Any type of filling almost always transforms a food I like into a food I love. For example, a croissant is even more appealing when filled with chocolate, and a burger patty is almost always better when stuffed with cheese.
The same is true for doughnuts. Of course, they’re good without a filling, but they’re way more delicious with one! Not only do you get to enjoy the fried dough, but also a creamy and sweet inside that contrasts the outside perfectly. If you have a little time and hankering for a decadent breakfast, learn to make homemade cream-filled doughnuts that will rival your local doughnut shop.
Key Ingredients in Cream-Filled Doughnuts
Yeast: Our recipe calls for active dry yeast, but you can use instant yeast with a few tweaks to the recipe.Flour: All-purpose flour works nicely for this recipe, which makes it easy since it’s one of the baking ingredients you should have on hand.Milk: We recommend 2% milk for baked goods, but you can also use whole or 1% in its place. “The milk in this recipe helps create the soft, even crumb, adds to the richness of the dough, and also helps create the beautiful, browned color when frying,” says Taste of Home associate recipe editor and tester Maggie Knoebel.Eggs: Eggs add moisture and richness, and give the dough some structure. The particular combination of whole eggs and additional egg yolks provides color in the dough, plus flavor and stability.Sugar: Granulated sugar contributes to the golden brown color of the doughnut and adds sweetness.
Cream-Filled Doughnuts Recipe
This recipe from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen makes 16 doughnuts. It only takes a few hours from start to finish, including time spent waiting for the dough to rise.
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast1 cup warm 2% milk (110 to 115F)3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided1 large egg, room temperature2 large egg yolks, room temperature3/4 cup sugar, divided1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 cup butter, melted1 teaspoon vanilla extractOil for deep-fat frying
1-1/2 cups cold 2% milk1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
Step 1: Proof the yeast
In a large bowl, dissolve the active dry yeast in warm milk. Add 1 cup flour and mix well. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Editor’s Tip: Our guide to how to proof yeast explains that active dry yeast typically needs to sit and proof in warm water before doing anything else but Maggie explains that since this is a tanzhong-style bread starter, you won’t need to let the yeast sit in the warm milk. You can mix it together with the flour right afterwards and then let the dough proof.
Step 2: Make the dough
Add the egg, egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and salt to the flour mixture and mix well. Beat in the melted butter, vanilla and remaining 2-1/2 cups flour. Do not knead.
Step 3: Proof the dough
Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Step 4: Roll out the doughnuts
Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut with a 2-1/2-in. biscuit cutter. Place on lightly greased baking sheets.
Step 5: Proof the dough again
Cover the dough and let it rise until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes.
Step 6: Make the filling
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the milk and pudding mix according to package directions. Refrigerate until serving.
Step 7: Fry the doughnuts
In a deep-fat fryer or electric skillet, heat the oil to 375F. Fry the doughnuts, a few at a time, for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on paper towels.
Step 8: Sugar coat the doughnuts
When the doughnuts have cooled slightly, roll them in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.
Step 9: Fill the doughnuts
Cut a small hole in the tip of a pastry bag and insert a small pastry tip. Fill the bag with the prepared pudding. With a small knife, pierce a hole into the side of each doughnut and fill with the pudding.
Each doughnut should be able to hold a scant 1/4 cup of filling.
How to Make Flavored Creams
Use any flavor of instant pudding to make different flavored creams for doughnuts. Our recipe calls for vanilla mix, but you can use chocolate, red velvet, pistachio or banana creamwhatever instant pudding tickles your fancy when you’re at the store. You could also use a favorite homemade pudding recipe, but consider thickening it by using about 1/4 less of the milk it calls for so that the pudding isn’t too runny for the doughnuts. A favorite mousse recipe could do the trick as well, if it’s thick enough.
Our recipe for pastry cream would be another great choice for the filling. The recipe also provides instructions on how to make flavored pastry cream, using ingredients like cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, amaretto, Irish cream, lemon zest or even fresh berries.
Tips for Making Cream-Filled Doughnuts
How should you store cream-filled doughnuts?
If you fully prepare the doughnuts, including rolling them in sugar and filling them with the cream, you’ll need to store them in the refrigerator. We’d recommend eating them the same day you prepare them for the best quality, but you can eat any leftovers the next day if necessary.
Can you freeze cream-filled doughnuts?
Our guide to how to freeze doughnuts gives you step-by-step directions. For best results, freeze unsugared and unfilled doughnuts in an airtight freezer bag after they’ve fully cooled. They’ll keep for about 3 months.
Thaw them at room temperature the night before you’re ready to enjoy them. Just know that the sugar might not stick as well after they’ve been frozen, but you can try spritzing the doughnuts with a nonstick cooking spray like Pam before rolling them in sugar again first to help it stick better.