Lighter Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar Coating

Moist and tender baked pumpkin donuts with warm and fragrant cinnamon-spice flavor and a coating of sweet cinnamon sugar. The coziest fall treat!

baked pumpkin donuts recipe

Nothing says fall like pumpkin spice and these cozy, fall-spiced pumpkin donuts are practically screaming it. They’re soft and tender with the warm flavor of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, and a crackling cinnamon sugar crust. They stay moist for days thanks to a heaping helping of canned pumpkin purée and a mix of vegetable oil and unsweetened applesauce (the oil for moisture, the applesauce to keep them on the lighter, healthier side).

baked pumpkin donuts with cinnamon sugar coating

As long as you have a donut pan, you can make these baked pumpkin donuts easily and everyone in your life will love you for it. The donuts are made like a traditional pumpkin spice cake by stirring wet ingredients (canned pumpkin purée, vegetable oil, unsweetened applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla) into dry ingredients (all purpose flour, baking powder for leavening, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt). I like to use a 50/50 mix of vegetable oil and unsweetened applesauce because the oil helps the pumpkin donut to stay moist while the applesauce makes lower in calories and fat. Just baked, the donuts are only mildly sweet—that’s where the cinnamon sugar coating comes in.

healthier pumpkin donuts recipe

How to Fill Your Donut Pan

The easiest way to fill the wells of your donut pan with batter is to scoop the batter into a large, zip-top plastic bag, squeeze it all to one of the bottom corners, and snip the tip of that corner with scissors. Then, pipe the batter into a ring in your donut pan.

how to bake pumpkin donuts
cinnamon sugar coating for donuts

Cinnamon Sugar Coating for Baked Pumpkin Donuts

To coat the pumpkin donuts in cinnamon sugar, you’ll need a bowl with melted butter and a bowl with the cinnamon sugar mixture. You can dip the donuts in the butter, but that way, the donuts tend to absorb a little too much butter, so I recommend using a pastry brush to apply just enough butter for the cinnamon sugar to stick. Once they’re brushed with butter, either sprinkle the sugar all over the donut or press and roll the donut in the bowl of cinnamon sugar to coat all sides. Note: it’s best to butter and sugar one donut at a time (rather than coating all of the donuts in butter THEN coating all of them in sugar), or else the butter will absorb into the donuts before the cinnamon sugar has a chance to adhere to them.

baked donuts with pumpkin

Recipe Changes

In an earlier version of this recipe, I used applesauce in place of oil or butter but when I tested the recipe again recently, I thought they were a little too dense and heavy. So I’m adding half of the fat back in—half oil and half unsweetened applesauce—which improves the texture significantly while keeping them light and wholesome. I’m also upping the spice—for a more fragrant and warmer flavor.

baked pumpkin donuts with cinnamon sugar coating

Warm and Spicy Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Moist and tender baked pumpkin donuts with warm and fragrant cinnamon-spice flavor and a coating of sweet cinnamon sugar. The coziest fall treat!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy baked donut recipe, pumpkin spice donuts, spicy baked pumpkin donuts
Servings: 15 Donuts
Calories: 187kcal

Ingredients

For the Donuts:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Coating:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 of a stick)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Spray a donut pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla until completely combined.
  • Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture, stirring until just combined (be careful not to over-mix the batter or the donuts will end up tough).
  • Carefully spoon the batter evenly around the circles of the donut rings. Fill each nearly to the top. Bake for about 12 minutes, until donuts spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean. Turn the donuts out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.
  • While the donuts are cooling, prepare the cinnamon sugar coating. In one bowl, melt the butter (let cool slightly) and in another bowl whisk the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Working with one donut at a time, use a pastry brush to spread a thin layer of butter onto the donut before dipping it into the cinnamon sugar, pressing and turning it to coat all sides. Repeat with the remaining donuts. The donuts will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature but they're especially delicious the day you bake them.

Notes

Recipe updated October 2020. The original recipe is as follows: 
Ingredients
For the Donuts:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
For the Coating:
1/4 cup unsalted butter ½ stick, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Instructions
Preheat oven 350 F. Spray a donut pan with cooking spray.
In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together applesauce, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir until just combined, taking care to avoid overmixing.
Carefully spoon the batter evenly around the circles of the donut rings. Fill each nearly to the top. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until donuts spring back when gently pressed. Turn donuts out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes.
While the donuts are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another. Use a pastry brush to spread a thin layer of butter onto each donut before dipping each into the cinnamon sugar, turning and swirling to coat. Use your fingers to sprinkle the sugar more evenly if necessary. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 93mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 2041IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
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91 thoughts on “Lighter Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  1. Michelle in N. Cal

    They look delicious and I have a donut pan that is never used. I pinned it and plan to make them for my girls tomorrow! :-)

    Reply
  2. Beth (OMG! Yummy)

    Great post Andie. I’ve resisted buying one of those baked diughnut pans but you’ve tempted me. Just love the color of those light as air doughnuts! And the calorie count is even more beautiful!

    Reply
  3. Cinnamon Vogue

    As a Cinnamon peddler I love it when you use Cinnamon in anything. These look great. Now if you could use Ceylon Cinnamon in the recipes I will send you some free Ceylon Cinnamon. I don’t sell the powder but I have some great organic Cinnamon Sugar that could work well with many of your recipes. Just email me a request if you are game. :-) In the meantime I got to pin this on Pinterest.

    Reply
  4. T

    Like other people who have commented already, I am putting a donut pan on my wishlist just so I can make these delicious-looking pumpkin ones! I’m not normally a huge donut fan, either, but warm and spicy baked pumpkin donuts…who could resist that? Pinned this recipe.

    Reply
  5. admin

    Friends, I’ve seen inexpensive donut pans at Bed Bath and Beyond, TJMaxx, Homegoods, Target, and Kohl’s. All were around $15 and under (mine was $6.99).

    Reply
  6. Aimee

    I actually bought a donut pan a couple of years ago (swearing I’d use it all the time) and used it once? Maybe twice? These donuts look like a perfect reason to pull it from the back of the cabinet and put it to use! Yum!

    Reply
  7. Heather@SugarDish(Me)

    I did pumpkin donut holes not long ago… they were pretty full-fat, though. I’ve had my eye on a mini donut pan and this looks PERFECT!!!! Applesauce is one of my most favorite ways to lighten up my baked goods. It’s awesome in banana bread. And I’ve been DYING to get all Martha Stewart and make one of these homemade crock pot applesauce recipes I keep seeing and use that in my baked goods! Thanks, Andie!

    Reply
  8. Kate

    Thank you for this fantastic recipe and post, but I need to stop writing this very second to go get myself a donut pan. Bye now.

    Reply
  9. Deborah

    I love donuts…I think about them all the time. I can’t wait to get myself a donut pan and make these. Love your blog!

    Reply
  10. DE

    I am making these today! I was looking at my pumpkin and having a mini-panic attack thinking what I could use it for. Problem solved! I’m just sad I can only make 6 at a time with my donut pan!

    Reply
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  13. Debbie

    I am not a computer person so I am wondering if there is a way to print off of these blogs. So many of your recipes are wonderful I want to add them to my folder of favorites without having to write each one out separately. Anyone? Thanks!

    Reply
  14. Grace @ Flavorseeker.com

    Ok, I have thought about buying a donut pan and always thought…no I won’t buy a single use gadget. But then I saw this recipe and went right out and bought one (bed bath and beyond for 9.99 w/ my 20% coupon).

    We made a few substitutions…I can never leave a recipe alone. We used 1 C oat flour and 3/4 white. And we swapped the milk for unsweetened almond milk.

    Absolutely wonderful and delicious. I think my new favorite pumpkin recipe…my daughter and I had to walk away…or eat them all :0)

    Thanks for the recipe!!!

    Reply
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  16. Alicia

    My husband bought me a mini donut maker (it looks like a waffle iron) a few months back. I have yet to use it because all of the recipes I had found had tons of sugar and unnecessary junk in them. I used this recipe with my donut maker and they came out amazing! Super yummy itty bitty donuts. My children could hardly wait till they cooled to eat them. (If you use a mini donut maker you just wait for the light to turn green. It takes like 3min per batch. So easy and fun!) Thanks for this delicious recipe!!! <3

    Reply
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  18. Betheny

    I made these today! WOW! I added 2 Tbs. of sugar free caramel ice cream topping to the butter for the glaze. SOOO amazing! I also used a mini donut making machine.

    Reply
      1. Karen

        Don’t mean to be a pest, but I am curious. Was the yield there all along and I missed it, or did you edit this and add that after my first message/question? Thx.

        Reply
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  21. Louise

    Hi – sorry, am a Brit so forgive me for the stoopid question, but is ‘flour’ plain flour or self raising? I’m assuming plain, as I think you’d have put if it was self raising. In which case, what makes the doughnuts rise and look so fluffy?! Thanks :)

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hey Louise,

      It’s plain all-purpose flour, not the self-rising kind. The baking powder helps to make them rise!

      Thanks for asking,
      Andie

      Reply
  22. David Crichton

    These donuts look amazing. Then when they are baked it makes them even better. You really an eat donuts or breakfast now!

    Dave

    Reply
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  24. Hannah

    I’ve been excited to make these ever since you posted this recipe – I just had to get a doughnut pan! And canned pumpkin is really hard to come by in the UK, so I bought some off the internet. Unsweetened applesauce also seems rare, so I ended up using some pure fruit apple and apricot puree from my local health food shop – seemed to work well flavour-wise.

    The first batch I made came out quite dense and chewy (though still delicious). For the second batch, I used golden caster sugar rather than the unrefined demerara I’d used before, and used 1 cup plain and 3/4 cup self-raising flour. That worked a treat, they’re much lighter. Also I plan to freeze the second batch so I didn’t glaze them. However I had loads of cinnamon sugar left so I sprinkled it on top of the batter before baking and it made a lovely crunchy topping.

    Thanks for this delicious recipe Andie, the hunt for ingredients was definitely worth it!

    Reply
    1. admin

      Oh that’s no good :( Sorry to hear it, Diane! I think next time my only recommendations would be bumping up the amount of applesauce by 1/4 cup or even adding in 1/4 cup of oil for more moisture.
      I really appreciate you trying the recipe and I thank you for your honest review!

      Andie

      Reply
  25. Barbara

    Can I use low fat buttermilk…and also can I use unsweetened applesauce…Trying them today…have been making all sorts of dough nuts, and dying to try this….

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hey Barbara,
      Yes, you can use both of those things. The buttermilk might give them a slight tang, though. Thanks for your note and I hope you like the recipe!

      Andie

      Reply
  26. Eric

    I was with my wife at Target earlier this evening, and I saw a doughnut pan on sale for $9.34! I put it in our cart, and my wife was all, “What are you going to use that for?” I said, “Just wait.” Needless to say, these were a HUGE hit. So moist, so warm, soooo good. Thanks Andie!

    Reply
  27. Casey

    Just made these this morning and they were great! I fed one to my 14 month old and didn’t feel guilty because I knew exactly what was in them and they weren’t a calorie disaster! Thanks so much for a great recipe!

    Reply
  28. Mora

    Hi!
    Hope you’ll see this, and that you’re able to answer me :)

    Is it possible to switch the flour for whole wheat flour / part whole wheat flour and regular flour?
    And is it possible to omit the allspice, or substitute it with something else?

    Thanks,
    Mora xx

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Hey Mora!
      Yes, it’s perfectly fine to use all whole wheat flour, though the doughnuts will be a bit heavier/denser in texture. I’d say a half wheat/half white combo like you mentioned is best.

      And it’s also fine to just omit the allspice. There’s enough spice going on that you won’t miss it!

      Andie

      Reply
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  31. Linda Hunton

    Just made these for the first time, and they turned out great! So delicious! I used fat free milk instead of 1%, with no difference at all! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

    Reply
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  35. Noni

    hi andie,
    i made these a couple of days ago and though the taste was delicious, the texture was very thick and they turned out a bit hard in consistency. do you think that happended, because i substituted the canned punpkin with fresh one, that i had to cook slightly in order to mash it?

    Reply
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  37. Nicole

    My doughnut pan only has six cavities. Would it be okay to let half the batter rest as I bake the first match and wait for the pan to cool down?

    Reply
  38. Michele West

    Made these today and they are delish! I’m going to have one happy little Kindergartener when she gets off the bus today;)

    Reply
  39. Galina

    Hi there,
    How big is the can of pumpkin? I’m from Australia and I have no idea how many g/ml that would be?

    Thanks :) ?I’m going to make these into muffins with cinnamon/sugar on top.

    Reply
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  48. Amy P

    I know this post was from a while back but I just read your book and found your website! Your pictures are amazing! I immediately found this recipe and bought a doughnut pan. I can’t wait to try this. I try to follow the idea that if I am going to have a treat I have to make it myself. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    Reply

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