When I first heard that you could make donuts out of Pillsbury’s refrigerated biscuit dough, I had to give it a go.
It didn’t seem to make much sense, after all, this is a biscuit that you eat with dinner, not dessert!
But the results were SO GOOD.
The donuts were super easy to make (the actual donuts only require 2 ingredients, how crazy is that?!), and had a deliciously crunchy outside with a soft inside. And the sticky chocolate glaze finished them off nicely.
For the donuts
- Refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough: The star of this recipe, it’s normally used to make biscuits (hence the name). But it also provides a quick and easy base for our donuts, saving you time and effort!
- Vegetable oil: This is for frying the donuts, you can use any neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point such as canola oil, or peanut oil.
For the glaze
- Semisweet chocolate chips: You can’t have a chocolate glaze without some chocolate! Semi-sweet chocolate strikes just the right balance of sweet and rich for me.
- Unsalted butter: Adds a rich, creamy flavor to the chocolate glaze. You can also use salted if it’s all you have, but it will give the glaze more of a savory flavor.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Powdered sugar will give the glaze a smooth and sweet texture, perfect for coating the donuts.
- Vanilla extract: Every baker’s right hand man. Vanilla extract will add a hint of warmth and depth to your glaze.
- Hot water: This helps to thin out the glaze, making it easier to dip the donuts in.
- Sprinkles (optional): Sprinkles will add a pop of color and a bit of fun to your finished donuts. You can even theme them for special occasions.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to get the perfect donuts every time.
Step 1: Prepare the biscuits and heat the oil
Open the refrigerated buttermilk biscuit tin and lay each biscuit on a cookie sheet. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand, and use a small circle cutter to cut a hole in the middle of each biscuit.
Psst… you can also use a shot glass!
You can keep these ‘holes’ and fry these as well to make bite-sized ‘donut holes’ – there’s no waste in this household!
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes while you pour 2 inches of vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pan.
Using a deep fry thermometer, slowly heat the oil to 375°F. I don’t recommend deep frying without a thermometer because there are too many things that can go wrong.
If you don’t want to fry the donuts you can use an air fryer or bake them (I give alternative instructions for these methods later).
Step 2: Fry the donuts
Carefully place the donuts (and donut holes), one or two at a time, into the hot oil.
Fry for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown.
Using a slotted spoon, gently lift the donuts out of the oil and place them on paper towels to drain and cool.
Step 3: Make the chocolate glaze
Combine softened unsalted butter with confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl, and whisk until smooth.
Then mix in the vanilla extract and hot water.
Melt the semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds.
Stir, then microwave for another 15-30 seconds and stir again until completely melted.
Be careful not to burn the chocolate (this would be a disaster!). Always microwave in short intervals.
Add the melted chocolate to the glaze mixture, and blend until smooth.
Step 4: Coat the donuts in glaze
Once the donuts have cooled enough that you can comfortably pick them up, dip the top surface of each one into the chocolate glaze.
Add the sprinkles now if you want to. Then let the glaze firm up for around 15 minutes.
Tip: for an even coating of glaze, gently rotate the donut while dipping it into the glaze mixture.
Cooking the donuts in an air fryer
You can also use an air fryer to cook your donuts. It’s a quick and healthy alternative to deep-frying.
Set your air fryer to 370°F (190°C) and dip your prepared donuts in melted butter (or spritz them with cooking oil).
Place the donuts in a single layer in the basket, leaving a bit of room between each one. You may need to cook the donuts in batches depending on how many you’re cooking.
Cook the donuts for 5-6 minutes before flipping them and heating for a further 2-3 minutes. For the ‘donut holes’, cook them for 2 minutes before flipping and cooking for a further 2 minutes.
If you’re cooking a second batch, keep the donuts cool by covering them with foil.
Cooking the donuts in the oven
To cook the donuts in the oven instead of deep frying them, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and dip the prepared dough in melted butter.
Shake off any excess butter and place the donuts on a large cookie sheet, with a bit of room between each one. Bake the donuts for 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through, then cool and glaze as before.
Can I use any brand of canned biscuits?
Yes, you can use any brand of canned biscuits to make these donuts. I used Pillsbury buttermilk biscuit dough, but any brand will work just as well.
The key is to use refrigerated biscuit dough, because this has the right consistency for creating a delicious, crispy outside and a soft and fluffy inside.
Tips to get the best donuts
These donuts are easy to make, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want the best results possible.
- Maintain the right oil temperature: If you’re deep-frying the donuts, use a candy/deep fry thermometer to monitor the oil temperature and make sure it stays around 375°F (190°C). Keeping the oil at a consistent temperature will prevent the donuts from becoming too greasy or undercooked.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan or air fryer: Make sure the donuts have enough space when they’re cooking, and definitely don’t let them touch each other. Overcrowding will cause uneven cooking.
- Allow the dough to rest: Giving the biscuit dough a 10-minute rest after cutting the shapes gives the gluten time to relax, which results in a more tender and fluffy donut.
- Glaze the donuts when they’re cool: If the donuts are too hot when you go to glaze them, the glaze won’t set properly, and the donut might start to absorb it, which will lead to a soggy texture.
Other glaze ideas
A chocolate glaze is a universal favorite. But there are so many other ways you can jazz up these biscuit donuts.
Here are a few ideas:
- Vanilla glaze: Mix one cup of confectioners sugar with two tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for a simple, sweet vanilla glaze.
- Cinnamon sugar: Instead of a glaze, mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a shallow dish. Once the donuts have cooled, brush them lightly with melted butter and roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture for a classic cinnamon sugar donut.
- Lemon glaze: Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the original glaze recipe (minus the chocolate chips) for a bright and tangy lemon glaze.
- Powdered sugar dusting: For an easy but elegant decoration, dust the cooled donuts with a light coating of powdered sugar using a sieve.
- Fun toppings: Once you have the glaze, you can add a variety of fun toppings to your donuts, like crushed nuts, flaked coconut (or one of these shredded coconut substitutes), or cookie crumbles.
I love the creativity in this video. Different glazes and also powdered donut holes!
To store your leftover donuts, follow these steps to ensure they remain fresh and tasty:
Pro tip: allow the donuts to cool completely and let the glaze set before attempting to store them.
Place cooled donuts in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper or wax paper to prevent sticking. Keep the donuts at room temperature for 1-2 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days (but be aware you’ll need to reheat donuts from the fridge as they’ll get quite hard).
If you want to keep the donuts for longer, you can freeze them.
Wrap each donut individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing them in a resealable plastic freezer bag or an airtight container. Frozen donuts can last up to 2-3 months.
Thaw the donuts at room temperature for 1-2 hours before digging in! Or reheat them in the microwave.
Psst… If you don’t have an airtight container, you can also use a resealable plastic bag, but make sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing.
The best way to reheat donuts (according to my donut reheating tests) is in the microwave.
Place one donut on a microwave-safe plate and warm it for 10 to 15 seconds. If the donut is starting to go stale, cover it with a piece of damp paper towel before microwaving it.
Let the donut rest for a few seconds before serving.
You can also use the oven or the air fryer set to 350°F.
- 1 tin refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough
- Vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons hot water
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Sprinkles optional
- For the donuts: Pour enough oil to cover at least 2 inches in the bottom of a heavy pan. Using a deep fry thermometer, heat oil to 375F. Do not leave unattended.
- While oil is heating, open biscuit tin and lay each biscuit on a cookie sheet. Flatten each one slightly with the palm of your hand. Use a small circle cutter to cut a hole in the middle of each biscuit; keep the holes, you can fry them as well. Let biscuit dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Carefully place donuts, one or two at a time, into the oil. Cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift donuts out of the oil and place onto paper towels to drain and cool completely. Once cool, coat the donuts in chocolate glaze.
- For the glaze: Combine the butter with the powdered sugar in a medium bowl and blend with an electric mixer.
- Add the vanilla and hot water. Mix until smooth.
- Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave another 15-30 seconds and stir again until completely melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Add to the plain glaze mixture. Blend until smooth.
- When the donuts have cooled, dip each top surface into the glaze and then flip over and cool on a plate until the glaze firms up, about 15 minutes. If desired, add some sprinkles!