Homemade Beaver Doughnuts

beaver tails 3

There are certain unhealthy things you have to pull out of the closet once a year and make just for the sake of the day – or season – and most Canada days I make Nanaimo bars and butter tarts – so frequently, in fact, that I begin to crave both around the end of June. Ditto mini doughnuts – having grown up in Calgary, the first week of summer always smells like the midway. I’ve always been one to forego candy apples and cotton candy in lieu of fried dough in its many forms – this year I decided to combine the two holidays and make a batch of beaver tails, which have been around since the seventies, and if you’re in eastern Canada are as Canadian as any doughnut. (Mini or not.)

beaver tails 1

Yes, beaver t**ls are the trademarked name for yeast-risen fried dough made by an Ottawa company since 1978 – they come slathered in Nutella sometimes, or just doused in cinnamon-sugar, which is my preferred accessory for fried doughs. You could do whatever you like with it though – the oval shape makes it easy to top with other delicious things, and the scored top, besides making them reminiscent of actual beaver t**ls, helps spreadable toppings grip. I imagine it would make an ideal mattress for ice cream and hot fudge sauce… perhaps the next batch.

beaver tails 2

This is a fairly classic yeasted doughnut dough, fried in oil and doused in sugar – you could really use most any yeasted doughnut dough – but these are based on a version in the Great Canadian Cookbook.

beaver tails 3
beaver tails 3

Homemade Beaver Doughnuts

Recipe link


June 29, 2016


2 Tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast

3/4 cup warm water or milk

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp butter, softened or melted

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

canola oil, for cooking

cinnamon sugar, for rolling


1In a large bowl stir a big pinch of the sugar and the yeast into the water or milk and leave for 5 minutes, until it starts to foam.


3Add the flour, butter, egg, vanilla and salt and knead until you have a soft dough. Continue to knead (or use the dough hook on your stand mixer) for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.


5Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or two, until doubled in size. (If you want to make it ahead of time, refrigerate the dough for up to 12 hours to slow the rise.) When you’re ready to fry them, divide into 10 pieces and roll each into an oval. If you like, score a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Cover and let rise another 1/2 hour.


7Heat an inch or two of canola oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until it’s hot, but not smoking (350F is ideal if you have a thermometer - otherwise test with a scrap of bread to see if it bubbles) - cook the beaver tails without crowding the pan for a minute or two per side, until golden. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, then douse in cinnamon sugar (put it in a baking dish or pie plate) while still warm.


9Makes 10 beaver tails.


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8 comments on “Homemade Beaver Doughnuts

  1. Carolyn
    June 30, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Totally agreed that some foods taste better/go with certain times of year. Christmas cake just doesn’t taste as good in July as it does in December, hot cross buns not as good in October as in April….

    So glad you posted this recipe! Need to find 9 friends to eat them with me!

    • Julie
      July 1, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Yes!! definitely something to make when there are other people around…

  2. Marsha Lawson
    July 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I’m in Kilaloe Ontario the home of the Beavertail.

    You know you’ve died and gone to heaven when you had a Kilaloe Sunrise Beavertail!

    Happy Canada Day !

    • Julie
      July 5, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      I have to come out and try the real thing someday!

  3. Emily @ Life on Food
    July 5, 2016 at 3:45 am

    I find this so funny. My husband has been telling me for years about the Beaver tails they used to sell at Disney world in the Canada section of Epcot. He loved them but the stand is no more. I have never seen them and I was almost to the point of thinking he was pulling my leg. Maybe I should make these for him as a special surprise.

    • Julie
      July 5, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Ha! you should! and report back!

  4. Rachel
    June 4, 2017 at 12:18 am

    I live in Australia and just made these with my Canadian mother. Delicious! I like them more than regular doughnuts. They were quick and easy to make in the breadmaker too. :)

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