Make Ahead Doughnuts

After looking at doughnut recipes on the Internet last week, I very impulsively clicked over to a cooking website and bought a deep fryer — the Emerilware T-Fal model with the selling point being that it filters the oil automatically so you can use it again a few times before changing it. Hmm, not really. While the Emeril fryer does filter the oil, the oil still tastes like whatever you fried previously meaning if you make doughnuts the day after you make French fries and use the filtered oil, you get French fry flavored doughnuts. But I’m going off topic here because what I really want to tell you about is the doughnut recipe I used and how I made them on Day 1 and fried them on Day 2 using the overnight method. Glazed Doughnut chocolate coated doughnut Since I’m new too doughnut making, I immediately went for the most highly rated recipe on which was supposed to be a clone of Krispy Kreme. Because there are only 3 of us, I halved the recipe; and because a lot of reviewers said the doughnuts had “no flavor”, I added a teaspoon of vanilla. Finally, I tried making the doughnut using the overnight method which really comes in handy on a Sunday morning when you feel like doughnuts but don’t feel like waking 3 hours early to get started. The process is to mix the dough the day before, let it rise once at room temperature, punch down and cut into doughnuts, then cover the formed doughnuts and chill overnight. The dough will rise a little in the refrigerator, then finish rising when you take them out in the morning before frying. So you still have to wake up a little bit early, but you can sit around and drink coffee, play with the dog or watch the sunrise because all the real work has been done.  Here’s one I coated in ganache, btw. glazed goughnut I liked these a lot, especially the second round when my doughnuts didn’t taste like French fries. While I didn’t find them very much like Krispy Kreme, they did live up to their allrecipes name of “Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts” with a creamy interior and crisp exterior. They were a very good first doughnut. Now I think I’ll try some other recipes for comparison.

Make Ahead Doughnuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Make Ahead Doughnuts are started the night before and fried in the morning.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 3/4 cups lukewarm milk, scaled first then cooled to room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scant tablespoons shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting pans and work surfaces
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons hot water or as needed
  1. Put the warm water in mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let stand for 5 minutes to proof.
  2. Add the milk, vanilla, sugar, salt, egg, shortening, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Note: I recommend doing this with the dough hook of a stand mixer.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double (an hour).
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter or use the top of a drinking glass for the doughnut and an apple corer for the hole. Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double or if making overnight doughnuts, put them in a 13x9 inch metal pan dusted with flour, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. When ready to make the doughnuts, remove the formed doughnuts from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature.
  6. Prepare the glaze: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery. Set aside.
  7. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula greased with oil or a little shortening. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown – mine took about 2 minutes per side. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up. Depending on how big you cut your doughnuts, you should get about 7 or 8.


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  1. says

    I have always wanted to make doughnuts but haven’t ever done it. The frying process is what has stopped me. Your doughnuts look wonderful, and I’ll be staying tuned for more doughnut reports.

  2. Jennifer says

    I’m with Sue. I’ve always been interested but I’m not very good at frying things. Seeing your post may be inspiring, though, as I do like to try and make new things.

  3. says

    Sue and Jennifer, I’m not good at it either. In the past I’ve mainly used the deep fryer for homemade French fries and that’s about it. In fact, if you buy a fryer and only use it for good fries, it’s totally worth it! However, I wouldn’t pay as much as I did for this one. The Emeril T-Fal fryer I bought was about $142. You can get a little Fry Daddy or something like that for somewhere around $30. For small households, that’s probably idea. This is actually my third deep fryer. My first one broke and the second one became so greasy and disgusting I just threw it away before we moved. So my advice is not to spend too much if you plan on buying one.

    But definitely buy a deep fryer if you plan on mastering some fried recipes. You can do it over the stove, but it’s not always easy to keep the oil at a consistent heat.

  4. says

    Both of these looks great! Its been a few years since I’ve eaten a doughnut — something dry and tasteless from Starbucks, but I’m tempted to try home made after seeing this post. Of course I’m especially drawn to the one with ganache!

  5. Louise says

    I used to use a large Fry Daddy fairly regularly to make beignet souffles to serve with raspberry sauce, but I got out of the habit. I’m not much of a donut eater, but your post tempts me to get out the fryer. My husband would have a fit if I started making french fries.

  6. says

    Last time I had a fresh donut was right before krispy creme went out of business-a few years now in MN I think. Your donut pictures make my mouth water! Especially the light glazed donut…yum!

  7. says

    I’m not much of a doughnut eater, but the homemade doughnuts really hit the spot this weekend. The texture was just so much better than I expected. I think the next recipe on the docket is going to be Alton Brown’s.

  8. says

    Wow! That chocolate one is really making me crave doughnuts right now 🙂

  9. Paula B. says

    Ohhh, I wish I’d been at your house for Sunday doughnuts. I am a doughnut lover but never get them at the chain drive thru – we used to have several local mom and pop places that made them fresh every day, the best. Have never been brave enough to make my own….

  10. says

    Mmmm. Donuts *she says in a Homer Simpson voice*. I make donuts every autumn. Here’s what I have learned: Spudnuts have the best texture (recipes that use mashed potatoes), a tsp of mace adds an amazing flavor, and using shortening is the best way to fry them. Sorry. I wish it was canola oil. But with shortening, the donuts absorb *much* less grease, thus avoiding that oily flavor that from-scratch donuts often have. It’s not like you make donuts every day (unless you do?). Use the shortening.

  11. Rina says

    Anna, I just made my first batch of homemade donuts a couple of months ago and completely relate to your post! I happen to have a deep fryer at home (hand-me down from my sister), but I realized that it required a ton of oil, which I didn’t really need for purposes of frying 2-3 donuts at a time. I ended up using a dutch oven and a candy thermometer to fry and keep an eye on the temperature – much less oil waste and it worked well. I totally agree about the oil, kept wondering if I could reuse it after filtering, but the “taste” of whatever was fried in it seems pretty permanent. I used Ree’s (Pioneer Woman) step-by-step post because it was easy to follow, but am eager to try another recipe and a unique flavor next time (though glazed really hit the spot). I may try shortening for frying, have read that it does eliminate the grease factor. Nothing compares to fresh donuts, I’m not even a big donut eater but ate 3 immediately after they were semi-cooled. Sorry for the long post!

  12. says

    I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while, but I tihnk your overnight method sold me on trying these., I’m so glad you had success with this recipe, they look fabulous!

  13. says

    Mackenzie, I might try making actual chocolate doughnuts. As much as I love chocolate, I thought the plain glazed ones were better. The chocolate coating seemed more suited for chocolate doughnuts.

    Paula, we have lots of Mom & Pop places, but I never make it a point to go buy doughnuts. That’s probably a good thing.

    Cotton Floozy, thanks for the shortening tip!! I don’t have a problem using it every so often. I don’t like canola oil. It tastes fishy. For these doughnuts I used peanut oil.

    Rina, I’ve used a heavy saucepan and a deep-fry thermometer as a way to save oil. It works, but I had a hard time maintaining an even oil temp. I may buy a mini deep fryer just for making doughnuts — a small, cheap one to use exclusively for doughnuts.

    Caroline, I hope you try the make-ahead method. I’m going to use it again when I make Alton Brown’s doughnuts.

  14. says

    I’m not much of a donut eater (I’d rather have a cookie!), but the boys around here LOVE them. I have one of the smaller/cheaper fryers just for donuts. I break it out now and them, just for the boys. The thing I don’t like is the lingering grease/oil smell it leaves in the house–and cleaning it isn’t fun either. But I would say homemade donuts are much better, IMO, than any bakery ones. 😉
    I’ve made (and posted) some apple cider doughnuts that we all thought were fantastic a year or so ago.

  15. says

    thank you for this post and your advice
    would you believe that I bought a deepfryer just this past weekend? it is out of the box but still wrapped in plastic.
    Hopefully I will be making, serving and eating doughnuts this weekend.

  16. says

    Hi I recently had my first attempt at making donuts and I was very impressed with what I did. My first recipe is from Nancy Silverton “Old Fashion buttermilk cake donuts” and they were excellent. So then I made a chocolate sugar and impressed with what I did. Then I tryed a Spice donut and again impressed. The chocolate and the spice are on my blog with pic’s I would recommend using crisco. The buttermilk and the chocolate donuts I just used my black cast iron frypan which has a deep side and everything worked. The cinnamon donuts were cooked in the deep fat fryer which my husband set me up a station on the deck to fry, house stayed clear of frying but the air outside was a big donut. So good luck with your recipe choices and keep frying. I need to post the buttermilk donuts, which I will do. Nice blog I enjoy seeing all the food. Thank you, Andi

  17. d says

    Louise- Beignet Souffles??? I just had my first beignet last month and I am in love – can’t wait to find an awesome recipe to try! What is a beignet souffle?

  18. Nancy says

    These doughnuts look yummy! I can’t wait to try them with my family. If you have a “cake like” doughnut recipe, you know the ones you get from the apple orchard – I would love to get a copy…. I had many attempts but just can’t seem to get there!

  19. C L says

    Those doughnuts look like just what I am seeking. Make ahead is good! 🙂 Now I just have to convince my dearest hubby to bring the indoor turkey fryer down from the top shelf. LOL 😉 I love that Butterball Indoor Turkey Fryer because it has a cover-hood, which helps me avoid splatters. C L and open vats of hot oil are not a good combo. LOL And you are frying chocolate doughnus next? Can’t wait to read your blog about those! 🙂

  20. Yet another Anna says

    I’m so glad that you’re experimenting with doughnuts!! I made my own first batch in a long time a few weeks ago, and they weren’t half bad, but there’s a definite learning curve.

    I had the best success making twists, where you take the cut out doughnut and simply twist it around itself a few times. They roll over in the hot oil quite nicely.

    I’m a beignet fan too. I think I prefer the sort that use cream puff dough, rather than the baking powder kind, but then again, I’m not really all that picky. Luckily I live in a part of the world where beignets are not an oddity, so I can get a fix pretty easily, with no tempting leftovers.

  21. Toni says

    If you want to try one that is sooo much like a Krispy Kreme.. try the “Crueller” (fried version) recipe in Ferroni’s Doughnut book. They were fast and easy and MELTED in your mouth! I wasn’t thrilled w/some of her other recipes, but the crueller one is worth going back to again and again. I also have the Emerill’s fryer (thanks to HSN. LOL) and I think it’s great. Your right, flavors will stay, but all the little particles of “burnt after a few frys w/it” stay off your food, and it’s a cinch to clean up. Love the great storage for oil too.. should be noted that oil if not being used again quickly should be kept in a fridge and thawed at room temp before using again. This keeps it from going rancid. Especially nut oils 🙂

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