Leftover Doughnut Crème Brûlée

Lisa Carlson

Chef Shack, Minneapolis

Carrie Summer

Chef Shack, Bay City, WI

It’s hard for us to imagine a scenario where “leftover doughnuts” is a problem, but Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer faced this conundrum daily after making batches of their signature Indian-spiced miniature doughnuts. Fortunately, their solution is a creamy, luscious dessert that works with any bit of stale bread or leftover pastries, like challah, brioche, croissants, or Danish. The love child of a crème brûlée and bread pudding, this recipe folds the doughnuts in a spiced and sweetened custard, then bakes the whole mixture off until it’s just set. Carlson and Summer recommend serving it warm with ice cream, or by the spoonful straight from the refrigerator.


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water extract, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 20 small day-old doughnuts or 6 large doughnuts (about 6 cups doughnut chunks)
  • Soft-whipped cream or ice cream for serving


Preheat the oven to 350°F

Combine half of the milk with the eggs, honey or syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, rose water (if using), nutmeg, coriander, and sea salt in a blender and process until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining milk. Stir to combine.

Fill a shallow 9×12-inch baking pan with the doughnuts. Pour the custard over the doughnuts and let sit for 10 minutes so the doughnuts soak up the liquid. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sides are firm but the middle is jiggly. Let the pan rest on the counter for 10 minutes. Serve either warm with a dollop of soft-whipped cream or ice cream, or refrigerate for at least 60 minutes and serve cold.


From Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food by The James Beard Foundation/Rizzoli Publishing.


6 to 8 servings

See more

Dessert Doughnuts