Pumpkin Donuts

pumpkin donutsPumpkin is my favorite vegetable. Yes…I have a favorite vegetable! Even if pumpkin is on the fringe of the vegetable world, being a squash and all, I still love it.

Pumpkin contains the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is very good for you and has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. Naturally, pumpkin is at its nutritional height when not consumed in donut form, but still…some of us have to sneak our veggies into food in any way we can.

These donuts are among the last treats I’ll have before beginning a two-month sugar fast, during which I’ll avoid baked goods and dessert-like foods and beverages. This is partially because of Lent, but more so because I’m working hard to transform my diet and sugar really is the final frontier. I like to think that my health coach, Kate, would be glad that I chose not just any donut today, but one with pumpkin in it.

This recipe is adapted slightly from the King Arthur Flour pumpkin donut recipe; I changed the spice ratios a bit because I’m a fan of nutmeg and I wanted it to have more of a role in the flavor profile here. There are three options listed below for topping these donuts, and the sugar & spice topping was my favorite.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray two regular (6-count) donut pans and one mini donut pan with baking spray. Alternatively, you can bake all of the donuts in the full-size pans; it’ll just take a bit longer.

In a mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, eggs, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder. Beat on low speed until combined.

Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined; batter will be slightly lumpy but that is fine.

Fill wells in pans about 3/4 full; I used a teaspoon from my tableware to fill the large pans and put the rest of the batter into a pastry bag to fill the small pans, but you could very easily pipe all of the batter for these as it flows very well.

Bake full-size donuts for 18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean; when finished, baked the mini donuts for 8-10 minutes.

Cool donuts in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Top as desired.

Topping Options

Sugar & Spice

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

In a small bowl, blend sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. While donuts are still warm, dip in the mixture, then brush tops with melted butter and dip again.

Alternatively, place sugar and spices in a brown paper bag and toss the donuts in the bag to coat. You don’t need the butter for this version, but I find that brushing the donuts with melted butter then dipping them in the sugar and spice mixture again creates a nice crunch.

Powdered Sugar

  • About 1 cup powdered sugar

Lightly dust donuts with powdered sugar using a fine sieve. The quantity you’ll need depends on how thick you’d like your coating to be.

Spicy Glaze

  • About 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • About 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • About 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoons vanilla

Note: all of the quantities for the dry ingredients are approximate; I experimented here and my measurements were really done by sight and smell, then by taste. Remember, you can always add more liquid, but you can’t take it out, so it’s best to start with a smaller quantity and increase from there.

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add vanilla and water, stirring to combine until a glaze forms; you want the consistency to be honey-like, easy to dip but not too thick. Once you’ve reached your desired consistency and flavor, dip tops of donuts into the glaze, then allow to set.