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Exactly How To Reheat Donuts – I Test 4 Methods [Pics]

Have you brought home a big box of donuts and found yourself with some leftovers?

The good news is that donuts store well, and often, a little warmth is all you need to diminish any hints of staleness and restore their soft, light texture.

On the other hand, you run the risk of drying them out with too much heat, and for this reason, I’ve tried four different reheating techniques to establish which is just right for a soft, fresh donut.

I’ve also looked at creative and delicious ways to use leftover donuts and how best to store them to keep them as fresh as possible.

A note on my experiment

Glazed, powdered, cream-filled…I could go on and on. We all know that donuts are a universally loved treat and a convenient take-along to any kind of gathering.

Generally speaking, when I buy donuts, I go all out and get the bulk pack, often ending up with leftovers that I need to store for the next few days.

Fortunately, I’ve recently discovered that warming up leftover donuts does a lot for restoring their signature soft airy dough and, in the case of my experiment, a sugary, gooey glaze.

(So good!).

To figure out the most effective and convenient way to reheat donuts, I tried four different methods. These included:

  • Reheating donuts in the microwave (best method overall)
  • Reheating donuts in the oven (a little dry but added a nice crunch to the glaze)
  • Reheating donuts in a frying pan (a different but tasty take on reheating donuts)
  • Reheating donuts in the air fryer (similar to oven method, but dry)

The result from the microwave was the best, hands down. I ended up with a soft, evenly warm, delicious donut. This method works well if they have already gone a bit stale.

I enjoyed the oven-warmed donut too. The glaze had a bit of a crunch to it, although it wasn’t as soft as the donut from the microwave.

The frying pan method delivered pleasing results, although it changes the donut’s texture quite a bit and doesn’t do much to relieve staleness.

As for the air fryer method: I would not recommend it. The result was similar to that of the oven but dryer.

Reheating donuts in the microwave

Place your donut on a microwave-safe plate. On medium-high heat, warm the donut for 10 to 20 seconds. If the donut is starting to go stale, cover it with a piece of damp paper towel to reintroduce moisture before microwaving. Once warm, serve immediately.

If you’re heating more than one, add 3 seconds to your warming time for each additional donut.

However, it’s better to do them one at a time, as this will warm them through more evenly.

How to reheat donuts in the microwave:

  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 on medium-high heat.
  4. 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.

Do be mindful that donuts heated in the microwave can get really hot.

Reheated filled donuts can burn your mouth if you’re not careful, so cut them in half and let them stand for a few seconds if you’re unsure.

Similarly, glazed donuts can burn your fingers. Judge their temperature by holding your hand close to a donut first before picking it up.

Eat your donuts from the microwave immediately, as they will dry out again upon cooling.

My verdict

This was my favorite method and delivered excellent results quickly and conveniently, irrespective of whether the donut was fresh or a bit stale.

While it didn’t add any crunch to the glaze, it turned it melty and drew it into the dough, making it super tasty.

It also made the donut really soft, which is why I would recommend this as the best method.

Reheating donuts in the oven

Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Place your donut onto the oven’s wire rack or a baking tray, and warm it for 3 to 4 minutes. If the donut is stale, sprinkle it with water and cover it with foil before heating. Once warm, serve immediately.

This is the most efficient way to reheat multiple donuts at once.

How to reheat donuts in the oven:

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

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

Glazed donuts, especially those heated with a foil covering, can get very hot, so take care when uncovering and touching them.

This is a great way to reheat all types of donuts, but you can overheat and dry them out, so monitor the process closely.

My verdict

This is my second favorite option for reheating donuts. While they weren’t 100% as soft as the microwaved donuts, there was a lovely crunch to the glaze.

Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t really help to reinvigorate stale donuts. Even if you add a bit of moisture, they stay somewhat dry.

Reheating donuts in a frying pan

In a lightly greased pan (oil or butter) on medium heat, fry your donut for a minute on each side. For stale donuts, add a splash of water to the pan at the end, and cover it with a lid for an additional minute to steam and soften the donut. Once warm, 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.

How to reheat donuts in a frying pan:

  1. Lightly grease a pan with oil or butter.
  2. Set your stove plate to medium heat.
  3. Fry your donut on each side for one minute (alternatively, cut the donut in half and fry both pieces cut side down).
  4. (Optional) For stale donuts, sprinkle water in the pan and cover with a lid for a further minute.
  5. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.

While oil works just as well, I find butter is a better grease for this reheating method.

To change up the texture of your donut, sprinkle powdered sugar over it before frying. This results in a caramelized, crunchy outer coating.

Glazed donuts, in particular, hold powdered sugar well.

If you are reheating plain donuts, I recommend frying them in a shallow layer of oil for a fresh, just-made taste.

Just never try this with glazed or covered donuts.

My verdict

I enjoyed the different take on the texture of my stove donut after I added the powdered sugar as it made for a delicious and indulgent treat.

However, in terms of regular reheating, this method doesn’t add much softness, nor does it heat the donut very evenly.

Reheating donuts in the air fryer

Set your air fryer to 350°F (180°C). Line the fryer basket with parchment paper and place the donut inside it. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes and serve. To avoid burning yourself on the glaze, fold up the corners of the parchment paper to help you lift the donut easily from the basket once it is warm.

The parchment paper also prevents mess if the topping of your donut starts melting.

How to reheat donuts in the air fryer:

  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.
  5. Serve immediately.

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

Monitor your fryer closely to avoid burning the donut or overheating it.

My verdict

To me, this was the least successful of all the methods I tried. While the result wasn’t inedible, it wasn’t soft either.

Similar to the oven method, the air fryer doesn’t do much for stale donuts.

Fun things to do with leftover donuts

Reheating not working for you?

Throwing out donuts would be criminal, which is why I always find something delicious to make with my donuts that have gone too stale.

Much like stale bread, there are a ton of options.

Indeed, 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 culminate in a truly mouthwatering desert.
  • 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 your donuts, place them in a tightly sealed, airtight container. For additional preservation, wrap each donut individually in plastic wrap to lock in moisture and keep them fresher for longer. Donuts can be stored both in and out of the fridge, although the duration of each varies.

Donuts stored at room temperature should be placed in a cool, dry spot away from any direct sunlight for no longer than two days.

After this, they can be stored in the fridge for up to five days, although they will become increasingly stale over time.

Cream-filled donuts should be stored in the fridge immediately, as the cream can sour quickly at room temperature.

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 around 2-3 hours, while 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 the 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.

Alternative options

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 put the donuts on top. Try to keep the donuts from touching.

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 thaw and reheat donuts

The best way to thaw donuts is to pop one in the microwave for 10 seconds. Continue in 10-second intervals until the donut is 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.

If you use the room temperature method and end up with a stale donut, cover it in a damp paper towel and nuke it for 10 seconds in the microwave. This will soften it up.

How long do donuts last?

Are you wondering how long you can keep your donuts for? Take a look at the following guidelines.

Room temperature: Donuts can be stored at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before moving them to the fridge. However, if the donut is filled with a highly perishable product like cream, it should be stored in the fridge from the get-go.

Refrigerated: Donuts stored in airtight containers in the fridge can be kept for up to a week, although they will turn stale over time.

Freezer: Donuts kept in air tight packaging will keep for 2-3 months in the freezer.

The Best Way To Reheat Donuts

I’ve tried four different reheating techniques to establish which is just right for a soft, fresh donut.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 0 mins
Cook Time 1 min
Total Time 1 min
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person
Calories 452 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion donuts glazed, filled, powdered

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 452kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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