What Ingredients Are in Donuts?
Donuts share the same essential ingredients as cake: Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and salt, plus milk, buttermilk, water, or even apple cider, combine to form a moist, light batter that results in a donut’s traditionally delicate structure. Donuts—especially those formed into a puffed, ring shape—can also be made from leavened dough, including a rising agent like baking powder or yeast.
3 Types of Donut Toppings
Toppings can add color, texture, and flavor to any donut. Toppings like nuts and sprinkles add a textural component to the doughy dessert, while glazes and sugars can add a layer of sweetness and color. There are a variety of donut toppings from which to choose:
- Powdered sugar and dusted sugar are ideal for first-time donut makers who prefer a simple, straightforward topping. Cinnamon sugar is one of the easiest donut toppings to make and apply: Simply toss the freshly fried donuts in a large bowl filled with a blend of ½ cup white sugar and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon, or sprinkle the mixture liberally over the top. Experiment with zested sugar or other spices like ground cardamom.
- Glazes are among the most popular donut toppings: The light coating of sugary lacquer adds a subtle hint of complementary sweetness and flavor to the dough, elevating the donut’s overall look. Go classic with a maple or chocolate glaze or use glaze to experiment with more complex flavors like orange blossom or rose water, citrus zest, even chiles. For optimal glazing, wait until the donuts have cooled to room temperature. Allowing the donuts to cool will help the glaze adhere to the donut’s surface, rather than melting off or becoming too runny.
- Toppings like sprinkles, bacon bits, nuts, flower petals, dried fruit, or candied citrus rind add texture and additional flavor to any glazed donut.
Homemade Donut Recipe
Prep Time10 min
Total Time1 hr 10 min
Cook Time1 hr
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ tsp)
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1-quart vegetable oil
- Warm the milk in a small saucepot over low heat. When steam appears on the surface of the milk, remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl. Add the yeast, and let stand for at least 5 minutes, until foamy. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture, followed by the butter, egg, and vanilla. Mix together with a wooden spoon to form a thick, shaggy dough.
- Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment (alternatively, you can also do any kneading by hand), and knead until the dough is elastic and glossy and clings to the hook, about 7–8 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot on the counter or in the refrigerator until it doubles in size.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Lightly coat a clean working surface with flour. Roll out the dough to about ½ –1 inch thick. Using either a cookie cutter, a donut cutter, or a paring knife, punch out rings or rounds from the dough.
- Add donuts to the hot oil, no more than 2 at a time (adding too many at once will lower the temperature of the oil, and result in soggy donuts) and fry until golden brown, about 3–4 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cooling rack, or a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and repeat with remaining donuts. (If you plan to coat your donuts with a glaze, place them on a wire rack to allow for easy drizzling.)
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