Skip to Content

National Donut Day

What is National Donut Day and why are there TWO of them? The origins of both refer specifically to donuts as a foodstuff and not any of the alternative meanings such as forcing your car to spin around 360 degrees in the snow (“pulling a donut” is how some in the Midwest refer to the practice) or as a symbol of a Covid-free day (the “donut” in that expression is the equivalent of the number 0 due to its shape).

National Donut Day is officially observed in America on the First Friday in June , but also on November 5. Why?

The next National Donut Days will be observed on Sunday, November 5, 2023 and June 2, 2023.

National Donut Day

The First Donut Day

In World War One, there were plenty of volunteers who wanted to do something to help those fighting on the front lines near France.

Thanks to the efforts of the Salvation Army, Mental Floss reports over 250 women volunteers dispatched there, and during that volunteer “deployment” someone managed to innovate a cooking technique to make donuts with–a technique using soldier’s helmets to fry the donuts in the field.

The larger organization took notice, and the Salvation Army’s National Donut Day was established to be observed on November 5 each year in part to honor those volunteers, but also to raise funds for the organization.

What We Celebrate Today As National Donut Day

When we celebrate National Donut Day on the First Friday in June, we are likely observing a “PR holiday” created by a food marketing board or a donut brand as a way to sell more donuts. A quick search around the Internet reveals the same old song and dance on how “the origins of this holiday are unclear” which typically means that someone in a marketing board room dreamed it up.

Not always, to be sure, but in this case it’s highly likely that when we celebrate, we’re participating in a fun awareness-raising campaign. But it’s donuts, so are we really bothered by this? Not when there are free donuts on offer!

Who Offers Free Donuts On National Donut Day?

Participating retailers change from year to year, but in the past there have been many offering a free donut on the last Friday in June. They include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Duck Donuts
  • Krispy Kreme
  • McDonald’s
  • Randy’s Donuts
  • Tim Hortons
  • Shipley’s Do-Nuts
  • 7-11
  • Stan’s Coffee and Donuts

Celebrating National Donut Day

Some might balk at the idea of celebrating a “corporate” holiday, one initiated to sell more products, etc. If you’d rather not support a national chain like 7-11 or Tim Hortons (in spite of the potential for free donuts!) you can always make donuts at home from scratch.

There are plenty of recipes that do not call for any specialized gear like a donut maker, and it’s a fun weekend project for those who want to participate but who also like knowing all the ingredients their donuts are made from.

You can buy special equipment to speed the donut making process along; a mini donut maker (similar to a sandwich press/sandwich maker) costs as little as $20 and you may just find the speed and ease of that kitchen gadget well worth the minor investment you make to enhance your Donut Day. Some retailers even sell a more elaborate mini donut factory machine (just under $200) that cranks out ring donuts by the score.

Is A Donut Cake Or Bread?

That depends on how they are made. Cake donuts exist, but plain old fried bread type donuts are also on the menu depending on where you go. It’s really down to aesthetics for many; some prefer the traditional ring donut with no fillings, while others go for a cake donut or a jam-filled option. You can celebrate National Donut Day with any type you prefer.

Are Donuts Baked Or Fried?

Both! Donuts can be baked or fried. Fried donuts are crisp and golden on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. Baked donuts are more dense and cakey. If you plan on making donuts at home, the texture you’re looking for should determine your cooking method.

Types Of Donuts

How many different types of donuts are there? A lot. Here’s some of the most common types of donuts, and their varieties.

Yeast Donuts: Glazed, Malasadas, Honey Buns, Tiger Tails – Yeast donuts are the traditional fried dough, soft and airy on the inside.

Cake Donuts: Old Fashioned Cake, Apple Cider Donuts, Sour Cream Donuts, Blueberry Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate or Devil’s Food Cake – Cake donuts are made with baking powder or baking soda, and are moist and dense.

Donut Holes: Nun’s Puffs, Zeppole, Loukoumades – Round, bite sized fried donuts.

Cruller Donuts: Dutch Kruller, French Cruller, Milwaukee Cruller, Youtiao – Crullers are fried, with a smooth buttery consistency and can be bar-shaped or twisted/fluted in shape.

Gourmet Donuts: Apple Fritters, Beignets, Brioche Donuts, Cronuts, Mochi Donuts, Sourdough Donuts – Modern and artistic donuts with style and flavor fusions.

Long John Donuts: Maple Bar, Maple Bacon Bar, Cream Filled Long John, Chocolate Long John – These yeast donuts, oblong in shape, and covered with an icing or glaze, and can also be filled with cream or custard.

Filled Donuts: Bavarian Cream Donuts, Berliner, Boston Cream Donut, Paczki, Sufganiyah – Most are yeast donuts injects with a filling.

Drop Donuts: African Donuts, Buttermilk Drop Donuts, Oliebollen – Loose batter dropped in oil and fried for a dense doughy ball.

Spudnuts/Potato Donuts: Fastnachts, Graffe Napoletane, Kuih Keira, Maine Potato Donuts, Picarones – Generally made as a yeast donut with mashed potatoes or potato starch.

Healthy Donuts: Baked Donuts, Gluten-free Donuts, Keto Donuts, Vegan Donuts – Donuts made to accommodate alternative diets.

Check out these donut recipes to make your own at home!

National Donut Day

Celebrate National Donut Day by making them fresh at home with one of these delicious donut recipes.

See Our Big List of National Food Holidays & Observances

Monique McArthur
Latest posts by Monique McArthur (see all)