th century. One of the country’s most popular doughnut shops, Dunkin’ Donuts, got its start in 1950 and launched the doughnut to national fame. Other popular shops like Krispy Kreme, Tim Horton’s and more have continued to spread the pastry around the country, and now, you’d be hard-pressed to find a town without a dedicated doughnut stand.

Doughnuts vs. Donuts

In the great doughnut vs. donut spelling debate the winner is…both! Whether you favor one spelling or the other probably depends on where you live. In fact, the “donut” spelling is largely American, while the rest of the world uses the “doughnut” spelling. According to Merriam-Webster, the traditional spelling is “doughnut” but the “donut” variant is accepted as well. “Donut” popped up in text around the mid-20th century, likely made famous by American companies like Dunkin’ Donuts, which launched—yep, you guessed it—in 1950, right in the middle of the 20th century.

Different Types of Doughnuts

As the popularity of doughnuts has grown, so have the number of ways to make them. Nowadays, you can walk into a doughnut shop and be overwhelmed with options from cute cake doughnuts to jam-filled doughnuts. Here’s a quick doughnut download on the most common spins out there:

Rasied Doughnuts

Raised Doughnuts

Raised doughnuts, or yeast doughnuts, are the most common type of doughnuts around. Typically, yeast is used as the leavening agent making them light, airy and delightful to bite into. Most filled doughnuts start with a rasied doughnut base.

Cake Doughnuts

Easy Baked Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

True to their name, cake doughnuts are made from a cake-like batter that ditches the yeast for baking soda or baking powder. These are thus a bit more dense than raised doughnuts and have a crumbly, cakey center.

Glazed Doughnuts

Grands!™ Strawberry-Glazed Doughnuts

Glazed doughnuts are probably what pop into your head when you think of the word doughnut—they are the quintessential version of the treat and can be made from either a raised doughnut or cake doughnut base, depending on your preference. A simple sugar glaze will cover the top or all of the doughnut. Chocolate is another popular flavor—don’t forget the sprinkles!

Doughnut Holes

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Minis

Doughnut holes are true to their name—they are the little balls of dough that are often made from the extra dough cut out of the middle of large ringed doughnuts. They are often glazed or tossed in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.

Filled Doughnuts

Vanilla Cream-Filled Doughnuts

Filled doughnuts are usually raised doughnuts with no hole in the center. Insead, they are filled with cream; some popular flavors include Boston cream, vanilla cream and chocolate cream. They can be topped with a glaze, covered in powdered sugar or even served plain.

Jam Doughnuts

Easy Strawberry Jelly Doughnuts

Different Methods for Making Doughnuts

We wouldn’t recommend trying to make doughnuts in devices like the microwave or the slow cooker, but rather stick to the two tried-and-true methods: frying on the stovetop or baking in the oven.

Frying on the Stovetop

This is the traditional way to make doughnuts. You’ll want a big saucepan or Dutch oven, plus a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Amounts and temperatures can fluctuate depending on the recipes and the type of pan you use, but generally you’ll want to heat up enough oil so that the doughnut can float in the liquid and reaches a temperature of 375°F; then fry each side of the doughnut for a couple minutes or until golden-brown. Use paper towels to soak up the excess oil and allow the doughnuts to cool.

Baking in the Oven

Baking your doughnuts is a slightly healthier baking method (a doughnut is a doughnut, after all) that’s way easier than frying, as long as you have a standard doughnut baking pan handy. Just whip up the batter and place in each doughnut mold and bake according to recipe instructions.

How to Make Raised Doughnuts

Making yeast doughnuts from scratch can be really fussy, but you can make classic bakery-style raised doughnuts with just a can of biscuits and a handful of toppings! (Yeah, it really is that easy.)

What you’ll need:

  • 10-inch wide saucepan or Dutch oven
  • Candy or deep-fry thermometer 
  • Paper towels 
  • Cooling rack 
  • Wooden spoon 
  • Small bowl 
  • Decorating bag (or plastic ziplock bag)

Ingredients

First, prepare the vanilla cream filling. Fit the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk beater or use a hand mixer with a whisk attachment. Add the softened butter and powdered sugar to the bowl and beat on low speed until well mixed. Increase the speed to high and beat for about four minutes or until the mixture is soft and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add milk and vanilla; beat 4 minutes longer. Set aside.

Mixing bowl, whisk attachment, vanilla filling

Next, prepare the doughnuts. Begin by placing about five cups of oil (it should be at least 2 ½ inches deep) in a 10-inch wide saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Heat the oil to 375°F, keeping a close eye on your candy or deep-fry thermometer. If the oil gets too hot, your doughnuts could end up burnt on the outside and undercooked in the middle.

Oil in a pan on the stove

Separate dough into eight biscuits. Gently place two biscuits in hot oil. (Frying just two doughnuts at a time will prevent the oil from getting too cool.) Fry two minutes. Using a spatula, flip biscuits over and fry two minutes longer or until doughnuts are a deep golden brown all over.

Turn biscuits in the oil

Transfer doughnuts to paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. If your oil cools during cooking, just wait for it to reach 375°F again before cooking your next two doughnuts. Repeat with remaining biscuit dough and toss finished doughnuts in sugar to coat.

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a hole into the side of each doughnut. Fill a decorating bag fit with small tip with vanilla cream (or make your own decorating bag by filling a plastic ziplock bag with the cream and cutting a small hole in one corner). Squeeze enough vanilla cream into each doughnut to fill hole.

Sugared Doughnuts

Don’t forget the finish! You can make your doughnuts even more special by customizing the toppings with ingredients like jam, powdered sugar, frosting and more. Watch this video for some inspiration, and then get bakin’!

How to Make Doughnut Holes

Don’t want to indulge in a whole doughnut? Mini doughnut holes are the perfect solution to satisfy that craving without totally abandoning your diet. Plus, they’re easy to share and great to serve a brunch parties! Our recipe for doughnut holes gets jump-started with Pillsbury biscuit dough and is made extra special with a two-ingredient salted caramel sauce.

How to Serve Doughnuts

Let’s be honest: Doughnuts are just fine on their own with a hot cup o’ joe. But, if you’re hosting a big brunch party and wondering what else to serve, any one of these easy recipes will be a hit with the crowd year-round!

How to Store Leftover Doughnuts

Doughnuts always taste best fresh, but if you have a few leftovers you’d like to save for the next morning, there are a couple ways you can store them. Whether storing regular doughnuts or filled doughnuts, wrap them in foil or place in a plastic bag so they don’t dry out. Filled doughnuts should be kept in the refrigerator, and all others can be stored at room temperature for one to two days.

Never run out of breakfast ideas with our easy-to-make recipes.


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