Doughnut throw out extra mashed potatoes when you can transform them into a sweet, special breakfast.
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Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. Whether you like to dress them up with garlic, bacon, cream cheese, or spinach or prefer the traditional butter and milk, you can't deny the joy that these warm, pillowy potato mounds can bring to the dinner table.

But after a few days of eating leftovers (or just way too much for dinner), even the most majestic mashed potatoes can start to lose their appeal. Before you dump your excess taters in the garbage, though, consider repurposing your leftovers, turning them into potato doughnuts. And rest assured, these sweet treats taste nothing like mashed potatoes.

What Are Potato Doughnuts?

You've likely heard of potato bread or potato rolls, which are often made with potato flour or flakes but sometimes incorporate real potatoes. Potato doughnuts are similar, except they're, well, doughnuts — sweeter and typically covered with glaze, frosting, and other toppings. Most doughnut shops make them using par-boiled potatoes that have been pushed through a ricer. But you can also make them at home using regular ol' mashed potatoes, fresh or leftover.

Though we don't know their exact origins, recipes for these tasty treats circulated in newspapers during the late 1800s. In fact, potatoes were part of the original recipe for Krispy Kreme doughnuts. They also grew in popularity across the United States thanks to a doughnut chain called Spudnuts, which flourished in the 1940s and 1950s.

A pile of sugared donuts on a white plate with a blue napkin tucked underneath.
Credit: Allrecipes

What Do Potato Doughnuts Taste Like?

What difference does this one ingredient make? First, the potato doughnut's texture sets it apart from other doughnuts. It's tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. “It’s going to have a little bit different mouthfeel,” Jeff Buckwalter, co-owner of The Holy Donut in Maine, told Allrecipes. "It’s going to be a little bit more moist, but it's also going to crisp up nicely on the edges."

But potatoes don't just contribute to this doughnut's crunch, Drew Watson, owner of Berkeley Donuts in Colorado, told us. "Potatoes just add a certain sweetness that can't be replicated by sugars — an earthy sweetness," he said.

Tips for Homemade Potato Doughnuts

If you're planning to cook potato doughnuts at home, here's how you can make the process smoother. 

Batter

For starters, be sure to let your batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes before frying, preferably in a relatively warm room (your kitchen should work just fine), said Audie Mauk, head baker at Berkeley Donuts.

It's not a deal breaker if your mashed potatoes have a little residual salt in them, since salt helps bring out sweetness, Mauk said. Avoid adding other spices and flavors to your mashed potatoes, or set aside a plain portion just for your doughnuts. Black pepper, however, can work well with flavors like coffee and dark chocolate, Mauk said.

Oil

Make sure your oil is at the proper temperature. You’ll want a food thermometer for this one. Too hot and your doughnuts will burn; too cold and they'll be soggy and greasy.

When you’re all finished, let your frying oil cool, then consider running it through a coffee filter and saving it for later use. Of course, you should never pour your frying oil down the drain. Be sure to trash it instead.

Toppings

If a topping would taste good on a yeast doughnut, it will probably taste just as delicious on these, too. You can start with cereal, crumbled cookies, and sprinkles, but don't be afraid to get creative. One final tip: Add a pinch of salt to your glaze for an added sweetness boost, Mauk said.

Ready to get started? Learn how to make potato doughnuts with our recipe for Aunt Kathy's Old-Fashioned Potato Donuts.