Baking Doughnuts Without Doughnut Pan

Have you ever baked donuts without a donut pan? If you haven’t then you might be wondering whether this is even possible. But when it comes to cooking, there is always an alternative so if you’ve got your heart set on making some delicious doughnuts but you don’t have a donut pan then you’re in the right place.

It doesn’t matter if you aren’t prepared with the right equipment as we have some great donut pan substitutes that will allow you to create tasty desserts at home. Let’s take a look at 5 viable alternatives for a doughnut pan.

What’s The Need For A Donut Pan?

A donut pan is simply a baking tray designed to shape doughnuts as they bake. They’re pretty similar in design to a muffin pan. The only difference is that they have a raised ‘bump’ in the center that allows you to create that signature donut hole.

Baking Doughnuts Without Doughnut Pan
Doughnut Pan is specialty cookware. Is it useful or a clutter?

Used for Baked Donuts

Baked doughnuts are a great alternative to fried donuts.

Less Fat is Used

You can have donuts that not are cooked in oil, and

Baking is Simpler than Frying

You don’t have to go through the process of deep frying in oil – which can be quite involved – requiring a large pot, a thermometer, and handling large amounts of oil.

Maintains the donut shape

Baked donuts are made from a thick batter, and donuts pans were invented to give the baked confection the tradition round shape with the donut hole in the middle.

A Single Purpose Donut Pan Can Lead to Cluttered Cabinets

But if you don’t make donuts all that often then it’s probably a bit of a waste of money to invest in a pan that’s only going to come out of the kitchen cabinet every once in a blue moon.

A lot of people wonder whether it’s possible to make donuts without a doughnut pan so just end up buying one without ever really using it. Do you need one? We’d say no, especially when there are so many other options. We bet that you find find a donut pan substitute that will work well for you.

Help! I Don’t Have A Donut Pan – What Else Can I Use?

Have you wondered how to make donuts without a donut pan? The key here is to get a little creative. There are a ton of things that you already have in your kitchen which can double as a doughnut pan meaning you don’t have to fork out for extra equipment.

Here come five innovative ways of making those delicious donuts without a special donut pan.

Make Your Own Donut Mold With Aluminum Foil

You don’t even need to have a pan at all when it comes to making donuts. If you fancy getting crafty in the kitchen then you could choose to create some DIY donut pans. All you’ll need is some aluminum foil. Optional accessories are parchment paper or a round cookie cutter. You will be making a single donut tray out of aluminum foil.

Start with roughly an 8” squarish piece of aluminum. Larger is ok. Rectangular is ok. Gently fold it into quarters, and then unfold it. You are doing this to identify the center of the foil

baked donuts without a donut pan
Donut baked in an aluminum foil mold

Pick up the sheet of foil. Put the first two fingers underneath the foil at the center point. Use your other hand to gently start to wrap your fingers in the foil, forming a mountain peak. This is the raised center section that will form your donut hole.

The next step is to form the shape of the doughnut. Here are three ways to do this:

Donut Pan Substitute – Shape Aluminum Foil free form

You can shape by hand by gently curling the edge of the foil all around the edges until you have a donut shaped aluminum tray.

Pros:

  • This method requires no props other than your hands
  • You can create any size doughnut you desire
  • You could also let your creativity shine through, and mold shapes other than the standard donut shape

Cons:

  • You may over- or under-size the mold. Too little folding, and you’ll end up with giant donut tray, and to much folding, and your tray will be too small.
  • It may be challening to make multiple trays that are the same size.
donut pan substitute - Making an Aluminum Foil Mold
Creating an Aluminum Foil Doughnut Mold; (1) Top Left – Find Center of Paper, marked with red arrow; (2) Bottom Left – Make mountain peak, center marked with red arrow; (3) Top right – Form Edges (4) Bottom Right – Finished mold.

Donut Shaping Using Aluminum Wrapped Parchment Paper

If you start with a “donut mockup form,” it is much easier to shape the aluminum foil around the donut shape.

Parchment paper covered in aluminum foil makes a fairly durable shape that you can reuse without it getting crushed.

Start by getting a sheet of parchment paper and rolling it into a long tube. Once you’ve done this, you can curve the entire thing around on itself so that you end up with a ring. Make sure to secure the ends. It may be easier to wrap the parchment tube in aluminum foil because the parchment paper is slippery and stiff, whereas the aluminum foil is pliable and you can get it to attach to itself.

Next, put the parchment ring and put it over top of the aluminum foil mountain that you made inthe previous step. Push it down, and wrap the edges around the parchment ring until you have made a donut tray around the ring.

You will want the edges to be at least 3/4” in height. Higher is ok. The sides need to contain the dough so it bakes up and not out. It doesn’t need to be pretty – just functional.

Once you have one donut tray made, get another square of aluminum foil to make a second one. You will need to make 12 for a typical donut recipe. (Or make 6 and bake them in 2 batches.)

Pros:

  • The parchment ring can be made any size you want.
  • The parchment will keep the ring stiff, and it will keep its shape as you use it.
  • You can reuse the parchment ring for consistent sized donuts

Cons:

  • Takes a bit of work to wrangle parchment paper.
how to make donuts without a donut pan - Use Aluminum foil mold
How to make Donuts without a Donut Pan using an aluminum foil mold: (1) Top Left – Shape the mold using aluminum wrapped parchment, an aluminum foil ring, or a round cookie cutter; (2) Bottom Left – The finished mold; (3) Top right – Fill the mold with doughnut batter; (4) Lower Right – The final result – a baked donut made without a donut pan.

Donut Pan Substitute – Shaping with Aluminum Foil Only

Instead of using parchment paper, you could make your donut model out of aluminum foil. Follow the same instructions as in the previous section to wrap the foil sheet around the aluminum donut model.

Pros

  • Just use more aluminum foil. No other material needed
  • Using a donut model will enable you to make similarly sized molds

Cons

  • Aluminum foil model is easy to crumple and the model may get smaller as you use it.

You can also use a round cookie cutter for a guide.

The cookie cutter won’t have the width of the donut models so you’ll have to adjust your folding. If you use a metal cookie cutter, be careful not to tear the aluminum foil mold.

Pros:

  • No model to make
  • Consistent diameter

Cons:

  • Could tear aluminum foil
  • Have to curve base free form

Baking Donuts Without a Donut Pan

Set the aluminum foil forms onto a cookie sheet and fill them with donut dough. You can either spoon it in or use a pastry bag.

Pastry Bag Hack for Donut Batter

For a simple pastry bag, put the donut batter into a large plastic bag and cut off the corner.

Summary of Aluminum Foil Donut Pan Substitute

You only need the edges to be high enough to hold your dough. About 3/4” is the minimum, but if you have extra, that is ok. This is why we started with a large enough sheet of aluminum foil

The bottom inside of your tray will be rough from all the folds. This will result in a non-smooth bottom surface of your doughnut – perfect for grabbing onto a sugar coating.

Donut Pan Substitute - Aluminum Foil Mold
Aluminum Foil mold

If you get small pin holes in the aluminum foil, don’t fret. Donut dough is thick and if you put it in the oven soon after you bake it, you won’t get any leaks.

Grease the aluminum foil trays as best you can. You will likely still end up peeling the foil off the finished donut.

Pros:

  • Donut shape can be made in whatever size you want to construct
  • The tops of the donuts will be smooth, and the bottoms will not be.
  • Aluminum foil transfers the heat well for even cooking of your donuts

Cons:

  • These aluminum trays will likely only be able to be used once

Do You Know The Muffin ‘Pan?’

While most people might not have a donut pan, they probably do have a muffin pan but you can put this to good use when it comes to making donuts.

You’ve already got the main shape for your donuts with the muffin molds so all you’ll need to do is create that central hole. The best way to do this is to put aluminum foil cylinders the center of the muffin mold.

donut pan substitute - muffin tin
Donuts baked in a Muffin Pan. (1) Top – The doughnuts right after they are baked (2) Bottom Left – Finished donut; (3) Bottom Right – Shows potential problem – donut hole did not go all the way through.

Ball or Cylinder – What Makes a Better Doughnut Hole?

Some cooks recommend that you crumple the foil into a ball, but we think that rolling a strip of aluminum foil into a cylinder works best. A cylinder can stand on its own in the muffin tin.

Aluminum Foil or Parchment

Crumpling parchment into a ball or rolling it into a cylinder can be challenging. However It is fairly easy to make miniature parchment cones that will stand upright in the muffin tins.

Fill the Muffin Pan and Bake the Donuts

Before you add any doughnut batter, make sure that you grease the cupcake pan to prevent the dough from sticking. You’ll then need to hold your center “hole” in place while fill the outer part with dough. You can use a spoon or a pastry bag.

Tips for Using a Muffin Pan

  • A Muffin (or cupcake) pan is something you may already own
  • Muffin pans are available in different sizes, so you can experiment.
  • If you have it, a jumbo muffin tin may work well.
  • Don’t over fill the pans. If there is too much batter, then the baking donuts will cause the center aluminum barrels to rise as the batter bakes and create and indentation rather than a donut hole.
  • Make sure the center barrels are tall enough. If the center barrels are too short, then the batter can bake over top of the barrels and you you won’t get a doughnut hole. Of course, if this happens, all you need to do is cut out the rest of the hole using a knife.
how to make donuts without a donut pan using a muffin pan
Steps to Making Donuts in a Muffin Pan (or cupcake pan): (1) Top Left – Roll aluminum foil barrels. (2) Bottom left – Alternative is to make parchment cones; (3) Top right – Place barrels or cones in muffin pan; (4) Bottom right – Use pastry bag (or pastry bag hack) to fill the muffin tins.

Mold It!

If you think that a donut pan is going to be something that you buy but only use once then it’s probably not worth it. However, you could buy some ring molds and these will come in handy for a lot of different things in the kitchen so are a better investment.

A Ring Mold is a good donut pan substitute
A Ring Mold is a good donut pan substitute

Molds are often used by home cooks for cooking eggs and making shaped pancakes. Professionals chefs use molds to make stacked cakes and layered dishes.

There are molds in every shape and size so you’ll easily be able to find a round one that’s perfect for making donuts.

Just take a round mold and lay this onto your baking tray before filling it up ¾ of the way. This is to prevent spilling as the batter rises as it cooks.

Similar to what you did with the muffin pan, you can use an aluminum foil roll or a parchment cone to create the hole in the middle of your donut, and you’re good to go! Just remember to make the doughnut hole a bit larger than you’d like it to end up as it will shrink when the batter cooks.

Get Your Hands Dirty

What’s the fun in cooking if you can’t get your hands a little dirty? Well if you’ve wondered how to make donuts without a donut pan and you like to get stuck in then this method is going to be great for you!

This is for people who have no molds, no pans, no foil, or anything. Just grab a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper if you have it) and spoon on some batter. You can use a pastry bag as well.

And who said that donuts had to be round with a hole in the middle? If you really want to get creative, you could make some fancy-shaped doughnuts that’ll be the talk of your tea party!

Baking Doughnuts Without Doughnut Pan - Freeform donuts
Freeform Donuts: (1) Bottom Left – designs can be created by dropping the dough with a spoon, like the ring, or piping with a pastry bag, like the freeform squiggle; (2) Bottom right – after baking; (3) Top – Finished freeform donut.

Notes on Free form Donuts

Since there are not sides to contain the batter and force it upwards as it bakes, it will spread out sideways. The result will look like cookies – flatter donuts with flat bottoms, but they will be tasty nonetheless.

Is there anything nicer than freshly baked cookies hot out of the oven? Most people would agree and so it’s no surprise that many of you reading this will have cookie cutters at home.

But these tools aren’t only ideal for making yummy cookies; they’re also brilliant for shaping your doughnuts.

You’ll need to make the batter and pour the whole batch into a jelly roll pan. Bake it, and after cooling for 5 minutes, use cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Or use a knife to cut out donut cubes. These can then be directly transferred to a bag filled with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar where to can finalize the perfect tasting doughnut.

Conclusion

Do you need a donut pan to make donuts? Heck no! The most innovative and creative home cooks are prepared with a whole host of donut pan substitutes. There’s really no need to invest in a donut pan, especially since it really can’t be used for anything else.

baked donuts without a donut pan
Finished donuts baked without a doughnut pan

The alternatives we have discussed in this article are not only super effective but many of them are heaps of fun. So get stuck in there and enjoy baked donuts without a donut pan!