Homemade Donuts {+VIDEO} | Lil’ Luna

Melt-in-your-mouth Homemade Donuts are utterly addicting and absolutely worth the effort. Everyone loves these Homemade Donuts!!

Whether it’s for breakfast or just a treat, these Homemade Donuts are sure to knock off anyone’s socks! Best served warm, these goodies are right up there with our Homemade Cinnamon Rolls!

3 homemade donuts stacked on a white plate.

Grandma’s Famous Donuts

This donut recipe is an ALL-TIME family favorite. Whenever it gets cold or rainy, one of us kids is bound to text or call my mom and kindly ask if she’s up for making some Homemade Donuts.

Her donuts are famous in our family, and they are so good, we are constantly craving them!!

What’s the difference between store bought and homemade donuts?! You have to try them to know. They’re soft, warm, covered in a delicious glaze and just melt in your mouth. They make a tasty breakfast or a sweet dessert!

There are several steps to make these donuts, but we promise you they are still quite simple.

How to Make Homemade Donuts

These donuts require yeast. If you’re familiar with baking with yeast, you shouldn’t have a problem. If you’re a newby, we recommend following the directions to a T to help you out.

YEAST. Dissolve yeast in ¾ cup luke-warm water. Set aside. Heat 2 cups milk in microwave for 2-3 minutes.

WET INGREDIENTS. While milk is heating add shortening (room temp) to a large bowl. Pour hot milk over it and whisk until mixed (there will still be some clumps). Add salt, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add 4 eggs and mix well.

DRY INGREDIENTS. Add yeast mixture to batter and mix. Add 2 cups of flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Mix well. Add 2 more cups and mix. Add 2 more cups and mix. At this point, the batter should not be runny and resemble dough. Add 1 more cup of flour, give or take ½ cup.

*Note: You do not want your dough to be tough. Mix until your dough is smooth.

KNEAD. Sprinkle flour onto a clean surface and pour the dough onto it. Gently knead dough until the surface is not sticky to the touch.

Frying the donuts

RISE. The dough should be very soft, but not so sticky that you can’t handle it fairly easily. Place the soft dough into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let rise for 1 to 1½ hours. Dough should be about double in size when done.

CUT + RISE AGAIN. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about a 1 inch thickness. Cut the donuts out as closely as possible. Save the middles for doughnut holes. Move donuts and holes to a clean surface. Cover and let rise for 1 to 1½ hours.

FRY. Once the donuts and holes are done rising, fry them in a large frying pan or dutch oven with vegetable oil until golden brown. Once fried, let drain on a cooling rack. Be sure to fry the holes too, because they’re just as good to eat!

Note: We have a deep fryer that we like to use for this recipe as well. Either option will work!

cooking variations

Bake donuts. Once homemade donuts are done rising, they may also be baked. To do that, place on a lightly greased cookie tray, brush the tops with melted butter and then bake for 12-14 minutes making sure to rotate donuts halfway in between.

Air fry. Keep in mind the finished texture may be different from an oil fried donut.

  • Working in batches, place some donuts into the basket making sure they are not touching.
  • Close the air fryer, set to 350°F and fry for 5-8 minutes. Length of time will depend on the size of your donuts. For donut holes fry for 3-4 minutes.
Homemade glaze for donuts

The Donut Glaze

While donuts are frying make your donut glaze.

MIX. To make glaze, mix 7 cups powdered sugar with ⅔ cup water and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Add donuts to glaze as soon as they are done frying and make sure both sides are covered.

GLAZE. Place on a plate or wire rack to let excess vanilla glaze drain.

There are different variations of the glaze:

  • Chocolate glaze. Add a bit of cocoa powder to this glaze for a chocolate-y version. A c
  • Sprinkles. Add any kinds of sprinkles or toppings.
  • Frosting. If you want more of a frosting, we recommend using less milk.
  • Fill your donuts. To do this, be sure not to punch out the hole of your donut. Make and fry as directed, and then insert your filling of choice (pudding, jelly, Nutella) into the side of the donut when it has cooled.
  • Cinnamon sugar. For a simple version, simply sprinkle or dip into a cinnamon sugar mixture.
Homemade donuts risen on parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Homemade Donut Tips

Types of donuts. This recipe is for yeast rise donuts. They take longer to make due to the time needed to proof, but the result is worth every minute. They turn out fluffy in the center with a crispy fried outside.

A cake donut uses baking soda or baking powder as the leavening agent and is more cake-like in texture, similar to this Old Fashioned Donut Recipe. We also have an even easier homemade donut recipe that uses a can of Pillsbury biscuits, Homemade Biscuits Donuts. 

Flat donuts can be due to a few things. The two main culprits could be that the yeast was not activated properly or the dough was not proofed properly.

  • Yeast – Active dry yeast needs to be bloomed in warm water (105-110°F) and sugar. Let it sit for a few minutes and you should see the yeast blooming. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. If it’s too cold, then the yeast won’t activate. 
  • Proofing – Yeast needs a warm environment and time to grow within the dough. Most yeast dough recipes say to let the dough rise until doubled, which takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes, depending on how warm the room is. When gently poked, a properly proofed dough will hold an indentation without collapsing.

Donut Cutters. The easiest way to shape the homemade donuts is to buy a cutter specifically designed for donuts. If you don’t have one, you can use biscuit cutters, or a large round cookie cutter and smaller circle cookie cutter to cut the center. Another idea is to find a large-mouth cup and a smaller cup for the center.

Speed up proof time

The most time-consuming aspect of this easy donut recipe is waiting for the dough to proof. Speed up the first rise by creating a warmer environment. There are a few ways you can do this.

  • Fireplace. If you’re making donuts during fall or winter, cover the dough and set it near a warm fireplace.
  • Oven. Heat your oven to 200°F and then turn the oven OFF. Place the dough in an oven safe bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Rise in the warm oven until doubled. This will take half the time. 
  • Hot water. Add hot water to a large bowl. Nestle the bowl containing the dough into the bowl of water. Cover the dough with a towel, or plastic wrap. Let rise until double. 

storing info

STORE. Homemade donuts will dry out if not stored properly. Place donuts in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days, in the refrigerator for 5-6 days or FREEZE up to 3 months.

Make ahead of time. Make them up until step 5. Cover and refrigerate until the next day. When ready to fry, let come to room temperature and rise for an hour.

Like I mentioned, this recipe takes some time, but the donuts are just too good to not try it out for yourself. Trust us when we say you will LOVE them!!

Close up of a tray filled with freshly glazed homemade donuts.

For more breakfast treats, we love:

Course Breakfast, Dessert

Cuisine American

Prep Time 3 hours 15 minutes

Cook Time 6 minutes

Rise 2 hours

Total Time 5 hours 21 minutes

Servings 30 + donut holes

Calories 396 kcal

Author Lil’ Luna

  • Dissolve yeast in luke-warm water. Set aside.

  • Heat milk in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.

  • While milk is heating, add shortening to a large bowl. Pour hot milk over it and whisk until mixed (there will still be a few shortening clumps). Add salt, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add 4 eggs and mix well.

  • Add salt, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add eggs and continue to mix, followed by the yeast mixture.

  • Add 2 cups of flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Continue to add flour (1-2 cups at a time) until the batter is no longer runny and is smooth. NOTE: you can also use a stand mixer.

  • Sprinkle flour onto a clean surface and place dough onto it. Gently knead dough until the surface is not sticky to the touch. NOTE: The dough should be very soft but not so sticky that you can’t handle it fairly easily. Place the soft dough into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let rise for 1 to 1½ hours. The dough should be about double in size when it’s ready.

  • Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 1 inch thickness. Cut the donuts out as closely as possible (save the middles for doughnut holes). Move donuts and holes to a clean surface. Cover and let rise for 1 to 1½ hours.

  • Mix glaze by mixing ingredients together in a large bowl.

  • Once the donuts and holes are done rising, fry them in a large frying pan with vegetable oil until golden brown (temperature of the oil should be between 365-380 degrees).

  • Add hot donuts to glaze making sure both sides are coated. Place on a wire rack over parchment paper to let excess glaze drain.

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