Five Oils for Frying

The best oils for frying donuts

Donut oil
Donut oilTodd Coleman

When frying dozens of donuts in the SAVEUR test kitchen, we gave serious thought to the oils we were using. Canola was our go-to oil for its neutral flavor, good value, and high smoke point—the temperature at which the fat starts to break down. It worked equally well for cake, yeast, and extruded donuts such as crullers. There are other fats, however, that are suitable for deep-frying, and we tested a few. Vegetable shortening and lard are both saturated fats that stay solid at room temperature. We loved frying our yeast-raised donuts in them; they acquired an especially crisp skin in the shortening and a savory flavor from the lard. Most striking was how much faster these fats rose to temperature and rebounded between batches than any of the others. The remaining oils we tried had smoke points comparable to that of canola oil, but each created slightly different results. Peanut oil imparted the darkest color of the bunch, giving the donuts a slightly nutty taste that we found complementary to the sweetness of the confections. Safflower oil was the most like canola, frying greaseless donuts at a slightly longer cook time with the cleanest flavor of them all.