Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Using the batter from pumpkin cheesecake muffins, make homemade pumpkin donuts with brown sugar icing for fall breakfast or snack-time. This brown sugar icing sets, so the donuts are easy to stack and transport. See recipe notes about turning these into pumpkin muffins or mini pumpkin donuts.

stack of pumpkin donuts

I’ve never made successful baked pumpkin donuts before this year. Until I began to think a little more clearly, previous attempts have resulted in flavorless donut-shaped orange circles. My mini cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins are donut-like, but it wasn’t until I transformed my favorite pumpkin muffins into cake-like donuts that I was truly satisfied with a traditional pumpkin donut. Um hello? Why didn’t I do that sooner?

Regardless, this pumpkin donut recipe is certainly worth the wait!

Why You’ll Love These Pumpkin Donuts

  • Baked, not fried
  • Makes a big batch, but can be halved
  • Cake donut texture
  • Pretty easy– no mixer needed
  • Ready in less than 45 minutes
  • Perfectly spiced
  • Delicious plain, but awesome with icing!

pumpkin donuts with brown sugar icing

pumpkin donuts with icing on a blue plate


Behind the Recipe

For a guaranteed successful starting point, I turned to my pumpkin cheesecake muffins. I love this muffin batter because it’s really easy to prepare and always impresses, even without the cheesecake filling and crumb topping. (And that says a lot!!) The batter is a lot like my pumpkin crumb cake muffins, but there’s baking powder for lift and we’ll sweeten the donuts exclusively with brown sugar.

How to Make Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Made with basic ingredients, these pumpkin donuts come together quickly.

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Whisk the wet ingredients together.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Fill donut pan.
  5. Bake.

I have a handy trick for filling donut pans— and I swear by it if you’re looking for an easy shortcut. Add the batter to a large zipped-top bag, cut off a corner, then pipe the batter into the donut pan filling only about halfway. The bag makes transferring the batter easy, neat, and quick.


2 images of pumpkin batter for donuts in a bowl and in donut pan

pumpkin batter in donut pan

Bounce Back Trick

I have another trick for you and I do this with almost every cake, muffin, cupcake, and donut that I bake. When the donuts are looking just about done, lightly poke the top with your finger. If the donut bounces back, they’re done. If your finger leaves an indent, the donuts need a little longer in the oven. Testing with a toothpick works as well.

pumpkin donuts on a baking sheet

Brown Sugar Icing

I had the toughest time deciding how to top these pumpkin donuts! So I made several batches and finally decided on a creamy brown sugar icing. Oh my gosh, this has to be one of the tastiest donut icings I’ve ever made. Adapted from the glaze used on my apple Bundt cake, I melted butter with brown sugar and milk on the stovetop. Let the 3 simmer for a minute, then add vanilla extract and sifted confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste, then add a pinch of salt for a little extra flavor. (DO IT!)

Let the icing thicken for a few minutes, then give those donuts a nice belly flop right into it. Brown sugared and buttery, this icing might just be better than the donuts themselves. Definitely a close call. If you’re hooked on it, you’ll also love this icing drizzled on apple cinnamon bread.

The brown sugar icing sets, so these are convenient for stacking or transporting.

dipping pumpkin donut in brown sugar icing

Alternate Pumpkin Donut Toppings!

Before the icing sets, you can garnish the donuts with finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts), toffee pieces, coconut, or sprinkles. If you’re not into brown sugar icing, try any of these:

pumpkin donut with coffee

More Fall Baking Recipes

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stack of pumpkin donuts

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10-11 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: about 16 donuts
  • Category: Donuts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Using the batter from pumpkin cheesecake muffins, make homemade pumpkin donuts with brown sugar icing for fall breakfast. This brown sugar icing sets, so the donuts are easy to stack and transport. See recipe notes about turning these into pumpkin muffins or mini pumpkin donuts.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil (or canola oil or melted coconut oil)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (227g) fresh or canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Icing

  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk
  • 1 Tablespoon (14g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (175g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • optional: toppings, see note

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Make the donuts: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla extract together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.
  3. Spoon the batter into the donut cavities or for ease, I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling about halfway.
  4. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the edges and tops are lightly browned. To test, poke your finger into the top of the donut. If the donut bounces back, they’re done. Cool donuts in the pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Re-grease the pan and bake the remaining donut batter. *For mini donuts, bake in a mini donut pan for 8-9 minutes. Cool donuts for at least 10 minutes before icing them.
  5. Make the icing: Combine the brown sugar, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 1 minute then remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and sifted confectioners’ sugar until smooth and combined. Taste, then add a pinch of salt if desired– I always add a tiny pinch. Let the icing cool for 5 minutes to slightly thicken. Dip the tops of the pumpkin donuts into the warm icing. If icing is getting too thick as you’re dipping, add a little more milk or warm back up in the microwave or on the stove to thin out. Place dipped donuts on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet so any excess icing can drip off. Top with chopped nuts or other toppings if desired. If applied lightly, the icing will eventually set in about 1 hour so you can stack or transport the donuts.
  6. Cover leftover donuts tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can freeze the donuts, plain or topped with the icing, for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up to your liking in the microwave. I usually just microwave them for a couple seconds. If plain, top with icing before serving if desired.
  2. Special Tools: Sifter/Fine Mesh SieveDonut Pan
  3. Pumpkin Pie Spice: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves, and ground allspice. Sometimes I use closer to 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. I like a lot of spice flavor!
  4. Milk: Any milk works for the donuts and icing. I’ve tested with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, whole milk, and skim milk. You can use any, dairy or non.
  5. Optional Toppings: After applying the icing, you can sprinkle toppings on top or dip the donuts into any the following: sprinkles, finely chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted coconut, finely chopped toffee, or a sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Instead of icing, you can add a cinnamon sugar topping. Follow the same topping instructions (including dipping in melted butter) found in my Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts recipe. Feel free to replace that cinnamon in the topping with pumpkin pie spice.
  6. No Donut Pan? Make donut muffins in your standard 12-cup muffin pan. Follow the baking instructions for my pumpkin crumb cake muffins, leaving off the crumb topping. Top warm muffins with this brown sugar icing before serving.
  7. Mini Donuts: Want to make mini donuts or mini donut holes in a mini muffin pan? Grease your pan, add the batter to the pan only about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 8-9 minutes.

Keywords: baked pumpkin donuts, pumpkin donuts

76 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, I am about to make the recipe as written, but wondering for the future: do you think this recipe would work if you replaced the eggs with flax eggs? My SO’s father is vegan and I’d like to be able to share these with him in the future, like for a post-pandemic Thanksgiving!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Allie, we haven’t tested this recipe with flax eggs. If you try it let us know how it goes! Happy baking!

      1. Thanks for the reply, Hilari! Just made them as written and they are so good and so easy. I did use a different, easier glaze of just powdered sugar/milk/vanilla/maple syrup, because I wanted one that would harden, but I think next time I will try Sally’s maple glaze from her banana nut scones. Really appreciate that you include weights – it made the prep so much easier, and the result was perfect. I am a beginner baker so sometimes things get wonky 🙂

        If I gather the courage to try this with flax eggs, I will be sure to let you know.

  2. These are amazing!! It was my first time making donuts and it was so easy to follow and they were so moist and not overly sweet, loved them!

  3. Just got myself a donut pan and I wanted to try it out. These are ridiculously good, I can’t stop eating them! I doubled the amount of pumpkin pie spice and that was perfect for my taste. They are so fluffy and the glaze is the perfect topping. I’ll definitely be making these again. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. I have tried this recipe 4 times now and the icing just doesn’t work. It hardens quickly and I mean HARD and then after about 12 hours melts off.. it’s very strange. I love the donut recipe itself though and continue to make that and just dip in cinnamon sugar mixture.

  5. Should I let the donuts cool completely before dipping in the icing?

    1. It really doesn’t matter. You can dip them warm or wait for them to cool. The longer they cool, the easier they are to handle.

  6. These were such a yummy treat! Great taste for the cake part and the frosting is awesome.
    Will make these again:)

  7. These are amazing! I recently got a donut pan and have been trying recipes. These were so easy and perfect for a rainy, fall Saturday morning! Thank you!

  8. Came out great!

  9. Hi! Can you sub coconut flour? Or it completely ruin the recipe?
    Thanks!!

    1. I made these for Halloween and they were so delicious!!!Easy to follow and I’m even making another batch today 🙂

  10. Super popular at work.—with everyone, even the “no-sweet” eaters. Yum.

  11. These are amazingly delicious, super soft with super yummy flavor! The brown sugar icing is a perfect combo (with added nutmeg and cinnamon of course!) thank you for your foolproof recipes!

  12. Sally this is probably one of the BEST recipes I’ve tried from your blog! I made mini versions and they barely made it to the glazing stage because they were soooo goood my family and I kept eating them!! The glaze made them perfect and I love that the glaze hardens making the donuts stackable. Definitely a keeper! Thanks for such a stellar recipe!

    1. I thought I loved all your other baked donut recipes, but these are just insane, the blow everything else away. And the frosting! Literally one of the best treats I’ve made, and I’ve been baking A LOT this year!

  13. Sally, these were so so so delicious! I bought a donut pan back in 2012 after you posted the banana bread donuts and have made those quite a few times but thought I should break out that pan a bit more. I am usually not even a huge cake donut fan, but THESE ARE WOW! I devoured so many even before glazing. I froze about half the batch too(unglazed) when I made them a few weeks ago and today I grabbed one out of the freezer, microwaved it for about 15 secs each side and tossed in some cinnamon sugar and it was still so soft and delicious!! These really knocked it out of the park.

  14. This donut recipe is superb! Our whole family loved it. My son is a picky eater and he doesn’t like veggies at all but he likes this very much. What I really like the most in this recipe is that it works well with plant based milk. Also, the icing is so good! This definitely has become one of our favorites.

  15. These donuts are so yummy! I made a batch last night and after my family (seven of us plus two friends) each had one they immediately requested a second batch so there would be more for breakfast. The recipe is so easy I didn’t mind at all.

  16. I don’t know what I did wrong but they came out very veggie oily. Had to throw the batch away. Maybe next time I’ll try without veg oil.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lexie, Thank you for trying this recipe. There is only a half cup of oil in this recipe – did you make any changes or ingredient substitutions?

  17. Sally I finally bought a donut pan last night. Even though I’ve seen plenty of recipes for pumpkin donuts I’m going to use yours because your recipes never fail me. That glaze sounds AMAZING!! I’ll come back to let you know how it went. Happy Holidays to you and yours Sally….

  18. Alessandra Dalla Lana says:

    I just made this recipe and they came up perfect and delicious! Strongly reccomend anyone to try. My boys loved it! It is easy, straight forward and the directions and amounts were just right. Thank you so much!!

  19. Can you substitute apple sauce for the oil? I do that often with my baking and usually have success.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sue, We haven’t tested it. However, we usually find that when all of the fat is removed the end result can be a rubbery texture. If you wish to experiment you can start by replacing half of the oil with applesauce. Let us know if you try it!

  20. Hi Sally, planning to give these a try here in the U.K. I lived in the USA for a while and miss pumpkin and apple cider donuts (I’m having a go at your recipe for those too) my question is can I substitute melted butter instead of the veg oil? Many thanks

    1. Hi Vita! You can substitute melted butter for the oil, but the donuts won’t taste quite as moist. Let us know how you like it and if you try the apple cider donuts, too!

  21. The cooler morning temps in the Midwest this week had me ready to bake, and I made this with some pumpkin purée I had frozen last fall. So good!! We’ll be making these on repeat throughout the fall!! Thank you!

  22. Oh My Gosh…..these are so delicious. No improvements needed, I can’t wait to make them again. I’m on the look out for copycat blueberry cake donuts like DD.

  23. Hi Sally! Can’t wait to try these, but I have just one (probably silly) question. I have a donut pan, but have only ever used it once, on a recipe I got from another blog. My donut pan is non-stick (dark) and typically I would lower the oven temperature 25 degrees to accommodate that, but the pictures from that recipe showed the author using a non-stick pan too, so I followed the recipe instructions using the same temperature and time. I took them out at the low end of the baking time range and they were both dry and way too dark on the bottom. We were not a fan of the outcome. I’m dying to try these, but since it also looks like you might be using a dark non-stick donut pan, thought I’d ask first if I should bake at 350 or lower the temp to 325. (I have an accurate oven thermometer, so I know that’s not the issue.) Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Colleen, we can’t speak to the other recipe, but we’d recommend baking these at 350 degrees as stated, but you can keep a close eye on them if you find that baked goods finish earlier in your oven. Hope you enjoy these muffins!

      1. That’s all I needed; thanks so much! It looks like the link in the recipe note actually goes to the exact same donut pan I have, so I will proceed at 350. Thanks!

  24. TIFFANY BREWSTER says:

    Have you ever added chocolate chips? Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies have been a family favorite for 40 years. I want to introduce this concept!

    Thank you!

  25. I am planning on making these this week-end and was wondering if I need to pat the moisture out of the pumpkin puree before using?

    Thank!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amy! That’s not necessary for this recipe. Hope you love them!

  26. I would like to know if I can do this recipe in one of those little mini donut maker machines?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julie, We haven’t tried it but we don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Let us know if you give it a try!

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