I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making homemade doughnuts but find it too daunting when it comes to deep-frying. But this problem has been solved ever since owning an air fryer! How do air-fried doughnuts fare compared to their deep-fried counterpart? In full transparency, deep-fried doughnuts will always have a better edge, as per with most foods. However, with air-fried doughnuts, you don’t have to deal with the daunting oil splashes and it doesn’t require your constant attention. For me, that’s kind of a win and it makes the process of making these Air Fryer Nutella Doughnuts a breeze. Another pro for air frying the doughnuts is that it’s a comparatively lighter bite and just all in all a great munch!

I went with Nutella here as my filling choice but you can pretty much swap it with whatever you like. Try it with Biscoff spread, chocolate, peanut butter, jam…anything! As long as you have a good dough and a nice sugar coating as the final touch, these doughnuts are going to work like a charm.

How to make Air Fryer Nutella Doughnuts

Ingredients:

  • Instant Yeast – you can use traditional active dry yeast but with instant yeast, you don’t need to wait for it to bloom before mixing it into the flour
  • White Sugar – to sweeten the dough
  • Milk – warmed at bath-like temperature
  • Egg, Melted Butter – to flavour and to bind the dough
  • Plain Flour – you’ll need more for kneading
  • Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon Powder – flavouring
  • Nutella – the filling

For the coating

  • Melted Butter – to help get the sugar stick
  • Sugar – I used a mix of both white sugar and demerara sugar for extra crunch and texture

Recipe notes

What is the temperature for activating yeast?

Note that you need warm milk for the dough, not hot. This is crucial because if the temperature’s too high, it would kill the yeast. On the other hand, if the temperature’s too low, you won’t be able to activate the yeast. Lukewarm temperature, around 40°C (like a bath!), would do the trick.

Instant Yeast vs Active Dry Yeast

As mentioned, you can use instant yeast and active dry yeast interchangeably. For active dry yeast, you’ll have to leave the yeast to bloom in the warm milk before mixing in dry ingredients. 10 to 15 minutes should be sufficient to allow the yeast to activate and you’d find the mixture getting frothy on top. Whereas with instant yeast, you can skip the step as the mixture should froth up immediately.

What is the key to a fluffy dough?

The key to a fluffy dough is to give it time to rise. There will be two stages in this recipe where you’ll have to leave the dough to rise. The first part is after kneading the dough, and it would be ready when the dough has at least doubled in size after roughly an hour or two (depending on your surrounding temperature). Before (air-)frying them, you’ll have to leave the filled doughnuts to proof again, where they’ll be leavened and grown in size once again.

Why do you cover the dough in a damp cloth?

The purpose of a damp cloth is to retain moisture and preventing the dough from drying out as it rises. It basically prevents a dry crust from forming over the dough.

Why do you leave the dough in an oiled bowl to rise?

A few reasons why you should brush a layer of oil in the bowl before placing the dough in it to rise: (1) it prevents the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl; (2) similar to the previous point above, it helps to prevent a dry crust from forming on the dough.

Air Fryer Nutella Doughnuts Recipe

ET Food Voyage
These air fryer Nutella doughnuts are a lighter and healthier alternative to their deep-fried counterparts but with no short of decadence!
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 15 donuts
Calories 182 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tsp Instant Yeast
  • 2 tbsp White Sugar
  • ½ cup Warm Milk
  • 3 tbsp Melted Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • ½ cup Nutella

For the sugar coating

  • 3-4 tbsp Melted Butter
  • 2 tbsp White Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Demerara Sugar

Instructions
 

  • Mix together instant yeast, white sugar and warm milk. The mixture should get slightly foamy on top.
    2 tsp Instant Yeast, 2 tbsp White Sugar, ½ cup Warm Milk
  • Add in egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
    3 tbsp Melted Butter, 1 Egg, 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Sift in plain flour and add the cinnamon powder. Mix until the dough forms.
    2 cups Plain Flour, 1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes until a smooth dough forms.
  • Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  • After the dough has doubled in size, transfer onto a floured surface and divide the dough into 15 portions.
  • Gently flatten out the dough a little bit and scoop in Nutella, about 2 tsp per doughnut, at the centre. Then fold up the sides, gently seal and roll until smooth into ball-shaped. Repeat with remaining dough.
    ½ cup Nutella
  • Transfer filled doughnuts onto a baking tray and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest and rise in a warm place for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 180°C.
  • Brush oil over the air fryer basket and place the risen doughnuts into it. Do not overcrowd and cook in batches if necessary.
  • Brush oil over the doughnuts and cook for 5-6 minutes until golden brown in colour.
  • Allow the doughnuts to cool down slightly. In the meantime, if using 2 sugars, combine together white sugar and demerara sugar.
  • Coat the doughnuts in melted butter then roll in the sugars until fully coated. Serve immediately.
    3-4 tbsp Melted Butter, 2 tbsp Demerara Sugar, 2 tbsp White Sugar

Notes

  • Cook time is referring to the cooking time per batch in the air fryer. 
  • It is crucial for the milk to be at a lukewarm temperature for activating the yeast. If the temperature’s too high, it would kill the yeast; if the temperature’s too low, the yeast won’t activate. 
  • Instant yeast and active dry yeast can be substituted interchangeably. If using active dry yeast, you’ll have to leave the yeast to bloom in the warm milk for 10-15 minutes until frothy before mixing in dry ingredients.
  • When leaving the dough to rise, it is important to cover with a damp cloth in order to keep moisture and preventing dry crusts to form. 
Keyword Afternoon Tea, Air Fryer Recipe, Donuts, Nutella

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