How to Make Doughnuts (homemade from scratch)

I love doughnuts. Do you love doughnuts? Glazed, powdered sugar, jelly-filled, cream-filled, custard-filled, long johns, chocolate-glazed, chocolate with

glaze, maple, cinnamon? Excellent, then we’re on the same page. Today I’m going to show you how to make your own doughnuts at home, not only from scratch (which is pretty easy on its own) but also a much easier and quicker way using biscuit dough you can buy ready-made from any grocery store.

Origins of the Doughnut

The history of the doughnut is rather disputed, and two theories currently exist concerning its origin:

  1. The Dutch brought them over along with a bunch of other deserts that they were responsible for introducing to early colonial America such as cookies, cream pie, apple pie, and cobbler. There is solid evidence to support this: in the early 1800s, doughnuts were, in some places, known as a type of “olykoek”, which is a Dutch word that literally means “oil cake”, a treat that was a “sweetened cake fried in fat.”
  2. The second explanation is, in my opinion, true but not correct (meaning I think the guy is telling the truth, but I don’t think he was the first person to figure this out–I suspect the Dutch were there long before him): an American, Hansen Gregory, claimed that he invented the classic round-doughnut-with-a-hole-in-it doughnut back in 1847 while he was a 16 year old sailor on a lime-trading ship. The story goes that he was irritated with the regular, and oddly shaped, doughnuts on board the ship because they were not only too greasy but also always had a raw center. He says that he punched a hole in the middle of an uncooked doughnut with a tin pepper box, fried it normally, and “Eureka!”. He later taught this hole-punching technique to his mother from whom it spread rapidly.

Fast doughnuts (with biscuit dough)

Here’s a really quick and easy technique to make homemade doughnuts that doesn’t require you to make your own dough. The Food Network has a chef and his daughter whip these up together in a few minutes (you might

need 10 minutes or so, not including prep), all you need to this is a skillet, some vegetable oil (the old-fashioned way would be to use lard…just saying 😉 ), some tongs (for turning the doughnuts), packaged biscuit dough (e.g. Pilsbury), and whatever topping you want to use (the next video actually shows

you how to make your own icing, by the way, but it looks like they’ve got some Pilsbury chocolate cake icing there which actually sounds like a really good idea). Here we go:

How to make doughnuts from scratch

This is a bit longer, about 10 minutes, but you get to make everything from scratch (dough and icing), which actually isn’t even that difficult. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 50g (3.5 tablespoons) melted butter
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Lots of colored sprinkles

Here we go:

Additional Resources and Further Reading

If you loved making your own doughnuts and want TONS more delicious recipes (and some fascinating facts and history about doughnuts), check out The Donut Book by Sally Levitt Steinberg, America’s “Doughnut Princess”: her grandfather, Adolph Levitt, invented the doughnut-making machine. There are 29 excellent, mouth-watering recipes: from New Orleans beigñets to Portuguese malasadas to Boston crèmes and Alain Ducasse’s upscale Doughnut. And for doughnut lovers who are willing to hit the road (or just their web browser since a lot of these retailers are selling their delicious confections online now) to find their favorite doughnut, the book comes with an illustrated doughnut-lover’s guide to the best doughnut bakeries in the world.

There’s also an excellent article over at Mahalo on how to make various types of doughnuts.

And Alton Brown has got a great recipe for yeast doughnuts on’s site.

Want to learn how to make Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Recipe Zaar has got you covered (very cool 🙂 ).