The air fryer cooks delicious yeast doughnuts with very little extra fat and each batch takes only four minutes! The air fryer circulates super-heated air around items, making it more efficient than the oven. And because it uses far less oil, it's healthier than the deep fryer. These yeast doughnuts are a great example of what the air fryer does well.
The doughnuts come out golden brown on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The recipe includes a vanilla glaze, but feel free to use another flavor in the glaze. A chocolate glaze is an excellent option, or brush them with melted butter and coat them with cinnamon-sugar.
- For the Doughnuts:
- 2/3 cup warm milk (100 F to 110 F)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or instant)
- 2 cups/9 ounces all-purpose flour (divided)
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons butter (melted, plus more to brush on the doughnuts)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the Glaze:
- 2 cups/8 ounces confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water (plus more, as needed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Optional: 1/4 teaspoon maple flavor (or to taste)
- Optional: sprinkles
Gather the ingredients.
To make the doughnuts, combine the milk, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Add about half of the flour, egg, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, salt, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla; whisk until well blended.
Add the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a soft dough. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead for about 7 to 8 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep it from sticking.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl; turn it to grease the entire surface of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
Punch the dough down and roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch. Use a round, 2 1/2-inch to 3 1/2-inch cutter to cut out rounds. Use a small, round cutter, such as the base of a large piping tube, to make the hole. Alternatively, use a doughnut cutter. Gather the scraps and re-roll them to cut out more doughnuts and holes.
Place the cut-out doughnuts on lightly floured parchment paper and cover them with a greased sheet of plastic wrap or kitchen towel. Let them rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled.
Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Set the temperature to 350 F and preheat for about 3 minutes. Place 2 to 4 doughnuts and holes in the preheated air fryer basket; brush with melted butter or spray with cooking oil spray. Cook the doughnuts for 4 minutes. Turn them out and repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Add the 3 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 tablespoons hot water, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix until blended, adding more water as needed to make a thin glaze. Add maple flavoring if desired.
Dip the tops of the doughnuts in the glaze. Set the doughnuts on a rack and let stand until the glaze sets. If the glaze becomes too thick, warm it in the microwave oven for about 10 to 20 seconds or add a bit more hot water.
If desired, double dip the doughnuts for a thicker glaze or add sprinkles while the glaze is still wet.
- For golden-brown doughnuts, brush them evenly with melted butter just before they go into the air fryer.
- The glaze can be mixed ahead of time. Just warm it in the microwave when you're ready to dip the doughnuts.
- Some of the prep may be done a day in advance. Prepare the dough, knead it, and put it in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. Even refrigerated, the retarded dough will slowly rise. The next day, take the dough out of the refrigerator about 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you plan to roll it out and shape the doughnuts. It should be doubled in bulk—if not, give it a little more time at room temperature.
- To make cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Coat the doughnuts and holes with melted butter and then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.