12 Easy Ways to Seriously Upgrade Store-Bought Doughnuts

Treat yourself this National Doughnut Day (or any day!).

May 31, 2022

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Close-up of Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches, as seen on The Pioneer Woman, Season 19.

Growing up there was only one thing that could get me out of bed on a Saturday morning: doughnuts. If I spied a white Entenmann’s box on the kitchen counter the night before, you could bet I’d be up good and early the next day.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t really about eating the doughnuts, per se. Unlike my sisters, I wasn’t interested in the powdered or cinnamon varieties. What I actually wanted was to get my hands on a few of the plain doughnuts that came in the box — so that I could unleash my budding culinary creativity. I wanted to see what I could make with them!

From discovering how delicious cake doughnuts could be when warmed and soaked with real maple syrup to learning that they make an absolutely perfect stand-in for bread in any breakfast sandwich, my Saturday mornings were full of fabulous culinary findings.

My appreciation for doughnuts has followed me into adulthood — and I couldn’t be happier to see that I’m not the only one who recognizes the versatility of this beloved treat. There are so many great recipes that start with store-bought doughnuts. National Doughnut Day is right around the corner so why not treat yourself? These recipes make it easy!

Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches (pictured above)

Ree puts sweet caramel ice cream between halved doughnuts for a fun take on an ice cream sandwich. The best part about this treat is that you can make a big batch and stock your freezer. Just be sure to wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap so that they don’t get freezer burn.

Doughnut Casserole, as seen on The Bobby and Damaris Show, Season 1.

Photo by: Richard Freeda

Richard Freeda

This company-worthy casserole could be served as dessert but it’s topped with maple syrup and fresh berries so why not enjoy it for breakfast on a special day?

Skip the lady fingers. Store-bought cake doughnuts work just as well in this creamy, layered tiramisu. This dessert can be served after a few hours in the refrigerator but if you have time to let it chill overnight, do it. The flavors will come together and the texture will be absolutely perfect.

The S'mauro donut sandwich is displayed during an episode about the best snacks ever, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen Sink, Season 1.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

S’mores without a campfire? Sign me up! This clever recipe uses the broiler to melt the chocolate and toast the marshmallows.



If you’re a fan of having something to dunk your doughnuts into, whip up a batch of instant pudding that’s made with a blend of milk and brewed coffee. Once set, it’s the perfect chocolatey dip for mini doughnuts!

Doughnuts are the secret ingredient that takes this streusel-topped crumb cake to glorious new heights. Store-bought doughnuts are nestled into the cake batter and baked right in — and they’re used to decorate the finished cake, too.

Duff Goldman - Office Donut Bread Pudding, as seen on Guys Ranch Kitchen, Season 2.

Leftover doughnuts are the perfect substitute for stale bread when you’re making bread pudding. They provide extra sweetness, making the finished dessert even more decadent and comforting.

Donut hole ice cream sandwiches are displayed during an episode about the best snacks ever, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen Sink, Season 1.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Jason DeCrow, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

These two-bite treats are all about instant gratification. No baking, no waiting while they freeze. Just sandwich a scoop of ice cream between two doughnut hole halves, roll in sprinkles (or chopped candies or nuts) and enjoy.

Host Jamika Pessoa makes a Glazed Donut with sloppy joe, sweet and savory. Prepared with a pound of ground beef, diced onion, and slopy joe sauce. Sauce is made with 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp of Djon Mustard, 2 tbsp of brown sugar, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, between the chili and bbq family, 1/2 black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Finished off with a cup of ketchup, onions are mixed in with ground beef first and then sauce is added to marinate and simmer together. One complete sloppy joe is now added to glaze donut that is sliced into two halves, slice of cheese is added as the blanket to keep sandwhich from being as messy, as seen on Food Network's Lets Eat, Season 1.

If you’re all about sweet-and-savory flavor combinations you’ll love this idea. Skip the sandwich roll or burger bun next time you’re making sloppy Joes — and use a glazed doughnut instead.

Food Network Kitchen’s Doughnut Hole Crab.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

How do you give doughnuts a fun, summary spin? Make them look like beachy crabs using red candy melts and an assortment of other gummy treats.

Food Network Kitchen's Coffee and Doughnut Float, as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Doughnuts and coffee are a classic breakfast duo but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them any time of the day. This fizzy float features coffee ice cream and a simple homemade chocolate-espresso syrup — which guarantees plenty of flavor every time you dunk your doughnut in!

Katie Lee's Cider Donut Panini as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen, Season 7.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Katie’s take on an upgraded grilled cheese involves, you guessed it, doughnuts. She slices an apple cider doughnut to use as the bread for her panini, which is filled with creamy ricotta, fresh apple, honey and cinnamon.

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