Soft, pillowy donuts are one of my favorite desserts of all time. I’ve made my fair share of yeast donuts from scratch and each batch has came out delicious. However, I don’t always have a few hours to spare to make the dough and let it rest — and trying to fry them without the oil splattering everywhere is a task in and of itself. Luckily, I found a clever tip for that allowed me to turn a ball of pizza dough into yummy homemade donuts using my trusty air fryer!
Air fryers can cook anything to delicious perfection from homemade potato chips to tender and flaky salmon fillets. Recently, I learned that this handy appliance was also great for making this classic dessert. Food blogger, Petranka Atanasova, shared with Insider that she chooses to air-fry her donuts because they get just as crispy as ones that are deep fried, yet they’re lower in fat and less messy to make because you’re not cooking them in a pot of oil. She adds that baked donuts can take up to 20 minutes to cook, whereas, in the air fryer it can be as little as three to four minutes.
As someone who’s always looking for a quick and slightly heathy dessert, I decided to try test this with a 16 ounce ball of store bought pizza dough — a speedier option than making it from scratch, which can take two hours or more. Since the dough was frozen when I bought it, I made sure to let it thaw in the fridge overnight. When it came time to make the donuts, I followed Atanasova’s lead.
First, I placed the dough on a lightly floured surface before portioning it off into two tablespoon balls. I rolled the balls until they were fully formed then placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet. This yielded about 17 donut holes, not having to roll out the dough and use any pastry cutters was fine by me.
However, Atanasova says you can roll out the dough until it is one inch thick and use a donut cutter or two different-sized biscuit cutters for that signature donut shape. A mason jar and a smaller round cookie cutter can also work as well. (Psst: Form the leftover dough scraps into mini round donut holes so it doesn’t go to waste!)
Next, I brushed the donuts with three tablespoons of melted butter to get a golden brown color. Covering the donuts with plastic wrap, I let them rest for 30 minutes. This allowed the dough to come up to room temperature and rise slightly.
I preheated my air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then sprayed some vegetable oil cooking spray on the rack so that the donuts wouldn’t stick. This step would also apply if your air fryer has a basket.
Gently lifting the balls of dough from the parchment paper, I placed them on the rack with a 1/2 inch space between each one. Then, I cooked them in the air fryer until they were evenly crispy and brown on the outside. This took 10 minutes in my air fryer. You can tell they’re done by sticking a toothpick into the center and it coming out clean, Atanasova explains.
Once the donuts were finished cooking, I let them cool for a minute as I combined 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and two tablespoons of ground cinnamon in a bowl. After the donuts were tossed in the cinnamon sugar, they were ready to serve and enjoy!
Taking a bite out of one of the donuts, I noticed it was really crisp on the outside and super fluffy on the inside (the dream texture combo). They also had a hint of buttery-ness from when they were brushed with melted butter before rising. This really complemented the sweet yet warm flavor of the cinnamon sugar. These donuts can last up to two days stored in an airtight container and were just as delicious the next day.
Overall, I was blown away by this air fryer tip, especially since I don’t usually use it to make sweet treats. However, this recipe will become my go-to for a simple and quick dessert that rivals any store bought donut!