There’s nothing more awesome than mini-donuts. And if you want to make them with minimal fuss and minimal mess then a mini-donut maker is a shrewd investment. Here we review the two best in class mini donut makers. We’ve also wanted to share a but of the history around these lovable culinary delights and a few recipes that we love!
1. Nostalgia MDF200 Automatic Mini Donut Maker (our favorite!)
Has your breakfast been missing some crucial, tiny pastries? Do you feel a bond with Homer Simpson when he stares lovingly at a donut and whispers, “Mmmm…..donut”? May we suggest the Nostalgia MDF200 Automatic Mini Donut Factory, available for $112 with free shipping on Amazon?
This little donut maker brings a donut shop into your kitchen, baking up thirty hot donuts per batch. You fill the hopper with donut batter, turn the machine on, and watch a little donut fall into hot oil and travel down the donut slide, through a viewing window on the “factory” wall. In about 90 seconds, breakfast is served one donut at a time. This mini donut maker gives you a morning meal and entertains your family—what’s more fun than watching a tiny machine make perfect orbital donuts? The stainless steel spatulas turn and deliver donuts to the dispensing chute while the conveyor belt pulls the donuts through heated oil.
This mini donut maker is safe for children; it has a drip tray to catch and dispose of used oil and safety guard lids to keep hands away from the hot oil. And the Nostalgia MDF200 Automatic Mini Donut Factory is made without BPAs so you don’t have to worry about plastic leeching into your mini donuts. Included with the machine are a measuring cup, doughnut bin and magnetic safety power cord. At 25 x 9.2 x 16.2 inches and 11.5 pounds, this entire donut factory will fit on most kitchen counters.
2. Babycakes Donut Mini-Donut Maker (best budget option!)
Another option for mini donut lovers is the Babycakes Mini Donut Maker, priced to move at $15. This one only makes four Mini Donuts at a time and works like a waffle iron. The upside is it uses less oil and less energy too—it needs a 120V outlet, preferably on a separate outlet from other appliances. The Babycakes Donut Maker features Non-Stick Baking Plates, a Latching Handle, and Non-Skid Rubber Feet. It also comes with a few mini donut recipes, like this one:
Sour Cream Donuts
- 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- In separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients, except glaze or topping. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Using a mixer on medium speed, blend until smooth.
- Fill each cooking reservoir with about 2 tablespoons of batter.
- Bake about 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into donut comes out clean.
- Glaze or coat with powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar, as desired.
Unlike other donut recipes, you don’t need to use lard when baking with the Babycakes Mini Donut Maker.
“As you go through life make this your goal: Watch the doughnut, not the hole.”
Now that you’re thinking about donuts and how to make them in your own kitchen, we’d like to share a little history on these lovable pastries. It’s hard to know when exactly doughnuts were “invented”; archaeologists often find fossilized bits of possible doughnuts in the middens (rich garbage piles) of prehistoric Native American settlements. The modern doughnut arrived in North America by way of Manhattan (then New Amsterdam) from Dutch settlers, who called them olykoeks—”oily cakes.” Did it have a hole? No one knows, but the ingredients mostly match our modern donuts.
In the mid-19th century a New England shipman’s mother named Elizabeth Gregory like to make her deep-fried dough with the ship’s spice cargo of nutmeg and cinnamon, plus lemon rind. Maybe she made these so her son and his crew could store pastries on long voyages (oil is a preservative), with citrus to ward off scurvy and colds. Mrs. Gregory put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center, where the dough didn’t cook through, and she called them doughnuts. Hanson Gregory, her American son, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 while aboard a lime-trading ship when he was 16 years old. Gregory claimed to have punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship’s tin pepper box, and to have later taught the technique to his mother.
A few rival theories are floating around though. An anthropologist, Paul R. Mullins, says the first cookbook mentioning doughnuts was an 1803 English volume that included doughnuts in an appendix of American recipes. By the mid-19th century, the doughnut looked and tasted like today’s doughnut, and was viewed as an authentic American food.
Another theory surfaced in 2013, appearing to predate all earlier claims. A recipe for “dow nuts” was discovered in a book of recipes and domestic tips written in 1800 by the wife of Baron Thomas Dimsdale. The recipe was given to the dowager Baroness by a friend who jotted down the cooking instructions of a local delicacy, the “Hertfordshire nut”. (This information comes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doughnut)
Jumping ahead in human history, we come to the birth of the donut machine in 1920. Adolph Levitt, a refugee from czarist Russia, ran a bakery in New York City. Crowds from the theater district wanted more donuts faster, so he invented a machine to make them. The spectacle of making donuts by machine became as much of a draw as the doughnuts themselves. People learned some hidden: the doughnut hole is built in, not cut out. The first donut machine worked like this: a circle of dough about as wide as a baseball was dropped into a vat of boiling oil, circulated, turned over to brown on the other side, and pushed out of the oil onto a moving ramp.
The machines caught on fast, and grew more refined. By the 1930s, Adolph Levitt’s machines were bringing in $25 million a year, mostly from wholesale deliveries to bakers around the country. At the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago, doughnuts were proclaimed: “the food hit of the Century of Progress.” Something about their fast production made them futuristic (despite several centuries of human consumption). This World’s Fair was also the first time “donut” had appeared in print—before that, they were “doughnuts,” and still are outside of the US. Most donuts cost under a nickel, making them a staple of depression era citizens. Dunking donuts in coffee became an American past time, from morning to late at night. They were frequently sold with can-do mottos. At Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Theater donuts came with a slip of paper to bolster the spirit: “As you go through life make this your goal: Watch the doughnut, not the hole.”
And donuts have been going strong ever since. In the US, about 10 billion doughnuts are made every year—1.1 billion by Krispy Kreme alone, one of the larger chains. There’s a National Doughnut Day celebrated in the United States. It happens on the first Friday of June each year, in memory of the Doughnut Day event created by The Salvation Army in 1938 to honor those of their members who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. About 250 Salvation Army volunteers went to France to aid the soldiers. Two Salvation Army volunteer women came up with the idea of making and serving doughnuts from their huts (it was too hard to lug them from other buildings). Margaret Sheldon, one of the women, wrote of one busy day: “Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee.” Soon, the women who did this work became known by the servicemen as “Doughnut Dollies”.
Donuts defy regional borders in the US—you can find a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Krispy Kreme in most small towns and big cities—but the Providence metropolitan area was cited as having the most donut shops per capita (25.3 doughnut shops per 100,000 people) as of January 13, 2010. Every year in Staunton, Illinois, there’s a race called Tour de Donut, where you can eat back all the calories (in donuts, of course) that you just ran off.
Donuts enjoy worldwide popularity, but they don’t always look like a US donut. The delicious Italian zeppole looks more like a small cake with frosting, though its ingredients and preparation is not far off from a donut. In the Ukraine, pampushky are the rough donut equivalent, filled with sour cherries. And in some Nordic countries donuts are called monks—munkar in Sweden and munkki in Finland. This is a reference to tonsure, a standard hairstyle for monks. A tonsured hairstyle is a ring around the head with a bald top—looks a little like a donut.
But the nation that eats the most donuts is not the US—per capita, Canadians consume the most doughnuts. Canada has the most doughnut stores per capita, and chief among these stores is the Tim Horton’s chain, standard fare in most Canadian cities.
Recipes for donut machines and regular ovens
Here’s a donut recipe that requires a mini or regular sized donut maker. This recipe will yield 72 donuts, so it’s a good offering for an afternoon tea or a birthday party.
Old fashioned cake donuts (cake donuts don’t use yeast)
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 5 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Cream eggs and sugar until well blended.
- Add vanilla and vinegar and mix well.
- Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
- Combine buttermilk and heavy cream.
- Add dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture alternately to sugar mixture.
- Put into a donut maker.
- Drop into 375ºF. lard.
- Fry until brown on one side, flip and fry until the other side is browned.
- Remove to paper towels.
And one that doesn’t need a donut machine:
Classic cake donuts
- 1/4 c. vegetable shortening plus more for deep frying
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 large Large eggs room temperature
- 1 c. canned evaporated low-fat milk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour plus more when forming the doughnuts
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground mace
- 1 tsp. fine salt
- 1 c. granulated sugar (or possibly 1 c. granulated sugar mixed with 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon) (or possibly 1 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar)
- In small saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup shortening till melted. Set aside to cold slightly but remain liquid.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and melted shortening together on medium speed, till just combined. Add in the large eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the low-fat milk and vanilla, continue beating till the mix is light, about 2 minutes
- Sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, mace, and salt into a medium bowl. Add in the flour mix to the egg mix on low speed till just combined. The texture of the dough will be soft and loose. Remove bowl from the mixer; scrape the dough off the paddle blade with a spatula. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap it well. Chill the dough for 4 hours or overnight.
- Roll the chilled dough out about 1/2-inch thick on a very lightly dusted workspace. Dip the edges of a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter in flour and cut the dough into doughnuts. Place the donuts and holes on a baking sheet lined with parchment. (Aluminum foil will not work).
- Spoon sufficient vegetable shortening into a tall heavy-bottomed pot so it fills the pan a third of the way. Heat the shortening over medium heat till a deep frying thermometer set in the oil registers 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
- Working in batches, fry the doughnuts and holes, turning once, till they are golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer the doughnuts from the fat with a slotted spoon or skimmer to the paper towels to drain the grease and chill. Repeat until all the doughnuts and holes are fried. Make sure the oil comes back to the correct temperature before frying each batch.
- For sugared doughnuts, roll the doughnuts in sugar or possibly cinnamon sugar while they are still hot. For confectioners’ sugared covered doughnuts, allow the doughnuts to cold completely before rolling in the confectioners’ sugar.
- This recipe yields 2 dozen doughnuts and holes.
Grapefruit buttermilk donuts
This recipe calls to mind the 19th century sailor’s mother who decorated her donuts with lemon zest.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1¼ c. Buttermilk
- 1 large Egg
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large grapefruit
- 4 strip grapefruit zest
- 1 c. confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tbsp. grapefruit juice
- Coat 2 six-cavity doughnut pans with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, and salt, and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg, canola oil, vanilla, and zest of 1 grapefruit to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cavity a little more than three-quarters. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk confectioners’ sugar and juice until smooth. Set glaze aside. In a small saucepan, combine zest strips, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer mixture until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Strain. Toss zest immediately in remaining granulated sugar until coated. Transfer to a cutting board and chop.
- For each doughnut, carefully dip the top in glaze, and then set on a wire rack, glaze side up, so excess drips off. Sprinkle immediately with chopped zest.
And, finally, double chocolate donuts
- 1¾ c. all-purpose flour
- 1½ c. cake flour
- ¾ c. cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 2½ oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 1 c. sugar
- ¾ c. Buttermilk
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 4 c. vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp. heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. white nonpareils
- Make the dough: Sift the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl, add the grated chocolate, and set aside. Combine the sugar, buttermilk, butter, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture gradually, stirring until the ingredients are just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours.
- Make the doughnuts: Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface. Dust the dough lightly with flour and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out doughnuts using a 3-inch doughnut cutter and transfer to a baking sheet. Gather dough scraps, reroll, and repeat cutting doughnuts until all dough is used. Chill doughnuts for 30 minutes.
- Fry the doughnuts: Heat about 4 inches of vegetable oil in a large deep skillet fitted with a thermometer over medium-high heat until oil reaches 365°F. Fry the doughnuts three at a time, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Remove doughnuts with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
- Make the glaze: Place remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Bring cream in small saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Pour over the chocolate, let sit 30 seconds, and stir until smooth. Top doughnuts with chocolate glaze and sprinkle with nonpareils. Serve immediately.
We hope this article has restored or just revived your latent love of mini donuts and regular donuts. High fat breakfasts have gotten a bad rap in recent years—but if you eat a 300-calorie donut first thing in the morning, you have all day to burn it off. Beyond this, donuts are delightful—fun to make in a machine, fun to dunk in coffee, fun to eat while sitting at a diner counter late at night.