These healthy air fryer donuts are based on an old-fashioned yeast donut recipe. The end result is a tender vegan yeast donut recipe with a crispy crust, and either a vanilla or chocolate glaze with all your favorite toppings.
Everyone loves a crispy donut with a deliciously-sweet glaze on top. This recipe for vegan yeast donuts gives you three ways to make them, with a baked option, an air fryer option, and deep-frying them in a skillet. Top them with a tasty glaze and you can even add sprinkles!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Simple yeast donuts are cooked in an air fryer, creating a crispy crust, but using minimal oil
- Ground flaxseed is a great egg replacer, making these donuts inclusive for so many people, including those with egg allergies, vegans, and more
- Adding ground nutmeg is my favorite secret donut trick, creating the perfect donut flavor and making each bite irresistible in the best way possible!
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Plant-based milk — I prefer soy milk because it has a higher protein content similar to cow’s milk.
- Vegan Butter — You can use store-bought, like Earth Balance or Miyokos, or make your own homemade vegan butter.
- Sugar — I use granulated sugar.
- Yeast — Either instant or active dry yeast.
- Flour — I have used both all-purpose flour and bread flour with this recipe.
- Salt — A bit of salt adds depth of flavor.
- Ground Nutmeg — This is a secret ingredient for making dough taste like store-bought donuts.
- Powdered Sugar — We’ll make a simple glaze by using powdered sugar combined with plant-based milk.
- Oil — We’ll brush a tiny bit of oil over the donuts to create a crispy crust.
How to Make Air Fryer Donuts
- Mix the flax egg and set it aside.
- Combine the milk and butter and microwave for 1 minute. Set it aside for several minutes then stir in the flax egg. Once the mixture cools to between 105°F and 108°F stir in the yeast and sugar.
- Stir together the flour, nutmeg, and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir together until a soft dough forms.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes. You can do this in the bowl with your hands or use a dough hook on a mixer for 5 minutes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The dough should form into a ball but still be slightly sticky.
- Make donut shapes by rolling out the dough and cutting 3″ rounds.
- Use a second tool to cut a 1″ round cut in the center.
- Place donut shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a light-weight kitchen towel and set aside until they have risen to double their size.
- Make the glaze by stirring together the ingredients and set aside.
- Cook the donuts using any of the options below.
- Dip warm donuts in the glaze, making sure both sides are covered.
Air Frying Donuts
I was worried that making air-fried donuts would create chewy donuts, but this was not the case. In fact, these air fryer donuts were perfectly tasty. Here’s how to go about air frying donuts:
- When the donut shapes have doubled in size and are ready to cook, preheat the air fryer to 350°F.
- Gently place 2 to 4 donuts in the air fryer in a single row at the bottom. Air fry for 2 minutes to create a solid outer crust.
- Remove the air fryer basket and use a pastry brush to brush the tops with a bit of oil. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
Alternative Cooking Options
If you don’t have an air fryer, you will be pleased to know that baking donuts is another great option. Here’s how I do it:
If your donuts have raised kind of flat, I find baking them to be the best option. I absolutely love baked donuts and the convenience of placing an entire pan of them in the oven all at once.
- To bake donuts, when the donuts have doubled in size and are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place donuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the donuts for 10 to 12 minutes, until done.
Oil Frying Donuts
Yes, you can fry donuts, too. This is my least favorite option because it uses so much oil and it’s tricky getting the temperature just right. In addition, the house smells like fried oil for a few days. That said, if you really want to make fried donuts, here’s how to go about it:
- Fill a heavy-bottomed skillet with 1 to 2 inches of oil.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Use tongs to carefully place doughnuts in the heated oil.
- Fry until golden brown on both sides, up to 1 minute each.
- Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer cooked donuts from the oil to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the extra grease.
These air fryer donuts and donut holes are best served warm the day they’re prepared. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.
Are vegan donuts good for you?
Vegan donuts are an indulgence. So, even though they’re cholesterol-free, I still wouldn’t call them healthy. But they can be incorporated into a healthy diet by enjoying them in moderation.
Is it better to bake or fry donuts?
Air fryer donuts and baked donuts are both healthier because they’re made with minimal oil as compared to fried donuts. Oil adds fat and calories and can lead to trouble with indigestion.
Do I have to have a donut cutter?
Those donut cutters are nice. But if you don’t have one, use any round cutter that’s approximately 3″ in size. I used the top of a cocktail shaker. Then use a smaller 1″ round cutter for the center hole. A large frosting tip works great!
Air Fryer Donut Holes
What should you do with all those holes cut from the center? I recommend making air fryer donut holes! I cook them separately from the donuts because they need less time to cook.
- Place the donut holes all in the air fryer basket in a single layer
- Cook at 350°F/175°C for 1 minute
- Remove the basket and shake it to “stir” the donut holes
- Return the basket and cook for up to another minute until done
- Place cooked donut holes in the glaze and transfer to a wire rack for the glaze to set.
Vegan Pastry Recipes
These vegan yeast donuts are delicious, and here are more tasty vegan pastry recipes to try:
That’s it for these air fryer glazed donuts. Enjoy!
Air Fryer Donuts
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons plant-based creamer * See notes for chocolate glaze
- Mix the flax egg and set aside.
- Combine the milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Set it aside for several minutes. Then add the flax egg and stir. The mixture should be between 105°F/40°C and 108°F/42°C (the same temperature as your finger if you dip it into the liquid). Stir in the yeast and sugar and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, nutmeg, and salt. Stir to combine. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir together until a soft dough forms.
- Knead the dough in the bowl with your hands or use a dough hook on a mixer for 5 minutes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The dough should form into a ball, but still be slightly sticky.
- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's around 1/2-inch thick. Cut 10 to 12 donuts and donut holes using a 3" round cutter and a 1" round center. Place these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap (it helps to spray it with vegetable spray), and set aside until they have risen to double their size.
- To bake donuts, when the donuts have doubled in size and are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
- Place baking sheet with donuts in the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden brown.
Air Fryer Method
- To make air fryer donuts, when the donuts have doubled in size and are ready to bake, spray the basket with vegetable spray, and preheat the air fryer to 350°F/175°C.
- Gently place donuts in the air fryer in a single row at the bottom and air fry for around 4 minutes. Then repeat with the remaining donuts.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Use tongs to carefully place doughnuts in the heated oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides, up to 1 minute each side. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer cooked donuts from the oil to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Make the Glaze: While the donuts are baking or frying, mix your glaze by combining the powdered sugar, creamer, and vanilla in a bowl. If you prefer chocolate glaze, add a tablespoon of cocoa powder and stir.
- Once the donuts are done, let them cool enough so you can handle them. Dip each donut into the glaze. Icing the donuts while they're still warms helps coat each donut evenly and will create a crispy crust on the icing.
- You can add favorite toppings like chopped nuts, sprinkles, coconut and more while the glaze is still wet.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2010 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.