Last Updated on February 16, 2023
There are few things worse than stale donuts! We have made the ultimate guide on how to keep donuts fresh overnight and how to soften them.
Donuts tend to go stale pretty quickly and by following our simple steps for storing donuts, you can easily keep them fresh overnight! The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to keep them away from air and moisture – that’s it! And, even if they do go stale, you can easily soften them in a microwave, oven, or air fryer.
Why Do Donuts Go Stale?
Today, there are many different types of donuts you can find. They can be made from different types of dough, and have a variety of fillings, different glazes, and even some delicious toppings.
A typical donut is made from a sweetened dough that has been shaped into a ring or sometimes a small ball. These dough balls are then deep-fried in hot oil, allowed to completely cool, and then finally filled and glazed or garnished.
The biggest problem when it comes to donuts is that they get stale extremely quickly! Staling is a process that happens when the product dries out through evaporation. During this process, the moisture in the item moves from the starch granules to the interstitial space and the starch is degelatinized. The starch molecules realign themselves and recrystallize, causing the product to get a very hard and leathery texture.
How Long Do Donuts Last?
Donuts are very best served when they are fresh and within a few hours after being cooked and decorated. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to finish an entire batch in one sitting.
Plain donuts, powdered donuts, and glazed donuts will last between one to two days if stored properly at room temperature. Naturally, when storing them in the fridge their shelf life increases to almost a week! If you have any fresh toppings (like freshly cut fruit or nuts) it may reduce the shelf life a bit. Toppings like crushed cookies or candy will not affect the shelf life, but they may also change in texture (for example the crushed cookies can possibly become stale too).
Learn more about White Cream Filling For Donuts. These will definitely need to be refrigerated and will last between 3-5 days (if they don’t go stale before that). Jelly-filled donuts can potentially last longer, however, they will go stale before the actual filling goes bad.
How to Keep Donuts Fresh Overnight
Luckily, despite their fragile nature, there are a few ways to keep them fresh. We have compiled the ultimate list of how to store donuts overnight.
Store them in an airtight container
This is arguably the most important step to take! Air is the number one culprit that dries donuts and causes them to go stale almost instantly.
We highly recommend placing the donuts inside an airtight container or even a resealable (zip-lock) plastic bag. This will help extend their shelf life considerably.
Reduce the moisture content
Moisture causes donuts to go soggy. This mostly happens when people store their donuts in a hot area (like in direct sunlight or inside the car) or when they are reheating the donuts. The heat that builds up inside the container or the donuts will cause them to lose form, the topping to help and to become very soft and mushy.
Keep them in a cool and dark place or even inside the fridge to help keep the donuts fresh overnight.
Store them in a single layer
Do not stack your donuts! While this will definitely take up more space it is still a critical mistake people make. Stacking the donuts causes the filling or decorations to become ruined, but also creates a build-up of excess moisture, and we now know what moisture does to donuts!
How to Make a Donut Soft Again
So, sometimes mistakes happen; your airtight container turned out to not be so airtight or you accidentally forgot the store them away from any heat sources. Here are some tips on how to soften donuts using very easy steps.
How to soften donuts? Microwave them
This is by far the most common and easiest method you can use to soften your stale donuts. Simply put the donuts on a microwave-safe plate (or in a container) and place them inside the microwave on high heat for 15 seconds. You can do this a few times, but only in 15-second intervals.
How to make donuts soft again? Use the oven
Preheat your oven to 350°F and wrap the donuts inside aluminum foil. Place it inside the oven for roughly 5 minutes. This way you are adding moisture back into the donuts because the heat build-up inside the foil creates condensation.
Softening your donuts using an air fryer
This method will not only soften your donuts but will also help keep them crispy to a certain extent. Preheat the air fryer between 350-400°F and place the donuts inside for roughly 3-4 minutes.
Tips and Tricks On How to Keep Donuts Fresh Overnight
- This reheating (or softening) method works best with unfilled and un-glazed (or decorated) donuts. When you are heating them, the frosting or filling will definitely either melt or misform. So, we highly recommend not decorating the donuts if you know you will need to keep them fresh overnight.
- Work slowly. Do not heat the donuts at too high temperatures for too long. This could also lead to you accidentally burning them or drying them out completely (because heat helps evaporate moisture).
- Do not foil wrap the donuts when using the microwave method. You cannot place any metal inside a microwave. You can however wrap them when using the oven method or the air fryer method.
Can You Freeze Donuts?
While this doesn’t necessarily apply to the question “how to keep donuts fresh overnight”, it is still a very helpful and useful trick. Again, unfilled and un-glazed donuts freeze best. Some fillings, especially cream-based fillings, can split and change consistency when frozen and then thawed.
To freeze donuts, simply wrap them individually, stack them inside an airtight container, and freeze them for up to 3 months!
To thaw, remove the frozen donuts from the freezer and thaw them slowly inside the fridge. You can use the above-mentioned softening methods to make them fresh again!
How to Prevent a Dry Donut
Donuts should be full of flavor and have a great texture. However, they can become dry leading to an undesirable texture. Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent this from happening.
When making cake donuts, do not overmix the batter as this can result in a dry donut. For yeast donuts, do not over-knead the dough as this can result in a dense donut that tastes dry.
Store your donuts in an airtight container at room temperature. Most donuts are best eaten the day off but can last for up to two to three days when properly stored. Leaving your donut out at room temperature can cause it to dry out faster so be sure to cover it well.
Do Donuts Freeze Well?
Both cake and yeast donuts freeze well. You can freeze glazed or unglazed donuts for up to three months in the freezer. While you can freeze glazed or filled donuts, it is best to freeze them unglazed and unfilled.
For best results, allow your donuts to thaw in the fridge and come to room temperature before filling or glazing. You can enjoy the donuts at room temperature or warm them up if you like
Be sure to package your donuts well before placing them in the freezer to prevent freezer burn. Also, be careful where you place your donuts in the freezer as you don’t want them getting squished.
Can you freeze glazed donuts?
As stated above, it is typically best to freeze your donuts unglazed. However, you can still freeze glazed donuts as long as you do it properly.
Allow the glaze to dry on the donut fully and then place it in the freezer uncovered for one hour to let the frosting set. Then, cover the donut in a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil.
Alternatively, you can skip setting it in the freezer for one hour to set and just put it straight in an airtight container.
How to Reheat Donuts
Many people prefer to eat their leftover donuts heated up. The two best methods for reheating leftover donuts are in the microwave or the oven.
For the microwave, place your donut on a microwave-safe plate or paper towel and microwave for 15 to 30 seconds. If the donut is stale, cover it with a damp paper towel before microwaving.
To warm donuts up in the oven, heat them for about five minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the donuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wrap them in aluminum foil.
Different Kinds of Donuts
There are two main types of donuts: yeast donuts and cake donuts. Within these two types, there are several different kinds of donuts.
Yeast donuts are leavened with yeast whereas cake donuts are leavened with baking soda and/or baking powder. Yeast donuts have a light, fluffy texture whereas cake donuts have a cakey texture that is denser.
There are many different types of both cake and yeast donuts. Some of the most popular kinds include glazed donuts, long johns, jelly donuts, sour cream donuts, crullers, fritters, cream-filled donuts, and powdered donuts.
How to Keep Donuts Fresh Overnight: Final Thoughts
Hopefully, this guide on how to keep donuts fresh overnight was extremely useful to you! This way you can pre-make a batch with no worries about them going instantly stale! If you have any other useful tips and tricks for keeping donuts fresh overnight, please share them with us in the comments below!
Read more about Incredible Maple Glaze Frosting Recipe For Donuts.
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.