Homemade Chinese Doughnuts

Yield: 10 to 12 doughnuts

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

This Homemade Chinese Doughnut recipe is reminiscent of the ones you get from the Chinese buffet dessert table but made from scratch in less than 1 hour.

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Sweet goodness. Since the doughnuts themselves aren’t very sweet, the sugar coating isn’t too cloying, promise!
Texture: Perfect crunchy sugar coating and golden brown doughnut crust outside plus the tender and delicate inside is pure texture heaven.
Ease: Homemade doughnuts in less than 1 hour?! You will make a bit of a mess but this recipe is otherwise super simple.
Appearance: I love anything coated in sugar, it just sparkles and screams “eat me!”
Pros: Quick, homemade, and delicious copycat recipe. Will totally satisfy your craving for those Chinese buffet-style doughnuts without actually having to step foot into a buffet.
Cons: Very rich and indulgent.
Would I make this again? Mmmhmm.

Homemade Chinese Doughnuts (like the ones from the buffet!) in less than 1 hour!!

My grandpa, my dad’s dad, LOVED Chinese buffets. I could never understand why whenever we tried to organize a family dinner his first choice, and subsequently the place we ended up at, was almost always a Chinese buffet. Even for special occasions! Whether it was the food or the senior citizen discount he received, I will never know. Sadly he lost his battle to leukemia January 1st 2015, which was a rough start to the year for us. Those little things about him, like the fact that he loved Chinese buffets or that he was the only person to still call me “young lady” seem to stand out the most to me still.

Randomly last week I had a strong craving for Chinese doughnuts, the ones that seem to be in the dessert section of every Chinese-American buffet. I have no idea just how traditional or authentic these are to actual Chinese culture, but it was the only reason my brother and I were willing to make so many family trips to Chinese buffets as kids. We LOVED those damn doughnuts. Who wouldn’t? Fried balls of dough coated in sugar? It’s a kid’s dream, and apparently still my dream dessert to this day. So I decided to make them at home.

Homemade Chinese Doughnuts (like the ones from the buffet!) in less than 1 hour!!

These doughnuts are ridiculously good. I mean, it’s just pure decadence so how could they not be incredible? Jared and I discovered a way to make them even more indulgent in the best possible fashion – they happen to taste fabulous with ice cream! This recipe basically takes a biscuit dough variation and deep fries them, finishing with a generous sugar coating. All the recipes I found online for homemade Chinese doughnuts used those premade refrigerated tubes of biscuit dough, but I wanted a homemade from scratch version and I’m thrilled with what I was able to come up with! The exterior crunch is marvelous, and the inside is soft, tender, and fluffy like a cross between a biscuit and a doughnut. I will say that the inside isn’t quite as light and fluffy like the buffet-style biscuits I remember, but it absolutely satisfies the craving nonetheless.

A quick recipe note, be sure the doughnuts are cooked all the way through before coating with the sugar. You can use a cake tester or toothpick to check. During my last little batch of frying doughnuts the oil had dropped in temperature without my noticing and those ones ended up a little doughy in the middle.

Scratch made Chinese buffet style doughnuts

Homemade Chinese Doughnuts in less than 1 hour!

How to make
Homemade Chinese Doughnuts

Recipe By Tessa Arias, Handle the Heat
Yield: 10 to 12 doughnuts
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes


2 cups (255 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup (170 grams) whole milk
Canola oil for frying
Granulated sugar for coating


Pour 2 inches of canola oil into a heavy bottomed pot with a deep-fry thermometer attached. Heat to 350Β°F.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse several times to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. You can also do this by hand with a pastry blender. Stir in the milk until combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and dust the dough with flour. Gently pat the dough out until it’s a 1/2-inch in thickness. Use a 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out circles.

Fry the doughnuts a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, being careful not to let them burn. Let drain on a paper bag (or paper towels) to soak up the excess grease.

While still hot, generously coat each doughnut in granulated sugar. Serve. Doughnuts are best served the day they are made.

About Tessa...

Tessa is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. She's on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically DELICIOUS place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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48 Responses to “Homemade Chinese Doughnuts”

  1. #
    Mary Allen — February 20, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Hi – your recipes made me a hero at Christmas Time! On the Chinese Donuts recipe, you say to put the flour, sugar, saly, etc. in the food processor. I assume you mean salt?

    • #
      Tessa — February 20, 2015 at 7:41 am

      Yep, just a typo.

  2. #
    Kathy Rupff — February 20, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Hi Tessa,
    Thanks for your excellent blog! I’m very sorry for the loss of your grandfather. I LOVE chinese buffets too (good ones!) even for special occasions…. πŸ™‚ I have never thought of making chinese donuts before. Thanks for the recipe and the great step-by-step guide!

  3. #
    Debbie Caraballo — February 20, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Hi Tessa, deepest sympathy to you and your family for your loss.
    I love these donuts, tried to get one through the monitor! That’s how great they look.
    Pinned these and your Old Fashioned Sour Cream donuts, which are one of my favorites. Thanks so much!

  4. #
    Olivia @ Olivia's Cuisine — February 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Tessa. But, on a happier note, these doughnuts look divine. I wish I could eat that whole stack by myself. (Don’t judge!)

    • #
      Tessa — February 20, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you Olivia! And believe me, there were quite a few gone before the rest were even fried πŸ˜‰

  5. #
    Auntiepatch — February 20, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    So sorry for the loss of your grandfather. He sounds like a special man.

    (Gonna try these donuts!)

    • #
      Tessa — February 20, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you! He definitely was, no one else like him! Hope you enjoy the doughnuts πŸ™‚

  6. #
    Alaena — February 20, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Hmm, you said these weren’t quite as light and fluffy as the restaurant version, do you think increasing the baking powder would help that?

    I’m excited to try these, they were always my favorite part of chinese buffets as a kid.

    • #
      Tessa — February 20, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      I meant that they’re not as quite as light as a yeast raised doughnut, which is what many people think of when they think of a doughnut. These are more more rich. I would be cautious about using any more baking powder as you might start to develop a bitter, metallic taste.

  7. #
    Eve @ Baking the Day — February 24, 2015 at 11:30 am

    I have just found your blog and your work is amazing! I love the sound of these doughnuts; so much quicker than regular yeasted ones. P.s the recipe rundown is such a clever idea. Pinned! x

  8. #
    Hannahrose — March 13, 2015 at 11:29 am

    My grandpa loved chinese buffets too! My dad, grandpa, and I would always go together. Such good memories. Love these donuts! I’m excited to make them for my dad. Thanks!

  9. #
    Raising6Ducklings — March 21, 2015 at 5:30 am

    I ran across your recipe today while scrolling through Pinterest. I thought you’d be interested to know that yes – this style of food is authentically asian. I have a Chinese cook book that is written in traditional Mandarin and sold in Taiwan. They just refer to them as sugar coated puffs. Their recipe only uses flour, water, salt, and eggs for the batter. They serve them w/ just sugar, or with jam/jelly. I look forward to trying your recipe, to see how it compares.

  10. #
    Kuro — July 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Hi I just tried the recipe and for some reason when I added the milk it was too doughy. it’s very humid which many think messes up exact recipes. I did add about a tablespoon more flour which helped. these are amazing and soo GOOOD,. I did sorta burn a couple but that was because I was running low on oil at the end and didn’t add more or was playing with the setting on the stove.

  11. #
    Mallika — July 16, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Hello, thanks for the amazing recipe! Tried it at home. I do have a slight problem though, my doughnuts were pretty doughy on the inside.. how do I rectify that?

  12. #
    LIYA T MATHEW — July 28, 2015 at 8:21 am


  13. #
    Mariah — December 10, 2015 at 8:40 am

    How many calories do these donuts have in them???
    I’ve been looking everywhere to find the stopite ingredients to these crazy but delicious donuts

  14. #
    Blake — January 23, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Do you have to use canola oil or is veg oil or evoo okay?

    • #
      Tessa — January 24, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Canola or vegetable oil, but definitely not olive oil.

  15. #
    Erin — January 24, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Donut holes serve a great purpose…holes help the donut cook all the way through. Testing the oil temperature with the holes first is also a great benefit.

  16. #
    Lucy — January 30, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Do you need to use whole milk, or would a lower percentage work?

  17. #
    Martha — February 3, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  18. #
    Martha — February 3, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    These donuts don’t need eggs?!

  19. #
    ig — February 19, 2016 at 12:32 am

    Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice even as you amend your website, how could i subscribe
    for a weblog web site? The account aided me a applicable deal.
    I were tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered shiny transparent concept

  20. #
    Tara — February 20, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Can these be baked rather than fried?

    • #
      Tessa — February 21, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Not really, they’ll basically just be sweetened biscuits if you bake them.

  21. #
    Rosana Guadalupe Moreno GΓ mez — March 5, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Se ven muy ricas,sinceramente las voy hacer para consentir a mi familia. Y aun no se el ingles pero hay traductor eso es bueno. Bendiciones Tessa

  22. #
    Furcernca — March 9, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I tasted these and they are fabulous,can you say something back?

  23. #
    Hi — March 9, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    I tasted these and they are fabulous,can you say something back?

  24. #
    Elyssa — March 9, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Hey these are great, do you have an Instagram page? I want to follow you

  25. #
    Jen — March 16, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Hi I’m going to be making these donuts for a history presentation. I was wondering if you knew how many calories and sugar grams is in this, thanks!

  26. #
    Rachel — April 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Hay, so I am doing China for a project in world culture geography and I was wondering if this was a recipe from China or if its just for Chinese buffets ? If its just a Chinese buffet recipe then do you know if there is another similar recipe for a Chinese recipe ?

  27. #
    Angel — April 20, 2016 at 2:20 am

    Hey… I want to ask something… Can I use milk powder to coat the doughnut? ^^~

  28. #
    Amie — May 11, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Is it possible to use cashew milk instead of whole milk?

  29. #
    Jaclyn — May 19, 2016 at 11:48 am

    I love this recipe!!! … I haven’t actually made it yet, but it’s very high on the list! I’m very excited that I can make doughnuts without a deep fryer or a special pan or something (and I looooove sugar doughnuts!).
    You rock!

  30. #
    ashadae — May 21, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    I have a question can you use water instead of milk if you don’t have any at the moment?

    • #
      Tessa — May 22, 2016 at 8:21 am

      It’s worth the trip to the store to get milk for this recipe, they definitely won’t be the same with water.

  31. #
    plasterer bristol — May 22, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I’ve never tried making my own douhnuts before, sounds like fun. Thanks for sharing.


  32. #
    Fatma badar — July 26, 2016 at 1:11 am

    It’s yummy thanks my maa loves it like cook it again baby

  33. #
    Rosemary Morsani — October 8, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Am I blind? I don’t see flour listed in ingredients.

    • #
      Tessa — October 10, 2016 at 10:32 am

      It’s the 1st ingredient.

  34. #
    Doris Boarman — November 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Chinese restaurants in my area used canned biscuits. I always wondered how they made them and watched them one day. They buy the pillsbury brand small biscuits. Deep fry and roll in sugar. I like your version though. I know what’s going in them! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  35. #
    Karen M Roth — November 21, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I love these, too. I have developed a dairy allergy and Interstitial Cystitis which limits my food selections. Would it be okay if I tweak the recipe?

    • #
      Tessa — November 22, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Thank you, Karen. I’m not sure, I’ve only made the recipe as written. If you tweak it let me know how it turns out!

  36. #
    Ilovefood — December 17, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Can i use 1% low fat milk instead of whole milk, and can i use regular cubed butter

  37. #
    Danielie williams — February 14, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Just made one and it fell apart in the pan. Big disappointment. So I rounded out the rest to be smaller balls and they cooked on the outside faster and they’re dark with one half falling apart. I put th dough in the freezer to freeze it. I’m very disappointed because I was trying to make these real quick as something to snack on while making shortcake. It’s like as if I’m better off buying canned biscuits from the store. Hopefully this chilling the dough method works. …….

    • #
      Tessa — February 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Danielie, are you gauging your oil temperature with a thermometer? Sounds like the temperature was off.

  38. #
    Amaranta — February 15, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Tessa, fast question, there is any problem if I use salted butter for these ones?

    Love you blog with my heart and soul!

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