donut pan idea no. 59: bird seed rings

They're back! At this rate, it's going to take me a few more years to make 101 donut pan projects. This time I've made some bird seed rings, a very easy undertaking. It's just finding places that the squirrels can't reach them that's the hard part! Someone mentioned to me as I was out in the park photographing them yesterday that they will be safe if you place them on very skinny branches that can't support a squirrel. Makes sense to me. I also rigged some up on a twine garland that would only support the weight of a few birds, so there are some work-arounds when it comes to wild critters stealing your donuts.

Aren't they pretty? I've been thinking about these for a long time, and they have been suggested to me many times, too (but you cannot stump me, I've thought of them all)! I have done some research and can't determine for sure if this is just junk food for birds, or maybe unnatural to be supplementing their food in the winter. If you have any opinions on the matter, please let me know. I ordered one bird mix that is specific to the birds in our area, I did some with millet because I think it is pretty, and some with a random seed mix including a lot of corn and peanuts (that and the millet are probably the junk food). I am sure it will work with any seed mix.

Let's get to it! Click on "read more" below for the tutorial.
I adapted this recipe from my gorgeous and talented friend Heather Jennings of Poppy Haus. Depending on how much seed and gelatin you have, you can make as few or as many bird seed rings as you need.

In general, to make six large bird seed rings you will need 1 cup of boiling water, three packets (3/4 oz. total) of unflavored gelatin, five cups of bulky bird seed (this is the one I ordered which contained a lot of black oil sunflower seed, good for our local birds) and twine or string for hanging. If you are using a finer seed like pure millet, it is hard to make the taller rings because the seed starts to slump. Those will need to be flat-backed, and I explain the recipe proportions for those below.

You will also need donut pans, vegetable oil to grease the pans, and binder clips to hold the pans together (similar to how I made my sweet tamale donuts).

To make six large bird seed rings, start by greasing two donut pans with vegetable oil.

Bring one cup of water to a boil. When it is boiling, carefully transfer it to a large bowl. Empty three packets of gelatin into the water and stir until dissolved. Add five cups of bulky bird seed and stir until all of the seed is coated in the gelatin mixture.

Pile the seed up over the cavities of one greased donut pan. Use your fingers to both clear the hole in the center and to re-pile the seed on itself. You want to totally fill the second donut pan when you set it down like a lid over this first pan.

Align the top pan over the first pan and press down gently but firmly. Lift the top pan up and try to clear away the excess seed that has fallen around the seed rings. Re-pile the seed as needed. Removing some of the excess seed allows the top pan to fit more snugly against the bottom, making nicer rings. 

Now set that top pan back down again and secure tightly with several binder clips. Set this in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or overnight. 

To make six millet rings, again boil 1 cup of water, but dissolve three packets of gelatin right in the pot in which you boiled the water. Carefully measure out only a scant 1/2 cup of that gelatin mixture and add to a bowl with about 2 1/4 c. of millet. Of course you could use all of the gelatin and twice the millet to make a nice dozen millet rings, but I bought the millet at a pet store where it was sold in a pint container, so I didn't have a lot to work with.

Stir the millet until coated, then press into the six cavities of an oiled donut pan. Do not pile up the seed, instead use a spoon to make nice flat backs on the rings.


Set the tray in the refrigerator overnight. These take a little longer that the others to become stiff enough to remove from the pan.

I used up the other 1/2 c. of the gelatin mixture on that peanut/corn seed mix, using 2 1/4 c. mix to the 1/2 c. gelatin mixture. I used the same piling technique that I used above with the black oil sunflower rings and it yielded three more rings. This all makes a lot of sense mathematically, right? Again, like the black oil sunflower rings, these should sit in the refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight.

When you are ready to remove your rings from the pans, unclip the pans and use a gentle twisting motion to help the rings dislodge without damage. They will be messy, so use your fingers and/or a small pair of scissors to clean them up.

The millet rings should be carefully pried with a pointy knife. If they start to bend a little, move your knife to another location and between the two points they should pop out pretty easily.

Let them sit on the counter and set up/dry up for a day or two more on cooling racks, flipping over several times to make sure all of the gelatin dries up.

I used a simple loop through the middle to attach twine and string for hangers. Use whatever you'd like!


Now go out and hang 'em! Or gift 'em, I think they'd be great little gifts.  I went out and hung these from some trees in the Panhandle and I'm really curious how long they will stick around before someone notices them, bird or otherwise.

By the way, have you ever seen Martha Stewart's giant bird seed ring made in a bundt cake pan? It is enormous!


  1. Is it wrong that I think these look tasty? Ha! You might guess that Everything bagels are my favorite. Thanks for the tut.

    1. You are too cute (and kind and patient, too), Ann! That is hilarious, but I actually think everything in this form looks tasty as well, whether it be chalk or birdseed or whatever! :)

  2. Why couldn't you just fill both pans? Cover one pan with some parchment paper, flip over on top of the other pan, line them up and slide the paper out. Squish 'em down and clamp them and voila! This way you could even do two different types of seeds/seed mixtures on either side.

    1. Tina, I don't think your method would have much structural integrity. Pressing two pans together while the seed mixture has only been piled onto one side as I have done will create a stronger ring.


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