Is there dairy in a Doughnut?

Doughnuts are a popular sweet treat enjoyed around the world. Their sweet flavor and soft texture make them a delicious indulgence. But for people with dairy allergies or who follow a dairy-free diet, determining if doughnuts contain dairy can be an important consideration.

Quick Answer

Most doughnuts do not contain actual dairy ingredients like milk, cream, or butter. However, they are often fried in vegetable oils that may be contaminated with traces of dairy. Some doughnut glazes and fillings also contain dairy ingredients. So while many doughnuts are dairy-free, it’s important to check ingredients and ask questions when purchasing doughnuts to avoid potential dairy exposure.

Do Doughnuts Contain Milk or Cream?

Traditional doughnut recipes do not call for the addition of milk, cream, or other dairy products. The basic ingredients in doughnuts are:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Yeast
  • Eggs
  • Oil or shortening
  • Water or other liquid
  • Leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda
  • Salt
  • Flavorings like vanilla or spices

None of these core doughnut ingredients contain milk or other dairy products. So in their simplest forms, doughnuts are dairy-free.

Frying Oil

The main potential source of dairy in plain doughnuts is the frying oil. Most doughnuts are fried in vegetable oil like canola, palm, or soybean oil. These oils are inherently dairy-free.

However, restaurants and doughnut shops often fry multiple menu items in the same oil. If dairy-containing foods like cheese sticks or chicken nuggets share a fryer with doughnuts, trace amounts of milk protein and lactose can contaminate the oil and transfer to the doughnuts. This is a risk for people with severe dairy allergies.

To avoid dairy exposure from shared fryer oil, search for doughnut shops that use dedicated fryers for their doughnuts or fry them in a separate vegan oil. You can also ask restaurants if their doughnuts share a fryer with other menu items.

Enriched Wheat Flour

Some doughnut recipes may also call for enriched wheat flour. This flour has nutrients like iron and B vitamins added back to it after milling. One potential additive is calcium carbonate, which may come from milk sources.

However, most commercial enriched flour uses calcium carbonate derived from rocks or seashells, not dairy. And the amount used is typically very minimal. So enriched wheat flour is generally safe for those avoiding dairy.

Dairy-Containing Doughnut Ingredients

While basic doughnuts are dairy-free, many popular doughnut varieties do contain milk or milk derivatives. This includes:


  • Cream or custard-filled doughnuts
  • Whipped cream or cream cheese fills

Glazes and Icings

  • Milk or butter-based glazes
  • Chocolate or caramel drizzles made with milk chocolate or butter


  • Powdered sugar often contains cornstarch which may be derived from corn processed on dairy equipment

Always check ingredient lists carefully to watch out for these potential sources of dairy in doughnuts.

Common Dairy Ingredients in Doughnuts

Here are some of the most common dairy-containing ingredients to look out for in doughnuts:


Milk is added to doughnut glazes, icings, fillings, and batters to add flavor, moisture, and texture. Condensed, evaporated, dry, and buttermilk may also be used.


Butter is used for its distinctive flavor in doughnut glazes, icings, fillings, and doughs. Clarified butter or ghee may also be used.


Heavy cream and half-and-half provide rich dairy flavor and a silkiness to doughnut cream fills and frostings.

Sour Cream

Sour cream gives a tangy flavor and thick texture to doughnut glazes and frostings.

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is used for popular cream cheese-filled doughnuts and icings.

Whey and Milk Solids

Whey and milk solids are byproducts of cheese making that may be used to add dairy flavor and protein to doughnuts.


Casein is a milk protein used in powdered glazes and coatings to add body and adhesion.


Lactose or milk sugar may be added to doughnuts and icings as a sweetener.

Sodium Caseinate

Sodium caseinate is a milk protein used as an emulsifier and texture enhancer in doughnut fills and icings.

Are Dairy-Free Doughnuts Available?

Thankfully for dairy-free doughnut lovers, most major doughnut chains now offer dairy-free options. You can also find them at many local doughnut shops and grocery stores.

Dairy-Free Chains

Here are some popular doughnut chains that offer dairy-free doughnuts:

  • Krispy Kreme – Has dairy-free original glazed doughnuts. Milk-based products are fried separately.
  • Dunkin’ – Offers dairy-free donuts and frying protocol for allergies.
  • Tim Hortons – Plain doughnuts are dairy-free. Some locations have coconut oil fryers.

Specialty Dairy-Free Doughnut Companies

There are also doughnut companies that specialize in vegan and dairy-free options:

  • Donut Friend – Los Angeles-based shop with dairy-free and vegan doughnuts.
  • Peaceful Provisions – Allergen-friendly bakery with dairy-free doughnuts.
  • Pip’s Original Doughnuts – Gourmet vegan doughnuts shipped nationwide.

Grocery Store Options

Many grocery stores now stock vegan and dairy-free doughnuts in the bakery section:

  • Food Lion
  • Safeway
  • Publix
  • Wegmans
  • Whole Foods

There are also dairy-free doughnut mixes to make at home, like Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Baking mixes.

Tips for Ordering Dairy-Free Doughnuts

Here are some tips when ordering doughnuts to avoid dairy exposure:

  • Ask to see ingredient lists and allergen information
  • Ask if fryers are dedicated dairy-free
  • Avoid cream, custard, and cheese-filled doughnuts
  • Avoid chocolate, caramel, and glazed toppings
  • Stick to plain cake and yeast doughnuts
  • Opt for sugar or cinnamon as safe toppings
  • Seek out vegan bakeries or brands for dedicated dairy-free

Making Dairy-Free Doughnuts at Home

Making doughnuts at home lets you control all the ingredients for a dairy-free treat. Here is a basic dairy-free doughnut recipe to bake or fry at home:


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter or dairy-free margarine, melted
  • Vegetable oil for frying or baking spray


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
  2. Make a well in the center and add the milk, egg and melted butter. Stir to form a shaggy dough.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  4. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough to 1/2 inch thick and cut into rounds using a doughnut cutter or biscuit cutter.
  6. Place doughnut rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  7. To bake: Brush rounds with egg wash and bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes until set.
  8. To fry: Heat 2-3 inches oil to 350°F and fry doughnuts for 1-2 minutes per side until golden.
  9. Glaze or top as desired with dairy-free ingredients.

Customize your doughnuts by adding dairy-free chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, or citrus zest to the dough. Top with fruit glazes, peanut butter, coconut whipped cream, caramel, or dairy-free chocolate.

Purchasing Pre-Made Dairy-Free Doughnuts

For convenience, you can find high-quality pre-made dairy-free doughnuts in the freezer section at many grocery stores. Brands like Tofutti and Love’n Bake make dairy-free doughnuts in flavors like glazed, chocolate, and pumpkin spice.

There are also many mail order companies that ship frozen vegan and dairy-free doughnuts nationwide:

  • Daily Dozen Doughnut Company
  • Katz Gluten Free
  • Yum Yum Donuts

Check ingredients carefully on any pre-packaged doughnuts to ensure they don’t contain hidden milk-based products.

Dairy-Free vs Vegan Doughnuts

When shopping for dairy-free doughnuts, you may also come across vegan doughnut options. What’s the difference between dairy-free and vegan doughnuts?


Dairy-free doughnuts contain absolutely no milk-based ingredients like milk, butter, cream, cream cheese or whey. However, they may still contain eggs and/or honey.


Vegan doughnuts are completely plant-based and contain no animal products whatsoever, including dairy, eggs, or honey. All vegan doughnuts are dairy-free, but not all dairy-free doughnuts are vegan.

So if you need to avoid all animal-derived ingredients, stick with choosing doughnuts labeled as 100% vegan. But if you only need to avoid dairy, dairy-free doughnut options can provide more flexibility.

Dairy-Free vs Milk Allergy-Friendly Doughnuts

Those with a dairy allergy specifically to milk protein need to take additional precautions beyond just dairy-free when choosing doughnuts.

While dairy-free means containing no milk-based ingredients, doughnuts labeled as “milk allergy-friendly” or “milk allergen-friendly” are produced in dedicated facilities free of milk and made on equipment that does not process milk. This greatly reduces risk of cross-contamination.

So for those with a severe milk allergy, seek out doughnuts certified as milk allergy-friendly or entirely free of milk allergens. Don’t assume that just dairy-free is safe enough.

Nutritional Profile of Dairy-Free Doughnuts

Dairy-free doughnuts have a similar nutritional profile to regular doughnuts, since they lack nutrients naturally found in dairy like calcium, vitamin D and protein.

Here is the nutrition facts for a standard glazed dairy-free doughnut (76g):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 220
Fat 8g
Carbs 34g
Fiber 1g
Sugars 16g
Protein 3g
Calcium 52mg

As you can see, dairy-free doughnuts are high in calories, fat, and carbs, while being low in protein, fiber, and micronutrients like calcium.

However, enjoyed occasionally in moderation, dairy-free doughnuts can be part of healthy, balanced diet for those with dairy restrictions. Just make sure to keep portions small and pair with protein, healthy fats, and fresh fruit.

The Bottom Line

Most standard doughnuts are intrinsically dairy-free, containing no milk, butter, or cream. However, many popular filled, frosted and topped doughnuts do contain dairy ingredients.

Thankfully dairy-free doughnuts are easier to find than ever before from major chains, specialty shops, grocery stores and homemade. Just take care to read labels and ask questions when ordering.

While not the most nutritious choice, enjoying the occasional dairy-free doughnut can let those with dairy restrictions satisfy their sweet cravings. In moderation, dairy-free doughnuts can be part of a healthy diet.

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