Doughnuts (also spelled donuts) were brought to America by the Pilgrims and Dutch settlers. With time, they have become a distinctly American treat. In fact, doughnuts were distributed to American soldiers on the front lines of World War I by female Salvation Army workers known as "Doughnut Girls." But their history goes all the way back to ancient Rome and Greece. They also have a rich history in Jewish cuisine as well.
Regardless of their origin, these versatile deep-fried dough balls have come to take on many different forms. Of course— this isn't an exhaustive list. There are literally endless types of doughnuts in the world. But we narrowed it down to some of the most popular types. Read on to learn the 20 different types of doughnuts you need to know about.
Also referred to as "raised doughnuts," this doughnut type uses yeast as a leavener, giving it a light and airy interior. Some other types of doughnuts, such as jelly or cream-filled, often have a yeast doughnut base. These are full of air pockets and less likely to leave crumbs.
Popular Yeast Doughnut Recipes:
- Yeast Doughnuts
- Glazed Yeast Doughnuts
- Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts
Unlike yeast doughnuts, these have a dense base that will hold all your favorite toppings, from sprinkles to bacon (if you're into that). The consistency of these doughnuts resembles cake, but drier, and crumbs are a given. They are leavened using baking powder, and then dunked into oil to cook.
Popular Cake Doughnut Recipes:
- Plain Cake Doughnuts
- Cake Doughnuts
- Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
These doughnuts have a similar texture to cake doughnuts, but they're made with mashed potatoes or potato starch instead of flour. This makes them slightly lighter on the inside. Sometimes referred to as a Spudnut, these doughnuts were introduced in the mid-1900s, with a chain of Spudnut shops spreading across the United States. Today, the chain no longer exists but a few dozen shops have kept the name.
Try this Potato Doughnut Recipe:
- Potato Donut Holes
This doughnut variety is meant to be the hole that's missing from the center of the doughnut, and is made from leftover dough. They may be filled with cream, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or glazed. These bite-sized treats are perfect for hosting brunch or for being the favorite coworker at early morning meetings.
Popular Doughnut Hole Recipes:
- Funfetti® Donut Holes
- Carrot Cake Donut Holes with Cream Cheese Dip
Similar to a fritter, but French. This deep-fried yeasted doughnut is of French origin. It's made of choux pastry, which is a dough that puffs up as it fries. They're particularly popular in the U.S. in New Orleans, where they're usually served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Sometimes they're stuffed with a fruit filling or chocolate. However they're served, nothing beats these pillowy French delicacies.
Popular Beignet Recipes:
- Costas French Market Doughnuts (Beignets)
- Ham and Corn Beignets
- Cinnamon Apple Beignets with Caramel Sauce
These classic doughnuts are typically round without a hole in the middle, and generally leavened with yeast. The center is stuffed with jelly, jam, or preserves (and sometimes chocolate!), giving you a burst of flavor with each bite. There are several variations of the jelly doughnut, including Berliners, bomboloni, paczki, and sufganiyot.
Popular Jelly Doughnut Recipes:
- Jelly Doughnuts
- Super Easy Jelly Doughnuts
- Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes
Boston Cream Doughnut
Boston cream doughnuts are hollowed out yeast doughnuts filled with custard and topped with chocolate frosting. It's the doughnut version of the Boston cream pie. Thank you, Massachusetts.
Do churros count as doughnuts? I dare say yes. Churros are long sticks of choux dough fried to perfection and sprinkled with sugar. They're often served with chocolate for dipping. Depending on where you are, you may be able to find them stuffed with dulce de leche or fruit filling. They're popular in Spain and much of the Spanish-speaking world.
Popular Churro Recipes:
- Churros II
- Churro Log Cabin
- Homemade Churros with Cardamom and Chocolate
These fabulous fall doughnuts are round with a hole in the middle, but are typically smaller in size and more dense. Cider doughnuts fall within the cake doughnut category. They're infused with apple-cider and sprinkled generously with cinnamon or sugar (and perfect for dunking in coffee!). Synonymous with apple orchards, fall festivals, and hayrides—cider doughnuts are like a warm hug on a cool fall day.
Try this Cider Doughnut Recipe:
- Ashley's Apple Cider Doughnuts
This doughnut has a unique, twisted shape that may be rectangular or circular. In New England, these beloved doughnuts tend to be of the rectangular variety. But the French Cruller is generally ring-shaped. The base is a cross between yeast and cake doughnuts, and typically comes with a honey or vanilla glaze.
Try this Cruller Recipe:
- French Crullers
Fritters go by many names, all depending on what they're made of. In the United States, they're made by frying a dough ball that is usually covered in fruit and glaze. But they can also be filled with savory ingredients such as crab or cheese. They tend to be shaped somewhat irregularly. Perhaps the most famous kind are apple fritters, which contain chunks of apple and are normally glazed or topped with sugar.
Popular Fritter Recipes:
- Chef John's Apple Fritters
- Apple Fritters I
- Banana Fritters
Made famous by Krispy Kreme, this doughnut has the classic circular shape with a hole in the middle. It has a sticky-sweet glaze, and its base is normally yeasted. Although the sugar glaze is the most popular, chocolate glaze is a fairly common alternative. It's always the first to go at staff meetings.
Popular Glazed Doughnut Recipes:
- Glazed Pumpkin Donuts
- Buttermilk Doughnuts
This unusual rectangular doughnut is risen with yeast, sometimes filled with custard or jelly, and frosted. It's similar to an eclair (and is referred to as one in some parts of the U.S.), but it's fried rather than baked. Because America. When it's topped with a maple flavored glaze, it's known simply as a maple bar.
Try this Long John Recipe:
- Long Johns
An old-fashioned doughnut, as the name suggests, dates all the way back to the 1830s. It has a similar glaze to the classic glazed doughnut, but with a more cakey base. It's a little rough around the edges, with a crunchy exterior but a soft inside. It has a larger hole in the center than most doughnuts, and it's peppered with cracks and ridges that soak up all the sweet glaze. You can also get them with chocolate glaze.
These oddly shaped yeast doughnuts are long and twisted. Cinnamon Twists are a popular rendition of this doughnut, with a delectable cinnamon-sugar glaze. They may also have a classic glaze, chocolate glaze, maple glaze, or sugar coating.
These fried doughnuts are of Italian origin. Their texture can either be fluffy or dense, depending on what type of dough they're made with. They're often topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. You may even find them stuffed with custard or chocolate!
Cream-filled doughnuts are made with a yeast base, making for a light and stretchy inside. They're pretty much the same as jelly doughnuts, but with a different filling. Once the dough has been fried, the custard filling is piped into them. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for an irresistible treat.
Try this Cream-Filled Doughnut Recipe:
- Polish Doughnuts
These Portuguese-style doughnuts are popular in areas settled by the Portuguese, specifically in Hawaii. They're leavened with yeast, giving them a light and fluffy texture. Once they have been fried, Malasadas are then rolled in sugar. They are often served plain, but they can be found filled with custard or fruit filling.
Popular Malasadas Recipes:
- Malasadas Dois
Potentially the most picturesque of all doughnut types, frosted doughnuts get their name for what's on top: frosting. They can be either cake or yeast doughnuts, but cake doughnuts provide a sturdier base for thick frosting. Get creative with frosted doughnuts—sprinkles are a must!
Blueberry doughnuts have an unassuming exterior, but they're one of the most beloved types. They are similar to old-fashioned doughnuts, with a hard exterior and a soft exterior. Blueberry doughnuts are glazed with a light, sugar glaze and packed with blueberry galore!