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A woman's hand holding a chocolate donut with chocolate frosting.
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5 from 3 votes

Air Fryer Chocolate Doughnuts

These Air Fryer Chocolate Donuts are amazingly soft and fluffy and packed full of rich chocolate flavor! Made from scratch and just as good as deep-fried!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Proof Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 donuts
Calories: 355kcal

Ingredients

Doughnuts

Icing

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Sprinkles, nuts, or oreo crumbs optional topping

Instructions

Doughnuts

  • Add the milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and yeast to a large bowl. Allow the mixture to sit for fivtennutes, or until the yeast becomes foamy. If it doesn’t foam and smell strongly like yeast, I recommend dumping it out and starting over.
  • Add the rest of the sugar, melted butter, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined. My favorite tool for making doughs is a danish dough whisk, but if you don’t have one, a regular whisk would work at this point as well.
  • Next, add the flour and cocoa powder (if using a whisk, switch to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon). Mix just until combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead it gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it forms a soft and slightly tacky dough.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and set it in a warm place to rise until almost doubled in size - about 1 hour.
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about ¼-½” thick, depending on how thick you’d like your doughnuts.
  • Use a round cookie cutter (make sure to flour it first) to cut doughnuts out of the dough. I used a 2.5” cookie cutter and the large opening of a piping tip to cut out my doughnuts.
  • Place the doughnuts onto a sheet pan and place them in a warm spot to rise for an additional hour.
  • Carefully transfer 4 to 6 doughnuts (depending on the size of your air fryer) to the air fryer basket. DO NOT PREHEAT OR GREASE AIR FRYER! Cook at 300°F for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the doughnuts are soft on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. Transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Icing

  • Combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl.
  • Add the heavy cream slowly (1 tablespoon at a time) and whisk until your desired consistency-- I like a pretty thick icing (about the consistency of pudding).
  • Dip the cooled doughnuts in the icing and top with sprinkles, nuts, oreos, or even flakey sea salt. Serve immediately.
  • Store any leftover doughnuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes

  • This recipe was retested and updated in July 2021 to fix the bitter flavor of the donuts. More sugar and flour were added and the cocoa was reduced.
  • Make sure to use unsweetened baking cocoa - not a hot cocoa mix. I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, which gives the donuts and icing a darker color.
  • This is a small batch donut recipe, only making 6-8 donuts. If you'd like to make more, simply double the recipe EXCEPT for the yeast. The amount of yeast in this recipe is good for up to 4 cups of flour and a double batch of this dough would only have 3 cups.
  • This is a quick and easy icing that tastes nostalgically like Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts - for a richer, more elevated doughnut, I recommend topping with chocolate ganache (equal parts heavy cream and chopped chocolate).
  • This is also not an overly sweet doughnut (because the icing is pretty sweet). To add more sweetness to the doughnut itself, use 3/4 cup of granulated sugar instead of 1/2 cup.
  • Make sure not to overcook the doughnuts - they’ll dry out and turn hard. The doughnuts should be soft and fluffy on the inside and barely crisp on the outside.
  • If you don’t want to use icing, you can also dip with doughnuts in melted butter followed by cinnamon sugar.
  • You can also coat them in powdered sugar.
  • Proofing is an important step that allows the yeast to release the carbon dioxide, this causes the dough to stretch and hold in air bubbles! As a result, this gives you perfectly risen, airy donuts! Here are a few easy ways to proof your dough!
    • Place the lightly oiled bowl with the dough in a warm spot and cover it with a damp dishcloth.
    • Cover a heating pad set to low with a towel and then place the dough bowl on top of it.
    • Set your crockpot filled halfway with water to low heat and turn the lid upside down. Then put a dishtowel on top of the lid and place the bowl on it.
    • Use your oven by heating it up for 5 minutes, shutting it off, and then putting the bowl of dough in.
    • Fill a baking dish with boiling water and then put it on the oven rack below the bowl of dough.
    • If your oven has a “proof” setting you can simply just use that!
    • This recipe works great with a slow proof! After transferring the dough to a bowl, simply place the bowl in the fridge overnight and then finish the process in the morning.

Nutrition

Calories: 355kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 79mg | Potassium: 288mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 393IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 3mg