Learn how to make soft, fluffy, yeasted homemade donuts in your own home. No fancy equipment or deep-fryer required! These donuts are a well-tested family favorite. I’ll walk you through all the steps in the post and in the video below!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been nervous about baking with yeast 🙋🏼♀️
I know not everyone has this fear, but for years I was terrified of any recipe that started with a sachet of yeast. I just couldn’t ever get the dough to cooperate. My baked goods came out too dense, too hard, just disappointingly below average in every way. I could make homemade cookies and cakes all day everyday, but if I wanted a donut, it came from the local grocery store’s bakery (or I made my no yeast donut holes!).
Fast forward a few years and a few carefully tested yeasty recipes (my cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, dinner rolls…), and I’m no longer afraid to experiment with yeast recipes in the kitchen. A little bit of practice, and it’s really not that different from any other kind of baking. And if I can make these perfectly soft, melt-in-your-mouth, sugared homemade donuts, then trust me, you can too, no matter how intimidated you might have been in the past.
I’ll walk you through all of the steps in detail in the recipe below and, in case you’re a visual learner, I’ve included a how-to video just below the recipe.
What You Need:
Chances are you already have everything you need in your pantry (/fridge)!
- All purpose flour
- Granulated sugar. A surprisingly small amount of sugar goes into these donuts; a lot of the sweetness comes from the coating you add to the outside.
- Instant yeast
- Whole milk
- Vanilla extract. This is optional but adds a nice depth of flavor to the donuts. I based this recipe off of a favorite from a local bakery and after lots of taste testing I’m confident they used vanilla extract in their recipe, so I included it in mine.
You’ll also need oil for frying your donuts as well as some sort of coating from the outside. I like to coat my donuts with granulated sugar, powdered sugar, a blend of cinnamon and (granulated) sugar, or a simple butter glaze (recipe for that included in the instructions!).
Do You Need a Deep Fryer To Make Donuts?
Nope! All you need is a deep pan (I like to use my heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan and fry one donut at a time) and some oil. I do recommend using a thermometer, though, as it’s critical that you know your oil temperature.
What Kind of Oil Should I Use?
You will want to use a neutral oil for frying. This means an oil that doesn’t have a strong taste or fragrance of its own (so olive oil is out!). I recommend either vegetable oil or canola oil for frying donuts. Peanut oil would also work!
Can I Make These in Advance?
I generally believe that any donuts (especially homemade donuts) are best served fresh and warm. However, these can be stored after frying and glazing. After cooling, store them in an airtight container for up to two days.
If you would like to make the dough in advance, you can make the dough the night before. Make the dough and then place in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until the next morning before proceeding with the recipe.
Can I Fill These Donuts?
Yes! To make filled donuts, simply cut out the dough without the hole in the center. Fry donuts until a light golden brown (it will take a bit longer than your donuts with the hole in the center, unsurprisingly). Let them cool completely, then fill by fitting a large piping bag with a round pointed tip, inserting that tip halfway into your donut, and squeezing the filling inside. I recommend my homemade pastry cream as a great filling.
Watch your donuts carefully
You’ll fry your donuts in oil that’s between 350-355F. For me, this took about 60 seconds on either side. However, if your donuts are slightly larger or smaller than mine you may need more or less time. I recommend doing a test donut and watching for the donut to just be beginning to turn a light golden brown. Fry it, let it cool, and then bite in. Your donut should be fully cooked (not gooey) in the center, but pillowy-soft and almost melt in your mouth. If it’s at all dry, you cooked it for too long, so shave some time off for your subsequent donuts.
Fry one at a time
When you add your donut to the oil, the temperature will drop. If you add too many donuts at once, the temperature could drop so much that the donuts take much longer to cook, and the reduced oil temperature can make the end result greasy. Fry one at a time, allowing the oil to come back to temperature between donuts.
Also, if you accidentally cook for too long, at least you’ve only burned one donut, and not half of your batch!
A thermometer is a necessity
Without one there’s no way to tell that your oil temperature is accurate. See my notes above for troubleshooting donuts that came out too greasy/underdone/etc.; it usually comes down to your oil temperature.
More Recipes You Might Like:
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- 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour divided, plus more as needed (438g)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar 66g
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup whole milk 158ml
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
- 2 large eggs room temperature preferred
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- Vegetable or canola oil for frying
- Powdered or granulated sugar for coating donuts
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 185g
- ¼ cup salted butter melted (57g)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½-2 Tablespoons hot water
- Combine, 2 cups (250g) flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer that’s been fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir well.
- Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter is melted and mixture reaches 110-115F (43-46C). If mixture becomes too hot, allow it to cool to the indicated temperature before proceeding.
- Pour milk/butter mixture over dry ingredients and stir until completely combined.
- Combine eggs and vanilla extract and use a fork to lightly scramble. Add to mixing bowl and stir on low-speed until completely combined.
- Switch paddle attachment out for a dough hook and, with mixer on low speed, add remaining flour (190g) until the dough forms a soft ball that is pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl. You may need to add more flour to get the right consistency, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time until proper consistency is reached (see video below recipe for a visual).
- Transfer dough to a large lightly oiled bowl and cover. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
- Once dough has doubled in size, transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out to ½” thick. Use a donut cutter to cut out donuts and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for another 30 minutes or until donuts have puffed.
- While donuts are rising, fill a medium-sized saucepan about 2” deep with oil. Turn stovetop heat to medium¹ and heat oil to 350-355F (175-180C).
- Once donuts are finished rising and oil has reached temperature, fry donuts one at a time until light golden brown, for me this was about 60 seconds on each side. Make sure to allow oil to come back to the indicated temperature before cooking each donut.
- Allow donuts to cool for a minute or two after frying, then coat with granulated or powdered sugar if desired. If glazing donuts, allow donuts to cool before glazing.
Instructions for glazed donuts
- To make glaze, whisk together sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, and hot water until smooth. Dip donuts in glaze on both sides, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow glaze to harden before enjoying.