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. A delightful baked pumpkin donut, and the glaze really takes them over the top! They look as lovely as they taste 🙂

  2. Hi, I think these are good, but they taste like cake batter that are just shaped like donuts to me. Not my favorite recipe of yours!

  3. Great donut! Totally physiological but if I made them into cupcakes instead of donuts, I would only have to eat one cup cake as appose to 2 donuts. One just sounds better than 2 calorie wise!! Brown Sugar Icing was so yummy. Next time I would have to double the icing for the amount of donuts I got. One big plus about this recipe besides tasting so good is IT Doesn’t Require a Mixer! I bake so much I honestly get tired of washing it. Thanks.

  4. Hi Sally! Just made these and they came out perfect! One question though, is it possible to replace the butter in the icing with oil? Making some for dairy free friends. Thanks!

    1. Hi Noam! I don’t recommend it– the icing will taste oily. You can use a simple vanilla icing and use dairy-free milk. You can add a pinch of cinnamon so the vanilla icing is extra flavorful.

  5. Sally these were great!! Perfect amount of spice and so easy to make. Comes together so quick! The icing was fine, I should have sifted my icing sugar as you suggested as it did clump in the warm mixture. My only complaint is storing the donuts. They sweated a little left at room temp, and in the fridge the icing seemed to liquify. Any tips to prevent this from happening??

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed them! Make sure that they are 100% cool before covering and storing any leftovers to avoid condensation forming. You can also store them in the fridge without the frosting if that works better for you.

  6. I had leftover pumpkin purée in the fridge from thanksgiving so I baked these today, they are so good! I used the Wilton heart shaped donut pan and I honestly lost count of how many donuts I got! It was at least 3 dozen lol (I didn’t double the recipe or anything!) My husband ate a ton so I’m assuming he loves them lol. That brown sugar glaze is super good! I think I will make these every fall and honestly – I can’t wait to eat one with my morning cup of chai tomorrow!
    Also to anyone thinking of making these – they are BAKED not FRIED so of course they will be cakey 🙂
    Deeelicious

  7. Made the donut holes/mini muffin version to bring in to work and everyone LOVED these! They are SO good! I did use pumpkin puree I made myself and they came out great anyways.

  8. Hi!
    Going to make these tomorrow and wondering if I can use buttermilk in place of the milk in both the donut and icing! I have so much buttermilk!
    Thanks!

  9. I tried these yesterday—very easy to make and the donut had a wonderful fall flavor and excellent flavor, even using coconut sugar and some whole wheat pastry flour. The brown sugar icing was too sweet for me, so next time I think I will try a simple cinnamon/sugar topping instead, although the icing did set beautifully for easy stacking.

  10. OMG!! This was incredible. I had been really wanting to try baked donuts, and I think I found the one that matches the perfect flavor of some of those delicious donut shops. It was so soft and moist, yet it didn’t fall apart. It had great flavor!(I did add a little bit more salt and spice), but other than that I followed the recipe to the dot!! It is also really easy to make and not time consuming at all. To summarize that, I’ll be making this again!! =D Thank you Sally!

  11. Hi Sally,

    These are in the oven as I type – just a quick question: is the batter meant to be almost pouring consistency? I lost about three donuts as soon as I cut the tip off the piping bag!

    Thanks so much!

  12. These are very moist and delicious! That totally scream Fall! I will make them again soon! Thank you so much for an amazing recipe!

  13. Have had my donuts pans for a few months and have been looking at many different recipes! So glad I used this one!!!!!! So delicious! My only complaint is that I can’t stop eating them. I had a few break because I didn’t let them cool enough. The brown sugar butter glaze is ahhhhhmazing! I never have pumpkin spice mix so I used mostly nutmeg with a dash of ginger and clove as I think that’s what pumpkin spice is? I love nutmeg so it worked for me.

  14. The donuts tasted great and had a wonderful pumpkin flavor but I really struggled with the icing getting too thick really fast and needed to add milk every few sips.

  15. These came out great! Although my icing seemed to be a little runny- we still enjoyed it!

    Thanks for a great recipe!

  16. Thanks Sally for answering my question about the size baking pan. Have a great day and a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.

  17. Hi Sally. Thanks for another great recipe. My co-workers loved them. However, I iced the donuts after they were cool and let the icing set for a good 2 hours before I packed them up. I found later that the icing melted and transferred onto the back of the other donuts. The few I left at home, stored in a Tupperware on my kitchen counter completely melted and blended into the donuts. I live in Florida, but we happened to have had a little cold front with no humidity, so I’m not sure what happened. Thanks again. They were amazing and I will definitely be making them again

  18. Over the Top Delicious!! This recipe made 46 moist, yummy, mini donuts for me. Nice spice and great pumpkin flavor. Definitely a KEEPER!!

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