There are few smells more enticing than freshly-cooked doughnuts – but sadly, the deep-frying process means these tasty snacks are often confined to the ‘occasional treats’ category. Baked doughnuts are a lighter way to get your fix, and demand for doughnut makers and moulds is on the rise.
If you’re really committed to regular doughnut making, you might consider buying a deep-fryer. These will be versatile beyond doughnuts, but are more of an investment and messier to use. A doughnut maker often tends to be a one-use kitchen item, like a waffle maker or ice cream maker, although some have multi-use plates.
We tested a range of ways to make doughnuts at home, from machines fitted with heated plates that cook doughnuts in minutes, to churros makers that produce a crisper, elongated snack or moulds and tins that allow you to cook doughnuts in your oven.
Each maker was judged on criteria including size and weight, versatility, speed of heating, cooking time, ease of cleaning and the fluffiness of the results. Moulds had to be a convenient size, easy to handle, and produce doughnuts that were easy to remove.
Traditional doughnut dough is made using yeast, and isn’t suitable for making baked doughnuts, so we used BBC Good Food’s cupcake recipe for testing. This versatile recipe produces light, fluffy and delicious cakes, made all the tastier for being doughnut-shaped.
How to choose the best doughnut maker
Which maker you choose to buy depends on what you’re looking for. Factors to consider:
- Do you have the cupboard space for a dedicated machine and want snacks that are ready in a few minutes? Or do you prefer the simplicity of a doughnut tin – essentially a traditional cake pan that shapes your cakes into doughnuts, but takes a little longer?
- Machines also come in a variety of sizes: some have removable plates that allow you to make different kinds of snacks, which means deciding whether you prefer to make cake pops or brownies, whether you’re making snacks for one, or feeding the family.
- We also tested out a couple of churro machines, for those who like their doughnuts elongated.
Think about what you’ll be using your tray or machine for, and how much cupboard space you have available, then read on to find out our pick of the bunch for 2021.
Best doughnut makers to buy in 2021
- Best all-rounder – VonShef doughnut, brownie and waffle maker, £49.99
- Best for full-sized doughnuts – Tala performance six-cup doughnut pan, £9
- Best for kids’ parties – Wilton 12-cavity mini doughnut pan, £8.99
- Best for gifting – American Originals 3-in-1 treat maker, £29.99
- Best for grown-up doughnuts – Decora 6-cavity flower doughnut pan, £12.99
- Best for churro lovers – Global Gizmos churros maker, £29.99
- Best for easy storage – Six-cavity silicone doughnut mould, £4.99
Best doughnut makers at a glance
VonShef doughnut, brownie & waffle maker
This nifty little gadget includes three pairs of interchangeable plates so you can not only make doughnuts, but waffles and brownies as well. It’s super simple to change the plates, clicking them into place, then using the release button to remove them.
The VonShef is streamlined, compact, and easy and intuitive to use: lightly coat or spray the plates with oil, plug it in, and wait for the red light to go off to indicate the plates have fully heated up, which takes just under five minutes. Fill the mini doughnut moulds with your cake batter, making sure not to overfill – the manual includes a helpful visual guide to the correct amounts to use – and close.
The instructions advise that doughnuts should be ready after 5-6 minutes, and we found five and a half minutes was the sweet spot for perfect results. Doughnuts are easy to remove using a spatula, plus tongs for grabbing (the plates get extremely hot, so don’t use your fingers).
The end result was browner on the bottom than the top, but the patchy colouring wasn’t a problem because they were delicious: slightly firm on the outside, making them ideal for icing or chocolate-drizzling, and fluffy, soft and moist on the inside, with a sweet, crisp ring around the edge.
As the plates are removable, they’re easy to clean with a damp sponge and mild detergent, and can be soaked if needed, although we didn’t find that necessary.
The downsides to this machine are a lack of timer and temperature control, which at a price point of around £50 would have been nice additions. The outside of the unit gets quite hot, so it should be kept well away from children, and we were surprised by just how smoky the machine got during our first, leaflet-recommended dry-run, so make sure you don’t skip this step.
Overall, this is a pricey but effective and speedy snack maker which, if kept on your work surface instead of hidden away in a cupboard, should be tempting enough to be regularly pressed into use.
Tala performance 6-cup doughnut pan
Best for full-sized doughnuts
Tala has been making sturdy, reliable and imaginative kitchenware since 1899, and this doughnut pan is no exception. Making six full-sized baked doughnuts (one batch of cupcake batter will make around six, depending on how full you fill them), the mould is sturdy and non-stick, meaning your treats will slip out of the pan super-easily, even if you forget to pre-grease it.
Piping the mixture into each 9cm-diameter mould will give the best result, although as the doughnuts puff up, you’ll find they lose their ring shape on top – however, simply flip them over for decorating, to reveal a smooth ring shape, and no-one will ever know. Filling the moulds halfway up produces the best doughnut shape.
After 12 minutes in the oven, we had some well-baked, soft and fluffy doughnuts waiting to be iced. This tray is made from sturdy commercial-weight steel, and has an impressively effective non-stick coating (while the minimal packaging says it’s safe to use metal utensils with the tray, we recommend you avoid them to preserve the coating).
This tray is fridge-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe (dishwasher is the recommended cleaning method, but it’s easy to clean without too). It’s oven-proof to 240°C, and comes with a 10-year guarantee. It’s also compact for easy storage, making it a brilliant bargain all-rounder we really couldn’t find any fault with.
Wilton 12-Cavity mini doughnut pan
Best for kids’ parties
The mini doughnuts produced by this tray will be an immediate hit with kids, and a huge pile of them offers a satisfying effort-to-wow-factor ratio. Making 12 mini doughnuts at once, one batch of batter yields an amazing 50 tiny doughnuts, each tray taking just five minutes to bake.
Although the packaging includes two doughnut and two glaze recipes, we used the BBC Good Food one for testing. The most convincing doughnut shape was achieved by using a piping bag to add a single layer of batter to the bottom of each mould – filling up to halfway preserves that essential doughnut hole.
We discovered that using a pair of chopsticks to remove them – one to flip, the other to skewer through the hole and deposit onto a wire rack to cool – was a quick, easy method, but a spatula will also work. Make sure you don’t use metal utensils that might damage the non-stick coating, which was effective enough for the doughnuts to pop out easily, even without pre-greasing.
Although it’s dishwasher safe, it’s recommended you hand-wash the tin before and after each use, and its non-stick surface means it cleans up easily enough. This tin also comes with a 10-year warranty and is compact enough for easy storage.
American Originals 3-in-1 treat maker
Best for gifting
This nifty little treat maker is compact, great value, and would make a great gift, as it looks good and comes in a brightly coloured box. Changeable plates mean you can use the maker to create one big waffle, nine cake pops, or four mini doughnuts.
Although there’s no timer or temperature gauge, the simplicity of the controls makes it easy and instinctive to use – simply insert your chosen plates (which is super-simple, using buttons top and bottom), plug the machine in, and wait for the red light to go off to indicate it’s heated up, which takes a zippy three minutes. To make doughnuts, the instructions recommend that you use a piping bag (or a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off) to fill each mould 2/3 full, which we found to be the best method.
The instructions say doughnuts should take 6-8 minutes to cook, so we checked after six minutes. Although they were much lighter on top than underneath (due to the batter needing to rise to hit the top plates), they didn’t taste burned, and were cooked through. Eight minutes gives a slightly crisper base and firmer texture.
Removing the doughnuts even without pre-greasing is easy. The results at both six and eight minutes were light, fluffy, and not at all dry, with a crispy, sugary base. No part of the machine is dishwasher proof, but the plates are easy to clean in warm soapy water.
The downsides to this maker are that the outside gets very hot, which means keeping it well away from children. Making a batch of doughnuts of just four at a time (we got 38 out of our batch of cupcake batter) is also a little painstaking, but gives you plenty of time to wash up and ice your cooked doughnuts at leisure, if they haven’t been snaffled while still warm.
Overall, we enjoyed using this maker and its compact size, although it’s not convenient for making large batches, means it’s easy to store and pull out whenever you fancy a miniature treat.
Decora 6-cavity flower doughnut pan
Best for grown-up doughnuts
If plain, ring-shaped doughnuts simply aren’t cutting it for you, try the Decora flower doughnut pan. Making six medium-sized, flora-inspired doughnuts at a time (one batch of batter makes around 16), the result is some super-pretty doughnuts suitable for grown-up desserts.
We piped the batter into each mould, filling them halfway, and found that just seven minutes was enough time to bake a batch of tasty, golden doughnuts. Even without greasing, the cakes popped out of the moulds without any problem, and the tray’s effective non-stick surface was easy to clean, despite not being dishwasher-proof.
As well as making delicious doughnuts, the small ring size (8cm diameter) makes it suitable for moulding butter, or creating mini mousses and jellies, making it a worthwhile investment. It’s compact, so it’s ideal for smaller storage spaces, and is easy to handle in and out of the oven.
Whether you fill your flowery doughnuts with fruit and decorate them with icing to serve for dessert, or simply scoff them warm out of the oven, this tin is an easy way of producing great-looking treats.
Global Gizmos churros maker
Best for churro lovers
This model creates churros, which are Spain’s (slightly more glamorous) take on the classic doughnut. Most often dusted in cinnamon and sugar, then dipped into melted chocolate, churros are traditionally deep-fried – but this maker promises to give you all the flavour without quite so much fat.
The machine is a good-looking metallic red, feels sturdily produced, and is simple to use – simply plug it in, and wait for the green light, which tells you it’s heated up and takes just two and a half minutes.
Although the slim instruction leaflet doesn’t include a recipe, it’s easy enough to find the manufacturer’s recommended recipe online – mix 235ml cold water, 120g butter, 235g plain flour, three eggs and a quarter teaspoon of salt, leave the batter to rest while the maker heats up, and pour into the four churros moulds. As the butter isn’t melted in this recipe, we found the batter had lumps in it, but don’t be put off – it will still work. The gadget comes with a handy piping bag, but we found that using a jug worked just fine.
The instructions advise cooking the churros for five minutes, then flipping the machine over and cooking for five to six minutes more, to make sure you get the classic tube-shaped churro with ridges all round. As you turn the machine over, oil can leak out of the sides, so place it on a heat-proof surface and be very careful when turning, only gripping the handle. It also emits quite a bit of steam, so keep children well away while cooking.
After 10 minutes, our four 19cm-long churros were done. They were a bit dry and patchy-looking, and sugar refused to stick to the outsides, but they were evenly cooked, satisfyingly crispy, and had the classic ridged shape. They were also much improved by the addition of some chocolate dipping sauce.
After using, the machine needs to be cleaned with a soft damp cloth, as the heating plates aren’t removable. Although the results weren’t mind-blowing, if you’re an avid churros-lover but keen to cut down on deep-frying, these make a nice alternative for a reasonable price.
Six-cavity silicone doughnut mould
Best for easy storage
If you’re a fan of silicone cookware, then this six-cavity doughnut mould is ideal – plus you can take your pick of a range of colours. Bendable to fit into the snuggest of storage spaces, it performed as well as the metal tins we tested, with the added advantages of silicone – chiefly, that doughnuts don’t continue to cook on the hot metal when you take them out of the oven, it’s resistant to high temperatures, and microwave-safe.
One batch of batter will make 8-10 medium-sized doughnuts, which look best when the moulds are half-filled, helping to produce that classic doughnut shape. Doughnuts are ready in 7-10 minutes and can be flipped out of the mould straight onto a cooling rack, even without greasing.
Due to its bendable structure, care needs to be taken when lifting this mould into the oven, and both hands are needed, which can make it a little awkward to slide in and out, but this is a small niggle for what is overall a high-quality product. Cleaning is very easy too – you certainly won’t spend an age scrubbing this mould clean after enjoying your circular treats.
How we tested doughnut makers
Sturdiness and quality: Does the maker look good on first impressions? Is it sturdy and well-made? Does it include an instruction manual and recipes? Is it multi-use?
Controls: Is it intuitive to use? Does it have any special features such as a timer or temperature control? Is the flex long enough?
Ease of use: How long does the maker take to heat up? Does cooking time match what the instruction manual says? How do you know when your treats are cooked? Is it noisy?
Safety: Does it get particularly hot during use? Is it easy to overfill, or does it leak? Does it have any safety features such as a lock?
Results: How many treats can you make with one batch of batter? Are they easy to remove from the machine? Are doughnuts fluffy, light and soft? Are churros crispy and light?
Ease of cleaning and storage: How do you clean the plates? Are any of its parts dishwasher safe? Is the model compact enough to use on an average kitchen surface and store easily?
Value for money: If you buy this model, will you get your money’s worth?