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A Recipe for Donut Glaze

This recipe for donut glaze will give you a donut-shop style glaze that dries into a thin, crackly layer of glaze. With only 3 ingredients that are pantry staples, it’s a simple, easy glaze for frosting your donuts.

Once you’ve mastered the art of frying a perfect donut, you’ll want to finish your pastry to perfection. Enter this recipe for donut glaze.

This recipe for donut glaze will give you a donut-shop style glaze that dries into a thin, crackly layer of glaze.

It’s based on a recipe by Alton Brown, and I’ve been making it for several years. The consistency is like the glaze you’ll find on a glazed donut from a donut shop–a thin layer of crackly, shattering sweetness. According to some polls, glazed donuts are the most popular variety in American donut shops, so mastering a favorite in your own kitchen is a good idea, no?

What is Donut Glaze Made of?

This recipe for Donut Glaze calls for three simple ingredients that you probably have on hand:

  • Powdered Sugar (also sometimes called confectioner’s sugar)
  • Milk (whole milk works best)
  • Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Though many recipes call for it, this donut glaze is made without corn syrup. Typically it’s added for extra shine, to keep a thicker glaze smooth, and prevent crystalized sugar. However, I generally avoid corn syrup and this recipe simply doesn’t need it.

The ingredients for for donut glaze--powdered sugar, milk, and vanillia.

How do You Get Donut Glaze to Harden?

Because we’re heating the milk, the sugar will melt when it is added. Sugar becomes hard again when cooled. And because the glaze is in a thin layer on the donuts, the melted sugar will harden quickly once it cools.

When you first glaze the donut, they’ll be shiny and wet. But as the glaze dries and hardens, it will look more matte.

Just after being dipped, the glaze will look wet and shiny, but will look more matte as it dries.

How to Make the Glaze

You’ll need to have your donuts fried and ready for glazing. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet–this is to set the donuts on while the glaze cools, and the baking sheet will catch the drips so they don’t make a mess of your counter.

Sift the powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve. This helps avoid lumps in your donut glaze. Measure out the vanilla extract and set aside.

In a small (about 2 quart) pan, heat the milk until it’s steaming and very hot, but not boiling. Remove it from the heat.

Whisk in the powdered sugar, about a half cup at a time. When all of the sugar has been added, immediately stir in the vanilla extract.

Stirring the powdered sugar into the milk, a bit at a time.

Using a fork, dip the donuts in the glaze and flip them to coat both sides. Remove the donut from the glaze and allow any excess to drip off. Place it on the prepared cooling rack and repeat the process with the rest of the donuts.

Flipping the donut to coat both sides of the donut.
Letting the excess glaze drip off of the donut and back into the pan.

If the glaze begins to harden in the pan before you’ve finished dipping the donuts, you can reheat it over low heat to thin it back out. Every time it’s reheated, the glaze will become a little bit thicker, so you may need to add a few teaspoons of milk to thin it back out.

Recipe Notes, Tips, and Questions

  • If you want a thicker glaze, you can add more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until you’ve reached the consistency you want. However, don’t add less sugar, since the glaze will just soak into the donuts if it’s too thin.
  • Add decorations (like sprinkles) immediately after dipping each donut in the glaze. Because it will harden so quickly, the sprinkles won’t stick after just a minute or so.
  • While donuts can be made ahead of time, and even frozen, the glaze needs to be prepared and the donuts dipped not long before serving.
This recipe for donut glaze will give you a donut-shop style glaze that dries into a thin, crackly layer of glaze.

Storing Glazed Donuts

Glazed donuts are best eaten when they’re fresh, since the glaze will soften over time. They can be kept open on a tray for up to twelve hours, since the glaze acts like a seal to keep the pastry inside fresh. However, after that they should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Do not store glazed donuts in the refrigerator, unless they have a filling that requires refrigeration.

A donut broken open to show the crackly, thin glaze around a soft, tender donut.

Donut Recipes You May Enjoy:

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A Recipe for Donut Glaze


  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions

You’ll need to have your donuts fried and ready for glazing. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet–this is to set the donuts on while the glaze cools, and the baking sheet will catch the drips and avoid making a mess of your counter.

Sift the powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve. This helps avoid lumps in your donut glaze. Measure out the vanilla extract and set aside.

In a small (about 2 quart) pan, heat the milk until it’s steaming and very hot, but not boiling. Remove it from the heat.

Whisk in the powdered sugar, about a half cup at a time. When all of the sugar has been added, immediately stir in the vanilla extract.

Using a fork, dip the donuts in the glaze and flip them to coat both sides. Remove the donut from the glaze and allow any excess to drip off. Place it on the prepared cooling rack and repeat the process with the rest of the donuts.

If the glaze begins to harden in the pan before you’ve finished dipping the donuts, you can reheat it over low heat to thin it back out. Every time it’s reheated, the glaze will become a little bit thicker, so you may need to add a few teaspoons of milk to thin it back out.

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