By Carl Hanson

America's favorite deep-fried pastry is a cinch to make at home.

Photo by Meredith

A basic doughnut batter is pretty simple stuff: Flour, sugar, salt, yeast or baking powder, plus milk, butter, and eggs.

Making Doughnut Batter

Add yeast to the batter, and you're making yeast doughnuts -- also called "raised" doughnuts because the yeasty dough needs time to rise.

To make yeast doughnuts, you'll dissolve the yeast in warm water, and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy. Then stir the foamy yeast into the flour mixture, adding the remaining ingredients as the recipe describes.

When the dough is firm enough, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Place into an oiled bowl, cover, and, allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Add baking powder instead of yeast, and you're making cake doughnuts. With cake doughnuts, the dough goes straight from kneading and shaping into the hot oil (or oven) -- no rising time required. Not surprisingly, they have a denser, cake-ier texture.

Whichever type of doughnut you choose, cake or yeast, you'll need a few things to make them. If you have a deep-fat fryer, use it. But you don't need a dedicated deep-fat fryer to make doughnuts; a heavy, deep pot works great. For round doughnuts with holes in the center, you'll need something to cut out the doughnut shapes: A doughnut cutter or round biscuit or cookie cutters. You'll also need a slotted metal spoon to ease the doughnuts into the hot oil and to retrieve them when done.

Doughnut dough shortcut. Grandma would never cheat, of course. But Grandma's Doughnuts fudge things just a little by using refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough in place of batter! With this shortcut recipe, you'll have doughnuts prepped, fried, and on the drying rack in 20 minutes.

Photo by Miss C.

Boost Your Batter

Once you have a basic batter, you can kick things up a notch. Add chocolate chunks or funfetti to the batter. Or mix in pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree, or a little cinnamon and nutmeg, maybe a little orange zest, or give 'em the carrot cake treatment.

The Basics for Frying Doughnuts

Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness on a well-floured surface.

Photo by Meredith

Cut out the shapes. If you're using a doughnut cutter, you'll have one doughnut and one doughnut hole with each press. For yeast doughnuts, you'll roll out the dough, cut them, and then allow them to rise (about 30 minutes) before slipping them into the oil.

Photo by Meredith

To the pot, add enough oil to submerge the doughnuts (about 4 inches) and heat the oil to 365 degrees F.

Carefully ease the doughnuts into the hot oil with your slotted metal spoon. Don't crowd. Fry 2 or 3 at a time, moving the doughnuts around the oil with your slotted metal spoon, turning once. When they're golden brown, remove them to paper towels.

For tips on frying, check out How to Deep-Fry without Making a Hot Mess.

Photo by Meredith

Ways to Amaze with the Glaze

Now for the finishing touches. Dunk 'em in glaze: vanilla, chocolate, maple, caramel. Or go bold! Try butterscotch or maple bourbon glazes, or cook down sweetened coffee or pineapple juice glazes. To apply the glaze, give your doughnuts some quick dunk-and-twist action in the warm glaze.

Photo by Meredith

Top It Off

Crown your creations with candy sprinkles, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cinnamon-sugar (or powdered sugar), crushed Graham Crackers, cereal, bacon -- whatever you like.

By Allrecipes

VIDEO: How to Make Crispy, Creamy Doughnuts

See how it's done! This quick video shows you how to make yeast doughnuts from scratch.

Get Kelly's recipe for Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts

How to Bake Doughnuts

You don't need to deep-fry doughnuts. With a doughnut pan, you can turn your batter into beautiful baked doughnut rings. Pour the batter into the cups -- about three-quarters of the way up. Then bake them in a preheated over until the doughnuts spring back to the touch.

Photo by Meredith

Related: Here's What to Do with Stale Doughnuts

Variations on a Theme

These deep-fried treats do doughnuts a little bit differently.

Photo by Chef John

Long Johns
Yeast doughnuts without the hole. To make Long John's, roll out the dough, and cut strips 1-inch wide and 6-inches long. Place onto waxed paper, and let rise until doubled in size.

Keep the cronut craze alive and kicking. This breakfast treat combines the shape and flavor of doughnuts with the crispy, flaky texture of a buttery croissant.

Funnel Cake Waffles IV
Remember funnel cakes? They were always the best part of the county fair. And now, funnel cakes have stepped into the 21st Century: They're waffle-able.

Costas French Market Doughnuts (Beignets)
Here's how they do doughnuts in New Orleans at the famous Cafe Du Monde. The secret ingredient here is evaporated milk.

Carrot Cake Donut Holes with Cream Cheese Dip
This one takes "cake doughnut" literally. Also, it doesn't fuss about with the doughnut rounds; it's all about the doughnut hole. Roll 'em in cinnamon-sugar and dunk in a cream cheese.

International House of Doughnuts

Cooks from all corners of earth have discovered the delights of dropping dough into hot oil.

Photo by Doe

Dansk Aebleskiver (Danish Doughnuts)

Oliebollen (Dutch Doughnuts)

Pumpkin Zeppole

Polish Doughnuts

Malasadas Dois

Fruit + Batter = Fritter

Add a little fruit to the doughnut batter, and you have yourself a fritter.

Photo by Shalaine

Banana Fritters

Pear Fritters

Peach Fritters

Pineapple Fritters

When Doughnuts Show Their Savory Side

It's not all sweetness all the time. Sometimes you crave the savory. Good news: Doughnuts are there for you. For your consideration, an assortment of savory doughnuts.

Photo by The Gruntled Gourmand

Ham and Corn Beignets

Cheese Fritters

Vicki's Hush Puppies

Bean Fritters (Chef Dana Tough's Acaraje)

More Fun with Fried Dough:

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