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Rice Helps Cut Oil in Deep-Fried Doughnuts

By Jan Suszkiw
June 12, 2000

Fried in shortening, chocolate glazed, and filled with cream or jelly, doughnuts are a guilty pleasure. But Agricultural Research Service scientists are hoping to ease consumer guilt by reducing the oil content of doughnuts, a breakfast favorite that generates $4-5 billion in annual sales.

In preliminary trials led by ARS chemist Fred Shih, doughnuts made from dough containing small amounts of modified rice starch, rice flour and other ingredients absorbed as much as 70 percent less oil during frying than traditional, all-wheat doughnuts. When mixed in with wheat flour, the researchers observed, the rice-based ingredients help reduce oil uptake by making the dough more tender, consistent and moist. Though less oily, the doughnuts' taste, texture and other sensory properties are comparable to traditional cake doughnuts, according to Shih. He and colleague Kim Daigle are at the Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit, part of the ARS Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans.

In studies at SRRC, scientists deep-fried plain, 100-gram cake doughnuts made from all-wheat dough and doughs made with various ratios of wheat and rice ingredients. After crumbling up the fresh doughnuts, scientists placed them in a device that extracts the oil and weighs it. Compared to all-wheat doughnuts, which had 24 to 26 grams of oil, some of the wheat-rice flour doughnuts had about 8 grams.

Shih’s team has submitted a paper on the research for publication. They're also exploring the patent potential of the approach, which involves a procedure to physically modify rice flour. In New Orleans, Shih's research focus is developing value-added products from domestic rice. Reduced-oil doughnuts are just one of many potential spin-offs that may benefit rice growers and consumers alike.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal research agency.

Scientific contact: Frederick Shih, ARS Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA, phone (504) 286-4354, fax (504) 286-4419,