Air fryer doughnuts are quick, easy and tasty!
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About seven years ago, I came across a recipe on Pinterest for doughnuts made from canned biscuits. I decided to give them a try one Saturday morning by frying them in oil in a skillet on my stovetop.
I dipped them in melted butter and cinnamon and sugar. They made a tasty treat, but they had a bit of a grease flavor to them. I didn’t make them again.
Fast forward to quarantine and going for fresh doughnuts was impossible for a long time. (In fact, we are few months into the pandemic, and I still haven’t done so since we are continuing to self-isolate.) When a cousin sent me a recipe for making the same doughnuts in the air fryer, I decided to give them a try again.
I’m in love with my air fryer and trying to come up with new things to make for my family in being at home and cooking even more than usual.
The instructions were a bit vague, so I did some experimenting. I had trouble with the dough sticking to the air fryer basket. Then they were in too long and got burnt. I used the flaky layer biscuits, and they didn’t stay together quite as well.
I ended up going through two cans of biscuits and even made a few on the stovetop to compare what we liked best. My whole family preferred the air fryer doughnuts because there wasn’t an oily taste or any greasiness.
My family was quite happy to be my taste testers as I continued tweaking the preparation to find out the best way to make air fryer doughnuts. I took loads of photos, because I knew I had to share the recipe.
These air fryer doughnuts don’t taste like a doughnut you’d get at your local bakery, per se, but they are delectable breakfast treats that you’ll enjoy. They only need a few ingredients and are super easy to make as well.
The trickiest part is making sure the dough doesn’t stick to your air fryer basket. Air fryer baskets are usually non-stick surfaces. As such, you shouldn’t use non-stick cooking spray. It can mess up the non-stick surface and burn off too quickly to work.
I tried rubbing my basket with vegetable oil the first time and that didn’t work so great. I found that the best way to keep the dough from sticking is by covering the basket with parchment paper. You can buy parchment paper inserts for air fryer baskets, but I didn’t have any. So, I just trimmed a piece of parchment paper and used a fork to poke holes all throughout it. It’s not beautiful, but it works.
Next open your biscuits and prepare the dough. (I suggest NOT using biscuit dough that is flaky layers.) I set mine up on the counter on top of aluminum foil or wax paper. You could also use a plate or a cutting board. It doesn’t matter.
The first step is to get the doughnut shape. The easiest and simplest way to do this is with a clean cap from a bottle of water or soda. Press the cap down in the center of each biscuit, gently, but firmly. Gently push the center of the doughnut out. My kids loved doing this part. Save the centers to make doughnut holes with!
Now you’re ready to get cooking. Place the doughnuts in your air fryer basket without touching each other. I can fit three full-sized doughnuts in my air fryer at one time.
Put the doughnuts into the air fryer at 400-degrees (F) and set it for eight minutes. Set a timer for four minutes.
While the doughnuts are cooking, make sure your station is set up for managing the doughnuts once they are cooked. I set up two paper plates: one for the hot doughnuts and one for the finished doughnuts. Melt your butter or margarine in a small bowl and mix your cinnamon sugar in another small bowl. I line them up beside the air fryer and hot pad I use to put the air fryer basket on.
After the doughnuts have cooked for four minutes, pull them out. They should be very lightly browned on top and still doughy on the bottom.
Use tongs to gently turn the doughnuts over and put the basket back in the air fryer for the remaining four minutes. The doughnuts should be golden brown when time is up. If they aren’t, you may need to adjust your time and/or temperature.
Put the hot doughnuts out onto a plate to cool for minute or so. I usually get my next round of dough going in the air fryer while letting them cool enough I can touch them.
Dip the doughnuts on each side in the melted butter or margarine.
Next, dip them in the cinnamon sugar on both sides. I sometimes use a spoon or my fingers to spread more cinnamon sugar on them so that they get well covered.
(SIDE NOTE: I tried using Nutella as icing on a few of the air fryer doughnuts the first time around and we all liked cinnamon sugar much better. And that’s coming from a chocoholic!)
Don’t forget to make your doughnut holes as well. I roll mine so they turn into balls.
The way it works out with my air fryer, I make two baskets of three large air fryer doughnuts and then one basket with two large doughnuts and all the doughnut holes. I found the doughnut holes did OK at the same time and temperature as the big ones, but you might want to check them adjust and make adjustments as needed.
These air fryer doughnuts are delicious when they are warm, but they are also good at room temperature.
I love mine with a good, cold glass of white milk, though chocolate milk would be good, too!
- 1 can of 8 jumbo buttermilk biscuits (not the flaky kind)
- 1 stick of butter or margarine, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Prepare the air fryer basket by covering it with parchment paper. If you don't have specific air fryer parchment paper liners (I don't!), then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your air fryer basket and put holes in it. If you don't have parchment paper, grease the air fryer basket with cooking oil, butter or shortening. Do NOT use non-stick cooking spray because it will damage the non-stick coating on your air fryer basket.
- Prepare your dough by opening and separating the biscuits. Use a clean lid from a water or soda bottle and gently but firmly press it down into the center of each biscuit to cut out a hole. Set aside the dough you cut out to make doughnut holes with.
- Put the dough into the air fryer basket without any of the edges touching each other or the sides of the air fryer basket. Set the temperature for 400-degrees (F) and time for 8 minutes.
- Set a timer for 4 minutes.
- While the dough starts cooking, melt the butter in a small bowl.
- Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a second small bowl.
- At the 4-minute mark, open the air fryer and gently flip the doughnuts over so they cook evenly on both sides.
- When the time is up, the air fryer doughnuts should be golden brown. Let them cool just enough so that you can touch them. Dip both sides of the doughnut first in the melt butter or margarine and then repeat the same way in the cinnamon sugar. You can use your fingers or a spoon to help put even more cinnamon sugar over the doughnut as well.
- Serve the doughnuts right away while warm or at room temperature.