How to Make Gluten-Free Doughnuts

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It can be tricky to find gluten-free doughnuts in stores, but they're quite easy to make at home! You'll be blown away by how simple and delicious these homemade doughnuts are.

Ahh, doughnuts.

There’s something about them—crispy on the outside, fluffy without being dry on the inside and coated in sugar, sprinkles or glaze. Every culture has its own version, with different textures and flavors that make the amount of combinations endless. Plus, the fact that this “treat” often falls into the breakfast category makes it that much easier to find a time to enjoy during the day.

But for those of us who are gluten free, it can be tricky to find safely prepared gluten-free doughnuts that are as good, if not better than their gluten-filled counterparts. I work at Freedom Bakery, a gluten- and dairy-free bakery in Massachusetts (we also ship to your door!). But not all places that sell gluten-free doughnuts are a totally gluten-free facility, like us. Some places use shared fryers, making them off-limits to many people with severe sensitivities or celiac disease.

We’ll give you all the tips, tricks and ideas you need to make gluten-free doughnuts at home.

What Are the Best Gluten-Free Doughnuts?

Let’s start with the basics. There are two main types of doughnuts: cake-based and yeast-raised. After much trial and error, it’s my personal conclusion that cake-based doughnuts yield themselves much better to being free of gluten. Yeast-raised doughnuts rely on gluten structures for rise and texture, and therefore this guide will focus on cake-based doughnuts.

How to Shape Gluten-Free Doughnuts

Our gluten-eating friends and bakers have no issue cutting doughnuts by hand, as the gluten protein develops strong strands that allow the dough to be rolled, kneaded and cut into circles. However, this does not ring true for our gluten-free doughnuts—so here are a few different techniques we can use!

Baked Doughnuts

You can bake gluten-free doughnuts in a doughnut pan or mold. Using this method makes for the correct shape of a doughnut. The finished doughnuts are easy to glaze and decorate, but don’t necessarily get the crunchy golden exterior of a traditional fried doughnut.

You can bake doughnuts without a doughnut pan, if you have some DIY skills.

Fried Doughnuts

Technically, if a doughnut is baked, it isn’t truly a doughnut. To get around this a bit, bake your gluten-free doughnuts in a doughnut mold until fully set, then fry for 1-2 minutes to get that lovely outer crunch. I personally love this method because it yields a fantastic result!

Molly’s tip: If you have some time and freezer space on your hands, stiffen your doughnut batter by adding 3/4 cup gluten-free flour, pour your doughnut batter into molds (I like using a pastry bag to “pipe” the batter in), freeze for about 2 hours and then fry directly for a traditional doughnut!

How to Make Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 2-½ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup canola oil, plus more for frying

Vanilla Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 2 tablespoons water

Tools You’ll Need

Directions

Step 1: Make the doughnut batter

Batter gluten free doughnutsMolly Winsten MS, RD for Taste of Home

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, slowly mix in water, eggs, vanilla and oil. Once all ingredients are incorporated, slowly raise mixer to medium-high speed, then mix for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Allow the batter to rest for at least 15 minutes.

Step 2: Preheat the oven and fryer

For the bake-then-fry technique, preheat oven to 375° F. (If only baking doughnuts, increase temperature to 400° F to increase crisping of the doughnut.) Then, heat oil to 350° F over medium-high heat. Insert thermometer to maintain consistent heat.

Molly’s tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, use the handle of a wooden spoon. Insert the handle into oil, and if it bubbles, the oil is hot and ready. This will not be as consistent as a thermometer or regulated fryer, but can work as long as you keep your eye on it.

Step 3: Shape the doughnuts

Gf Doughnut Batter gluten free doughnutsMolly Winsten MS, RD for Taste of Home

After 15 minutes, pour or pipe batter into doughnut molds.

Step 4: Bake the doughnuts

Baked Gf Doughnuts gluten free doughnutsMolly Winsten MS, RD for Taste of Home

For baking only, bake 10-12 minutes until set and crisped on the edges. Let cool for 2-3 minutes, then invert onto a baking sheet and turn up the heat to crisp.

Gluten Free Doughnuts gluten free doughnutsMolly Winsten MS, RD for Taste of Home

For baking-then-frying, bake for 9-10 minutes until set, then allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before frying 1 minute each side or until golden brown. Remove from hot oil and place onto wire rack to cool.

Step 5: Make the glaze

While doughnuts are cooling, mix together all glaze ingredients.

Step 6: Decorate the doughnuts

Decorate gluten free doughnutsMolly Winsten MS, RD for Taste of Home

You can drizzle or pour glaze over the cooled doughnuts, or dunk the doughnuts in glaze. Then, add other fun ingredients while the glaze is still wet, such as sprinkles, fruit, nuts, chopped gluten-free cookies or candy pieces!

Molly’s tip: Pour glaze into a wide, shallow bowl, and place each doughnut directly into glaze. Let sit for 15-20 seconds, then rotate doughnut while lifting it out of the glaze to get that smooth doughnut shop finish.

How to Make Gluten-Free Doughnut Holes

Deep Frying Doughnut Holes 2 gluten free doughnutsMolly Winsten MS, RD for Taste of Home

If the traditional shape of a doughnut is not as important, you can make the most delicious fritters or doughnut holes using various sized scoops—cookie scoops for the little ones and regular ice cream scoops for ones that are a bit more substantial.

The dough needs to be stiffer for this, so I find adding about 3/4 cup of gluten-free flour to your batter works to give these the structure they need. You simply give the scoop a quick spray of oil and scoop the batter directly into hot oil!

You want to fry the doughnut holes until golden brown and set in the middle. This is usually 2-3 minutes for doughnut holes made from a cookie scoop and 5-7 minutes for a fritter made from an ice cream scoop—flip halfway through, and allow to cool on a wire rack.

More Ideas for Gluten-Free Doughnuts

  • To make chocolate doughnuts, add ½ cup cocoa powder to the batter.
  • For birthday cake doughnuts, stir ½ cup of your favorite sprinkles into the batter before baking.
  • Make a maple glaze instead of vanilla glaze by using 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, ½ cup powdered sugar, a dash of salt and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Top your maple doughnuts with cooked crumbled bacon for a truly insane flavor combo.
  • Start with cake mix! Add the recommended amount of eggs, but cut the water and oil amounts in half and add a dash of vanilla for cake mix doughnuts. You can also use 2-1/2 cups of gluten-free pancake mix plus 2/3 cup of sugar for your dry ingredients.
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