These classic French cruller donuts are made with choux pastry and then deep fried. These donuts result in a crispy outside and a nearly hallow inside. Simply sprinkle with powdered sugar or dip in a powdered sugar glaze. Follow this step-by-step tutorial for how to make French cruller donuts!
What is a Cruller?
A cruller is a general term for a fried pastry that has a twisted shape. The twist is sometimes kept oblong, while other times it is twisted into a circle like a classic donut shape. Crullers are often made with yeast raised dough while other times they are made with choux pastry. Crullers made with choux pastry are called French crullers.
French Cruller Donuts Overview
French crullers are made with the classic pastry batter called choux pastry (also known as pate a choux). Because choux pastry is a batter instead of dough, the donuts are piped into the cruller shape instead of being cut out and twisted.
French crullers result in a much lighter and more airy donut than traditional yeast-raised or cake donuts. The outside of the pastry is crisp while the inside is almost hallow.
The amount of moisture in the batter is what leavens these donuts instead of chemical leavening or yeast. When the batter hits the hot frying oil, the liquid begins rapidly evaporating off causing the donuts to puff up.
How to Make French Crullers
French crullers start with a classic choux pastry batter that is then fried. Using choux pastry to make donuts makes for a much quicker and easier process than making yeast-raised donuts.
Make the Choux Pastry
- STEP 1: In a saucepan, bring the milk, water, sugar, and butter to a boil.
- STEP 2: Off the heat, add the flour into the pot all at once and stir vigorously until a cohesive dough forms.
- STEP 3: Flatten the mixture to the bottom of the pan and turn the heat back on. Listen for the mixture to begin making a crackling sound.
- STEP 4: Pull back the mixture to check for a thin film on the bottom of the pan. This indicates the mixture is dried out enough.
- STEP 5: Stir the mixture off of the heat until all of the steam evaporates off.
- STEP 6: Stir in the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is completely absorbed into the batter before adding the next.
- NOTE: When all of the eggs are stirred into the batter and it looks glossy it is done.
- STEP 7: Chill batter in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Pipe the Choux Pastry & Fry
- STEP 8: Transfer the chilled batter to a pastry bag fit with a large star tip. Cut parchment paper into squares about 5″ x 5″ (13 x 13 cm). Heat 3″ (7.5 cm) of oil in a pot or deep skillet to 350 F (177 C).
- STEP 9: Pipe the choux pastry into circular shapes on the parchment paper squares.
- STEP 10: Place the parchment paper with the cruller on a slotted spoon and carefully lower it into the hot oil. When the donut begins to set you will be able to use a pair of tongs to pull the parchment paper off.
- STEP 11: Flip the donut after about 3 minutes on one side. Monitor the temperature of the oil as you are frying. If the oil gets too hot the donut will get too dark before the inside puffs up and cooks. It will take about 5-6 minutes total to cook each donut. Depending on the size of the pan, you can cook several at a time.
Make the Glaze & Dip the Donuts
- STEP 12: Move the cooked donuts to a cooling rack over a sheet pan to drain.
- STEP 13: Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze.
- STEP 14: Dip each donut in the glaze, turning to coat and move back to the cooling rack.
Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
- French cruller donuts are best eaten fresh, so if you do want to make them ahead I suggest piping the bater and freezing it on sheet trays. Once frozen, transfer the shaped batter into a freezer ziplock bag. Then you can pull them and fry them from frozen the day you want to serve them.
- The powdered sugar glaze is easily modified to make a variety of flavors. Or you could consider dipping these in a chocolate glaze to make chocolate French crullers!
- Keep a very close eye on the temperature of your frying oil. If the oil starts getting too hot the donuts will burn before they have time to puff up and cook all the way through. A simple fry thermometor is the perfect tool for this.
French Cruller Ingredient Functions
- Milk & Water are the main moisture for the batter. They help the batter to rise once it is heated by evaporating and creating steam inside the pastry. Milk keeps the pastry more tender.
- Butter gives the pastry tenderness and flavor.
- Sugar sweetens the pastry slightly.
- Salt rounds out the flavors.
- Flour is the main structure of the donuts. When it mixes with the liquid it creates a gluten structure which captures the steam to form the donut shape.
- Eggs provide more moisture to leaven the donuts and also helps bind the pastry together.
French Cruller Donuts
These classic French cruller donuts are made with choux pastry and then deep fried. These donuts result in a crispy outside and a nearly hallow inside. Sprinkle simply with powdered sugar or dip in a powdered sugar glaze. Follow this step-by-step tutorial for how to make French cruller donuts!
For the French Cruller Donuts
- 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 118 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 118 ml) milk
- 1 stick (1/2 cup, 4 oz, 113 gr) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 TBSP (0.9 oz, 25 gr) granulated sugar
- large pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup (4.25 oz, 119 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- oil for frying (canola, peanut, vegetable, or avocado oil)
For the Powdered Sugar Glaze
- 2 cups (9 oz, 252 gr) powdered, confectioners, or icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
- 1/4-1/3 cup (60-77 ml) milk
- In a sauce pot, heat the water, milk, butter, sugar, and sauce over medium heat. Once the mixture is boiling, take it off the heat and pour all of the flour into the pot at once. Stir quickly until the mixture comes together into a cohesive dough.
- Flatten the mixture to the bottom of the pan and return it to medium heat. Listen for the mixture to begin making a crackling sound. Once you hear it crackling, pull the mixture to one side of the pot and check if there is a thin film on the bottom. It there is, it is dried out enough. It not, heat longer until a film forms.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until all of the steam has evaporated off.
- Off the heat, add the eggs into the mixture and stir until each egg has completely absorbed into the batter before adding the next. This takes a little arm work to get it all mixed in.
- Once the batter is smooth and glossy it is done. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, set up a deep fryer, pot, or deep skillet with at least 3″ (7.5 cm) of oil. Bring the oil to 350 F (177 C). Cut parchment paper into 10 square pieces about 5″ x 5″ (13 x 13 cm) in size.
- Transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag fit with a large star tip. Pipe circles of batter onto each parchment square.
- Using a slotted spoon, lower a piece of parchment paper with a piped donut into the hot oil. Let it fry for about a minute and then use tongs to gently release the donut from the parchment paper and remove the parchment from the oil. Flip the donut after about 3 minutes of frying. Fry for about 2-3 more minutes.
- Move the cooked donuts to a cooling rack set over a sheet pan to drain.
- Whisk together all of the ingredients for the glaze adding enough milk to create a thin dippable consistency.
- Dip the donuts in the glaze, flipping to coat, and move them back to the cooling rack.
- Oil Temperature: It is important to monitor the heat of the frying oil carefully. If it gets too hot the outside of the donut will burn before the inside has time to puff up and cook through.
- Make Ahead: If you want to prep the donuts ahead, pipe the choux pastry into the donut shapes and freeze. Transfer the frozen donuts to a freezer bag and store for up to 3 months. The day you want to serve them you can fry them straight from frozen. Add about 2 minutes to the fry time for frozen choux pastry.