What are Donut Nectarines?

Mary McMahon

Donut nectarines are unique nectarine cultivars which do look remarkably like donuts. In fact, they are a mutation of the popular donut peach, a flattened peach with a depression in the middle which evokes a donut hole. Specialty produce stores may stock donut nectarines when in season, as will farmers' markets and greengrocers. They can be used and handled exactly like regular nectarines, and are considered more of a novelty in looks than in flavor.

Donut nectarines may be included as part of a fruit salad.
Donut nectarines may be included as part of a fruit salad.

Nectarines and peaches are closely related, with nectarines having smooth flesh rather than fuzzy flesh, and a sweeter flavor. Many nectarine cultivars, like the donut nectarine, are actually mutations of peach cultivars, since the genetic differences between the fruits are very small. In the case of the donut nectarine, the fruit's origins can be found in China, where flat peaches have been cultivated for several centuries. The flat peach was first exported to the West in the 1800s, and was briefly lost until the late 1900s, when donut peaches became a popular produce item. Donut nectarines followed close behind.

One specific cultivar is the Saturn nectarine, named in reference to the ringed planet. The unusual looking fruits may also simply be labeled as flat nectarines, generally by unimaginative grocers. Whatever consumers want to call it, a donut nectarine can be eaten out of hand, included in fruit salads, or used in an assortment of baked desserts, jams, and chutneys. The naturally sweet flavor enhances a wide range of dishes.

A good quality donut nectarine should have a rich red blush, with undertones of yellow. Consumers should try to avoid donut nectarines with green streaks, as these indicate that the fruit is not perfectly ripe. When cut open, a donut nectarine has white, dense flesh which will be very juicy and sweeter than that of a peach. The fruits should be handled carefully to avoid bruising, with consumers storing ripe fruit under refrigeration for no more than three days.

In warm climates with long, sunny summers, donut nectarines can also be cultivated. Generally, the trees are hardy and will bear in USDA zones five through nine, as long as they are planted in a sunny spot out of the wind, and offered lots of fertilizer and water. Nectarines can be finicky, sometimes becoming diseased for no apparent reason, which can be frustrating for gardeners. However, perseverance with the fickle fruits can yield a bumper crop of fresh, flavorful fruit in late August.

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Discussion Comments


@shell4life I love both peach and nectarine, and agree that they are good with chocolate. I think they have very different tastes and like to slice up both together with a little chocolate ice cream or even just some chocolate chips on top. Delicious.


Someone mentioned donut nectarines to me, and at first I thought there were some sort of joke. Imagine my surprise then to realize there are not only donut nectarines, but also peaches- even donut peach trees. Still not donut trees, but pretty close.


@seag47 - I understand the chocolate-nectarine flavor combination attraction. I often take these two things on vacation with me and eat them in the hotel room for breakfast on the balcony overlooking the ocean. It’s a great way to wake up!

I like to eat my donut nectarines with orange-chocolate-flavored cereal bars. The orange complements the nectarine as well as the chocolate so well that I reserve the mixture just for vacation so that it is a special treat.

The hotel I normally stay at offers free hazelnut coffee. This flavor perfectly melds with the nectarine/chocolate/orange taste. Just thinking about it makes me want to go there now.


Last winter and into the spring, our local hospital conducted a free program for people who wanted to learn how to improve their health through exercise and better recipes. One of the recipes they offered has become a favorite of mine, and it involves donut nectarines.

It is super easy to make and great for lunch or a side dish at dinner. All you do is make a bed of baby spinach to start. Then, you chop up the flesh of a donut nectarine and add to it. Next, cut several slices of red bell pepper to add to the mix. Finish it all off with low-fat raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and you have a tangy yet sweet salad that you will want to enjoy over and over again.


Donut nectarines to me look much more like a type of dinner roll than a donut in shape. The several segments protruding from the center look like they could be plucked off just like sections of soft bread.

I like to eat donut nectarines with chocolate. Since they are sweet, there is not a huge shock factor to the tongue when taking a bite of chocolate followed by fruit. However, semi-sweet chocolate does taste better with them than milk chocolate. I melt a mixture of half milk chocolate and half semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and then dunk the fruit segments into it.


The thing I really like about donut nectarines is that the flesh extends further outward from the pit than in regular nectarines. This makes it easier to cut off the flesh or even eat it right off the pit.

When I first heard the term “donut nectarines” I thought of those peach-flavored flat candies with the hole in the middle. They are covered in sugar and made to look like real candied peaches. Delicious, they are, but nowhere near nutritious.

Real donut nectarines have such a good flavor that I prefer them to both normal peaches and nectarines. I like to take them in my cooler for dessert at lunch, since they are so easy to eat.

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