With a light and airy interior, a golden, fried exterior, and a sweet vanilla glaze, these classic glazed donuts prove that homemade donuts are worth the effort!
If you’ve ever eaten a donut fresh out of the fryer – still warm and just a little bit greasy – then you already know that there’s nothing better on earth.
The first time that I ate a fresh-from-the-fryer donut was on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey when I was a teenager. A morning bike ride to the end of the boardwalk followed by a long wait in line at Browns finally culminated in the best tasting donut I’d ever eaten. Why it’s taken me 12 years to make my own homemade donuts is beyond me!
These glazed donuts – like all homemade donuts – take a bit of time and effort. The yeast dough is simple enough to make, but it will need to rise twice (once in the bowl and once after the donuts are cut) before the dough is fried. Don’t be afraid of the process or the time commitment! I’ve included easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions plus tons of tips for making perfect glazed donuts in the recipe below. And trust me: homemade glazed donuts are worth the effort! You won’t be able to believe your taste buds when you sink your teeth into one of these still-warm-from-the-fryer, freshly-glazed donuts!
for the donuts:
1 1/4 cups 2% or whole milk
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
8 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling out the dough)
2 quarts vegetable oil (or canola oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl)
for the glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup 2% or whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Make the donuts. In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until warm (not hot, about 90°F). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Allow the milk and yeast to sit for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy. (NOTE: If the yeast does not foam, it is no longer active. Start again with fresh yeast.)
Add the eggs, butter, sugar, and salt to the bowl with the milk and yeast. Using the stand mixer’s dough hook (or an electric hand mixer), beat on medium-high speed the ingredients until blended. Add 2 1/4 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix on medium speed until combined. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and mix again on medium speed until the flour is combined and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead the dough gently until it’s smooth.
Grease a large bowl using a little bit of oil. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl and cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, place it on a floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Use a floured circular cookie cutter that’s about 3 inches in diameter to cut out the donuts, and use a smaller circular cookie cutter to cut the centers out of each larger circle of dough to create the donut hole. (NOTE: You can also use a drinking glass and a shot glass to cut the two sizes of circles.) Remove the donut holes from the donuts. Gently knead the remaining scraps of dough together and re-roll them to cut out more donuts. You should have about 18 donuts.
Place the donuts and donut holes onto floured baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between the donuts for the dough to rise. Cover the baking sheets with clean dish towels and let the dough rise again at room temperature for about 45 minutes or until the donuts are slightly puffed up.
About 20 minutes before the donuts are finished rising, add the oil to a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Heat the oil over medium heat to a temperature of 375°F (a candy thermometer is very helpful for this step). Line cooling racks with paper towels and place them near the stove.
When the donuts have finished rising and the oil is holding steady at 375°F, it’s time to fry the donuts! Add 4 donuts to the oil at a time to fry. (NOTE: I find it easiest to do this by placing each donut one at a time onto a metal spider strainer or roux whisk and lowering it into the oil. The donut will float on the oil and you can easily remove the strainer/whisk and add the next donut to the oil.) Let the donuts fry for about 45 seconds, until the bottoms are a deep golden brown, then flip them using a metal spider strainer, roux whisk, or slotted spoon. Fry the donuts for another 45 seconds or until the second side also becomes deep golden brown. Transfer the donuts to the prepared cooling racks to cool and fry the next batch of donuts. Be sure to keep an eye on the oil temperature as you fry the donuts, and adjust the heat as needed to maintain an oil temperature of 375°F.
To fry the donut holes, follow the same method as the donuts, but keep flipping them every 10 to 15 seconds until they’re deep golden brown all over, about 45 to 60 seconds total. If you wait too long to flip them, the uncooked side will puff up and the donut hole will become bottom heavy, making it impossible to flip.
As soon as you finish frying the donuts, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla. When the donuts are still warm but cool enough to hold, dip them into the glaze so that half of the donut is coated. Place the glazed donuts back on the cooling rack glaze side up to give the glaze a few moments to harden.
Serve the donuts immediately. Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, though unfortunately donuts to not keep well and are best enjoyed fresh.
Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking.