Old Fashioned Pumpkin Donuts

4.72 from 7 votes

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Nothing better than homemade Pumpkin Donuts! These sweet donuts are light, airy, spiced with cinnamon, and covered in a simple 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.

pumpkin donuts on cooling rack

Cake Donuts: My Secrets to Success

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 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

As with anything homemade, this recipe includes a lot of pantry ingredients you already have (flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, 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 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, you just want plain pumpkin puree.
  • 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 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 details see the recipe card down below 🙂

Preheat Oil

Preheat 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.)

What If I Don’t Have a Deep Fryer?

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.

Do I Need a Thermometer?

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 degrees.

cutting out donuts from rolled out dough

Make Donut Dough and Refrigerate

For best results, stir everything by hand! 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 for 10-20 minutes.

Roll and Cut Dough

Flour a board (or clean counter) and 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.

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.

Can I Bake These?

I would not recommend baking this recipe. These pumpkin donuts are more of a dough that needs frying to help them rise rather than a thinner batter where baking is needed.

Glaze Pumpkin Donuts

To make the glaze whisk powdered sugar together with melted butter, vanilla, 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.

Bite out of a pumpkin donut

More Donut Recipes to Try!

So, give these a whirl because I’m confident you can make amazing pumpkin donuts too!

Have a great day, friends!!

4.72 from 7 votes

Pumpkin Donuts

Nothing better than homemade Pumpkin Donuts! These sweet donuts are light, airy, spiced with cinnamon, and covered in a simple glaze.
servings 10 donuts with lots of donut holes!
Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients

for the glaze-

Instructions

  • 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.)
  • 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 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.

Notes

*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.

Nutrition

Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 218mg | Potassium: 155mg | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 775IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1.5mg
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pumpkin Donuts

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Recipe Rating




17 Responses
  1. Michele {Delish Dishes from Michele}

    These look so yummy! I’m not a big pumpkin person, but I LOVE pumpkin donuts for some reason. Can’t wait to try this one, thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  2. Katy P

    I REALLY want to try this recipe- I just have to figure out how to make it gluten free since one of my children has Celiac disease. If I figure it out- and it works, I’ll try to come back and let others know what I did!

  3. Easy Cannoli Recipe | Lauren's Latest

    […] I know myself. That totally would have happened. Also, I hate frying things, unless it’s my pumpkin donuts in October. You are welcome to make the shells from scratch or just get them from amazon. To each […]

  4. Kristin Eames

    4 stars
    I made this this morning, and the flavor is great. My only problem was that the door was extremely sticky. I had to add at least another half cup of flour to even remotely be able to cut them out. A Winner nonetheless! Thank you

  5. Paul

    4 stars
    The final result was a very good pumpkin donut. However, the dough this recipe produces as written is WAY, way too wet to work with. I suggest at least 1/4 cup more flour, and at least 1 hour of refrigeration time (not just 20 min).

  6. Elizabeth Brown

    5 stars
    Look no further, these pumpkin cake donuts are devine! Perfect texture, light, moist cake spice donut. Wonderful addition to a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall day!

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