Is it donuts or doughnuts? Whichever way you spell it, the result is the same — soft, delicate rings of dough. Iced or sprinkled in sugar and cinnamon, they’re a popular choice of snack¹ in many parts of the world.

Whether you’ve baked a batch of fresh donuts or bought them from the local bakery, you may have leftovers. Eating dry and starchy donuts the next day is such a disappointment. The good news is, we’re about to explain how to keep donuts fresh overnight, or even for a few months!

Let’s look at your three best ways to keep donuts tasting like they were straight out of the oven or deep fryer.

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The 3 best options for storing donuts

Option 1: Ambient

Suitable for: 1-2 days.
Best choice: if you have donuts without cream filling or you don’t have a fridge.

  1. Pop your leftover donuts into a large ziplock plastic bag or an airtight container. If you add them to a bag, make sure all the air is squeezed out before sealing. Do this gently to avoid squashing the donuts.
  2.  Store in a cool area of the house that isn’t damp. Avoid placing in direct sunlight.
  3. When it’s time to eat the donuts, give them a zap in the microwave on high for 5-10 seconds to revitalize them back to their former glory. Heating them will soften and improve their texture.

Option 2: Refrigerated

A donut on a plate in the fridge
Refrigerate donuts for up to five days.

Suitable for: 5 days.
Best choice: If you have cream-filled donuts, or you won’t be eating them in the next two days.

  1. Pop your leftover donuts into a large ziplock plastic bag or an airtight container. If you add them to a bag, make sure all the air is squeezed out before sealing.
  2. Place your donuts in the fridge until required.
  3. When you crave a snack, pop them in the microwave on high for about 15 seconds to revive the dough. If you have donuts with filling, be careful not to burn yourself.

Note: you can also use foil or even a plastic bag so long as no air is getting in.

Option 3: Frozen

Suitable for: 4-6 months.
Best choice: If you’re in no hurry to eat donuts.

  1. Wrap each donut individually with parchment paper then place them in an airtight container. Doing this will stop them from sticking together. Now, you’ll be able to remove one at a time if that’s what you want (kudos on the strong willpower!).
  2. Place the container in a plastic bag to prevent your food from getting freezer burn.
  3. When you’re ready to eat, leave donuts at room temperature for 20 minutes to defrost then microwave on high for 15 seconds to rejuvenate them. If you need to microwave for a little longer, pop them back in again.
Donut fact
Over 10 billion donuts are made in the U.S. each year.

Frequently asked questions

How do I make a stale donut fresh?

The best way to freshen donuts is to give them a quick zap in the microwave, on high, for 15 seconds. Check if the inside is soft and heat for a further 5 seconds if required.

What are the best ways to use leftover donuts?

Some excellent ways to use leftover donuts are to make a thirst-quenching donut shake, add them to vanilla ice cream, or use them for bread pudding.

How do you unfreeze donuts?

To defrost frozen donuts remove from the freezer and leave them at room temperature overnight. If you'd like to eat them immediately, microwave on high for 15 seconds and check the interior isn't icy. If necessary, continue heating in 5-second increments.

Can I freeze apple cider donuts?

Apple cider donuts can be frozen in an airtight bag for 4-6 months. They can be defrosted overnight on the counter-top or in a microwave for 15 seconds.

How long are donuts good for?

Check out this table showing how long your donuts will last.

Storage TypeHow long will donuts last?
Room temperature1-2 days
Refrigerated5 days
Frozen4-6 months

Note: Keep in mind that cream donuts should only be refrigerated. Storing them at room temperature can result in unwanted food contamination. Freezing cream isn’t advisable either as defrosted donuts are unpleasant.

Final words

Donuts are one of life’s greatest pleasures. But when they’ve been sitting out on the kitchen bench overnight, they taste like cardboard.

With a small amount of effort, you can store donuts so that they remain fresh. For most situations, keeping them in an airtight container or bag in the fridge will yield the best results. Then, with a quick session in the microwave, you’ll have donuts that are as fresh as the day you bought them.

Although we provided a table to show how long your donuts should last, keep in mind this is only a guide. Every situation is different. If you’re in a hot climate, you can expect a shorter shelf life if stored out of the fridge.

Do you have a method of extending the life of your donuts? Let us know in the comments below.


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