Donut French Toast Experiment (Which Donuts are Best?)

Donut French toast

It’s the weekend. That means it’s my turn to make the family breakfast. Anyone who’s read anything on Dadstuff will know that I like to do things a little extra. I’ll let the foodies pontificate the proper challah to make their French toast. Me? I’m using donuts. 

When I first came across the idea for donut French toast, I immediately thought about the possibilities (and then immediately looked around to see if anyone saw me drooling). I mean which donuts do you use? 

My deep dive led me to a couple sites that suggested, well, not much. The information was as specific as “use stale donuts” (I personally cannot compute what a stale donut is. They’ve never lasted that long.) But seriously, which donut should I use? Cake, yeast, old fashioned, glazed, plain?

Thus leads us to this weekend’s family breakfast/activity. We’re going to try them all and decide which donuts make the best donut French toast.

Choosing Donuts for French Toast

Before we get into some of the how to, we have to consider some criteria for choosing our donuts. This means some investigating (i.e., a trip to the local donut shop. With samples – for investigative purposes.). 

After seeing all the options available, I decided to leave out any of the filled donuts (although a filled donut experiment sounds interesting. My arteries may have clogged at the thought of it, but interesting none the less.). 

I knew I would need to slice the donut in half lengthwise (like how you slice a bagel before you add a schmear), so I left off the frosted with/without sprinkles. The bottom half would essentially be plain and the top half would just melt into a sticky mess.

So here’s the final line up: plain cake, sugar cake, glazed blueberry cake, glazed yeast, glazed sugar, cinnamon bun (the donut version, not the Cinnabon style – oooooh. I just got an idea…), and an apple fritter (because why not). 

*if you’re not sure what a yeast donut is, it’s the standard Krispy Kreme donut. 

plain cake, sugar cake, glazed blueberry cake, glazed yeast, glazed sugar, cinnamon bun, and an apple fritter


Most of the ingredients are really for the custard. I wanted to keep this pretty neutral as to not interfere with the integrity of the experiment. Just simple ingredients with minimal extra flavoring. 

After looking at just about every variation for egg/milk ratio, I realized just how inconsistent most recipes are. Between a professional cookbook (like a 2 inch textbook used at cooking schools), Alton Brown, and America’s Test Kitchen, the lesson I learned is the custard can have a huge variation between how much (and what kind of) milk and how many eggs. Essentially, you can just eyeball it. For me, I kept it simple (so feel free to deviate). 

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • A couple pads of butter (for lubing the pan)
  • Your favorite syrup


1. Buy your donuts a day or two early. The donut shop I go to is a small place that makes them fresh every day. They don’t add any preservatives so their donuts dry out after a day. Certain pre-packaged grocery store donuts will probably take longer. 

2. Lay all the donuts out on a drying rack to air out. 

3. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt.

4. Carefully slice each donut in half lengthwise. The donuts are soft and some are crumbly. I recommend using a serrated knife and don’t press down too hard. The apple fritter was thin enough to not slice

Donuts sliced in half

Tip: the old fashioned donut is super crumbly and not thick enough to slice in half without the whole thing falling apart. Carefully slice off just the top part. This will give you some more exposed surface to absorb the custard mixture. It will also give you a flatter surface when you cook the top side. 

5. Heat up a pan over medium-low heat and melt a pad of butter. 

Tip: The key is to cook the donut French toast low and slow. There is a good amount of sugar in some of these donuts (especially the glazed ones) that it can easily burn. 

6. Dip one of the sliced donuts in the egg/milk mixture until well coated and it absorbs a good amount of the liquid. You want to take it out before it feels like it’s absorbed so much the donuts is about to fall apart. 

Donut in egg and milk mixture

7. Place the donut in the heated pan, sliced side down. Let it cook on this side a little longer than you will the top. The sliced side has less sugar and is less likely to burn. 

8. When the donut has a nice brown finish, flip it over and cook the other side. Keep an eye on this and don’t let it burn. 

Photo of cinnamon bun French toast on a pan

Tip: When you get to cooking the glazed donuts, rinse and wipe off the pan between batches. The sugar from the glaze will start to make a syrup on the pan and eventually burn. 

9. Either serve the donut French toast right away or put it in a low oven (around 200°) to stay warm until you’re ready to serve. 

The Results:

Plain Cake Donut

This was delicious. The bready-ness of the donut absorbed the egg/milk mixture nicely and made a great vessel. Not very sweet, so it definitely needs some syrup (or whatever topping of your choice). 

Photo of a plain cake donut

Sugar Coated Cake Donut

Honestly, we didn’t notice a difference between the sugar coated and the plain. Same great texture as the plain, no added benefit to having the sugar coating. If you don’t a plain cake donut, but a sugar coated one as a substitute. 

Photo of a sugar coated cake donut

Blueberry Glazed Cake Donut

If you are of the small population that likes the blueberry donut, then this is for you. I personally am not a fan, but to each their own. The glaze melted nicely and gave a bit of a candy coated finish. I’d be curious to compare this to an unglazed version (but not curious enough to try. Have I mentioned I don’t care for blueberry donuts?). 

Photo of a blueberry glazed cake donut

Glazed Yeast Donut

This was quite wonderful. The open airiness of the donut was great for soaking in the egg/milk mixture. The donuts themselves aren’t very sweet (the sweetness comes mostly from the glaze), so you can taste the custard nicely. 

The glaze made a great candy-like coating. Not only does it sweeten the whole thing nicely, but adds a slightly chewy texture. Even though it was sweetened from the glaze, I think a dip in some syrup makes it even better. 

Photo of a Glazed Yeast Donut

Sugar Coated Yeast Donut

Same delicious texture of the glazed yeast donut minus the glazed/candied finish. More neutral in flavor and like the sugar coated cake donut, you don’t get much of the sugar coating. The final product is quite nice and isn’t too over the top. I could definitely eat a couple of these and before getting a stomach ache. 

There weren’t any plain yeast donuts, but I would image if they had any, the French toast version would be similar to the sugar coated version. 

Photo of a Sugar Coated Yeast Donut

Cinnamon Bun

This was a bit fiddly to work with because it was pretty big, but thin. I couldn’t slice it in half length-wise, so I decided to cut it in half the other way. This was a mistake as all the rings wanted to fall apart. I managed to keep it together, but if you decide to try this, don’t cut it in half. 

This was really good, but if I had to do it again, I would add more cinnamon to bring out that flavor more. Since so much icing collects in the grooves of the swirl, it meant there was a lot of sugar on the pan. This was hard not to burn, even at a really low temperature and careful cooking time. 

Honestly, I don’t think this one is worth the effort. 

photo of a Cinnamon Bun

Apple Fritter

Okay, so admittedly, this was the wild card and more of a curiosity than anything. You definitely cannot slice this in half lengthwise, so I cut it in half the other way to get some surface area to soak in some of the egg/milk mixture. 

I managed to cook this just right and not burn it. It was the most candied (as it has the most amount of glaze in all its nooks and crannies) and it’s one you need to split with a couple people because it’s so sweet. 

The main issue with the apple fritter is the fry oil. While I didn’t get any flavor from the fry oil, I definitely felt the texture. Of all the donuts, the apple fritter definitely absorbs the most amount of fry oil and I noticed it after heating it up in the pan. 

Photo of an Apple Fritter

Old Fashioned Donut

So this is probably one of my all-time favorite donuts of all-time and I was excited to try this one out. My theory was right and slicing a bit off the top to flatten it was the right choice (it also gave me something to munch before it was cooked). 

The old fashioned donut was definitely the richest. It was already dense with lots of glaze (I was super careful to not burn this one). It was absolutely wonderful, but half of one was about as much as I can handle. I will make this one again, but only on special occasions and only for sharing. 

Photo of an Old Fashioned Donut

Dad Stuff Favorite

Before we get into some of the top choice donuts, I think I should start with the ones I wouldn’t do again. Starting at the bottom is the apple fritter. The fry oil mouthfeel was a major turn off. Turning it into French toast only diminishes an already delicious treat. 

The next one is the cinnamon bun. I had higher hopes for this, but because it’s so thin, not being able to cut it in half means it doesn’t absorb the egg mixture very well. Also, while I was careful about avoiding burning with all the glazed donuts, I could not help it with the cinnamon bun. Maybe it was a user issue, but my hypothesis is that the size of the donut means the middle (where there is a lot of icing) traps the heat and burns. 

Outside of that, I would recreate all the other donuts again (well maybe not the blueberry one. But that’s a personal prejudice against blueberry donuts.). 

The plain cake donuts were delicious and neutral. It’s a great vessel for the egg mixture and you can top it with whatever you want. If you don’t like your French toast to be too decadent, this is definitely the winner. 

If you want your decadence upped a level, then go for the glazed yeast donut. The glaze makes a nice candy-like coating (just be careful not to burn it!) and the open texture means the donut absorbs the egg mixture nicely. Still made better with some syrup, but not as much. I will definitely do this one again!

If you want something rich and decadent, then go for the old fashioned donut. I LOVED this one, but it can be a lot. This is a once-a-year, special occasion type thing. Rich, dense, and gooey. Be ready to split this in half and share it. 

The biggest recommendation I can make is for you to do this whole experiment with your family. Try a couple donuts and have a big family taste test. My kids had a blast and couldn’t wait to try the next donut choice. Major dad-win!

Gregory Grabowski

Greg Grabowski is the principal creator of, a website for dads by dads. Inspired by his two boys Ben and Sam and his wife Dianna, Greg loves to make things, learn things, and loves doing fun stuff with his family.

Recent Posts