These delicious air fryer doughnuts have all of the characteristic of the deep-fried ones, but without the need of cooking them in hot oil. They're texture is slightly different to a classic doughnut, but they're still soft and fluffy inside, with crisp and chewy exterior.
You can cover them in cinnamon sugar for an extra crunch, or top with vanilla or chocolate glaze for a softer finish. Either way, an air fried doughnuts are a fantastic sweet treat which will have you hooked from the moment you try them!
Homemade doughnuts are one of the most delicious guilty pleasures, and I've been making my own for years. This recipe is loosely based on my small batch doughnuts recipe , which has been among readers favourites for a while, just like my French Cruller Doughnuts.
These air fryer donuts are just as delicious, but without the need of deep-frying them in hot oil. It's a much easier and safer way of making your own, not to mention the fact that using an air fryer also makes them much lower in fat.
These easy air fryer doughnuts are made using the following ingredients:
- Flour - These doughnuts are made with plain/ all-purpose flour.
- Sugar - Use caster sugar if possible.
- Nutmeg - To enhance the flavour of our doughnuts.
- Milk - Full-fat whole milk will work best.
- Yeast - Fast action dry yeast is best to use in this recipe.
- Butter - Unsalted is always my go-to, as it allows me to control exactly how much salt is added to the bake.
- Egg - One large egg.
Depending on the type of the glaze you want, you will also need some additional ingredients like cinnamon, caster sugar, icing sugar, vanilla, milk, butter and melted chocolate or cocoa powder.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe card and the full list of the ingredients.
Preparing the dough is very straightforward and super easy! You can do it using the stand mixer (fitted with the hook attachment) or you can knead it by hand.
If kneading by hand, be patient with the dough, it will take a bit longer for it to come together (about 10 minutes).
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix (or knead by hand) until smooth and elastic dough forms. Transfer to a bowl.
Allow the dough to rest until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Roll the dough and cut out the doughnuts. You can use the donut holes as well, or you can add them to the remaining dough and re-roll.
Place the doughnuts on a lined baking sheet, brush with melted butter, and leave to rise.
Hint: Gather any leftover dough and knead it gently and briefly. Roll into a ball, then cover with clingfilm and let it rest for 20 minutes. This way, the dough will not bounce back when trying to re-roll it. After 20 minutes passed, roll the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out the rest of the doughnuts again.
Air frying the doughnuts
Once the doughnuts have risen, they are ready to be air fried. Grease the basket of your air fryer with melted butter or with some cooking spray and preheat the air fryer to 180°C, according to the manufacturer instructions.
I'm using the Ninja Air Fryer, with 3.8L capacity, and it takes 3 minutes to preheat it. Depending on the size of your fryer basket, you will cook 2- 4 doughnuts at a time. I normally place 2 doughnuts into mine, and air fry them for 4 minutes.
Gently place the doughnuts into the lightly greased air fryer basket. Cook for 4- 5 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
Brush each doughnut with melted butter and toss in cinnamon sugar, making sure to cover all of its surface.
- Sugar - I highly recommend sticking to the caster sugar in this recipe. Caster sugar has really fine texture and it is ideal especially for the cinnamon sugar coating. That said, you can also use granulated or icing/ powdered sugar instead.
- Yeast - Fast-action dry yeast, easy bake or instant yeast will be best to use, as either can be added straight to the dry ingredients and doesn't require to be 'activated' first. That said, any type of yeast will work. If using the dried active yeast or the fresh yeast, be sure to reactivate it in a warm liquid first.
- Butter - I always use unsalted butter, but it can be easily swapped for salted butter in this recipe.
- Cinnamon sugar - this is my favourite way to enjoy these easy air fryer donuts. To make your own cinnamon sugar, mix 200g of sugar with 3 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. If you prefer a lighter cinnamon flavour, just reduce the cinnamon to 1 tbsp.
- Simple vanilla glaze - mix 125g of icing/ powdered sugar with 60ml of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for an easy sugar glaze.
- Deluxe vanilla glaze - melt 80g of butter and mix it with 250g of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 3-5 tablespoon of milk (depending on how thin or thick you like your glaze to be).
- Chocolate glaze - add 90g of icing sugar and 40g of cocoa powder along with 3 tablespoon of milk. Alternatively, you can also melt some chocolate and dip the doughnuts in it instead, like I did in this Baked Doughnuts recipe.
- Mini doughnuts - this recipe should make about 6-8 doughnuts, depending on the size of your cutter/ rings. But you can also turn it into mini-doughnuts instead. Just use a small, round cookie cutter (about 4 cm/ 1.5 inch) or small pastry ring to cut as many doughnuts as you can from the dough. The cooking times may need to be reduced slightly for smaller doughnuts.
- Vegan doughnuts - you can swap the milk and the butter for vegan substitutes, and add 1 tablespoon of mild vegetable oil instead of an egg to create a vegan version of this recipe. The dough will be slightly different in texture but just as delicious!
As with all air fryer recipes, having an air fryer is essential. I'm using Ninja AF100 UK, which is 3.8L in capacity.
You will also need the following items:
- Doughnut cutter or round pastry/ cookie cutters. I used the doughnut cutter, but you can also use one large and one small round cutter (about 7.5 cm and 2.5cm for the middle).
- Freestanding mixer with dough hook (optional, as you can also knead the dough by hand).
- Large baking tray or large baking sheet.
- Baking parchment.
- Pastry brush or silicone brush.
- Cooling rack (optional).
These air fryer donuts are best eaten fresh, on the day they are made. You can store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to a day or two, but they will be dryer and tougher in texture.
The dough can be prepared a day ahead and left to rise in the fridge overnight. You can also mix and prepare the dough, let it rise, shape the doughnuts and then let them rise in the fridge overnight.
Make sure not to roll the dough too thin. Otherwise, the doughnuts will become flat. The dough should be ideally about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick. This will produce puffy and soft doughnuts.
Do not skip the second rise of the dough. It may be tempting to cut and save some time, but this step is crucial to ensure that your doughnuts are fluffy and airy, rather than flat.
It's a personal thing, but I will choose donuts made in an air fryer over the baked ones every time! They have much lighter and fluffier texture than baked ones, which can be quite dense and dry. Fried doughnut will always be my favourite, but they do contain much more fat than baked or an air fried ones.
This is more likely due to the dough being underproofed. Allow the dough to rest somewhere warm for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. Sometimes this may take longer, sometimes the dough will rise quicker, depending on the temperature of the environment. If after 2 hours the dough has still not doubled in size, move it to a warmer place. Do not skip the second proof, as it will also affect how fluffy the doughnuts are. Also, make sure the yeast you are using is not out of date!
Air Fryer Doughnuts
- air fryer
- Freestanding mixer with hook attachment
- large baking sheet
- large mixing bowl
- doughnut cutter or pastry cutting rings
- pastry brush
For the dough:
- 300 g plain flour
- 50 g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 140 ml whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 14 g (one packet) fast-action dry yeast
- 100 g butter, melted
For the cinnamon sugar coating:
- 200 g caster sugar
- 10 g ground cinnamon
- In a large bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and the nutmeg. Add milk and an egg, yeast and half of the melted butter (50g) and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
- Increase the speed to medium and mix for 3-5 minutes, until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, transfer the dough onto clean work surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until you have smooth and elastic dough.
- Transfer the dough into lightly greased bowl, cover and let it rest until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, line the large baking sheet with some baking parchment.
- Remove the dough from the bowl into a clean work surface dusted with flour. Use the rolling pin and roll the dough to about 1 inch thickness (do not roll the dough too thin as it will make flat doughnuts). Cut the doughnuts shapes using the doughnut cutter or pastry cutting rings. Transfer the doughnuts (including the doughnuts holes/ middles if you would like) into the baking sheet lined with the baking parchment and brush them with melted butter. Cover with clean tea towel or loose clingfilm and let them rest for 45 minutes.
- Heat an air fryer to 180°C and lightly grease the frying basket/ plate with some oil or melted butter. Carefully transfer the doughnuts into the basket (2-4 doughnuts at a time, depending on the size of your frying basket) and fry for 3- 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the basket and repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
- In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar and ground cinnamon and mix well to combine. Brush still warm doughnuts with the remaining melted butter, and toss each doughnut in cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Do not roll the dough too thin, otherwise your doughnuts will be flat. You want it to be about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick.
- Preheat your air fryer according to the manufacturer instructions.
- Fry 2-4 doughnuts at a time, depending on the size of your frying basket. Check the doughnuts after 2-3 minutes to make sure they are not browning too quickly.
- Brush the cooked doughnuts with melted butter while they are still warm, then toss into cinnamon sugar or add your choice of glaze/ topping.
This recipe was the perfect reason to dust off my air fryer and I wasn't disappointed. These donuts were so darn tasty!!!
Really pleased to hear that Liz, thanks for trying and enjoying the recipe!