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How To Reheat Donuts – I Test 6 Methods [Pics]

This article was updated on 31/07/2023 for clarity and to incorporate new methods.

Found yourself with some leftover donuts? I’ve personally tried and tested six different reheating techniques to find out which one delivers the softest donut.

I also looked at how best to store the donuts to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

The easiest way to reheat donuts is in the microwave, if your donut is still relatively fresh you can pop it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to warm it. If the donut is stale, cover it with a damp paper towel before microwaving. I also enjoy frying my donuts to reheat them.

How I tested reheating donuts

To figure out the most effective and convenient way to reheat donuts, I tried six different methods including:

  • In a skillet: My favorite method.
  • The microwave: Fast and effective.
  • The oven: A little dry but added a nice crunch to the glaze.
  • By frying: A different but tasty take.
  • The air fryer: Similar to oven method, but not good for stale donuts.
  • In a steamer: Good for rehydrating donuts.

Top Tip

If your donuts are stale, you’ll need to use some form of water or steam to rehydrate them! I’ve included pointers on how to do this for each method.

Reheating donuts in a skillet

Time: 2 minutes

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Place your donuts in the pan along with an ice cube or a generous sprinkle of water.
  3. Cover the pan with a lid for 30-60 seconds, then serve the donuts.

If your donut has a glaze on the bottom, you’ll want to very lightly grease the pan before adding the donut.

This technique is known as ‘steam-frying’, because you’re warming the donut by frying, and the water creates lots of steam to soften the donut and melt the icing.

Results: This method was one of the best. The donut was soft, warm, and tasty – it was almost like eating a fresh donut!

Reheating donuts in the microwave

Time: 10-20 seconds

  1. Place your donut on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. (Optional) If stale, cover with a piece of damp paper towel for added moisture.
  3. Microwave the donut for 10 to 20 seconds.
  4. Once warm, let the donut rest for 10 seconds and then serve immediately.

Check your donut at the 10-second mark to see if it is warm to the touch. Different microwaves heat at different rates, and you don’t want to over-microwave your donut because it will dry out.

Be mindful that the donuts can get really hot and the icing could burn your fingers, or the filling could burn your mouth if you bite right in. But that doesn’t mean you should let the donut sit around for too long! The donut will start to cool quickly, and when it does, it will become like cardboard.

Results: This method was quick and easy, and the donut was super soft (even the stale once) with a melty glaze. But you have to eat them quickly, so it’s only really good for individual reheating.

Reheating donuts in the oven

Time: 10-20 seconds

  1. Set your oven to 350°F (180°C) and allow it to preheat fully.
  2. Place your donuts onto a wire rack or a baking tray.
  3. (Optional) For stale donuts, sprinkle them with water and cover them with foil.
  4. Heat the donuts for 5-6 minutes (or 3-4 minutes in a toaster oven).
  5. Once warm, serve the donuts immediately.

Depending on the type of donut you’re reheating, consider lining the baking tray with parchment paper to catch any melting toppings.

Pro tip: if you prefer a super soft donut, then wrap it completely in foil while it’s heating. Just be careful that the foil doesn’t stick to any icing.

Results: This method was a bit slow and the donuts didn’t soften as much as I’d have liked. But you can heat lots of donuts at ones and the glaze got nicely crunchy.

Reheating donuts by frying

Time: 2 minutes

  1. Grease a pan with butter and heat it over medium-high heat.
  2. Fry your donut on each side for one minute (alternatively, cut the donut in half and fry both pieces cut side down).
  3. (Optional) For stale donuts, sprinkle water in the pan and cover with a lid for a further minute.
  4. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.

If you don’t want to warm up the glaze, cut the donut in half horizontally, and warm each piece cut side down for one minute.

I highly recommend using butter over oil when you’re reheating donuts. The butter will soak into the donut giving it a decadent flavor boost. And to change up the texture of your donut, sprinkle powdered sugar over it before you fry it. This results in a caramelized, crunchy outer coating. YUM.

If you have plain donuts you can shallow frying them in a layer of 350°F (180°C) oil for that freshly made taste (but never try this with glazed, filled, or sugared donuts).

Results: The donut was undeniably delicious but frying didn’t soften the stale donuts much and it was messy! It’s also not the healthiest option.

Reheating donuts in the air fryer

Time: 1-2 minutes

  1. Preheat your air fryer at 350°F (180°C).
  2. Line the fryer basket with parchment paper, with the corners folded up.
  3. Fry the donut for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from the basket by lifting out the parchment paper and serve immediately.

As well as helping you lift the donut out, the parchment paper prevents mess if the topping of your donut starts melting.

The air fryer makes donuts very hot. If you see any steam, rest the donut for a few seconds before serving.

Results: This method is really quick (but not as quick as the microwave) and the donuts retain the heat well. If the donuts are already stale, the air fryer won’t soften them much though.

Bonus method: steaming

Another good way to rehydrate stale donuts is to steam them. Line your steamed with parchment paper and steam the donuts for 2-3 minutes. Let them rest for 30 seconds before serving to dry off, they’ll be super soft!

Fun things to do with leftover donuts

Don’t fancy reheating your donut? Throwing out donuts is criminal. There’s always something delicious you can make with even the stalest donut!

A little creativity goes a long way when it comes to salvaging these sugary delights, so I’ve compiled a list of mouthwatering treats you can make with leftover donuts:

  • Leftover donut bread pudding. Adding some butter, cinnamon, eggs, and vanilla will result in a truly mouthwatering dessert.
  • Donut French toast. French toast is already amazing. Switching up regular bread for donuts amplifies this breakfast favorite to a whole new level. Pass the maple syrup.
  • Chocolate donut pudding. A baked, gooey, chocolatey pudding served with ice cream. You literally can’t go wrong.
  • Leftover donut waffles. A few minutes in the waffle iron and any number of topping to choose from. This is a stellar way to save your ailing donuts.
  • Donut trifle. Adding donuts to a trifle allows them to soak in moisture and delivers them from staleness. A perfect, easy-to-make treat.

How to store donuts

To store donuts, place them in a tightly sealed, airtight container. To keep them extra fresh, wrap each donut individually in plastic wrap to lock in moisture. You can keep donuts at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Fresh cream-filled donuts can only be kept in the fridge because the cream will sour quickly at room temperature.

For longer-term storage, consider freezing the donuts.

Related: How To Store Churros

How to freeze donuts

  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.
  2. Place your donuts on the cookie sheet in a single layer, making sure they’re not touching.
  3. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours, or until the donuts freeze solid.
  4. Once the donuts are frozen solid, transfer them to a big freezer bag and squeeze as much air out as you can.
  5. The donuts will keep for 2-3 months.

Top tip: if you have a straw handy, you can use this to suck air out of the bag. It’s like a homemade vacuum sealer. 

The flash freezing on a cookie tray helps set any glaze on the donuts and makes sure they don’t stick together in the freezer, so you can easily take one out at a time. If you don’t have room in your freezer to do the flash freezing, you can use wax paper to protect the glaze on your donuts instead.

Take your freezer bag and cut two squares of wax paper just smaller than the bag. Pop one sheet of the wax paper into the freezer bag, then place the donuts on top. Then, put the second piece of wax paper on top of the donuts and seal the bag, getting as much air out of it as you can.

The glaze on the donuts won’t stick to the wax paper anywhere near as much as it would stick to plastic.

How to reheat frozen donuts

The best way to reheat frozen donuts is to microwave them straight from frozen. Heat the donuts in 10-second intervals until they’re soft and warm. You can also thaw donuts on the counter at room temperature. If you do this, wrap the donut in a protective airtight layer to keep it moist.

Read Next: How To Reheat Cinnamon Rolls

How To Reheat Donuts [Tested Methods]

I’ve tried six different reheating techniques to establish which is just right for a soft, fresh donut.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: donuts, reheat donuts
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 minute
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 452kcal


  • 1 portion donuts glazed, filled, powdered


  • Place your donut on a microwave-safe plate.
  • (Optional) If stale, cover with a piece of damp paper towel for added moisture.
  • Microwave the donut for 10 to 20 seconds on medium-high heat.
  • Once warm, serve immediately.


Check your donut at the 10-second mark to see if it is warm to the touch, as different microwaves heat at different rates, and you don’t want to over warm your donut and dry it out.
If the donuts have been stored for a while, adding a damp paper towel helps restore softness.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 452kcal

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