America's favorite deep-fried pastry is a cinch to make at home.
A basic doughnut batter is pretty simple stuff: Flour, sugar, salt, yeast or baking powder, plus milk, butter, and eggs.
Making Doughnut Batter
Add yeast to the batter, and you're making yeast doughnuts -- also called "raised" doughnuts because the yeasty dough needs time to rise.
To make yeast doughnuts, you'll dissolve the yeast in warm water, and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy. Then stir the foamy yeast into the flour mixture, adding the remaining ingredients as the recipe describes.
When the dough is firm enough, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Place into an oiled bowl, cover, and, allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Add baking powder instead of yeast, and you're making cake doughnuts. With cake doughnuts, the dough goes straight from kneading and shaping into the hot oil (or oven) -- no rising time required. Not surprisingly, they have a denser, cake-ier texture.
Whichever type of doughnut you choose, cake or yeast, you'll need a few things to make them. If you have a deep-fat fryer, use it. But you don't need a dedicated deep-fat fryer to make doughnuts; a heavy, deep pot works great. For round doughnuts with holes in the center, you'll need something to cut out the doughnut shapes: A doughnut cutter or round biscuit or cookie cutters. You'll also need a slotted metal spoon to ease the doughnuts into the hot oil and to retrieve them when done.
Doughnut dough shortcut. Grandma would never cheat, of course. But Grandma's Doughnuts fudge things just a little by using refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough in place of batter! With this shortcut recipe, you'll have doughnuts prepped, fried, and on the drying rack in 20 minutes.
Boost Your Batter
Once you have a basic batter, you can kick things up a notch. Add chocolate chunks or funfetti to the batter. Or mix in pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree, or a little cinnamon and nutmeg, maybe a little orange zest, or give 'em the carrot cake treatment.
The Basics for Frying Doughnuts
Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness on a well-floured surface.
Cut out the shapes. If you're using a doughnut cutter, you'll have one doughnut and one doughnut hole with each press. For yeast doughnuts, you'll roll out the dough, cut them, and then allow them to rise (about 30 minutes) before slipping them into the oil.
To the pot, add enough oil to submerge the doughnuts (about 4 inches) and heat the oil to 365 degrees F.
Carefully ease the doughnuts into the hot oil with your slotted metal spoon. Don't crowd. Fry 2 or 3 at a time, moving the doughnuts around the oil with your slotted metal spoon, turning once. When they're golden brown, remove them to paper towels.
For tips on frying, check out How to Deep-Fry without Making a Hot Mess.
Ways to Amaze with the Glaze
Now for the finishing touches. Dunk 'em in glaze: vanilla, chocolate, maple, caramel. Or go bold! Try butterscotch or maple bourbon glazes, or cook down sweetened coffee or pineapple juice glazes. To apply the glaze, give your doughnuts some quick dunk-and-twist action in the warm glaze.
Top It Off
Crown your creations with candy sprinkles, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cinnamon-sugar (or powdered sugar), crushed Graham Crackers, cereal, bacon -- whatever you like.
VIDEO: How to Make Crispy, Creamy Doughnuts
See how it's done! This quick video shows you how to make yeast doughnuts from scratch.
Get Kelly's recipe for Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts
How to Bake Doughnuts
You don't need to deep-fry doughnuts. With a doughnut pan, you can turn your batter into beautiful baked doughnut rings. Pour the batter into the cups -- about three-quarters of the way up. Then bake them in a preheated over until the doughnuts spring back to the touch.
Variations on a Theme
These deep-fried treats do doughnuts a little bit differently.
Yeast doughnuts without the hole. To make Long John's, roll out the dough, and cut strips 1-inch wide and 6-inches long. Place onto waxed paper, and let rise until doubled in size.
Keep the cronut craze alive and kicking. This breakfast treat combines the shape and flavor of doughnuts with the crispy, flaky texture of a buttery croissant.
Funnel Cake Waffles IV
Remember funnel cakes? They were always the best part of the county fair. And now, funnel cakes have stepped into the 21st Century: They're waffle-able.
Costas French Market Doughnuts (Beignets)
Here's how they do doughnuts in New Orleans at the famous Cafe Du Monde. The secret ingredient here is evaporated milk.
Carrot Cake Donut Holes with Cream Cheese Dip
This one takes "cake doughnut" literally. Also, it doesn't fuss about with the doughnut rounds; it's all about the doughnut hole. Roll 'em in cinnamon-sugar and dunk in a cream cheese.
International House of Doughnuts
Cooks from all corners of earth have discovered the delights of dropping dough into hot oil.
Fruit + Batter = Fritter
Add a little fruit to the doughnut batter, and you have yourself a fritter.
When Doughnuts Show Their Savory Side
It's not all sweetness all the time. Sometimes you crave the savory. Good news: Doughnuts are there for you. For your consideration, an assortment of savory doughnuts.
More Fun with Fried Dough:
- A Dozen Ways To Go Nuts For Mini Doughnuts
- Are Churros The Next Hot Doughnut?
- 10 Doughnut Recipes You Need To Make