January 21, 2021
My absolute favorite donuts are fried yeast donuts: the light, airy, chewy donuts that make glazed donuts and frosted donuts with sprinkles (and the donuts I decided to make in this recipe). They taste like they just came out of the best vegan donut shop! I've included a recipe for a classic glaze as well as a chocolate frosting, so you can choose to make whichever one you'd like. (Each coating recipe makes enough for all twelve donuts and donut holes, so if you want to make half and half, make sure you cut the recipe for each coating in half as well).
If you've ever eaten the glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme, you probably know that they have a light in the window to let you know when the donuts are fresh. Just like theirs, these vegan donuts taste best just after the glaze has set. So it's best to make only as many as you and your family can eat right away. If you do have leftovers, I recommend freezing them as soon as possible using freezer bags. Then, when you're ready to eat them, take them out of the freezer an hour or two ahead of time to defrost. After your sweet treats have defrosted to room temperature, you may want to pop them in the oven for 2-3 minutes at 275°F (135°C) to warm up a bit. Keep in mind that the glaze may melt a little if you put them in the oven.
What oil should you use for frying donuts? A neutral oil with a high smoke point is best for frying donuts. These oils include canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. Of those, canola and peanut oil are the most reasonably priced, considering the amount of oil you'll need to fry donuts. I don't recommend using vegetable oil (soybean oil) because it doesn't have a neutral flavor. The donuts are light, so the flavor of the oil will overpower the flavor of the donuts.
Traditional yeast donuts are typically made with eggs, butter, and milk. The butter and milk are replaced fairly easily with vegan butter and almond milk, but the eggs are a little trickier. I tried making a vegan version of yeast donuts with aquafaba, applesauce, and no egg replacer at all. While the aquafaba worked, I highly recommend using applesauce for best results. The texture and the flavor were far superior in the donuts made with applesauce. The applesauce donuts have the perfect texture that you'd expect from glazed donuts, that immediately bounces back to its original shape after you take a bite.
This recipe calls for proofing the dough overnight in the refrigerator, and that method produces the best flavor. However, if you're in a hurry, you can skip that step and just let the dough rise for about two hours (until it's doubled in size) before rolling it out.
To make these vegan donuts, you'll need to cut the dough into donut shapes. The easiest way to do this is with a donut cutter, which you can get on Amazon. But if you can't get your hands on a donut cutter, you just need two round objects to cut with, that are about 3 1/2 inches in diameter, and 1 inch in diameter. I used a drinking glass and the wide end of a large icing piping tip. Whatever you use, be sure to dip it in flour first so it doesn't stick to the dough.
Although it's not required, a stand mixer will make this recipe much easier. The dough will take a while to come together, and after it's mixed, it will still require another 7 or 8 minutes of kneading in the mixer. If you plan to knead the dough by hand, it will take a little longer. You should knead the dough until it's smooth.
Be sure you're using instant dry yeast for this recipe, and not active dry yeast. Active dry yeast needs to be activated with heat. If you can only get active dry yeast, you'll want to warm the non-dairy milk to about 110°F (45°C), then mix in the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, or until it turns foamy. Continue with the rest of the recipe as normal, mixing in the milk and yeast before the applesauce, butter, and vanilla.
Yield12 donuts and 12 donut holes
Prep Time60 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time12 hours
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, sugar, 1 tsp. salt, and instant dry yeast. Mix with paddle attachment until combined.
In a small mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, melted vegan butter, applesauce, and 2 tsp. vanilla. Mix well, then add to dry ingredients in mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until a rough ball is formed. Switch to dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for about 7-8 minutes, until smooth.
Grease a medium mixing bowl with oil, then transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Then add additional oil to the top of the dough to coat it, and put the plastic wrap directly on top of the dough. Put in the refrigerator overnight to proof (at least 5 hours).
In the morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit someplace warm until it’s double its original size (about an hour). While the dough is rising, cut 15 squares of parchment paper (about 4”x4”) and place them on baking sheets.
On a floured work surface, roll out your dough so it’s about 1/3 of an inch thick. You can either use donut cutters to cut your donuts, or a large glass that’s about 3 1/2” in diameter and a smaller object 1” in diameter. I used the wide end of a large piping tip to cut out the donut holes. Coat the edges of your cutters in flour before using them, then cut your donut shapes. When cutting, try to get as close to the edges as you can to use up as much dough as possible in the first roll-out. You can roll the dough out a second time, but it doesn’t stick together as nicely as it does on the first roll-out. Carefully transfer your donuts and holes to your pre-cut parchment paper squares (you should be able to fit one donut or four holes on a square).
Once all your donuts have been cut, cover them with a kitchen towel and allow them to rise again for about an hour, until they’re puffy.
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, use a metal spatula to pick up a donut along with the parchment square and put both into the pan. This will ensure that the donut doesn’t lose its shape or deflate while it’s being transferred. Use tongs to pull out the parchment and put it in the trash (keep the trash can close by to avoid dripping oil on the floor). You can cook several donuts at a time, just make sure you leave enough space for them to move freely. When the donuts are golden brown (about 1 minute for donuts, 30-45 seconds for donut holes), turn them to the other side and cook another minute. Use the metal spatula to remove the cooked donuts from the pan and transfer to paper towels to drain the excess oil. Repeat with remaining donuts.
If you’re making a plain glaze, sift the powdered sugar and salt into a small mixing bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the vegan butter, non-dairy milk, and vanilla, and whisk until the vegan butter is melted. Add the liquid mix into the powdered sugar and whisk until well-combined.
Place a wire rack over a baking tray. Dredge the donuts through the glaze on both sides until coated. Allow the excess glaze to drip off the donuts, then transfer donuts to wire rack and let the glaze set.
If you’re making chocolate frosting, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a small mixing bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the vegan butter, non-dairy milk, and vanilla, and whisk until the vegan butter is melted. Add the liquid mix into the cocoa-sugar mix and whisk until well-combined.
Place a wire rack over a baking tray. Use a spoon or butter knife to spread the chocolate frosting on the top of the donuts. Top with vegan colored or chocolate sprinkles, if desired. Transfer donuts to the wire rack and let the topping set.
I don't recommend using vegetable oil (soybean oil) because it doesn't have a neutral flavor. The donuts are light, so the flavor of the oil will overpower the flavor of the donuts.
If you don't have time to refrigerate the dough overnight, you can just let the dough rise for about two hours (until it's doubled in size) before rolling it out. (The flavor may not be as good, however.)
If you're kneading the dough by hand, it will take a little longer. You should knead the dough until it's smooth.
Be sure you're using instant dry yeast for this recipe, and not active dry yeast. Active dry yeast needs to be activated with heat. If you can only get active dry yeast, check the description at the top of the page for instructions.
Be sure to sift your powdered sugar and cocoa powder for the frosting or glaze, or it might end up with clumps. If that happens, you can toss it in the blender to smooth it out.
Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.
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