These cinnamon sugar twist doughnuts are a cross between crunchy churros and soft, fluffy beignets.
Shape the dough into twists, punch out rounds, or slice them into squares.
I tried several times to make churros. After three failed attempts I gave up.
Still craving cinnamon sugar, I turned to my favorite yeast raised doughnut recipe.
Cinnamon Sugar Twist Doughnuts
If I can’t have churros, cinnamon sugar twist doughnuts is the next best thing (if not it’s equal)!
The original dough recipe yields a dozen doughnut rings and a dozen or so doughnut holes.
Instead of punching out rounds, I divided the dough into 12 portions to roll out braided twists.
The dough is quite simple to make. With the help of a stand mixer, kneading together the dough is a breeze.
However, even without a mixer, mixing and kneading by hand is feasible.
One tool I highly recommend is a digital kitchen scale.
This will ensure equal portioned pieces, as well as even cooking times.
Tips when working with yeast dough:
- Temperature affects dough. Use a kitchen thermometer to ensure the yeast is mixed with proper temperature liquids.
- Temperature can also affect dough rising/proofing time. Optimal temperature is in the mid-70s, around room temperature.
- Keep the dough covered with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap to prevent an unwanted “skin” from forming. Do this when the dough is rising, as well as when you are forming the doughnut twists.
- Use a digital kitchen scale to divide dough equally. Equally portioned out dough pieces ensure even cooking times.
These twist doughnuts fry up crispy on the outside. The exterior reminds me of Chinese stick doughnuts (youtiao).
While the outside has a nice crunch, the interior of the doughnut is light, fluffy, and pillowy.
The doughnut will slightly deflate with each bite, but it’ll bounce back to it’s original shape in a few seconds.
Asides from cinnamon sugar, these fried doughnut twists can be tossed in all sorts of different coatings:
- Dust on confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar) like a beignet
- Colored sanding sugar offers a nice festive touch! Pink and red for Valentine’s Day, pastels for Spring and Easter, etc.
- Muscovado sugar (also known as Barbados sugar) adds a dark, rich molasses flavor.
- Mix granulated sugar with other spices like cloves, nutmeg, star anise, etc.
- Mix granulated sugar or powdered sugar with powdered freeze dried fruits
Cinnamon Sugar Twist Doughnuts
- 1 ½ cups whole milk , warmed to 110°F
- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast, or instant yeast
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar (38 g)
- 1 large egg , room temp
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (520 g)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (84 g), softened, room temperature
- vegetable oil , for frying
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- In the bowl of stand mixer, combine milk, yeast, and sugar. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in egg until incorporated.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Attach dough hook attachment to stand mixer. With the mixer running on low, add 1/3 of flour mixture. Once dough starts to come together, add another 1/3 of flour mixture. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. At this point the dough will be sticky. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing. Add remaining 1/3 of flour mixture.
- Once dough starts to form, increase mixer speed to medium. Knead for 3-5 minutes until dough is smooth and soft. Dough may still stick to the sides of the bowl, but it should be easy to scrape using a spatula or dough scraper. (Do not add additional flour)
- Transfer dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and allow dough to rest for 30-45 minutes at room temperature until dough has doubled in volume.
- Gently deflate risen dough. Working on a lightly floured surface divide dough into 12 equal parts. Loosely cover dough with kitchen towel. Working with one piece at a time, stretch and roll dough into a 14-inch stripe.
- To form twist, place hands on ends of rope. Roll one hand upward while simultaneously rolling other hand downward. This will cause the dough to twist. Pick up the twisted dough in the center of the rope. The tension in the twisted dough will naturally braid together. Pinch end seam together and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Loosely cover with kitchen towel and repeat with remaining dough.*
- Allow dough to rest for 8-10 minutes while oil heats up. Attach kitchen thermometer to a heavy bottomed sauce pot (such as Dutch oven or cast iron pan). Fill pot with 2 to 3 inches of oil. Set over medium heat until oil reaches 350°F.
- Carefully place two or three doughnut twists into hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pot. Cook for 95 seconds on each side, until golden brown. Transfer cooked doughnuts on a paper towel lined baking sheet. NOTE: Oil temperature will change as you add raw doughnuts into the pot. Monitor oil temperature using thermometer to make sure the doughnuts do not burn or undercook.
- Cinnamon Sugar: combine sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Set aside until ready to coat cooked doughnuts.
- Toss warm doughnuts in cinnamon sugar coating. Enjoy immediately.
- These doughnuts are best eaten within a day of frying.
- Forming twists: alternatively, you can roll dough into a 14-inch strip, fold in half, and braid together until you have at least 4 twists. The method listed in the instructions results with a tighter braid.
Reader Questions and Reviews
Question: Any tips for making the dough at a different location from frying? I was thinking of rising the dough in the car on the way (about a 15 min drive) OR twisting them at home then allowing them to rest in the car ride.
I suggest mixing the dough at home, and then letting it rise in the car while you drive. Shape and twist them once you get to your location while the frying oil heats up.
I truly love this recipe! I’ve had so many compliments….best doughnuts ever!! Can you use 2% milk or will it change the texture?
Thanks for trying out the recipe! Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, you can use 2% milk instead of whole milk. It won’t affect the texture.
How many calories do the Cinnamon donut twists have?
If you want to know the calories, I recommend checking it yourself, and counting them by checking the packaging, as different brand’s ingredients have different amounts of calories. Also, If you want to know how much oil was absorbed, just measure the oil before and after, then divide by 12!
Could you fry these in an air fryer
This specific recipe does not work in an air fryer. The dough will end up dense and hard.
Can these Twist Cinnamon Sugar Donuts bake in the oven? If can, at what temperature n bake for how many mins?
Oh my goodness! These look a lot like churros, but even better. I have been on a baking kick lately, so I’ll have to make these for breakfast on a weekend. My family will eat them right up! :)
Yes! They are similar to churros! I hope you give them a try!
Looks great will try it
Can you make the dough the night before?
Yes, you can cover and keep the dough in the fridge overnight after step 3. Bring dough to room temperature before proceeding with step 5.
Hi! I was wondering if I could oven bake these and fry (instead of deep fry) after. If I can, how long do you recommend I bake them? Thanks!
I made the recipe 2x and both times it came out way to sticky to work with. Not sure why it didn’t work. The second time I made it since it was still to sticky to work with at all I used a tablespoon scoop and scooped it into the oil to fry in like donut hole type shape. Haven’t tasted them yet but they look good.
I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you. I’m not sure what could have gone wrong. I have tested this recipe several times with great success. It’s the same dough recipe used in my yeast doughnuts.
Why did you copy the South African Koeksister and not credit the original makers, the only difference between this and Koeksisters is that you did not glaze the doughnut in jam glaze.
I did not copy South African Koeksister. This recipe is my version of the Filipino twisted donut called bicho-bicho, shakoy, or lubid-lubid (which means little rope). This fried dough is traditionally coated in plain white sugar.
Nomfundo, you do realize nearly every culture around the world has their own version of this, right? Not any one country or people can claim it as their own.
My donut dough never got the right consistency (remained powdery instead of moist) even though I followed Matha Stewart’s every direction.
These twists are always a huge hit…they freeze very well in an air tight container!
Hands down the best doughnut I’ve ever made or had… they’re so soft and fluffy. I wish I had a bigger stomach so I could eat them all right out the fryer.
I’ve made donuts before, but this recipe is really great! Easy, quick and really tasty! I added some fresh nutmeg to my cinnamon sugar but otherwise followed your directions to a “T”. Thanks🙂
Thank you for sharing! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Adding fresh nutmeg really amps the flavors!
this recipe was 10/10 but i wanted to make some donut holes instead of twists would the dough still cook as donut holes ?
Yes, this recipe can be used to make regular donuts and donut holes. Follow the directions and cooking times in this cinnamon toast crunch donut recipe. (It’s the same dough as the twist ones).
Super easy recipe just made these doughnuts they looks great I think I’m going to glaze them instead of the cinnamon sugar. Thank you for posting this recipe I will definitely be making these again
I was wondering if I could bake it instead of frying or use an air fryer for cooking it?
This dough recipe cooks best fried. It is soft and pillowy when fried. It will cook up rather dense if you use an oven or air fryer.