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Nothing better than homemade Pumpkin Donuts – the old fashioned way! These sweet donuts are light, airy, spiced with cinnamon, and covered in a simple vanilla glaze. Yes, in my neighborhood I am known for my Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and my Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, but I’m not mad about being the donut lady either.
My Secrets to Success With Cake Donuts
I hate a dense and dry cake donut. You’ve had one, I’ve had one. I am very particular about my cake donuts which is why 99% of the time, I choose a yeast-raised donut if I’m going to a donut shop. But through this process, I thought “Surely, I can make a cake donut I LOVE” and so I did. Enter my Pumpkin Donut Recipe.
Cake donuts have a tendency to be quite dry, but, I figured out little ways here and there to make it work that all added up to an amazing finished product. Things like:
- not overworking the dough
- adding in an extra egg yolk
- using half & half
- using a stickier dough
- refrigerating for a few minutes to make it easier to handle
- rolling it out with lots of flour
Pop the donuts into your hot oil for a quick bath and voila! Add your glaze and that, my friends, is my love language.
Common Substitutions For Pumpkin Spice Donuts
As with anything homemade, this recipe includes a lot of pantry ingredients you already have (flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, pumpkin spice flavor, eggs, and butter to name a few). Plus some not-so-common ingredients. Don’t worry though, I’ve listed helpful substitutions you should know about for this recipe down below:
- All Purpose Flour – I use unbleached all purpose, but the bleached kind is fine. Personal preference!
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger – lots of Fall season and pumpkin flavors here! Pumpkin Pie Spice is a great substitute for these if preferred.
- Pure Pumpkin – obviously you need pumpkin for pumpkin donuts! Please don’t confuse this with pumpkin pie filling, you just want plain pumpkin purée.
- Half & Half – adds fat and therefore moisture to the dough! If you don’t have or know what half & half is, substitute 2 tablespoons milk and 2 tablespoons heavy cream to create your own half & half. In a pinch, you can use 2 tablespoons heavy cream and 2 tablespoons cold water OR 3 tablespoons milk.
- Vegetable Oil – for frying! You can also use canola, avocado or peanut oil here.
How to Make Pumpkin Donuts
While homemade donuts of any kind require lots of time, they aren’t *too* hard to pull off. I’d recommend taking this recipe step-by-step and before you know it, you’ll be pulling a bunch of hot pumpkin donuts out of your oil, too. For full recipe details, including ingredients and measurements needed, see the printable recipe card down below. Here is step by step what you can expect when making this donut recipe this holiday season:
Preheat 2-3 inches of oil to 370° F. (I aim for 380° because, by the time you add your donuts in, the temperature will drop to the right where you want it at 370°.)
Make Donut Dough and Refrigerate
For best results, stir everything by hand! Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl: flour, salt, warm spices, baking powder, baking soda, and brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the wet ingredients: melted butter, egg, egg yolk, pumpkin, and half & half. Stir until a thick dough forms.
Cover and refrigerate for 10-20 minutes.
Roll and Cut Dough
Flour a board (or clean counter) and flour the dough as well. Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a donut cutter to create 3-inch donuts then brush off excess flour before frying.
Fry + Cool
Slide donuts into hot oil gently and fry 2-3 at a time. Fry 30 seconds per side (15-20 seconds for donut holes) or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle.
Pro Tip: Watch your thermometer as you fry and adjust as you go. If your oil gets too hot, don’t be afraid to throw in a few sacrificial dough scraps to bring that oil temperature down. Obviously, reduce the burner heat too.
Make + Glaze the Donuts
Whisk powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar) together with melted butter, vanilla extract, and enough milk to create a glaze slightly thinner than white school glue.
Dip warm donuts into glaze and place on a wire rack in a single layer to drip and dry.
Pro Tip: The glaze won’t stay white on the donut if you dip them warm, so if you’d like a more obvious glaze, either re-dip them again into the glaze once completely cooled, or wait until they’re completely cooled, to begin with.
Storing Pumpkin Donuts
Store donuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that, they *just* aren’t the same. Still good, but not glorious.
FAQ for Pumpkin Donuts Recipe
If you don’t have an actual deep fryer, you’ll want to use a heavy-bottomed pot that will retain heat. I like heating my oil before I even start making the dough for the donuts because I like to find the correct settings for my burner to hold my oil steady at 370° F. That way it’s just waiting for me and I know the general area I need to keep my burner set to. Mine was right around medium once it was brought up to temperature. You’ll have to increase the heat slightly once you put your donuts into the hot oil because the temp will drop.
Yes, please use a thermometer in your oil. I have a thermometer just like this. It measures high/hot enough and even has a spot on it that says “donuts”. You’ll want to fry your donuts between 370° and 380° F.
I would not recommend baking with this recipe. These pumpkin donuts are more of a dough that needs frying to help them rise rather than a thinner pumpkin batter where baking is needed. A baked pumpkin donut would not do well with this.
Yes! I would suggest freezing them before you put the glaze on or if you do put glaze on, go light. As they defrost, the glaze will melt and be pretty messy. Donuts will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months. Store them in a freezer safe container or resealable bag.
More Donut Recipes to Try!
- Carrot Cake Donuts
- Red Velvet Donuts
- Donut Holes
- Homemade French Cruller Donut
- The Puddin Donut (Gourdough’s Copycat)
- S’mores Donut
- 3-Ingredient Nutella Donuts
- Pancake Mix Donuts
- Cranberry Orange Donuts
So, grab a cup of coffee and give these a whirl this pumpkin season because I’m confident you can make amazing pumpkin spiced donuts too! The printable recipe card is down below. Have a great day, friends!!
If you make this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you would give it a star rating and leave your review in the comments! If you have a picture of your finished dish, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #laurenslatest and tagging me @laurens_latest.
- vegetable oil or canola oil
- 2 cups all purpose unbleached flour bleached works just fine too
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup pure pumpkin pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup half & half*
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2-3 inches of oil to 370° F. (I aim for 380 because, by the time you add your donuts in, the temperature will drop to the right where you want it at 370.)
- For best results, stir everything by hand! In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, leavenings, spices, and brown sugar together to combine. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in remaining wet ingredients into the well and whisk together to break apart the eggs. Then start incorporating all the dry ingredients until a thick dough forms. It might take 2-3 minutes to incorporate all the dry ingredients. Refrigerate dough for 10-20 minutes.
- Flour a board (or clean counter) and flour the dough well and roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a donut cutter to create 3-inch donuts.
- Fry 2-3 at a time: brush excess flour off of cut donuts and slide into hot oil gently. Fry 30 seconds per side (15-20 seconds for donut holes), and drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle. Watch your thermometer as you fry and adjust as you go.
- For the glaze, whisk powdered sugar together with vanilla, melted butter, and enough milk to create a glaze slightly thinner than white school glue. Dip warm donuts into glaze and place on a cooling rack to drip and dry. The glaze won't stay white on the donut if you dip them warm, so if you'd like a more obvious glaze, either re-dip them again into the glaze once completely cooled, or wait until they're completely cooled, to begin with.
- Store in airtight containers for up to 24 hours. After that, they *just* aren't the same. Still good, but not glorious.