How to Make Boston Cream Doughnuts

Love Boston cream pie? Make Boston cream doughnuts for a version that's handheld—and acceptable to eat for breakfast.

Filled doughnuts are the best kind of doughnuts. Don’t get me wrong, a good cake doughnut or old-fashioned doughnut is good in its own right, but the added element of a decadent filling is simply too good to resist—and Boston cream doughnuts are a classic example.

These doughnuts take the traditional pastry cream you’d find in Boston cream pie (which is actually a cream-filled cake, not a pie) and puts it in a new vessel: A fried yeast doughnut with a glossy chocolate icing. I’d argue Boston cream doughnuts are much better than the “pie” version. Here’s everything you need to know to make them at home.

Boston Cream Doughnut Recipe

This recipe from our experts in the Taste of Home Test Kitchen makes 16 doughnuts.



  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Oil for deep-fat frying

Pastry cream:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream


Step 1: Activate the yeast

Activating the yeast in large bowlTMB Studio

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm milk. Add 1 cup of flour and mix well. Let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Create the dough

Dough in large bowlTMB Studio

Add the room temperature egg, egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and salt and mix well. Beat in the butter, vanilla and remaining 2-1/2 cups flour. Do not knead.

Dough resting in large bowl with cloth over itTMB Studio

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Step 3: Make the pastry cream

checking cream with spoon TMB Studio

Meanwhile, for the pastry cream, mix the sugar and cornstarch in a small heavy saucepan. Whisk in the milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce the heat to low, cook and stir for 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Step 4: Temper the eggs for the cream

Whisking the eggs in bowlTMB Studio

In a small bowl, whisk a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks, and return it all to the pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a gentle boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Checking the cream with spponTMB Studio

Remove from heat. Immediately transfer to a bowl.

Step 5: Finish preparing the pastry cream

bowl of cream resting on large bowl of iceTMB Studio

Place the bowl of custard in an ice-water bath for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until cold.

Step 6: Cut out the doughnuts

Cutting out doughnuts from doughTMB Studio

Punch the dough down. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut circles from the dough with a 3-in. biscuit cutter. Place the doughnuts on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: After you cut doughnuts from the rolled-out dough, there will be scraps that you can gently re-roll to avoid waste and squeak out a few more doughnuts.

Step 7: Fry the doughnuts

Frying the doughnutsTMB Studio

In a deep-fat fryer or electric skillet, heat the oil to 375°F. Fry the doughnuts, a few at a time, for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on paper towels after you take them out of the hot oil.

Editor’s Tip: Associate recipe editor/test cook Maggie Knoebel loves the All-Clad deep fryer because it’s easy to use, keeps a constant temperature and has a deep basket. However, you don’t need to use a deep fryer to make doughnuts: Using a pot with high sides will work too, since it will prevent splatters of hot, bubbling oil. Our guide to how to deep fry at home will provide you with other tips and tricks if deep frying isn’t necessarily your forte!

Step 8: Fill the doughnuts

Filling the doughnuts with creamTMB Studio

Cut a small hole in the tip of a pastry bag, and insert a small pastry tip. Fill the bag with the prepared, refrigerated pastry cream. With a small knife, pierce a hole into the side of each doughnut. Fill with pastry cream, just a little less than 1/4 cup per doughnut.

Test Kitchen Tip: Use a small paring knife to pierce a hole in the side of each doughnut. Maggie says that a paring knife will help cut a hole that’s deep enough in the doughnut where the filling will be distributed equally. “When filling the doughnuts, I like to hold it in my palm, so I can feel each doughnut weighs about the same after filling,” says Maggie.

Step 9: Make the glaze

In a microwave, melt the chocolate and heavy cream and stir until smooth.

Editor’s Tip: Our guide to how to melt chocolate provides plenty of tips so your melting experience goes smoothly.

Step 10: Dip the doughnuts in the chocolate glaze

Dipping the doughnuts in melted chocolate TMB Studio

Dip each doughnut halfway, allowing excess glaze to drip off. Place on a wire rack and let stand until set. After that, serve them ASAP—doughnuts are best fresh, after all!

Chocolate dipped doughnuts resting on wire racksTMB Studio

Tips for Making Boston Cream Doughnuts

Why didn’t my doughnuts turn out?

There are multiple reasons why your doughnuts could turn out anything less than perfect—whether they’re oily, burnt or even raw on the inside—and the oil is probably the culprit. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you let the oil come back to temperature between batches. The temperature will lower a bit every time you add a doughnut—and if the temperature is too low, the doughnuts will absorb too much oil. Frying too many doughnuts at a time will cause the same thing, so be patient and only add a few at a time.
  • If the oil is too hot, you’ll likely burn the doughnuts. If you test the oil and find out that the temperature is too hot, give it a few minutes to reach 375° again.

We’d recommend doing a single test doughnut at the start after your oil has reached 375°. Get the hang of it, then get frying!

Do you need a pastry bag to fill the doughnuts?

If you don’t have a pastry bag or pastry tip, don’t worry. You can fill up a plastic bag with the pastry cream and cut off the corner for a similar experience.

How should you store Boston cream doughnuts?

If you have any left, store your Boston cream doughnuts in an airtight container in the fridge. The chocolate icing doesn’t fully set, so you’re better off keeping them in a single layer so none of the gooey chocolaty icing is lost.

Can you make Boston cream doughnuts ahead of time?

While most fried doughnuts are best eaten the same day, you could prepare the pastry cream two to three days ahead of time. Store it in the fridge until you’re ready to fill the doughnuts. Keep in mind, you may need to whip it up slightly to loosen it before adding it to a pastry bag to fill the doughnuts.

Lauren Pahmeier
Lauren has spent four years in digital and print publishing since earning her professional journalism degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. As an editor at Taste of Home, Lauren spends her days leading SEO-focused projects and collaborating with the Test Kitchen to develop new recipes. She also writes daily about her favorite recipes, building seasonal charcuterie boards and more. Lauren previously pitched, wrote and edited content about event planning, catering and travel, but discovered her passion for food journalism in particular while she served as the editor and co-founder of her school’s chapter of Spoon University. After exploring the restaurant scene in Minneapolis for almost eight years, Lauren moved to Milwaukee where she continues to try every seasonal latte and scoop of frozen custard she can. No matter where she goes, she loves to share her finds with her friends and family on Instagram. When she’s not writing or posting about food, she’s either making it at home or deliberating where to dine next.