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Potato Donuts are easy to make and even easier to eat! Adding potatoes to the dough makes them moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.It never fails…after every holiday dinner, we find ourselves with a container of leftover mashed potatoes in the refrigerator! That’s not a bad thing – especially when we turn those leftovers into delicious Potato Donuts! We were inspired to develop a potato donut recipe after a trip to Portland, Maine – home of Holy Donuts, a shop with lines out the door of customers waiting to buy their famous Maine potato donuts. Their recipe is a closely guarded secret – but our version is very delicious too!
Why you’ll love them
- These donuts are very easy to make thanks to a soft, supple dough that is very easy to roll, cut and fry.
- Potato donuts cook up crispy on the outside, but stay nice and moist on the inside, with a nice light crumb texture.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Mashed Potatoes – Use leftover mashed potatoes if you have them, or cook them specifically for this recipe. Either way, you’ll want the mashed potatoes to be warm before mixing into the dough.
- Melted Butter – Either salted or unsalted is fine
- Vanilla Extract – This adds a nice subtle flavor to the donuts.
- Granulated Sugar – For sweetness – of course!
- Whole Milk and Sour Cream – Both of these ingredients should be cold as you add them to the dough.
- All–Purpose Flour
- Baking Powder – For leavening. Make sure your baking powder is fresh for best results
- Vegetable Shortening – For frying the donuts.
- More Granulated Sugar and Cinnamon – To coat the fried donuts. You can substitute powdered sugar, dip the donuts into a confectioner’s sugar glaze, melted chocolate, or Magic Shell.
Chef’s Tip Use a donut cutter like this if you have one. Or, use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter for the outer edge, and a 1-inch round to cut out the donut hole.
How do I make them?
- Mix the mashed potatoes with butter, extract, sugar, milk and sour cream with a wire whisk.
- Add flour and baking powder to the wet ingredients and mix well. We found it easier to work the dough with our hands.
- Sprinkle your counter with flour and roll out the dough.
- Cut into donuts and donut holes.
- Fry in batches until cooked golden brown on the outside.
- Drain donuts on a wire cooling rack, then toss with sugar and cinnamon to coat.
Chef’s Tip Use a deep-fry thermometer or an infrared thermometer to make sure that your frying oil is between 360 and 370 degrees F before adding the donuts.
Frequently asked Questions
- Can I make a smaller quantity? You can alter this recipe up or down based on the amount of leftover mashed potatoes you have on hand. We had three cups of mashed potatoes, which yielded 4 dozen 3” donuts – without re-rolling the scraps.
- Can I make my donuts larger? Sure – just use a larger donut cutter. The frying time may need to be adjusted so cook a test donut to determine the cooking time needed.
- Can I make ahead? Yes – to a point. There’s nothing better than freshly-fried donuts but you can fry them earlier in the day if needed.
- How do I store? Once cooled, store your doughnuts in an air-tight container or bag. These potato donuts are best eaten within a day or two.
- Can I freeze? Yes – in fact, we’d recommend that you freeze them if you don’t plan to eat these donuts right away. Lay them flat on a sheet pan and freeze until firm, then bag them up for storage.
- Can I make these with sweet potatoes? We haven’t tested a sweet potato version (yet!) – although I’m sure they would be delicious. Sweet potatoes have more moisture than russet or other white potatoes so you’ll likely need to make some other adjustments to the recipe as well.
3 cups hot mashed potatoes (if cold, microwave to heat)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup cold whole milk
¾ cup cold sour cream
7 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tablespoons baking powder
1 pound vegetable shortening for frying (4 sticks of Crisco), or a few inches of vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
In a very large bowl, add hot mashed potatoes, melted butter, vanilla, sugar, milk and sour cream and whisk using a wire whip.
In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
Use a strong rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, work the flour into the wet potato mixture. We found it easier to get the flour mixed in the bowl, then work it with our hands on the counter to finish. It was a little sticky but workable.
Sprinkle flour on your counter and add the dough ball and flatten with your hands into a large disc.
Flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin and roll to ¼ inch thick. The dough is very soft and rolls very easily.
Use a donut cutter if you have one; we used a 3” cutter. If you don’t own one, cut large circles with a standard cookie cutter then smaller inner circles with a smaller cutter.
In a low deep heavy pan, place shortening and heat until melted then heat to between 360- and 370-degrees F. This is the optimal temperature range for donuts. Try to keep it at this temperature between batches.
Have a sheet tray with a rack standing by.
Mix sugar and cinnamon and place in a pie dish.
Have another sheet tray or serving platter standing by.
Once the oil is between 360- and 370-degrees F, place six donuts in the hot oil and fry for about a minute or so on each side, turning with a spider strainer, tongs or wooden chopsticks. Once browned on both sides, use a spider to transfer to the rack to drain. Total fry time should be between two and three minutes.
If the oil is back up to temperature, start six more to fry.
While the next six are frying, toss the first cooked batch in the cinnamon sugar then move to the serving tray.
Continue until all of the donuts are fried and coated.
Once the oil is back up to heat, fry the donut holes in one or two batches and following the same process, drain then toss in cinnamon sugar.
Feel free to re-roll the scraps and cut more donuts. (We fried the scraps as is, then munched on them while we photographed.)
Serve immediately. We stored extra donuts frozen in zip lock bags.
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