A fresh, hot donut is truly an amazing treat. You really can’t get anything better! However, keeping donuts fresh can be tricky. So how can you keep a donut from getting hard and dried out and preserve that amazing taste that comes when you bite into a newly cooked pastry?
Here are a few tips and tricks that you can use to make sure that your donuts are fresh and delicious. You will never bite into a stale donut ever again.
How Are Donuts Made?
Before thinking about how to store donuts, it is a good idea to think about how donuts are made. The way certain foods are baked can help guide toward the best storage methods.
There are two different kinds of donuts that we will be focusing on and those are yeast-raised donuts and cake donuts. While they are both considered donuts, they are actually very different.
Yeast-raised donuts are the most common kind of donut and what you may think of when you start craving a delicious donut. To make yeast raised donuts, a soft dough is made using flour, yeast, sugar and flavorings.
The dough is then left to rise before being rolled and cut into that signature circular donut shape. The donuts then rise again before being deep fried in oil (although this can be done without a deep fryer). Once golden brown, the donuts are removed from the hot oil then dipped in frosting or any kind of decorative topping.
Cake donuts are the other type of donut that is most often found in donut shops. Cake donuts are much more dense than yeast raise donuts and taste more like cake!
They are made in a similar fashion as cake as well, starting with a thick batter rather than a dough. The batter is either piped into a circular, donut shape and then deep fried in oil or it is placed in a donut mold and baked.
Many home bakers prefer cake donuts as they are easier to make, using just a donut shaped pan and the oven rather than waiting for yeast donuts to rise and then deal with fryer oil. Cake donuts can be topped in the same manner as yeast donuts but are often sprinkled in powdered sugar and eaten warm!
Since the two kinds of donuts are actually very different, one being risen and fried and the other being dense and baked, they will be stored quite differently as well. Keep reading to find out how to successfully store both!
How to Store Yeast Raised Donuts
If you head to your local donut shop, chances are you will be enticed to purchase more than one donut. You may even get a discount if you buy 12, a deal you should definitely take advantage of! However, that doesn’t mean you should eat all 12 right away.
Donuts are so delicious when they are fresh and preserving that freshness may seem like something that is hard to do. However, there are ways to make those beautiful, fluffy, yeast-raised donuts last a little longer than a day so the 11 extra you brought home don’t go to waste!
The best way to store a yeast raise donut is to place it in a plastic zippered bag or an airtight container, seal the container and keep the donut at room temperature. You can also use plastic wrap but be sure to wrap the donut completely so that no air can get to the donut.
Aluminum foil will also work to wrap up your donut but it doesn’t protect the donut as well as plastic will. More air can get through the gaps in the aluminum foil and that is what will cause your donut to dry out. Air is the enemy of donuts!
You can also opt to store your donut in the fridge after you have wrapped it well, sealing it away from any air. This will make the donut a little more firm than if you were to simply store it at room temperature, however, it will still stay fresh!
A yeast raised donut will keep in the fridge for about 3-4 days and at room temperature for 1-2 days. When stored this way, the donuts will stay soft and chewy, just the way you like them!
If you are storing your yeast raised donut at room temperature, be sure that you do not put the donut on a section of your counter that gets a lot of sunlight. A donut sitting in the sun is going to get hot and cause any icing or frosting to melt.
The sun will also dry out your donut, making it go stale faster. If your donut is wrapped tightly (as it should be!), the heat from the sun may also cause condensation inside the donut packaging which can quickly lead to mold.
So place that donut in a shadier place on your counter to ensure that it stays nice and fresh!
Once you get home with those twelve beautiful donuts, eat the most tempting ones right away (donuts really are best when they are fresh!) and then immediately wrap the rest.
Leaving donuts in a box or on a plate is a big mistake- they will dry out quickly, sometimes only lasting through the morning before they start to get hard.
A tightly wrapped yeast donut is a well preserved donut.
How to Store Cake Donuts
Cake donuts are actually much easier to store than yeast raised donuts. While you will want to wrap them in the same manner as you did with the yeast raised donuts, sealing them in an airtight container or in plastic wrap, they will keep much longer than the yeast raised donuts.
The texture and crumb of cake donuts is one thing that helps them stay fresh longer. Since yeast raise donuts are light and fluffy, they contain less moisture and will dry out faster. The dense batter of cake donuts has more moisture and will keep the donut soft for longer.
When wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, a cake donut can stay fresh at room temperature for about 5-6 days, even longer when stored in the fridge. You should still try to keep the cake donuts away from the sun as the heat will still melt any frostings and also can cause mold to grow on the donut.
So wrap that cake donut tightly and enjoy it within the week!
Storing Filled Donuts
Storing a filled donut is a little different than storing a donut that only has icing or is plain. Donuts are typically stuffed with jelly or a cream based filling like a pudding or whipped cream. Any kind of filling is going to add moisture to the donut which is a good and a bad thing.
More moisture inside the donut is great as it will help keep the donut soft for a longer period of time, keeping that freshness factor alive. However, the moisture can also be detrimental to the donut if not stored properly. More moisture means that mold can grow quickly and spoil the donut.
While you may think a jelly donut stored at room temperature would be okay (jelly can sit at room temperature in a jar, after all), it is best to store your stuffed donut in the fridge.
The refrigerator will ensure that mold does not grow on the donut and that the jelly inside stays fresh while the donut stays soft. You may be able to get away with storing a jelly donut at room temperature for one day but any longer than that, put it in the fridge!
Any donut stuffed with whipped cream or a pudding filling should go right into the fridge. Milk and egg based fillings absolutely need to be refrigerated as they will spoil quickly.
Just as you wouldn’t leave a carton of milk on the counter or a plate of scrambled eggs, donuts with filling must be stored at 40 degrees or below. Wrap your stuffed donut tightly and keep it in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Storing Donuts Without Icing
The donuts you purchase at your local coffee shop are likely already iced, decorated and filled. Frostings and fillings make it tricky to store and reheat donuts.
Often times, the icing will be the most unappetizing part of the donut after it has been stored for several days. The icing may melt at room temperature, start to get hard in the fridge or make the donut soggy.
If possible, store the donuts without any icing or fillings to help them stay fresh for longer. You can do this by either making your own homemade donuts (that would also be quite impressive!), or you can ask your local donut shop to set a few aside for you un-iced.
When the donuts have no frosting or filling, the dough itself will hold up better when wrapped and stored in the fridge. You can even freeze them quite successfully.
When you are ready to enjoy the donut, you can simply reheat it, refreshing the dough, then ice or fill it as you please with your own icings. You will basically have a completely fresh donut, even if it was made several days ago!
It is definitely worth asking your local donut shop to give you a few plain donuts so that you can have them on hand, at home, for anytime a donut craving comes along!
As mentioned in the last paragraph, donuts can be frozen. While they are best frozen without any frostings or fillings, they can still be frozen after they have been completely decorated and stuffed.
The key is to freeze the donuts as soon as possible and wrap them as tightly as you can. The fresher the donuts are when they go in the freezer, the fresher they will be when they come out of the freezer!
If you put a day old, semi-hard donut into the freezer, you are going to get the same quality when you go to eat it later on. Freeze those donuts as quickly as possible to lock in that freshness!
A frozen donut can last in the freezer for up to three months as long as it is completely wrapped and protected from the drying air of the freezer. It is a good idea to wrap each donut individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a zippered plastic bag.
This double layer of protection will keep the donuts super fresh and also enable you to take one donut out at a time without having to unwrap and rewrap a bunch of donuts each time you want just one. A freezer full of donuts is simply a great idea.
How to Reheat Donuts
One of the best ways to make your donuts taste fresh again is to reheat them properly. No matter if your donut was stored at room temperature, in the fridge or in the freezer, they will all benefit from being reheated to get the donut back to that warm, fresh taste.
Reheating the donuts will also help soften them so if the donut is reaching the 4 day old mark and getting a little hard (this will happen no matter how the donut is stored!), reheating will improve this firm texture.
The best way to reheat a donut is to use the microwave. When a microwave reheats food, it creates a moist heat, making the water particles inside the food warm. This is very beneficial for donuts as it makes them soft and tender.
You can use the oven or small toaster to reheat donuts but these methods may make the donut more firm and crisp using dryer heat. This may not be the best option as it will dry out your donut more but it will still make the donut nice and warm!
While the microwave is your best option, you also want to be sure not to microwave your donut for too long especially if it has an icing or filling. If you microwave your donut too long, the icing or frosting will melt, leaving your donut sitting in a pool of sweet liquid. A donut with melted frosting also may not look so appealing.
Microwaving your donut too long can also cause the soft dough to overcook and become hard. A donut can quickly turn into a solid dough mass if it is heated too long. That perfect length of time is imperative to master!
Here are a few things to remember to help you microwave your donut to perfection and refresh it back to its original, delicious texture.
- Room Temperature Donuts Reheating Time- If your donut has been sitting at room temperature, it will not need long in the microwave to make it fresh, slightly warm and just like new. Place your donut on a microwave safe plate and heat for ten to fifteen seconds.
- Refrigerated Donut Reheating Time- If your donut has been wrapped and stored in the refrigerator, place it on a microwave safe plate and reheat for 15-20 seconds
- Reheating a Frozen Donut- If you have stored your donut in the freezer, unwrap it, place it on a microwave safe plate and then reheat for 20-25 seconds.
All microwaves heat slightly different and some may be stronger than others. Always start with the lower microwave time, test the donut and then microwave for another few seconds if needed.
You want your donut to be slightly warm, soft and smell like heaven!
Donut Icing Recipe
One little trick that will make your donut as good as new is to dip it into new icing. Most donut icing is made using powdered sugar and water or milk along with flavoring.
Powdered sugar icing can melt on the donut after a day or two no matter how the donut is stored, leaving the donut looking bare and also unappetizing. A great way to revitalize your donut after it has been stored is to give it new icing.
Make donut icing by mixing:
- 1 ½ tablespoons melted butter
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp milk
Whisk all of these ingredients together to make a smooth icing. If it is a little too thin, add some powdered sugar. If the icing is too thick, add a teaspoon more milk until it is the perfect consistency. You can also make the icing a little thinner and easier to dip the donuts in if you heat it for about 15 seconds in the microwave.
Hold the sides of the donut and dip it into the warm icing, submerging the donut halfway in the icing. Then, place the donut on a plate with the iced side upward. You now have a perfectly fresh donut!
You can also flavor the icing as you please, adding some strawberry puree, using almond extract instead of vanilla or adding a little cocoa powder to the mix. You can store this icing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
Pop the icing in the microwave and dip your donuts whenever you are ready for a fresh breakfast treat!
As you can see, you can easily store donuts, keeping them fresh, perfect and ready to eat! So take advantage of that dozen donut discount deal at your local coffee shop or make your own homemade donuts and store them in your freezer.
Everyone loves a delicious fresh donut and you can easily have one anytime! Now, go eat that donut that you are likely craving- you deserve it!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.