Fun Valentine’s Day Idea: Making Donuts With This Simple Recipe

by: Joan Albrecht

Valentine’s Day is deff my favorite holiday. I love LOVE. So having a whole day to express and celebrate love is my kind of day. The other holidays are great for gathering around family and friends but Valentine’s Day is truly a day to share your love with your loved ones.

One of my favorite ways of showing love is baking. I am not a star baker but I have watched my fair share of the Food Network. Looking up different Valentine’s Day recipes I came across this simple homemade donut recipe from Butternut & Sage and thought it was a fun and unique Valentine’s Day idea. I ended up doing a batch of the classic cinnamon sugar donuts and then decorated the second batch.

This easy recipe would be so fun to try out with your kiddos, partner, or friends! Sharing how I made them following Butternut & Sage’s recipe and my tips after making them.


  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast *Note: I used instant yeast and it turned out fine

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk (warmed between 95-110 degrees F)

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 6 tablespoons melted butter

  • 4 cups all purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • canola oil, for frying

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Optional Decorating:

  • frosting – I used meltables

  • sprinkles

Kitchen Tools:

  • Heart-shaped cookie cutter. I used the medium size

  • Stand mixer . Use it if you have it because I did not use one and got my hands very sticky!

  • Mixing bowls. I have these and love them! Great for storing or proofing.

  • Frying spatula. Would be handy but not completely necessary as long as you have a stainless steel spoon with holes.


Step 1: Making the dough. Note: I used instant yeast vs. the recommended dry yeast and I didn’t use a stand mixer. The recipe states to mix all the ingredients in together but I suggest to mix all of the wet ingredients together first (salt, eggs, vanilla and melted butter) before the flour. Knead the dough until it comes together, about 5 minutes. Per the recipe, if the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it comes together.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise, about 1 hour.

Step 2: Making them heart shaped. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out so that it is about ½ inch thick. Make sure you do not roll out your dough too thin! I did this for the first couple and the donuts did not fry well. They became super airy inside.

Use the heart shape cookie cutters to cut out the dough into hearts. Then roll the remaining dough back into a ball, roll out with the rolling pin into the same ½ inch thickness, and repeat until all the dough has been used.

Per the instruction on the website, I mixed the flour in first without stirring in the vanilla and it did not incorporate well. You can see in the picture, there are brown spots where the vanilla did not mix in.

Place the heart donuts onto parchment lined cookie sheets and cover with plastic wrap until all the dough has been cut out and ready to fry.

Step 3: Fry donuts. Make sure you have a cooking thermometer to check that the oil is hot enough but not too hot. Apparently, if the oil is too hot, the dough will brown too fast and the dough will be uncooked and doughy in the middle.

In a large pot add 3 inches of canola oil. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reached 350 degrees F and you’ll want to maintain it at this temp. Keep your eye out and turn down the heat if needed.

Slowly place the donuts in the hot oil. Try to work in batches of about 4 donuts at a time. Fry the donuts about 2 minutes per side.

Using a slotted metal spoon, transfer them to a wire rack to cool while you fry the rest of the donuts. My first donut frying attempts did not turn out well but they got better so don’t worry about them being a fail!

Step 4: Donut Coatings and Decorating. Use 1 cup granulated white sugar with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. I simply rolled the donuts in the cinnamon sugar. I also decorated with icing and sprinkles. Kids would love this part!

Tips – What I Learned After Trying Butternut and Sage’s Homemade Donut Recipe:

I was a little intimidated because I have never made donuts before but it was so much fun! I was surprised by how simple the ingredients and directions were. I do have a few tips if you want to give donut-making a try.

  • Gather all the tools ahead of time. *I mistook the meat thermometer as a cooking thermometer and had to run out to get the right one

  • A lot of the ingredients you most likely have but make sure you have enough cooking oil

  • The recipe calls for active or instant dry yeast. I tried the instant yeast and they turned out perfect! I suggest buying little packets of active and instant yeast from the grocery store. They are super handy to have on hand. I used almond milk instead of whole milk and it totally worked as an alternative!

  • Mix all of the wet ingredients together before the flour. This is standard in baking but the recipe states to mix it all in together. I mixed the flour in first without stirring in the vanilla and it did not incorporate well.

  • Do not roll out your dough too thin! I did this for the first couple and they did not fry well. They became super airy inside.

  • The first fry is the hardest. It is like cooking pancakes. The first one never turns out well. I was so worried that this was a donut fail but I kept frying and they ended up amazing!!

  • Have fun decorating them! The cinnamon sugar is delicious and it’s fun to roll the donuts around it in. Decorating with icing would be fun to do with your kiddos. I also think filling them with jelly or adding fun toppings would be so yummy!

  • If you are making these with your kiddos I suggest having them help with the ingredients assembly and decorating. Frying the donuts is definitely an adult job.

A big thank you to Butternut and Sage for sharing this simple donut (doughnut) recipe that’s perfect for a Valentine’s Day activity. I was happy with how they turned out and totally recommend it. I can’t get over how cute and delicious these donuts are!

If frying isn’t your thing, you can try the easy baking donuts method. I found this yummy strawberries and cream donut baking recipe from 30 Days of Recipes.

Let us know if you’ve ever tried making donuts and if you have any tips. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sweetest Regards, Patti