Is French cruller healthy?

French crullers are a beloved doughnut-like treat, known for their light, airy texture and crispy exterior coating. But with their deep-fried preparation and sugary topping, some may wonder – are French crullers actually a healthy choice? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional profile of French crullers to find out.

What are French crullers?

French crullers are a type of doughnut made from pâte à choux, the same dough used to make eclairs and cream puffs. Unlike regular doughnuts, crullers are not made from yeast-risen dough. Instead, pâte à choux contains eggs, flour, butter, milk, water, and sometimes sugar.

The pâte à choux dough is piped into rings and deep-fried, resulting in a hollow, oblong-shaped pastry. Crullers have a light, eggy interior encased in a crispy, golden exterior thanks to the frying process. They are typically topped with a sweet glaze or powdered sugar coating.

There are two main types of French cruller:

  • Éclairs – Long, oblong pastries filled with pastry cream.
  • Crullers – Ring-shaped, topped with icing or powdered sugar.

Both variations are fried but the cruller style is more common, especially in the United States.

Nutritional profile

Here is the basic nutritional profile for a standard French cruller doughnut (1 piece, about 100g):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 320
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 2.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 45mg
Sodium 270mg
Total Carbohydrate 49g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 12g
Added Sugars 12g
Protein 6g

*Based on data from the USDA FoodData Central database.

As you can see, a single French cruller contains quite a bit of fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. Let’s analyze the key nutrients further.


A standard French cruller contains around 11g of total fat, with 2.5g coming from saturated fat. The deep frying method means the dough absorbs a significant amount of oil, which drives up the fat content.

However, French crullers are not a significant source of trans fats, which are considered the most harmful type of dietary fat. They also provide a small amount of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Overall, the fat content is quite high for a single pastry.


In total, a French cruller provides 49g of carbohydrate. Around 12g comes from added sugars, which are dumped into the glaze, icing, or coating. This added sugar content is equal to around 3 teaspoons.

The cruller also contains 37g of complex carbohydrates from the enriched wheat flour used to make the dough. While complex carbs are a better source than added sugar, the total carb content is still very high.


With 6g of protein per cruller, these pastries do provide a small amount of this important macronutrient. Some of the protein comes from the eggs used in pâte à choux. However, most would come from the wheat flour.


Compared to more nutrient-dense breakfast options, French crullers are not a significant source of important vitamins and minerals.

For example, a plain cruller contains:

  • 2% DV calcium
  • 4% DV iron
  • 2% DV vitamin A
  • 0% DV vitamin C

Any micronutrients present would come from the enriched flour used to make the dough. Overall, not the most nutrient-dense choice.

Are French crullers healthy?

Based on the nutritional profile, French crullers would not be considered a healthy choice. Here are some of the main downsides:

  • High in calories, fat, and carbohydrates for a single serving
  • Contain a significant amount of added sugar
  • Low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals due to lack of whole grains and fruit
  • Often eaten as an “empty calorie” treat rather than a balanced breakfast

Eating a French cruller here and there as part of an overall healthy diet is fine. But if consumed regularly or in large quantities, crullers could contribute to issues like:

  • Weight gain – A single cruller can provide up to 320 calories, which is quite high for a relatively small pastry.
  • Blood sugar spikes – With 49g total carbohydrate and 12g added sugar, crullers can rapidly raise blood glucose.
  • Nutrient deficiency – Their low micronutrient profile means relying on crullers could lead to lack of vitamins and minerals over time.

Some healthier ways to enjoy French crullers could include:

  • Splitting with a friend or choosing a kid-size portion.
  • Pairing with Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and nuts for a balanced breakfast.
  • Selecting a variety with less sugar, such as plain crullers dusted with powdered sugar rather than heavy glazes.
  • Eating with a source of protein to help temper blood sugar response.

Overall, enjoying the occasional French cruller is unlikely to negatively impact your health. But daily consumption or choosing crullers over more nutritious breakfast options could be detrimental. Moderation and balance is key.

Healthier doughnut alternatives

If you love the taste and texture of doughnuts but want a healthier option, consider these swaps:

Baked doughnuts

Rather than frying, baked doughnuts are made from a yeast-leavened dough that bakes in the oven. Removing the frying step significantly reduces fat and calories. For example, a baked doughnut may contain around 130 calories versus over 300 calories for a fried version.

Whole grain doughnuts

Opting for whole grain flour varieties increases fiber content while reducing refined carbohydrates. For example, a whole wheat doughnut made with extra fiber may provide 5-6g of fiber per serving. Beneficial grains to look for include whole wheat, oats, bran, and rye.

Protein doughnuts

Boosting protein is easy with the growing popularity of protein-enriched doughnuts. Some shops offer varieties made with protein powders, Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, or egg whites. While the macros vary by recipe, many provide 15-20g of protein per doughnut.

Mini doughnuts

Downsizing your doughnut is an easy way to slash calories, fat, and sugar. Look for mini or cake doughnut options – these bite-size varieties often contain less than half the calories of a full-size doughnut at 100-150 calories each. Easy to pop just one or two!

Creative doughnut holes

Rather than frying, many companies now bake bite-size doughnut holes. But you can also get creative and make “doughnut holes” from things like sliced bananas, apple rings, or pineapple rounds baked with a cinnamon glaze.

The bottom line

French crullers are definitely an indulgent food considering their high calorie, fat, and sugar content. Making crullers a regular habit is not recommended, especially at breakfast. However, enjoying them occasionally as part of a varied diet is unlikely to have negative health implications.

To make crullers healthier, focus on splitting or choosing smaller portions, selecting less sugary varieties, and pairing with nutritious foods like Greek yogurt or fruit. Baked and whole grain doughnuts are also better-for-you picks if you want that classic doughnut taste in a lighter package.

Moderation and mindfulness is key when indulging in fried, sugar-coated treats like French crullers. Ultimately, your overall diet pattern and lifestyle matters more than any one food choice.

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