Close your eyes and imagine the sweet aroma of cinnamon filling the air as you bite into a warm, delectable donut hole that is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
That’s the magic of air fryer donut holes, and in this article, I’m going to share the secrets of preparing these delightful treats!
This recipe is not only easy to follow but also tried, tested, and family-approved in my own kitchen, ensuring you’ll get delicious, guilt-free donut holes every time you use your air fryer.
What We Are Going To Need
To start making your delicious air fryer donut holes, here’s a simple list of ingredients and equipment you’ll need.
For Homemade Donut Holes
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml milk
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1.5 Tablespoons baking powder
- 2 cups / 240 grams all-purpose / plain flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
For The Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Air Fryer: The show’s star, which allows you to cook the donut holes to crispy perfection.
- Mixing Bowls: Get different sizes to make separating your dry and wet ingredients easier. I always use my medium-sized bowl for dry ingredients and a larger one for mixing everything.
- Whisk and Spoon: These are a must-have for mixing your ingredients smoothly. I’ve found that a good whisk makes a big difference in getting the batter right.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision is key in baking, so ensure you have a set for accurate measurements.
Nice to haves:
- Dough Scoop or Spoon: To shape the donut holes uniformly.
- Cooling Rack: Ideal for cooling the donut holes after air frying.
- Pastry Brush: Handy for applying butter if you choose to coat your donut holes with cinnamon sugar post-air frying.
Now that you have all the necessary ingredients and tools, let’s jump into the process of making air fryer donut holes!
How To Make Donut Holes in Air Fryer: Step-by-Step Guide
Follow these detailed steps to create your dough, shape your donut holes, and cook them to perfection.
Step 1: Making the Donut Hole Dough:
Combine Dry Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Mix Wet Ingredients:
In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg, melted unsalted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients:
Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. I’ve found that the key here is not to overmix — a slightly sticky, soft dough is perfect.
Step 2: Shaping and Preparing the Donut Holes:
Flour your hands and surface lightly. Scoop out small portions of dough (you can use a dough cutter to make it easier) and roll them into 2-2.5 cm (1-inch) balls.
This part is particularly fun, and my son loves helping out here!
Step 3: Cooking in the Air Fryer:
Preheat your air fryer to 320°F (160°C). Lightly grease the basket. Place the dough balls in the basket, ensuring they don’t touch (You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.)
Air fry for 6-8 minutes. I like to turn them halfway for even browning.
Cool and Serve: Once done, carefully remove the donut holes from the air fryer and let them cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving.
Step 4: Coating the Donut Holes:
Prepare the Coating: In a shallow dish or bowl, mix additional granulated sugar and ground cinnamon. The ratio is typically ¼ cup of sugar to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, but you can adjust to your taste.
Coat While Warm: Once the donut holes are out of the air fryer and have cooled for just a minute or two (they should still be warm), brush them lightly with melted unsalted butter using a pastry brush (or just dip them in). This step is optional but helps the sugar mixture stick better.
Toss in Sugar Mixture: Place the warm, buttered donut holes in the sugar-cinnamon mixture, and gently toss or roll them around until they are evenly coated.
Serve: Serve the coated donut holes immediately while they are still warm and the coating is fresh.
Flavor Variations and Toppings
I’m a huge fan of experimenting with different flavors in the kitchen, I’ve found that these are some of my absolute favorites for dressing up air fryer donut holes:
- Glazed: There’s something about a classic glazed donut hole that’s simply irresistible. I love dipping the warm donut holes in a smooth, sweet glaze made from powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a hint of vanilla extract.
- Chocolate: Just melt the chocolate with a touch of butter until it’s smooth and glossy. It’s a simple, mess-free process that always brings a smile to my son’s face, as this rich, indulgent topping is his absolute favorite.
- Lemon Glaze: All you need is to whisk together freshly squeezed lemon juice with powdered sugar until you achieve a smooth, pourable consistency. The tangy sweetness of this glaze adds a refreshing burst of flavor. I like it, especially with my morning coffee.
Toppings and Fillings:
Here are a few of my go-to choices that always seem to add that extra special touch:
- Sprinkles: There’s something about adding colorful sprinkles to glazed donut holes that makes them instantly more festive and fun. It’s a simple addition, but it brings so much joy, especially when I’m serving these treats at parties or to kids.
- Nut Toppings: For a bit of texture and nutty flavor, I often opt for chopped nuts like walnuts, pecans, or almonds. They provide a delightful crunch that contrasts beautifully with the softness of the donut holes.
Troubleshooting Tips: Problems I Had (and Solutions)
Through my own experiences in making air fryer donut holes, I’ve encountered a few common issues that beginners might face.
Here are some tips and solutions to help you navigate these challenges and ensure your donut holes turn out perfectly every time.
Dough Consistency Issues:
- Sticky Dough: In my early attempts, I sometimes ended up with dough that was too sticky. The solution? Gradually add a bit more flour, just a tablespoon at a time, until the dough becomes easier to handle.
- Dry Dough: On the flip side, if your dough is too dry and crumbly, a little extra milk can help. Add it teaspoon by teaspoon until the dough reaches the right consistency.
Cooking Time and Temperature:
- Undercooked Donut Holes: One common mistake is not cooking the donut holes long enough. If they’re doughy inside, they need a few more minutes. Keep in mind that cooking times can vary depending on your air fryer model and the size of your donut holes.
- Overcooked and Dry: To avoid overcooking, start checking your donut holes a minute or two before the suggested cooking time ends. They should be golden and springy to the touch.
Preventing Sticking in the Air Fryer:
- Greasing the Basket: Early on, I learned the hard way that not greasing the air fryer basket can lead to sticking. A light spray of cooking oil does wonders.
- Use of Parchment Rounds: Placing parchment rounds with holes at the bottom of the basket can also help prevent sticking and make cleanup easier.
Achieving Even Browning:
- Turning Donut Holes Halfway Through: I found that gently shaking the basket or using tongs to turn the donut holes halfway through cooking ensures they brown evenly on all sides.
- Avoid Overcrowding: Make sure to space the donut holes apart in the air fryer. Crowding them can lead to uneven cooking.