Donut Textures Explained

Some are light and airy. Others are dense and cakelike. Do you know what makes the bite of different types of donuts so special? Read on for a breakdown of French, sourdough, yeast, cake, gluten-free and vegan donut varieties. 


This donut gets its name from the eggy French pate a choux dough used to create it. When fried, it results in the donut version, but if the same type of dough is baked, you can create pastries such as cream puffs and eclairs. 

The Dutch are credited with using the choux dough and twisting, folding and frying it to create a donut: the cruller. When this donut is twisted and formed into a ring, it is known as a French cruller, which is pictured in the slideshow above. 


This donut takes its inspiration from its baked-goods relative: sourdough bread. In order to develop the sourdough flavor—acidity included—it requires a starter that combines water, flour, bacteria and yeasts. These microorganisms need more time to grow than a traditional yeast dough, and the result is a donut with a unique flavor profile.

Starters can introduce a lot of variety, but you can keep your results consistent using Dawn’s new Sourdough Donut Mix


The typical yeast-raised donut of today has centuries-old European origins, but Americans are credited with turning these donuts into an everyday breakfast staple as opposed to a special treat. 

Because of their airiness, yeast donuts are perfect for filling with jelly or cream. Glazes, icings and sprinkles can be added to create a variety of color combinations and flavors.


While yeast donuts rely on biological leaveners, which take time to make the dough rise, cake donuts use chemical leaveners, which require no waiting time before frying. 

Because of their sturdier structure, cake donuts can take on heavier icings and toppings, such as bacon. Popular varieties include chocolate, apple cider and the cake donut’s cousin, the old-fashioned.

Gluten-Free and Vegan

The rise of health-conscious behavior, along with the growing understanding of dietary restrictions, has increased the demand for gluten-free and vegan varieties of bakery products. 

These types of donuts are no exception, but gluten and dairy products are key ingredients to traditional recipes, so creating these health-minded varieties can present challenges. However, using a mix, such as the Dawn Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Donut Base or Balance Vegan Cake Donut Mix, helps create consistent results every time and replicates the taste and texture of a classic cake donut. 

Tip: Use a different fryer for each variety to reduce allergen cross-contamination. 

Sources: Eater, Food Crumbles

Photos: Conway Photography