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