Knockoff Krispy Kreme Donuts recipe using an air fryer

My oldest son isn’t much for traditional birthday cakes. He has been asking for donut birthday cakes for years as you can see from these photos:

I think our donut cake opus was definitely the one for his 17th. ย And you can guess what sort of desert he wanted to serve at his high school graduation party. You guessed it, a Krispy Kreme tower:

Krispy Kreme Tower Graduation Party Cake

He wasn’t able to come home during his last two birthdays because he’s in the military and had just gotten back on base from being home during the holidays, but he was home during his birthday this year. When I asked him what kind of cake he would like, I wasn’t at all surprised when he said he wanted a Krispy Kreme donut cake.

Since I got an air fryer for Christmas from the hubs, I had the brainstorm of getting one of those Krispy Kreme donut recipes from Pinterest and then “frying” the donuts in my new air fryer! Ah, the best laid plans……

It all started off very smoothly — my yeast grew! I’ve had trouble with that in the past, probably due to the fact that the yeast in my cupboard has often been sitting there for a while. This time I bought brand new yeast and boy, did it grow:

So then I added it to the other ingredients to make the dough:

Easy-peasy, huh? Not so much. I doubled the recipe to make more donuts, and I don’t know if you can tell by the photo above, but I accidentally QUADRUPLED the amount of flour. Oops. Problem was, I didn’t notice that I had done it until the dough just would not stick together to form a ball. Once I figured it out, there wasn’t much I could do but start all over (notice the big, crumbly dough ball in the garbage….).

Round 2 went much better. The dough came out light and springy after rising it the first time, so I cut it into donut shapes (and also a few “biscuit” shapes without holes in the middle). If you’re making any type of donuts, I’d recommend picking up a good set of donut-shaped cookie cutters like these, these, or this awesome set. Well technically I guess they are called donut cutters, not cookie cutters. Whatever.

All I had to do was rise the cut donuts one more time and then fry. Headed for the finish line, right? Wrong. I placed plastic wrap lightly over the trays of cut donuts and left them to rise. What I didn’t know was that those beautiful donuts would grow and grow and glue themselves to the plastic wrap, so that when I went to remove the plastic wrap, the top halves of all of those (I mean BEAUTIFUL!) donuts ripped off and deflated some. Boooooo. I’m sure there is something you can do to prevent that (*UPDATE: I should have sprayed the plastic wrap with cooking spray! Thanks to Jan from Facebook and Brenda below for the great tip!) ย and I will definitely be Googling that the next time I try this.

So anyway, into the air fryer went the non-perfect, slightly deflated, manhandled cut donuts. The air fryer is really more of a crispy baking oven, but it did a good job on the donuts. The hubs got me a big, awesome Go-Wise Air Fryer for Christmas and I’ve used it quite a bit for fries, tater tots, and rolls, so I thought I’d try it out with donuts. ย I think if I were going to make Krispy Kremes in the future I would probably fry them in oil to get that kind of greasy, delicious taste you get with real Krispy Kremes, but the taste and texture were good in the air fryer, if a little heavy due to the manhandling.

Here is the finished product:

They were pretty good, but because I had to pry them from the plastic wrap they were a little heavier in texture than a real Krispy Kreme. Then as you can see I didn’t sift my powdered sugar so there were some lumps in the glaze. That’s the kind of cooking detail I will never take the time to do, and it’s just another one of the (gazillion) reasons I will never have my own cooking show. ๐Ÿ™‚

So all in all I think this is a good recipe, but user error caused a few problems. And without further adieu, the recipe!

Air Fryer Krispy Kreme Donuts Copycat Recipe

Yield: 20 donuts (prep time includes letting the dough rise twice)

Dough Ingredients:

  • 4 – 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 3 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 – 1/2 cups warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
  • 3 – 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp nonfat/skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 3 – 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar (may want to sift)
  • 4 Tablespoons more powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 pinch salt


  1. Dissolve yeast into warm water.
  2. Let yeast solution stand for 5 minutes or until it becomes foamy on top.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Add yeast solution, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla extract and mix well until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Form dough into a ball in the bowl, cover, and let it sit in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.
  6. Gently roll out dough on a floured surface until it’s 1/2 inch thick. Use a donut cutter to cut out donuts and holes.
  7. Arrange donutsย on lightly floured cookie sheets, cover with plastic wrap (***butย watch out for the plastic wrap sticking to the donuts! May want to Google a solution for this beforehand — I still need to do that) and let sit in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in size.
  8. While donuts rest, make the glaze by combining the ingredients listed above (boil the water first) and whisking until smooth. Cover in plastic wrap until you’re ready to use it.
  9. When donuts have risen, place in air fryer basket approximately 4 at a time (depending on the size of your basket) in a single layer. Air-fry at 375 degrees F for 5 minutes for full-size donuts and for 3-4 minutes for donut holes, depending on their size.
  10. Transfer air-fried donuts to aย cooling rack.
  11. After about a minute on the cooling rack, while donuts are still warm, spoon glaze over each.ย You could also dunk them in the glaze with tongs if you have the glaze in a deep bowl or pan.
  12. Serve warm!

About the air-frying:

Like I said above, the air fryer may not be the best way to get these donuts tasting *exactly* like a real Krispy Kreme, BUT, they were still really, really good and probably a lot healthier without the oil or shortening frying omitted. All in all, I will definitely try this again once I get the plastic-wrap-sticking-to-the-rising-dough problem solved. If any of you reading this know what I should have done differently to prevent that, please, please, PLEASE let me know! Without that misfire, I think these donuts would have been nearly perfect.

My air fryer is the jumbo GoWISE model and I really like it. I’ve only used it a few times so far (chicken fingers, tater tots, and now, Krispy Kreme donuts), but I think it will earn a spot on my counter because you can use it for so many things and it cleans up so easily.


    • My mom told me the exact same thing when I was talking to her about it later on. I will definitely try that next time I make these. Thanks, Brenda!

        • Hi, Lori. I got the yeast going first, then I put the dry ingredients into a big bowl and mixed them. I didn’t sift (I’m lazy like that – LOL) — just mixed them with a fork. Then once the yeast was ready I added that and the eggs, milk, and vanilla and continued to mix it up in the bowl with the fork (not sure why, but I’m partial to using forks to mix things…I don’t know much about professional cooking/baking best practices, so that may not be a good idea, but it’s what I do). Then once it was combined well I floured my hands and smooshed it around a bit more. I wouldn’t really call it kneading — I was just making sure it was all combined and smooth. Then I made it into a ball and let it rise. Be sure to spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray, though — that was a big mistake I made and it ended up sticking and ripping the tops off of my beautiful risen donuts. ๐Ÿ™ Good luck!

  1. A tip from a Grandma, forget the plastic wrap. Cover them with a clean cotton dish towel. I have done that with yeast doughs for years before plastic wrap and cooking sprays were invented. Learned this from my Mom and Grandma. No mess, no sprays needed.

    • Thank you, Lois! I love the idea of not having to add the spray. I will definitely try this next time! Moms and Grandmas always know the best tricks. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ Jenny

    • Lois, spot on ! Covering with thin clean cloth works great. I bake lots of rising dough, and this is the only way.

  2. Cover with a clean kichen tow.but flower it first. That’s how i do bread to. It will help. Or per heat oven to lowest seting and then term off and up ur back goods in that it will or off then in half the time

  3. When do you put the sugar in. It is in the list of ingredients but not in the instructions. I’m assuming in the yeast mixture but was done mixing everything up before I realized I hadn’t used the sugar

    • Hey, Melody! Good catch – I’ll add that in to the recipe. I usually just mix the sugar in with the flour and salt, and you could just as easily mix it in when you’re adding egg yeast mixture, egg yolks, etc. Thanks for letting me know it isn’t mentioned. Have a great day! ~ Jenny

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