Do you hear that? The birds chirping and angels singing in delight because the most joyous and delicious of occasions is soon upon us: National Doughnut Day.

Celebrated the first Friday in June, this foodie holiday is much more than a stunt, as its origin holds a sweet place in U.S. history.

National Doughnut Day was created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served doughnuts to the soldiers during World War I. Known as the Doughnut Lassies, they’re often credited for the doughnut popularity that swept the nation.

Serving along the frontline trenches, the Lassies, and their doughnuts, were a nice break from the atrocities of war.

The doughnuts, made with limited ingredients and often fried in soldiers’ helmets, brought comfort and lifted spirits with each warm bite.

While this recipe definitely brings simple flavors, comfort and belly-warming cheer, it doesn’t call for helmets. With a fluffy, brioche-like texture and sweetened vanilla glaze, it’s one truly great and classic doughnut. 

And if the thought of making homemade doughnuts intimidates you, I will say – while they’re a bit of a project – they’re easier than you think.

Just be gentle and quick handling the dough after its first rise, as it is full of gases that accumulate from proofing, giving the doughnut its light and airy bite.

If you don’t have a doughnut cutter, any glass or wide-mouth canning ring, about 3 inches in diameter, will work. For the hole, try the wide end of a piping tip.

The glaze is simple: powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. If you’re a chocolate lover, add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the recipe along with a tablespoon or two more of milk.

A light dusting of powdered sugar or dip in a cinnamon and sugar blend would be delectable, too.



1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons total) 

1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/3 cup shortening

5 cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil for frying

For glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1/4 cup milk 

Pink food coloring (optional)

Sprinkles (optional) 


In the bowl of a stand mixer, or mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of sugar and the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.

Add in the milk, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed until combined, then beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. Dough will be slightly sticky, but should pull from the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Transfer dough into a greased bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently roll out until it is 1/2 to 1/3 of an inch thick. Cut out donuts with a floured doughnut cutter and place them, and donut holes, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover loosely with a cloth, and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour. Donuts will be airy and puffy looking. 

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Stir in food coloring, if using. Set aside.

Heat the oil to 365-375° in a deep fryer, or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. 

Cooking in batches, use a wide spatula to carefully slide doughnuts into the hot oil. Fry donuts on each side until golden brown, about 45 seconds to a minute per side. The donut holes will cook faster. Remove donuts with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined wire rack to drain. Once they’re slightly cooled, dip donuts into the glaze and place on a wire rack set on a baking sheet (to catch the drips). Immediately top with sprinkles before glaze sets, if using. 

Adapted from