Donuts Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Who doesn’t love donuts? Donut (or doughnut) is one of the most popular sweet treats, not only in North America but also around the world. It’s just too hard to resist a cup of hot coffee with warm, fluffy donuts. 

Donuts come with endless varieties of toppings and fillings. Trying a new one is like an adventure for your taste buds. From the classic glazed donuts, powder sugar, sprinkles, jelly, and cream fillings, every kid and adults have their favorites.

Donuts are best eaten while still warm and fresh. But, we don’t always have the time to get the fresh ones. Buy a dozen and keep some for the next few days is what many people do, and maybe you’re one of them.

Since it is too easy to fall for donuts, throwing an office party or birthday party is much better with some packs of donuts. Most of the time you buy too many, and leftovers are inevitable after.

Either way, you want to keep donuts fresh as long as possible and ask yourself: How long do donuts last? Do donuts have to be refrigerated? Do donuts go bad? How long do donuts last unrefrigerated?

If you have a similar situation above, no worries. In this article, we will talk about donuts’ shelf life, storage methods, and how to know if donuts have gone off. If this is something you’re looking for, read on.

How To Keep Donuts Fresh

Keeping donuts fresh is not rocket science. You only need to know how to do it correctly.

Donuts, either homemade or store-bought (such as Krispy Kreme doughnuts), can be kept both at room temperature or in the refrigerator, depending on the topping or filling and how long you want to keep them.

Any donuts with cream and dairy-based filling or topping, such as vanilla cream, chocolate custards, Boston cream, and cream custard, need to stay in the refrigerator. The dairy ingredients make them more prone to microbial spoilage when left at room temperature.

Other variety of donuts (plain, sugared, glazed, jelly filling, sprinkles, anything other than dairy filling) can be kept at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. Place them in a cool, dry place, away from sources of sunlight and heat. If you can’t finish them in a day or two, keep them in the refrigerator for longer shelf life.

Either way, you need to protect these sweet treats from the air as they will dry out quickly. Keep them safely in the original box or paper bag. Alternatively, place them in a sealed airtight container. Be careful to not damage the toppings.

Can You Freeze Donuts?

As with other foods, you may think to freeze donuts when you can’t finish them anytime soon. Although not recommended, donuts can be frozen.

Keep in mind that not all filling or topping freeze well. Avoid freezing donuts with cream fillings. Plain and sugared donuts freeze quite well, while glazed donuts tend to get sticky when reheated.

To freeze donuts, place them in a sealed freezer-safe container. Wrap the container with a freezer bag to prevent the forming of ice inside the container. Store them in the freezer for later use.

How Long Do Donuts Last?

When stored at room temperature, donuts are best to consume within 1 to 2 days. With good refrigeration, these fluffy snacks can retain their freshness for up to a week maximum.

Donuts with cream and dairy-based fillings typically last shorter than other varieties. These fluffy desserts should be good to enjoy up within 3 to 5 days.

Frozen donuts are best consumed within 2 to 3 months. But, the texture and toppings/fillings can slightly change.

How Do You Know When Donuts Go Bad?

Donuts are supposed to be served while still warm and fresh. But, there are circumstances when you happen to have leftover from a party or you intentionally buy a lot for your afternoon snack with hot coffee.

But, donuts do not last very long. They will lose their quality pretty quickly and eventually go bad.

Common indicators that donuts are not fresh anymore is when they are stale or hard. At this point, it is your choice whether to eat it or not.

Generally, there are some common signs of donuts going bad. First, inspect for any suspicious looks. Molds, dark spots or discolorations are clear signs that these treats can’t be saved.

Second, if you smell bad odors or sour smells, especially with cream fillings, you know what to do next.

If nothing unusual is found, taste a small bite, and the rest is your decision. You may want to toss them away if you’re not happy with the taste.


Can you reheat donuts?

Yes. Reheating donuts is a common way to revive the fluffiness and softness of stored donuts. Warm the donuts in a microwave with a 5 to 15 seconds interval, but do not over reheat them, especially if they’re stored at room temperature. Donuts with melted icing are a bit messy to eat.

Beware of donuts filled with cream or jelly as these fillings are hotter than you might expect.

Why do donuts get hard?

When exposed to air or moisture, donuts tend to dry out and get hard. Place them in a sealed container or bag to prevent this from happening.

How many calories are in donuts?

Donuts are notoriously known as calorie-dense food. The number of calories in donuts considerably varies depending on the filling or toppings. Next to that, the real calorie counts may differ for different brands due to different weights and variations in recipes.

In general, plain and glazed donuts are less in calories than varieties with toppings and filling. According to Food Data Central USDA, one plain donut (54 gr) contains 234 kcal, while one glazed/sugared/chocolate donut of 60 gr contains 250 kcal. Next, one donut weighs 85 gr with cream filling and jelly filling contains 307 kcal and 289 kcal, respectively (*,*,*,*).

Final Thoughts

Everybody loves donuts. If you’re the type who buys a dozen to enjoy every day, you need to know how to keep them fresh. Otherwise, they will be stale and spoiled in no time.

Any donuts filled with cream or dairy should be refrigerated, while other varieties will do fine at room temperature. Donuts do not stay fresh for long. Only buy the amount you can finish within a week maximum or consider freezing them. Enjoy while they’re still nice and fluffy!

See more: How to reheat donuts

donuts shelf life

*Photo by ogs13/depositphotos

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