You can mash potato too – in doughnuts!

Berry Gordy Jr. wrote that he could “dance the mash-potato,” but he probably never used mashed potatoes to make cake doughnuts. This magic ingredient and the following recipe from Grammie Nut will bring you back to that picture-perfect fall day – the one that  isn’t complete without a cup of fresh cider and  an old-fashioned (a.k.a. cake) doughnut.

Every community has an expert home cook – the untitled caregiver of the community who’s the first to arrive at the fire department with sustenance for the firefighters, or the first one on your doorstep when you’re in the midst of family marker events – taking care of you whether you’re family or not!

Births, deaths, celebrations, ripe fruit or vegetable season – Bea’s kitchen (Grammie Nut, as she was known in our town) was the source of both sweet and savory aromas.  She’s no longer with us, but her son-in-law makes these doughnuts and serves them at a local diner. You’ll find similar donuts in the big glass jar on the counter at many New England diners.

Cake or old-fashioned donuts are leavened with baking soda or baking powder. Yeast or raised doughnuts are distinctive, as they’re usually bigger and puffier (yeast and a rest or proofing period contribute to this); and they’re often dipped in honey glaze.

The following recipe is for Mashed Potato Doughnuts. If you’re looking for a cake-type buttermilk doughnut with a touch of whole wheat, check out our Old-Fashioned Cake Doughnuts.


In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar.  Creaming the shortening implies you’ll be using solid shortening.

Add to this creamed mix the eggs and mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes help hold the moisture in baked goods for moist, tender results. Got just a bit of leftover mashed potatoes? This recipe is a perfect way to use them up!

Pumpkin donuts would be another great fall treat… you could substitute canned puréed pumpkin for the mashed potatoes in this recipe.

Blend together the creamed mixture, potatoes and eggs, then measure out the milk.

Save the milk to add to the rest of the ingredients later.

In another bowl, mix together the King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg.

Add flour and milk ALTERNATELY to the creamed mixture. This cake method of mixing will help ensure a tender finished product. Alternately means there are five additions of ingredients to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Dry; wet (milk); dry; the remainder of the wet (milk), and finally the last of the dry.

Start with about 1/3 the amount of the dry ingredients added to the creamed mixture.

Here is the first addition of the dry mixture stirred into the creamed mixture.

Add about half the amount of the milk. Stir until incorporated. Continue with the second addition of dry ingredients, the last addition of milk, then the last addition of dry ingredients.

Once the dough is mixed, it can either be refrigerated; or shaped and fried immediately.

This day, we decided to cook off the doughnuts right away.

Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface to knead slightly.

Strive for a soft dough that’s thick enough to cut and hold its shape.

Roll the dough at least 1/2” thick.  Some doughnut makers prefer to pat the dough; others use a rolling pin; our silicone rolling pin works well.

Using a doughnut cutter, cut the doughnuts and toss from hand to hand to remove extra flour.

Set cut doughnuts on a clean surface.

Frying foods is not for the faint of calories, faint of fat, or faint of cholesterol! Fried doughnuts are a once-in-awhile treat to eat, or to fry in your home kitchen.

Heat grease or fat using medium-high heat – on this day we used vegetable oil and peanut oil for frying. Test the grease with a slice of white bread. The grease should bubble around the edges.

Pick up the bread and peek at the fried side.  If it’s golden brown after 1 minute, the temperature of the fat will be about 365°F – a good temperature for frying doughnuts.

Gently lower the doughnuts into the hot fat. As soon as the doughnut is close to the fat, release your grip and lift your hand up. This prevents dive-bombing doughnuts, and splashing fat!

Fry the doughnuts one layer at a time.

Turn the doughnuts when the first sides are golden brown.

This piece of equipment is called a spider. It’s from my wok set, and is the best tool for frying doughnuts, especially the holes. To fry the holes, place one layer of doughnut holes in the spider, and lower the spider into the hot grease. The holes will float and you can remove the spider to let them continue to cook.  The bagel strainer is another great tool for this!

Once the doughnuts are golden brown on both sides…

…remove them from the fat, and drain on paper towels.

Mix together 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a paper bag. Gently shake warm doughnuts in sugar/cinnamon mix, or leave plain.

The doughnuts at left, above, are coated in our Cinnamon-Sugar Plus. Doughnuts on the right are plain; and doughnuts in the front were coated in plain granulated sugar.


Honestly, I’ve made better doughnuts in the past than those pictured from this day; my former classroom students made better doughnuts!  The torn sides on these is an indication I incorporated too much flour into the dough.

Bea’s original recipe was also published in a fundraiser cookbook for our local library in the ’70s.  It calls for 5 cups of flour and 4 eggs, so to reduce any concerns about ingredients, I halved the recipe for you. Older recipes tend to be much larger than people these days want to make!

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or cider and enjoy this fall treat!

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Mashed Potato Doughnuts.


  1. Madeline

    These look great! Should the mashed potatoes have the butter and milk in them or not? Could you use potato flour instead? I also had a problem with getting the recipe link to work. I really appreciate this blog and the time you all take to make it! Thank you!
    Yes, I believe this recipe is intended to recycle those leftover mashed potatoes – butter, milk/cream, salt. Pure goodness. I am sorry you had some trouble getting to the recipe. The site is being worked on so please check back later. We would have to check with Irene on the potato flour substitution. I will ask and I am sure she will respond in the near future so stay tuned! Elisabeth @ KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Perry, we haven’t tried this, but we think using 1/2 cup of potato flour and increasing the milk to 3/4 cup might give you just about the right consistency in your doughnuts. They should still have the quintessential soft, moist texture that makes Mashes Potato Doughnuts so delicious. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  2. Wei-Wei

    Oh, these look amazing! Gnocchi are made with mashed potato, so I can’t think of why they wouldn’t work in another baked good… Amazing idea. 😀 (And sweet potato I imagine would just be EPIC.)

  3. stanville

    Sounds good. Donuts are one of the few things I haven’t made, probably because Dad forbade Mom to deep fry anything because he had a friend who was seriously burned while making donuts. Squash are my favorite, and maybe I’ll tackle some one of these days.

  4. skeptic7

    Changing the subject a bit, do you have anything on glazed yeast donuts? How about baked yeast donuts? I love donuts. But I don’t like deep frying and need to watch the fat in my food. I get Maple Glazed yeast donuts as a special treat when I get to Canada. We have a recipe for raised donuts in our Baker’s Companion. We would be glad to send you a copy of that recipe if you call us. 802-649-3717. I’ve never successfully baked a raised donut recipe and had them taste like donuts, but give it a try. Have fun. Let us know how it comes out. Mary@ KAF

  5. fpabon

    The way you illustrate the donut making is awesome. Can the process be done in a KitchenAid 6 qt stand mixer. Yes, if you are careful not to over mix. Mary@ KAF

  6. jlaugher

    These look delcious! You wouldn’t by chance know how we could alter the recipe to make pumpking cake doughnuts? That would be delicious for fall. I would try adding pumpkin puree instead of the mashed potatoes. You might also want to put in a small amount of spice. Have fun with it. Mary@KAF

  7. samarchesseau

    I use a recipe very similar to this, mine only calls for 1.5 Tbs melted butter (instead of the oil) and sour milk (you mix the soda into the sour milk then add to the rest of the batter) instead of regular milk. They seem to puff up a bit more. Also, I keep instant mashed potatoes in my pantry so I can easily make 1 cup for recipes like this.

    When I was growing up my mother always kept paper bags of sugar, cinnamon and sugar and powdered sugar in the cupboard to shake the doughnuts in when they were warm. Thanks for posting, not many people make their own doughnuts and they’re such a treat!

  8. silvermist45

    You got me at you can also use pumpkin. I am a freak for anything pumpkin. And for the the first 50 years of my life I hated pumpkin. I used to make pumpkin pies for family holidays, by request, but never tasted one of them. My how our tastes do change. Sure hope we get some pumpkin on the store shelves soon. I do have a couple of cans I have hoarded since last Thanksgiving/Christmas. I may have to break down and open a can. LOL!!! Love your site. Love your posts. Love your flours and love the recipes. Thanks everyone

  9. jlgirl617

    Any way to make these into apple cider donuts? Or at least apple-y? Perhaps thick applesauce for the mashed potatoes, or half potato half applesauce? I’d think that subbing apple cider for the milk might cause dryness issues from the lack of added fat…

    Also, I tried making donuts for the first time a few days ago, and they ended up really brown and REALLY greasy. Did I just fry them too long? My oil was at 375 and I put them in for 4 minutes total just like my recipe said, but I made sure everything was at room temperature, so the oil temp didn’t drop when I added the dough…should donut dough be refrigerated before putting into the hot oil? Is that what went wrong? Thanks! I would use applesauce instead of the mashed potato and add some boiled cider to boost the flavor. I think you may have fried them too long. You were correct to have your dough at room temperature. It helps to keep the temperature of the oil more consistent. Keep trying. Have fun with it. Mary@ KAF

  10. dwighttsharpe

    I always wonder how donut recipes will turn out if they are baked rather than fried? Both the cake and yeast type?

    I do know your muffin donuts, a baked recipe, is exceptionally good.We have several recipes for baked donuts on our web site. I’ve never had a lot of success trying to bake a fried donut recipe and have it taste like a dnout, rather than a roll. Mary@KAF

  11. Sue E.

    Any thoughts on baked pumpkin version? C’mon, we gotta have something to go with green mountain’s pumpkin spice coffee!! Try substituting pumpkin puree for the mashed potatoes. Have fun with it. Mary@ KAF

  12. poketigger9645

    MASH potatoes from dinner is great pumpkin old oatmeal too.
    IF you add sugar glaze to it then you will never know you are eating
    left overs.
    IN old resturant kitchen we used many things to keep food cost down.
    nothing like basic cooking.

  13. lreed

    I just made these, and they are absolutely fantastic. I make doughnuts every fall and these are excellent. We are completely decadent when we put a small scoop of ice cream on top and a wee bit of whipped cream and drizzle chocolate sauce- A Vermont Sundae!

  14. KimberlyD

    As I have mentioned before, I use to make cake donuts. You can make a chocolate or vanilla frosting and dip the donuts in them than in sprinkles or crushed peanuts. You know we used a mix for our donuts, but this looks easy to do will have to try it. I think I will try the pumpkin donuts.

  15. maggiehenry

    Solid shortening? Crisco? Please tell me this can be lard or butter… something real and natural! I would give lard a try. It will be an experiment but I think a 1:1 substitution would work. Have fun with it. Mary@KAF

  16. dunn2

    I love the idea of pumpkin…or sweet potato as Sue mentioned above. Can this recipe be baked or would you recommend one of the other recipes for baking? Thanks for all you at KAF do! I would recommend using one of the other recipes for baked donuts. Mary@KAF

  17. Melissa

    The recipe says you can make the batter a day ahead. Would it work to freeze half for another time and thaw before frying?

    I think it would work just fine, though we haven’t tried it, Melissa. You might want to actually cut the doughnuts, freeze them on a baking sheet, then bag airtight and keep frozen for up to a month. Then, to cook, let them thaw at room temperature before frying. Enjoy – PJH

  18. Wendy

    I had a hard time frying these. The oil was new, and I kept it between 365 -370, turned the donuts as they got golden and took them out quickly. But they were still just grease soaked. I drained them on a wire rack immediately. Any ideas?
    Sorry the frying didn’t work as expected, especially after your hard work to make the dough. Bear in mind the oil will cool as doughnuts are added, so frying in small batches works best. The frying method of deep fry (food sinks to the bottom, then raises to the top of the oil) works better than a pan or shallow fry. You might test the oil with a half slice of bread, then test fry one or two doughnuts to see how long they will take to cook in the center as well as brown around outside. If the doughnuts are still grease soaked, increase the temperature slightly and test fry again. I hope these tips help! Irene @ KAF

  19. psycnrs1

    Here I am spending the day looking for doughnut recipes. I will be trying the Mashed Potato ones. Thanks for making my day.
    Sounds like a delightful way to send the day! ~ MaryJane

  20. Margie

    Have you ever heard of Fastnachts? My grandma would make them before Lent. This stirred in me a great desire for them.

    I grew up enjoying those as well. Give these a try. Frank @ KAF.

  21. tribi

    I made these this weekend and they turned out great. I plan on making them again with canned pumpkin instead of the mashed potatoes because we accidentally bought two gallons of fresh local cider and we will need more donuts just to get rid of all that cider.
    I have one of those huge Ball canning jars, it’s several gallons at least, we put the donuts in there and it looks very festive. (Plus you can only take out one at a time or your paw gets stuck.) I expect the family is hoping the donut jar will become just another thing I fill with wonderfulness each week like the bread box and the cookie jar. Thanks!

  22. Meredith @ SweetDreamsBakery

    I make cake donuts four times per week for local stores and I have found that using lard produces the best flavor and least grease. Canola oil is more economical and still tastes good but lard is by far much better! I make pumpkin donuts in the fall and they are to die for! Good luck everyone!

    Meredith, we’d love it if you’d share your pumpkin doughnut recipe on our community site – if it’s not a secret! 🙂 PJH

  23. Luv2Bake

    Hi, I was just wondering if you could name the local diner you were talking about in this post? Thanks!

    Sorry for the delay, had to catch up with Irene. She says it’s the Fairlee Diner in Fairlee, Vermont. PJH

  24. MelonNet

    The second I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. I have a little list of baked items that are absolutely always purchased, doughnuts sadly residing on that list (As well as cornbread, biscuits, and pound cake. Working on eradicating the list bit by bit.)

    The recipe was simple and delicious. I find myself getting out of bed at 3 am to make a gigantic croquembouche-like tower of doughnut holes. Another perfect recipe from KAF!

    So glad you liked it- it’s definitely a classic, and has been handed down through the generations. I love it when we’re able to keep these old recipes alive by passing them on. And, next on your list – check out our Golden Vanilla Pound Cake – YUM. Thanks for connecting here- PJH

  25. MelonNet

    I love love loveeee this recipe! (See my previous comment)

    My question is now that I have mastered it, is it possible to skip punching the hole and fry it round and fill it with pastry cream a la Boston Cream?

    Yes, I’d think so. You might want to make them a bit smaller. to fry them all the way through; too big a doughnut, and the center would be doughy… Good luck! PJH

  26. Aaron


    I have a question about fat. Do you use the peanut oil to raise the smoking point? And does the flavor of the peanut oil overwhelm a more neutral vegetable oil? Could I use a little clarified butter added to the oil?

    If not using a stand mixer do you have suggestions on scaling this up so I could make a big batch at once? Maybe 10 dozen or so for a couple of functions?

    Thank you

    1. PJ Hamel

      Aaron, the peanut oil does raise the smoking point, but beyond that I simply like the flavor (not peanuts, something indescribable) it gives deep-fried foods.

      For the big function – easiest for you, certainly since you don’ have a mixer and would be doing this by hand? – would be to have helpers who could each make part of the dough, and bring it to you for frying. Other than that, I’d say make five double batches, refrigerating each one as it’s made. Frying the doughnuts closest to when you’ll be serving them is optimal, but I don’t know if your schedule allows that. You could try frying, storing at room temperature, then reheating for about 10 minutes in a 350°F oven just before serving. Good luck! PJH

  27. Aaron

    Thanks PJ! I do have a mixer but it’s five quarts and that does not go very far when making big batches I made 400 sandwich cookies and 600 brownies this summer so I’ve learned about staging.It requires the three Ps… Planning, prep, and patience on the part of my wife as I took over the kitchen and part of the family room (for packaging).

    And thanks for the peanut oil tip as well.


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