There’s no shortage of delicious donut places near our home, but a donut run for our family usually costs us around $20, which seems a bit of a splurge these days. So I decided to see how hard it would be to make donuts at home.
I’m a “raised glazed” fan and the most authentic way to recreate that type of donut at home is to deep fry it. But who wants to deal with all that? So I took to my kitchen to figure out a great but easy way to make raised glazed donuts in my air fryer.
And. I. Did.
Two ways, actually.
The first way I tried was an air-fried biscuit dough variation using Grands biscuits. I tried both the “flaky layers” style and the “Southern buttermilk” style. Hands down, the flaky layers won. Their texture was much more donut-y than the buttermilk kind, which literally baked up like biscuits with holes in them.
My kids absolutely LOVED these donuts and gobbled them up quickly, so they will definitely be made here again. If you’re looking for a quick and easy air fryer donut recipe that your kids can help make and enjoy eating, then my Variation 1 recipe is perfect.
But if you are more of a donut purist like myself, you may be more interested in my Variation 2 recipe. It’s slightly more work since you have to thaw frozen dough, roll it out, and let it rise for an hour, but it is much closer to a traditional raised glazed donut.
As great as the biscuit dough donuts were, I couldn’t quite get past the fact that the donuts had layers. To me, they were basically biscuits dressed up like donuts. They were beautiful but felt more like a sugary biscuit instead of a donut.
So I walked the aisles of my local Rouses looking for a potential solution until I came upon Bridgford Ready-Dough in the freezer section. I bought the $4 3-pack of frozen bread dough loaves and pulled out a loaf to thaw in the fridge overnight. (The bag also has microwave thawing directions, but I didn’t try this method.)
The next morning, I rolled out the dough on a floured surface and used my trusty donut cutter to make my donuts. A single roll gave me 6 regular-sized donuts with 6 donut holes, and left me with a minimal amount of dough that I formed into a long john shape.
I sprayed some parchment paper on a baking sheet, laid out the donuts, loosely covered them with some more parchment paper, and set it on top of my dryer while it was running. I set a timer for an hour and then went back to check on them.
They looked great! So I preheated my air fryer to 360 degrees and sprayed my air fryer trays with cooking oil (I use a Misto sprayer). I gently placed the donuts on the trays and sprayed them with oil as well.
I popped them into my air fryer and set a timer for 7 minutes. While my donuts were air frying, I made my glaze. After 7 minutes, the top rack donuts were definitely more golden brown than the bottom rack, but both were fully cooked.
I’d say if you’re looking for a more authentic donut at home, it’s worth it to go the Variation 2 route. That bread dough is much closer to the actual texture of store-bought donuts and worth it!
No matter which donut variation you make, I found it best to immediately submerge each hot donut into the glaze and set them on the cooling rack to drain. Glazing the hot donuts keeps them pillowy soft.
If you’d like to do chocolate-dipped sprinkle donuts (our house’s favorite!), be sure to let your glazed donuts cool completely before dunking them in the chocolate glaze so that you don’t have a melted mess on your hands. (Though that is still delicious!)
I used the same basic and chocolate glaze recipes for both donut recipe variations and had no complaints about either. The Basic glaze is from Food Network and the Chocolate one is from Epicurious. The recipes as stated both made more than enough to coat 8 Grands biscuit donuts or 1 loaf of frozen bread dough donuts.
Variation 1: Quickie Air Fryer Donuts (made with Biscuit Dough)
- 1 8-count tube Grands Flaky Layers biscuits
- Cooking oil spray
Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees. Pop open your biscuit dough tube and separate into biscuits. Use a donut cutter or small 1-inch round cutter to make the donut hole. Separate your holes from the donuts and coat both sides of each with cooking spray. Cook in air fryer (5 minutes for donuts, 3 minutes for holes). While donuts are cooking, prepare your glaze(s). As soon as the donuts come out of the air fryer, dunk them in the glaze and let them cool on cooling racks so the excess glaze can drip off. If you want to dip in chocolate glaze, let them cool completely before dunking.
Variation 2: Air Fryer Donuts (made with Frozen Bread Dough)
- 1 loaf Bridgford frozen bread dough, thawed
- Flour for dusting rolling surface
- Cooking oil spray
Roll your thawed dough out on a floured surface. Use a donut cutter or 2 sizes of round cutters to make the donut shapes. Separate your holes from the donuts. Arrange on a lightly sprayed parchment paper-lined baking sheet and loosely cover with more parchment paper. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour (I set them on top of my running dryer.) After an hour, preheat air fryer to 360 degrees and coat both sides of donuts and holes with cooking spray. Cook in air fryer (7 minutes for donuts, 5 minutes for holes). While donuts are cooking, prepare your glaze(s). As soon as the donuts come out of the air fryer, dunk them in the glaze and let them cool on cooling racks so the excess glaze can drip off. If you want to dip in chocolate glaze, let them cool completely before dunking.