These Air Fryer Donuts are absolutely the best yeast risen doughnuts ever with a pillowy, soft texture and an easy to make tasty glaze. This recipe is perfect to make on a lazy weekend day. Enjoy them for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Air fried for just 3 minutes, this recipe is sure to become a treasure. This basic risen dough recipe works well with a variety of flavored donuts. Whether filled with jelly or cream, covered in cinnamon sugar, powder sugar, rolled in nuts, or glazed with a variety of icing recipes, this recipe is a kitchen staple.
If you’re new to making donuts or using an air fryer, you’ll find detailed instructions throughout this blog post with helpful tips and answers to the most common questions. However, If you’re not looking to use yeast in your homemade donuts, try these Old Fashioned Sugar Donut Holes and air fry them for 2-3 minutes.
A recipe for air fryer donuts! Delicious tasty heavenly soft pillows of donuts rolled in your favorite topping. Come eat them while they are hot. I guarantee you won’t be able to stop at just one thanks to the most delicious dough ever. Fluffy, sweet, heavenly. Yeast risen dough or fermented pâte (in French) is the secret trick to most of the donuts (Dutch) on the market today and that’s why I’ve chosen to use the same method to make my Air Fryer Donuts.
Our air fryer has come in handy more than once. My fiancé and I even took it across the country in an already packed car. While I missed all my spices and herbs at home, I didn’t have to worry about eating out at restaurants every day while spending three weeks in New Orleans. Not even a few weeks later, we are traveling again and have even suggestively joked about bringing it on the airplane this time around.
I don’t think my life will ever be the same without my trusty air fryer. Some might argue it’s just an appliance, but it’s so much more, whether it’s making bacon and eggs in the morning, to making crispy chicken thigh in the evening. Dare I say I want more… I really love my air fryer and have countless recipes lined up to cook. It’s a kitchen staple for sure. For those that know me, I’ve talked about getting one for a long time and have not looked back since.
How to Make Air Fryer Donuts
- Dissolve yeast in warm milk.
- Mix in flour.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm area for 30 minutes.
- Mix together warm milk, remaining yeast, egg yolks, vanilla, and rested yeast mixture.
- Add 1 cup flour, salt, and sugar and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.
- Add butter and mix.
- Using dough hook, food processor, or by kneading, add flour and knead until a ball forms.
- Wrap with plastic wrap or warm towel and allow to the dough to rest for 30 minutes in a draft-free warm area of the house.
- Degas (gently punch down) dough.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness.
- Cut out 3-inch rounds with donut cutter.
- Remove center and keep for doughnut holes.
- Place on a lightly floured surface.
- Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F. Grease air fryer basket.
- Lightly spray tops of donuts with cooking spray.
- Cook whole donuts in fryer for 3 minutes and holes for 2 minutes.
- Place on wire rack
- Mix glaze and dunk donuts in icing or cinnamon sugar.
Using Yeast in Donuts
Introducing yeast into your baking shouldn’t be intimidating. If you want to bake doughnuts, you’ll need to use a basic yeast risen dough recipe which most donut shops use today. On the other hand, cake donuts and sour cream donuts use baking powder as a dry chemical leavening agent made of carbonate or bicarbonate and a weak acid to rise the dough. The texture is comparably different for this reason.
Having a basic yeast risen dough recipe is a must for making donuts from scratch at home in your own kitchen. Yeast makes magic of these donuts. Using yeast in the dough gives them:
- incredible height
- fluffy raised dough
- a pillowy soft crumb
- structure for just enough chew
- light airy pastry texture
- yeasty flavor
There are two types of yeast and a couple additional leavening agents that help dough rise or give it lift. The two types of yeast (leavening agents) that need warm liquid and sometimes sugar to activate are active dry yeast (the most popular), and fresh active yeast/compressed yeast.
You’ll want your milk warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast. I use a kitchen thermometer and place it halfway through the cup (not on the bottom) to measure the temperature. The temperature of the milk should be about 110 degrees F. You may have to wait a few minutes for it to cool if it’s too hot. Note that a temperature over 130 degrees F will kill the yeast which we don’t want to do.
Believe it or not, you can use too much yeast and make the recipe deflate, or rise poorly. This happens when the yeast releases too much gas prior to the flour being ready to expand. You want to shoot for your recipe to double in size which can vary by 1-3 hours. For those in cooler climates, If your dough is having trouble rising, try placing it in an oven with a bowl of hot water below. My nana used to cover the bowl during the second rising with a clean damp dish towel since yeasts likes moisture and warmth. Sometimes, I’ll run the dryer and place the bowl near it and close the door.
Yeast doughs have to rest for a while to let the yeast do it’s rising by aerating the dough. This makes the donuts soft and light and develops the yeasty taste. This recipe uses three separate proofing stages.
- The first is to jump start the process. The yeast dissolves in the milk and adding bread flour in a very wet paste allows for adequate gluten development with little fuss.
- The second is a longer rise. Do be carful to not overproof the dough by placing it in a hot spot in the house. The ideal temperature should be between 70-80 degrees F during it’s rising process.
- The third and final rise happens once the donuts are punched out and placed on a baking sheet or cutting board. During this process the doughnuts will rise and double in size. Check them often. When pressed lightly, the dough should spring back slowly. If it springs back immediately, it needs longer. If it doesn’t spring back, it’s overproofed. If it’s overproofed, the dough can be punched down, rerolled, and reproofed for another 30 minutes.
Ingredients to Make Donuts
Yeast: Buy active dry yeast. You’ll need at least two packet slips. Make sure to use a straight edge of a butter knife to brush and remove any extra yeast from the tablespoon and teaspoon. The yeast will go through three separate rising processes so make sure you have a couple hours to wait on the donuts. Active dry yeast is treated with heat which kills the outter most cells. It must be proofed, or dissolved in liquid with some sugar. Proofing renders the yeast active.
Flour: I use bread flour. Using all-purpose flour will result in a stickier and wetter dough.
Milk: I like to use whole milk for this particular recipe. The milk must be warmed in the microwave or a saucepan until it reaches 110 degrees F. It’s especially important that the temperature does not exceed 130 degrees F or more as it will kill the yeast. Use a kitchen thermometer and wait for the ideal temperature before dissolving the yeast in the milk.
Sugar: Just a little granulated sugar aids in the yeasts rise and sweetens the bread dough.
Egg: Egg yolks give the dough a very rich texture. Make sure they are at room temperature. TIP: Fill a bowl with warm water and let the eggs sit in it for 5 minutes to bring them to room temperature.
This basic dough recipe reminds me of donuts that are popular at donut bakeries. They taste so similar and that’s why I say you won’t be able to stop eating breakfast at just one. Dressed and drizzled in your favorite toppings, glazes, icings, and frosting, whether that’s a classic sugar glaze, chocolate glaze, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar, these donuts are sure to arouse your taste buds.
Gourmet Donut Toppings and Fillings
- sprinkles or colorful jimmies
- mini chocolate chips
- basic sugar
- cinnamon sugar
- powdered sugar
- dulce de leche
- fresh bacon crumbles
- chocolate shavings
- dusted in cocoa powder
- rolled in chopped nuts
- fried chicken
- jelly filled: raspberry, strawberry, cherry, blueberry, lemon, apple, coconut cream, pineapple
- chocolate cream filled
- cream filled: Boston, Bavarian, peanut butter, banana cream pie, vanilla, maple
- Glazes: strawberry, maple, brown butter, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, lemon, orange, lime
- Frosting: cream cheese, brown butter, maple, buttercream
- Fruit curd filled: lemon, fig, berry
Reader Tips and Questions
3-5 minutes at 350 degrees F. I find that three minutes is plenty.
Make donut holes, of course! Air fry them for 2-3 minutes.
Yes, I do, but it’s not an air fryer recipe. You’ll have to adjust and test the air fryer times out but I cannot imagine it being too much longer than 3-5 minutes, if making into whole donuts or shorter for donut holes. Find the recipe for my Cinnamon Sugar Donuts. This recipe uses baking powder as it’s rising agent and doesn’t require any proofing time.
Stick it in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. This will slow the rising process down. Be sure that this is happens during the second rise.
Yes, bake at 350 degrees F for several minutes or until the tops are slightly golden brown.
Yes. This donut recipe is the type of donut recipe that’s typically used for filled and stuffed donuts.
Glazed Donut Recipes
Cinnamon Sugar: 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Mix well. Wet donuts lightly with water and dip in mixture to coat well.
Chocolate Glaze: 3 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder, 4 tbsp milk or water, 4 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
Classic Sugar Glaze: 3 cups powdered sugar, 4 tsp vanilla extract, 3 tbsp milk or water. Whisk until smooth.
Powdered Sugar: Wet donuts slightly with water. Dip or dust in 3-4 cups powdered sugar.
Air Fryer Donuts
- Air fryer
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast (divided)
- 1 cup whole milk (divided)
- 3 cups bread flour (divvided)
- 3 egg yolks (at room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (slightly melted)
Vanilla Sugar Glaze
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp milk
- ⅛ tsp salt
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Stir and dissolve 1 tbsp yeast in ¾ cup milk heated to 110°F
- Stir in ¾ cup bread flour until smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot for 30 minutes.
- In a bowl fitted with a mixer, food processor, or with a whisk, combine remaining ¼ cup milk (heated to 110°F), and 1 tsp yeast. Add yeast/flour mixture, egg yolks, and vvanilla extract.
- Mix/pulse/whisk until smooth.
- Add 1 cup bread flour, sugar, and salt. Mix for 30 seconds.
- Add butter and mix until incorporated; about 30 seconds.
- Switch to dough hook attachment or continue using food processor, or by hand and add ¼ cup bread flour at a time. Pulse, or knead until dough starts to come together and pulls away from the sides, repeating with flour mixture. It may take up to 2-2½ cups at this stage. I used about 2¼ cups.
- Do will be soft, and moist but sticky. It shouldn't be so sticky that it cannot be rolled out.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with butter.
- Add dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
- Gently press down to let the air out (degas).
- Cover again and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly flour; set aside.
- Lightly flour a clean, flat work surface.
- Roll dough into ball. Lightly flour the top of the dough and the rolling pin.
- Roll dough to ½-inch thickness.
- Using a donut cutter, cut 3-inch circles with 1-inch (for donut holes) circles in the middle and place donuts 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
- Allow dough to proof and rise in warm spot 30-40 minutes or until double in size.TIP: Donuts are ready when lightly touched with a fingertip, the dough springs back slowly. If dough springs back immediately, it needs more time. If dough doesn't spring back, it will need to be rerolled and proofed for 30 minutes.
- Preheat air fryer to 350°F. Lighty grease basket and tops of donuts with cooking spray.
- Bake whole donuts for 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Bake donut holes separately for 2-3 minutes.
- Move to cooling rack. Make glaze by whisking ingredients together until incorporated and smooth.