Homemade Doughnuts

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As soon as the craving hits for a sweet, doughy treat, my mind goes straight to nostalgic memories of weekend trips to the local donut shop growing up.

Though I loved picking out an assortment of frosted favorites, what I really longed for were still-warm cake donuts straight from the fryer. 

Now that I make my own at home, I get that experience anytime a doughnuts desire strikes! These easy homemade donuts are pillowy soft on the inside with crispy golden edges. Taking the time to fry and glaze donuts sounds intimidating but I promise the process is straightforward once you try it. 

I fell in love at first bite and after a few more batches, I perfected my method for flawless doughnuts every time. 

Drizzled in vanilla glaze or cinnamon sugar, they’re quite simply the best donuts I’ve ever tasted. 

Why You’ll Love Homemade Doughnuts

  • Total control over ingredients – Making doughnuts at home means you control exactly what goes into them. You can use high-quality ingredients and customize flavors to suit your tastes.
  • Warm, melt-in-your-mouth texture – There’s nothing better than biting into a fresh, warm donut straight out of the fryer. The interior is perfectly soft and doughy, while the exterior provides just the right amount of crunch.
  • They’re soft, fluffy, and tender. The yeasted dough bakes up light as a cloud.
  • Big savings – Store-bought doughnuts can be expensive, especially for gourmet varieties. Homemade allows you to recreate bakery-style doughnuts for a fraction of the cost.
  • Fun weekend activity – Getting the kids involved in mixing up a batch of donut dough and rolling/cutting out shapes is a great family activity.


  • Allow enough time for the dough to properly rest and rise. This helps create light, fluffy doughnuts.
  • Use a deep pot and quality oil for frying, like peanut or vegetable oil. This prevents uneven cooking.
  • Fry in small batches at 375°F, flipping once golden
  • Coat warm doughnuts in glaze, spices, or other toppings right after frying for maximum adherence.
  • Best consumed right away but leftover doughnuts can be frozen then reheated in the oven.

The Ingredients

All-Purpose Flour

Forms the base of the donut dough. Bread flour can also be used for a chewier texture. The gluten in the flour gives the doughnuts structure so they hold their shape.

Granulated Sugar

In combination with the yeast, sugar activates the yeast and supports rising. It also adds sweetness to balance out the nutty whole wheat flour.


Hydrates the dough ingredients and the lactose aids browning while also contributing a little flavor. Warm milk helps dissolve the yeast.


Adds flavor and richness to the donuts. Can substitute oil or shortening instead for more neutral flavor.


Help bind the dough together and add protein, leavening, moisture, structure and richness. Makes the interior extra tender.

Active Dry Yeast

The leavening agent that produces carbon dioxide gas to make the donuts soft, airy and pillowy when fried. Make sure yeast is fresh and active.


Essential for controlling the fermentation rate and allowing the dough to properly rise. Also enhances the other flavors.

Vanilla Extract

Adds sweetness and aroma without needing to increase the sugar content. Feel free to use other extracts like almond or lemon zest.

How to Make Homemade Donuts

Prepare the Dough

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

In another bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm milk, then whisk in melted butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth.


Gradually mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until a soft, sticky dough forms.

Knead the Dough

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. This develops the gluten structure.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise for 1 hour.

Shape the Donuts

Punch down risen dough and roll out to 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface.

Use a 3-inch donut cutter dipped in flour to cut the dough into rounds. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Cover and let rise for 30 more minutes.

Fry the Doughnuts

Heat at least 2-inches of oil to 375°F in a heavy bottomed pot.

Working in batches, fry doughnuts for 1 minute per side until golden brown.

Drain on a paper towel-lined wire rack.

Make Glaze & Finish

Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla for glaze.

Dip the slightly cooled doughnuts into the glaze, letting excess drip off.

Sprinkle additional toppings like cinnamon sugar if desired. Dig in!

What to Serve with Homemade Doughnuts

  • Coffee – Contrast the sweetness with slightly bitter premium roast coffee. Add some ice for an iced cafe au lait.
  • Hot chocolate – Warm, homemade hot cocoa is the ultimate dipping partner for glazed or chocolate doughnuts.
  • Orange juice or apple cider – Skip the milk and allow the bright acidity of citrus juice to stand up to a pile of sugary morning doughnuts.
  • Creative coffee drinks – Get your caffeine fix in a fun way by making your own maple bacon latte, tiramisu frappuccino or other blended specialty drink as the perfect complement.


  • No buttermilk? Substitute by mixing 1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Missing eggs? For each egg, whisk together 1 tsp baking powder, 1 Tbsp water, and 1 Tbsp vinegar.
  • Out of all-purpose flour? Replace with whole wheat, bread flour, or half white and half whole wheat flour instead.
  • Used up the butter? Substitute vegetable, olive or coconut oil using a 1:1 butter to oil ratio.


What oil is best for frying doughnuts?

Go for a high smoke point neutral oil like peanut, vegetable or canola oil. Avoid olive or sesame oil which can impart heavy flavor.

How do you shape donut holes?

Cut the donut centers out of the middle and fry as is! The holes will shrink slightly.

How do you keep homemade doughnuts from absorbing too much oil?

Frying at the correct temperature, around 375°F, ensures doughnuts brown and cook before over-absorbing oil. Avoid overcrowding the pot too.

How long do homemade doughnuts last?

Doughnuts are really best served fresh and warm the same day they are made. However, you can store cooled doughnuts in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. Reheat frozen donuts in a 300°F oven.

What if my doughnuts don’t rise enough or the dough is too sticky?

Make sure your yeast is still active and milk/water used is adequately warm, 110°F, to activate and proof the yeast. More flour can also be worked in a few tablespoons at a time if dough is overly sticky.

Can donut dough be prepared ahead of time?

Yes, for convenience, the dough can be made, rested, shaped into rounds, placed on a baking sheet, covered tightly and kept refrigerated overnight before frying. Let come completely to room temperature before frying.

Homemade Doughnuts

Prep Time2 hours
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time24 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Donuts


  • Large Mixing bowls
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Rolling Pin
  • Donut cutter or cups
  • Deep heavy pot or fryer
  • Frying thermometer
  • Paper towels
  • Cooling racks


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Oil for frying


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Dough Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the warm milk, melted butter, and yeast. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
  • Beat in the eggs and vanilla into the yeast mixture.
  • Gradually add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing until a soft dough forms.
  • Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Shaping Donuts:

  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about ½ inch thickness.
  • Cut out donuts using a donut cutter or two differently sized round cookie cutters.
  • Place the cut donuts and donut holes on a baking sheet, cover lightly, and let them rise for about 30 minutes.


  • Heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 375°F (190°C).
  • Fry the donuts in batches, not crowding the fryer, for about 1 minute per side or until golden brown.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.


  • Whisk together confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla extract to make the glaze.
  • Dip each warm donut into the glaze, then set on a rack to let excess glaze drip off.