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Nothing better than a homemade Old Fashioned Pumpkin Donut! These sweet and spicy donuts are light, airy and covered in a buttery glaze.
Homemade donuts are considered to be a special treat at my house and these Old Fashioned Pumpkin Donuts are no different! The dough is made with pumpkin, lots of spices and leavening with baking powder and soda, giving these donuts a cakey and soft texture. Fried until brown on each side and then dipped in a sweet and buttery 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.
The Best Pumpkin Donuts
I have been testing this Pumpkin Donuts recipe again and again and finally, FINALLY have an amazing light and tasty cake donut to share today!
Not only do I have the photographic evidence of all the donuts I’ve made over and over this past week, but I also have the number on my scale proving, in fact, that those 5 dozen donuts went straight to my thighs.
But, mama don’t care because it was oh so worth it!
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 Pumpkin Donuts.
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 amazing finished product. Things like not overworking the dough, adding in an extra egg yolk and using half and half really really helped the cause. Also, using a stickier dough to begin with, refrigerating for a few minutes to make it easier to handle and rolling it out with lots of flour was the trick. Pop the donuts into your hot oil for a quick bath and voila!
Add your glaze and that my friends is my love language.
Main Ingredients Needed
As with anything homemade, this recipe includes a lot of pantry ingredients you already have. While homemade donuts of any kind require lots of time, they aren’t *too* hard to pull off. Be sure to check out my pro tips at the bottom of this post.
- All Purpose Flour– I use unbleached all purpose, but the bleached kind is fine. Personal preference!
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda– need both for leavening and keeping these pumpkin donuts light and airy.
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger– lots of Fall and pumpkin flavors here! Pumpkin Pie Spice is a great substitute for these if preferred.
- Pumpkin– obviously you need pumpkin for pumpkin donuts! Please don’t confuse this with pumpkin pie filling.
- Egg + Egg Yolk– the egg helps hold the dough together and the egg yolk adds extra moisture.
- Half & Half– adds fat and therefore moisture to the dough!
- Vegetable or Canola Oil– for frying!
How to make Pumpkin Donuts
Like I mentioned above, these pumpkin donuts aren’t hard to make per say, they just take time. 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. Oh mama you will LOVE them.
- Preheat your oil to 380 degrees.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl: flour, salt, spices, baking powder, baking soda, 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 10-20 minutes.
- Flour clean work surface well and roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness.
- Cut out 3-inch donuts and fry 2-3 at a time. As you fry the donuts, keep the temperature at 370.
- Drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle.
- Make the glaze: whisk powdered sugar together with melted butter, vanilla and milk.
- Dip warm donuts in glaze and place on cooling rack to dry.
Pro Tips for frying homemade donuts:
- Keep the dough moist! I already mentioned this, but a moist cake donut is made from a moist dough. If you have time, refrigerate the dough. If you don’t have time, roll it out with lots of flour and gently transfer them to the hot oil.
- Use a thermometer in your oil. I thought I had to go out and purchase a new thermometer because I didn’t have the right one…or so I thought. But on second glance, I realized it was perfect! It measured high/hot enough and even had a spot on it that said “donuts”. You’ll want to fry your donuts between 370 and 380 degrees. I have a thermometer just like this.
- Speaking of frying your donuts, if you don’t have an actual deep fryer, you’ll want to use a heavy-bottomed pot that will retain heat. This is the exact pot I used. 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. 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.
- 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.
So, give these a whirl because I’m confident you can make amazing pumpkin donuts too!
Have a great day, friends!!
Old Fashioned Pumpkin Donuts
- vegetable oil
- 2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
- 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 melted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup pumpkin
- 1/4 cup half & half*
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2-3 inches of oil to 370 degrees. (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.)
- 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 to 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 10-20 minutes.
- Flour a board (or clean counter) and dough well and roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a donut cutter to create 3-inch donuts and 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 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 up to 24 hours. After that, they *just* aren't the same. Still good, but not glorious.
- *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.
- **For best results, stir everything by hand!