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These homemade doughnuts will be a hit wherever and whenever you serve them. Offer them at a weekend brunch, served alongside a savory breakfast casserole and a bowl of fresh fruit, or pack them into a basket with fried chicken bites and egg salad for a fall picnic. Slow-Cooker Apple Butter adds exceptional sweetness and seasonal spice flavors to these doughnuts.  If you don’t want to make your own, use your favorite store brand. You can make the doughnut dough up to 2 days in advance. After cutting the doughnut shapes, you can roll the mid sections and fry them for cute doughnut balls. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, or drizzle with the salted caramel glaze.  To make the glaze, bring brown sugar, butter, and whole milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. This glaze is delicious spooned over baked apples, yogurt and granola, and ice cream.

Pam Lolley


Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe Summary test

45 mins
2 hrs
2 hrs 45 mins
30 doughnuts


Salted-Caramel Glaze


Instructions Checklist
  • Prepare the Doughnuts: Beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

  • Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir together Slow-Cooker Apple Butter and buttermilk in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Beating on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture alternately with apple butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture until fully incorporated. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead 5 or 6 times. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness, and cut with a 2 ½-inch round cutter. Cut holes out of center using a 1-inch round cutter. Reroll all scraps once; repeat cutting process.

  • Heat 2 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven to 375°F; fry 4 or 5 Doughnuts at a time (do not overcrowd) until browned and done, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

  • Prepare the Salted-Caramel Glaze: Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and kosher salt. Stir constantly 2 minutes; use immediately.

  • Dip top half of Doughnuts in Salted-Caramel Glaze, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let stand 10 minutes; serve warm.