Difference Wiki

Donut vs. Cake: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 3, 2023
A donut is a fried dough confectionery often ring-shaped, while a cake is a baked sweet dessert that comes in various shapes and sizes.

Key Differences

Donuts are typically made from a dough composed of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter, which is then fried, whereas cakes are baked and made from a batter that includes similar ingredients but often in different proportions. Donuts often have a distinct ring shape and are usually covered with glazes or toppings, while cakes are larger and come in layers or sheets, frosted and decorated on the top and sides.
A donut is usually a single-serving treat, often enjoyed as a snack or breakfast item. In contrast, cakes are usually sliced and served on occasions like birthdays or weddings, designed to be shared. The texture of a donut is often soft and chewy, while a cake can range from light and airy to dense and moist, depending on the type.
The cooking method for donuts involves frying in oil, which gives them a crispy exterior and a soft interior. Cakes are baked in an oven, which allows for a wide range of textures and forms, from fluffy sponges to dense pound cakes. Donuts are commonly filled with creams, jellies, or custards, and topped with powdered sugar or icing, while cakes might be layered with frosting, fruit, or cream between the layers.
In terms of servings, a donut is considered a complete serving by itself, often individually sized. Cakes, however, are usually cut into multiple servings, making them a dessert meant for sharing. The cultural significance of donuts and cakes can also differ; donuts are often seen as a casual food item, whereas cakes might be associated with celebrations and ceremonies.

Comparison Chart


Typically ring-shaped or filled balls
Comes in various shapes, often round or square

Cooking Method

Fried in oil
Baked in an oven


Soft and chewy with a crispy exterior
Can range from light and fluffy to dense and moist

Serving Size

Usually single serving
Designed to be sliced into multiple servings


Often casual, eaten for breakfast or snack
Associated with celebrations, like birthdays or weddings

Donut and Cake Definitions


A dessert or snack often glazed or sugared.
She decorated each donut with a different colorful icing.


A sweet baked dessert made from flour, sugar, and other ingredients.
She baked a vanilla cake for her son's birthday.


A type of fast food typically served in the morning.
Breakfast at the diner always includes a fresh donut.


A sweet treat that can come in many flavors like chocolate, lemon, or carrot.
His favorite dessert is a moist chocolate cake.


A sweet, fried, ring-shaped or filled dough snack.
I grabbed a donut and coffee on my way to work.


A confection often layered with frosting and decorations.
The wedding cake had three tiers and was adorned with roses.


A confectionery that can be cake-style or yeast-raised.
My favorite is a chocolate cake donut with sprinkles.


A baked good that serves as a traditional celebratory dish.
We cut the cake at midnight to welcome the New Year.


A dough pastry that comes in a variety of flavors and toppings.
We brought a dozen donuts to the office party.


A dessert that may be dense and buttery or light and spongy.
The sponge cake was so light and airy, it melted in your mouth.


Variant of doughnut.


A sweet baked food made of flour, liquid, eggs, and other ingredients, such as raising agents and flavorings.


What defines a cake?

A cake is a baked sweet dessert made from batter and typically frosted and decorated.

Are donuts always ring-shaped?

No, donuts can also be filled and not have a hole in the middle.

Are cakes appropriate for breakfast?

While not traditional, some cakes, like coffee cakes, are designed to be eaten at breakfast.

Can a cake be fried like a donut?

Traditionally, cakes are baked, but there are some fried cake varieties like funnel cakes.

Do cakes always have frosting?

No, not all cakes have frosting; some may simply be dusted with sugar or have a glaze.

Can donuts be served at a wedding?

Yes, donut walls and donut cakes are popular at modern weddings.

Is a donut considered a type of cake?

Some donuts are cake-like in texture, but generally, donuts are a distinct category of pastry.

Are cakes only for dessert?

No, cakes can be savory too, like cornbread or quiche.

What is a donut?

A donut is a fried dough confection, often ring-shaped, with various toppings and fillings.

Is it common to have candles on a donut?

It's not traditional, but candles can be put on donut stacks for celebrations.

How long can you store a cake compared to a donut?

Cakes usually keep longer than donuts, which are best eaten fresh.

Can you make a cake in a donut pan?

Yes, you can bake cake batter in a donut pan for a cake-donut hybrid.

Do donuts come in different sizes?

Yes, donuts can range from mini to large, suitable for sharing.

Are donuts typically smaller than cakes?

Yes, donuts are generally smaller and considered a single serving.

Can donuts have layers like cakes?

Typically, donuts are single-layered, but creative bakers sometimes stack them like a cake.

Are there savory donuts like there are savory cakes?

Savory donuts exist but are less common than sweet varieties.

Can a donut be a cake topper?

Yes, donuts are sometimes used as whimsical cake toppers.

Is the batter for donuts the same as for cakes?

While similar ingredients may be used, the proportions and mixing methods differ.

Do donuts require a special occasion like cakes often do?

No, donuts are commonly eaten on a daily basis, not just special occasions.

Can a cake be shaped like a donut?

Yes, cakes can be baked in donut-shaped pans to resemble a giant donut.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons