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.

baked 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


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.


pumpkin batter for donuts

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.

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.

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

More Fall Baking Recipes

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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 (220g) all-purpose flour
  • 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.
  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

85 Comments

  1. Pumpkin DONUTS. You have put pumpkin into so many things, Sally, but donuts never crossed my mind! These look delicious and I have to try them 😀
    Also, I ADORE the mug in the last photo!!! Where is it from?

  2. These look amazing Sally. I am planning on making the caramel apples this weekend and these. What a delicious way to spend the weekend and its much cooler here in MI this weekend. Winning!!!! Have a beautiful weekend!!

  3. Wow it looks amazing Sally! I made your burnt sugar caramel cake last week or so and it was the best thing ever!! I am really digging this baked donuts but I don’t have a donut pan so going to get one today

    1. I’m so happy you loved that cake- one of my favorites! If you don’t have a donut pan, you can also make these as muffins or even mini muffin donuts- see my recipe notes 🙂

  4. I LOVE DOUNUTS,
    My favorite donut is pumpkin donut.
    Just a few weeks ago we got DAY LIGHT DONUTES.
    But now I can just make myself some.
    Thank you Sally,
    You made my day

  5. These look very tasty, Sally! Even though I am not usually a fan of pumpkin, I actually like the flavour in cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and donuts 🙂 I just need to find myself a donut pan so that I can make these!

    1. Thank you so much, Erin! If you don’t have a donut pan, you can also make these as muffins or even mini muffin donuts- see my recipe notes 🙂

  6. These look so good! I’m not usually a fan of anything pumpkin, but I’ve tried pumpkin cakes, muffins, and donuts before and enjoyed them. And in my opinion, homemade is always better! Plus, who can resist that glorious icing?! 🙂

  7. OH MY! These are dangerous! I have to admit that your other donut recipes I haven’t thrilled over, but these are amazing! I used maple icing instead of the brown sugar icing.(Also the batter made way more than I expected, but I think my donut pan is small.) Pure fall perfection!

    1. Hi Emily! I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  8. I was so excited to try these with my new donut pan. I tried one before I added the glaze, and they weren’t sweet like I think donuts should be. I was almost disappointed, but when I added the glaze they were much better. Definitely need the glaze! Delicious!

    1. I so can’t wait to buy a donut pan and make these!! I’ve been wanting to make baked donuts for a while now and would love a pumpkin version. I really loved that navy plate in one of the pics, by the way. Where did you get that one?? It’s gorgeous!

  9. Sally these look so good! But I might have to go with the brown butter icing from your apple blondies. I made those last weekend and that icing was just incredible!

  10. Just made these this morning. They are wonderful with or without the glaze. Love the tips. Very helpful. Will make again soon. Thank you Sally!

  11. Trying soon, but making half a recipe so it fits my 6-donut Pan. Thanks, Sally! We know your recipes are delicious and thoroughly tested, with all those good tips and notes. I’ll post again after we’ve had them. P.S. my elderly mom likes mace in her donuts, so I’ll add some.

  12. I get all my recipes from here- I feel like I’m leaving reviews every day lol. These donuts are definitely one of the best things I’ve baked. Super moist, chewy on the outside, and soft on the inside with the perfect pumpkin spice flavor. Like pumpkin bread but better! I will be baking these again for sure (maybe for Thanksgiving?) They taste like fall! Definitely make the icing- I used dark brown sugar, it makes all the difference. I could eat it on its own (not saying I didn’t lol). Again thanks for the amazing recipes- I have yet to make one we didn’t absolutely love.

    1. Update: So I put them in a Tupperware after frosting them, and this morning the thick frosting had disappeared! Not sure what happened… I guess it absorbed into the donut. How can I prevent that next time?

      1. Hi Emily– that’s so odd. Was the icing nice and thick? Maybe let the donuts completely cool before dipping in icing next time. Sorry, I just have never had this happen before!

  13. Delicious perfect pumpkin donuts! I love that the icing set so nice and thick. I topped mine with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon

  14. These are so delicious! They are moist and flavorful, and the glaze takes them over the top. I got 20 donuts out of this recipe and still had enough glaze for them all. I used dark brown sugar for the glaze and it came out the same color as the donuts! It set so shiny and beautiful – looked like something from a bakery. Thank you for another great pumpkin recipe!

  15. Hi Sally! Love your recipes and Have I made several. I love them and eat them, lots. So, I’m wondering if you can substitute extra pumpkin, or banana in place of oil? Don’t hate me Sally!

    1. Hi Jen, I find that when you replace all the fat/oil you can get a rubbery texture. I suggest substituting half of it and seeing what happens!

  16. Looks divine and I can’t wait to try. I wish your recipes also had the metric equivalent. Weighing ingredients makes it so much easier, accurate, and for faster clean-up (since I’m using less equipment). I really like the option that King Arthur Flour provides and it’d be great if something similar could be offered by you for recipes going forward!

    1. Hi Katie, in the actual recipe just about all of the ingredients include the weight measurements in parentheses. I try to include them in all of my recipes I post!

  17. Yummy!! Ok, so I have a giant donut pan that has a top and bottom piece. I suppose I should double the recipe to fill each half. Would this work? What would you recommend as the filling? Thanks Sally!

    1. I’m not sure of the capacity of your giant pan so I’m unsure how much batter you will need! This recipe as is yields 16 regular size donuts.

  18. Don’t wait to make these because they are delicious! I had some left over dough that a put in mini muffin tins which was the perfect sized snack. Thanks Sally!!

  19. These are Soooo good! I made them this morning for my family and could hardly wait to eat one. I only got a dozen instead of 16, but I think I filled them fuller than half. Thanks for the recipe! This is my new favorite blog!

  20. Hello Sally! These donuts seem so good, however, could you please add the amount in grams for confectioner’s sugar? It’s a shame that this beautiful recipe has everything in grams except one ingredient :/ (conversions are so not accurate in many websites, I’d like your exact amount used thank you so much, will try them soon

  21. I made the apple cider donuts— they were outstanding. Excellent idea to concentrate the Apple cider down. Recipe is a real keeper.

  22. I bought a donut pan so I could make these donuts. Everything was going great until it came time for the frosting. I made it exactly as described and let it sit for 5 minutes. It apparently was too thick and it ripped the first donut to pieces. I rescued what I could, even whisking in some of the broken pieces with some additional milk. Even with that little blip, they taste good. l love your videos and recipes. Thanks for your time and talents!!!

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