Donuts with Burnt Caramel and Sea Salt Recipe

Yield: 18 Servings
Cook Time:
5 mins
This recipe has an 8 hour (or overnight) rest/cold proof time in the refrigerator. It quick and easy to make the dough the night before, then roll out, rise, and fry the donuts the next day. You can short cut it proofing the dough in one or two hours in a warm spot instead of overnight in the fridge, but the dough won't handle as easily and the donuts won't have as good of a final rise. Donut dough recipe based on Pioneer Woman. There are a couple ways to successfully make caramel. We prefer the swirl method. Never stirring the sugar as it cooks, instead just swirling the pan frequently (no spoons used at all) to help the sugar cook evenly. As always, be very careful making caramel. There are very few burns worse than caramel burns. Incredibly hot, and it will just stick to your skin, searing badly.


Donut Dough

  • 1 1/8 cups (270ml) Milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) Sugar
  • 1 pkg (2 1/4 teaspoons or 8g) Active Dry Yeast
  • 2/3 cup (140g) unsalted Butter
  • 2 lrg Eggs , beaten
  • 4 cups (500g) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2g) Sea Salt
  • Grape seed , Peanut, or Canola Oil for deep frying

Burnt Caramel and Sea Salt Glaze

  • 6 Tablespoon (85g) unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup (200g) Sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) Heavy Cream
  • Sea Salt Flakes or Kosher Salt (Maldon's Sea Salt is excellent for this use)


Make the Dough

  1. In a small saucepan or microwave, gently warm milk to @ 115° F (bath water temp.). Add sugar and yeast and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
  2. Gently melt butter until it is almost all melted. Take off of heat. Stir to finish melting butter. Add beaten eggs and whisk to combine (make sure butter isn't too warm or it will cook the eggs).
  3. Put butter mix into an electric mixer bowl fit with a dough hook.  Turn mixer on low speed (or stir setting) and add yeast mixture to the butter. Increase speed to 3 or medium-low speed. Mix for a couple minutes or until thoroughly combined.
  4. Combine flour and salt. Add the flour to the dough mix in 1/2 cup increments, mixing for a minute or so in between measurements, until flour is fully incorporated. Scrape the bowl then mix again on medium-low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape again, then mix for another 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer dough to a large well-oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator. Refrigerate dough for at least 8 hours, or overnight (*for shortcut see head note).

Roll and Cut

  1. On a well floured surface, roll doughnuts out to 1/3"-1/2" thick. If the dough feels springy, let rest for a couple minutes.
  2. Using a 3" cutter, cut as many rounds out of the dough as you can. Pull away the excess dough and set aside to roll again. Gently pick up the rounds and place on a well floured sheet pan.
  3. Using a 1" or 1 1/8" cutter, cut out the center hole. Either place holes on baking sheet to fry as doughnut holes or add hole dough back into excess dough.
  4. Roll remaining dough out again to 1/3"-1/2" thick. Let rest for 5 minutes. Repeat cutting and rolling until dough is used up.
  5. Cover doughnuts with a large tea towel and place in a warm place. Allow doughnuts to rise for at least an hour or until visibly puffier and airy.

Make Burnt Caramel Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Butter will foam, then settle down. Continue to cook and the now separated solids will begin to brown and develop a toasty, nut aroma. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat sugar over medium high heat. As sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan side to side frequently to help the sugar melt evenly. Continue to cook and swirl until the caramel begins to smoke slightly and is a deep amber color.
  3. Cook for just a touch more, allowing the flavor to develop a bit more. Remove from heat then pour in the browned butter. Pour in the heavy cream. (It will bubble up quite a bit.) Whisk to incorporate.
  4. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Fry the Doughnuts

  1. In a large pot, pour enough oil to be at least 1" deep.  Heat to 375°F. (If possible, use a thermometer and do not let oil get hotter than 380° F.)
  2. Gently pick up and ease donuts into oil. (Do not put more than a single layer of donuts into the oil) Cook each side until light golden brown (they cook quick, usually less than 1 minute per side).
  3. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon. Drain on several layers of paper towels, carefully turning over every 5 seconds a few times to try and blot as much oil out as possible without squishing the donuts (they will be extra soft while still warm). Repeat with remaining donuts.
  4. (optional) If cooking donut holes, they won't want to flip very easily. To cook evenly, continually turn and spin holes with a slotted spoon until evenly browned.  They will cook even faster than the donuts.

Glaze the Donuts

  1. Spoon a line of caramel sauce over the donuts, it will run down the sides. Very lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Donuts are best while still warm.

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