Searching for the Holy Grail of Donuts: The Mashed Potato Donut

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my brother with a link to a website and a cryptic message "Is this what we've been searching for all these years?"  First, I thought it was one of those spam emails with messages designed to get you to click on the link and second, I couldn't recall that my brother and I were actually searching for anything.  After I confirmed that the link looked legit, I clicked on it and immediately knew that he had found what we've been looking for...mashed potato donuts.  The donut of my youth.  The donut that frequently waited for my brothers and I when we came to visit my grandparents on Chestnut Street in Grand Forks, North Dakota.   That fresh hot round cakey yumminess that we placed in a paper bag filled with sugar coating to our hearts and stomachs content.  

My grandmother's kitchen was exotic to begin with and couldn't be more different from the seventies yellow appliance and orange counter top kitchen we had at home. The wood burning stove (similar to the one in this picture) churned out delicious food all weekend long when we visited.  My dad, in particular, looked forward to going home to his mother's cooking.  I know us kids always hoped for donuts on that long six hour drive from Minneapolis.

And now I discover there is a whole bakery in Portland Maine devoted to the mashed potato donut!  A mere 3 hours from my house; can you say "road trip?" Appropriately called The Holy Donut (as it's the holy grail of donuts in my humble opinion), the website lists 22 flavors including roasted pistachio and bacon and cheddar.  Why anyone would want to make a "savory" donut is beyond me but who am I to question the brilliance of the person who started a business based solely on the mashed potato donut?  She clearly has her head screwed on straight.

Most importantly, the article contained a link to a mashed potato donut recipe and I knew I was in business.  I had this! So, this past Friday, when most of Massachusetts' schools were cancelled for snow, I hunkered down with the kids and prepped for donut making.  Soon, my kitchen smelled like the Tom Thumb mini-donut concession stand at the Minnesota State Fair.

It smelled good.

Hello, Yankee Candle, are you listening?  You need to bottle that scent. No, no need to thank me.  Seeing that scent on the shelves next Fall will be all the thanks I need.

But, smell is not enough.  The proof is in the pudding (er, donut).  After letting the donut cool for the requisite 1/2 second (because who can wait longer for donuts?), I popped a piece in my mouth.  Donut heaven, childhood memories, and pure food bliss wrapped up in one small bite. The light cakey center and taste was just as I remembered.

Truth be told, my donuts looked prettier than my Grandmother's ever did.  I don't think she cared much about their appearance and frankly I don't either.  That mine turned out practically perfect in appearance was just dumb luck.  Or, some wicked killah baking skills...nah, dumb luck.   My husband and kids had never had a mashed potato donut before and they all said it was the best donut they ever tasted.  Of course, my grandmother's donuts will always be the best donut I've ever tasted, but I'm so happy and grateful that I'm able to continue the tradition for my own kids.  And, to answer my brother's question, yes, we've found what we've been searching for.

 Mashed Potato Donuts

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½  teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup well mashed potatoes (just the potatoes no cream or butter and use a potato ricer for best results)
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, buttermilk powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2.  In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar beating until combined and slightly foamy. Add water, melted butter, vanilla and mashed potatoes. Stir until smooth.
  3.  Slowly add flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.
  4. Divide dough and form dough into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap then flatten into discs. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
  5. Generously flour a large work surface. Take one of the discs and turn out the dough to coat with flour, sprinkling the surface of the dough with flour to lessen stickiness, if needed. Gently pat the dough to about 1/2 an inch thick. Use a floured 3 inch doughnut cutter to cut out doughnuts and place cut doughnuts and doughnut holes on a floured sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Fill a Dutch oven (I used my dutch oven and it worked great) or large cast iron skillet with 2 inches of oil. Heat oil over medium high heat until 360°F. Drop doughnuts in the oil and fry until a deep golden brown on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Use chopsticks to turn the doughnuts. Be careful not to crowd the doughnuts in the pan (no more than 2 to 3 doughnuts at a time). Remove doughnuts immediately from the pan using a heat resistant slotted spoon or spatula. Set on paper towel lined baking racks to cool. Once cooled slightly toss in a bag with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. Serve immediately.


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