Warm and Spicy Baked Pumpkin Donuts

by Andie Mitchell on November 4, 2012

Years ago, with a heavy heart and an even heavier low-fat carrot cake on my counter, I stopped trying to lighten my favorite dessert recipes. I guess I learned the hard way that butter exists for a reason, and sugar does too.  And that my efforts at lightening tended to, ironically enough, lead to a more leaden baked good. But still.

I felt an urgency to try again.

It started while rifling through the shelves of bakeware at TJMaxx. A donut pan. A perfect donut pan. And I was a goner.




I took it as a sign since it was just last week that I sat on my therapist’s couch and, in an effort to rattle off a list of all the things I love most in the world, told her passionately how donuts took rank just after cake. All this to say, donuts aren’t just any ol’ edible.


So I laid $6.99 down at the cash register and carted that pan home with the purest intentions.



Pumpkin spice seemed an obvious, delicious route, what with the fragrancy of fall and all. I lined up all of my ingredients, got out my mixing bowls, and set about baking.



And really, I was going to add the oil. I was. It’s just, I know how recipes like these go. And often? They don’t need it. They’re moistened and tendered by the pumpkin puree- so much so that all I really needed was a bit of unsweetened applesauce to stand in the oil’s place, and all would be right with the world.



I knew I was taking a chance that the donuts could end up a little dense, a little heavy. But I also knew that saving a few calories in the donut itself would allow me to spend them on a topping. And what sensical person doesn’t love that?



Sweet, sweet success.

The finished product is warm, cinnamony, with hints of clove and allspice. It’s soft and tender. Light enough to let me believe that it doesn’t miss the oil. One bite, and I was proud to have created a donut- something I have long loved- that has less than 120 calories all on its own.



Coating the donuts in cinnamon sugar seemed the natural choice. There’s something wonderfully complementary about brushing them with a thin layer of salted butter and rolling them in sparkly tanned sugar. It creates a slight barrier of crunch to the tenderness inside.



When all was baked, cooled, and coated, I was delighted. They’re fantastic treats for fall, they’re cozy and easy enough for a weekend morning, and they’re light enough to fit into your day with no real inconvenience to your health.

Would I bake them again?






Warm and Spicy Baked Pumpkin Donuts
(adapted from BlueEyedBakers) 

For Donuts:
1 3/4 cups 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 Coating:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven 350 F.  Grease a donut pan and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. While the donuts are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another.  When donuts are still hot, 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.

Makes 12 donuts

Nutrition for 1 plain donut without topping: Calories: 119, Fat: 1g, Carb: 29g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars 14g, Protein: 3g

Nutrition for 1 donut with cinnamon sugar topping: Calories: 169, Fat: 5g, Carb: 33g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 18g, Protein: 3g

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Kerry @ Snark & Pepper November 4, 2012 at 6:54 am

These look so tasty, I can’t believe they’re only 120 calories!

Do you just use a 1:1 ratio when subbing applesauce for oil? I should PROBABLY start doing that more often…


admin November 4, 2012 at 6:58 am

Thanks Kerry! Yes, I used a 1:1 ratio.



Blog is the New Black November 4, 2012 at 7:10 am

These look and sound amazing! Love that they are no yeast.


Kim @ Living, Laughing & Losing November 4, 2012 at 7:13 am

Great..now I have to go out and buy a donut pan. LOL :) They look absolutely amazing..can’t wait to make them.


Meagan September 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Mini muffin pans work well too, for donut chunks!!!!


TJ November 4, 2012 at 7:51 am

YUM! They look Scrumptious.


tracy {pale yellow} November 4, 2012 at 8:09 am

I’ve always sort of been against making donuts at home, but this recipe is converting me! I just need to find a donut pan! These look amazing!


Michelle in N. Cal November 4, 2012 at 8:38 am

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! :-)


Liz @ Tip Top Shape November 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

This is such a delightful fall recipe! Love it!!


Beth (OMG! Yummy) November 4, 2012 at 10:32 am

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!


Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen November 4, 2012 at 10:59 am

Droooool. I really need to get a donut pan one of these days. These look delicious!


Cinnamon Vogue November 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

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.


T November 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

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.


B November 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

They look so wonderful, just the excuse I need to buy a doughnut pan… :)

Can I ask what kind or percent milk you used?


admin November 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Hi B! I used 1% milk in the recipe and that’s what I calculated in the nutrition information.


Diane Roark November 4, 2012 at 11:57 am

These doughnuts looks wonderful! Blessings, Diane Roark http://www.recipesforourdailybread.com

I look forward to following you. Visit me anytime.


Marlene Dotterer November 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

Okay, these are going to be my breakfast this week. Assuming I find a donut pan. I’ve never seen one before.

They look wonderful!


admin November 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

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).


melissa@the hungry artist November 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Looks great!
Um… Why I’ve not bought a donut pan yet… I think I’d be making donuts all the time! Always tempted to though.


britainknee November 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Those don’t look low-calorie at all! I just might have to invest in a donut pan…


Rose November 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I’ve never seen a donut pan, I wonder if we have them here in Australia …


Aimee November 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm

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!


Sarah November 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Oh my stars. Yes, please.


Heather@SugarDish(Me) November 5, 2012 at 4:20 am

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!


jennifer January 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

Did you use a cake pop pan for the donut holes?


Kate November 5, 2012 at 6:36 am

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.


Deborah November 5, 2012 at 6:46 am

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!


DE November 5, 2012 at 8:23 am

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!


susan November 5, 2012 at 9:35 am

Those are gorgeous, Andie!


Fran November 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Love the site


Amy November 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Those look delicious! How about you make some apple cider ones and send them my way??


Kayla November 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

These look amazing! I am definitely going to make these this weekend! How many donuts does this recipe make?


admin November 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

Hey Kayla! The recipe makes 12 donuts. Hope you like them :)



Debbie November 7, 2012 at 7:26 am

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!


Debbie November 7, 2012 at 7:30 am

And by the way…as stated before. Donut pan is now on my wish list, also :)


Grace @ Flavorseeker.com November 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm

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!!!


Alicia November 9, 2012 at 8:48 pm

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


Betheny November 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm

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.


Karen November 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Does all this batter make only 6 donuts? It seems like a lot for so few and so few calories per donut…


admin November 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Hi Karen,

No, this makes 12 donuts. Sorry if that’s not in the post; I’ll edit now.



Karen November 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm

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.


admin November 18, 2012 at 6:52 am

Hi Karen,
No, I’d forgotten to add it to the post. My mistake. I’m glad you pointed it out!



Louise December 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm

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 :)


admin December 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Hey Louise,

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

Thanks for asking,


Rose December 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

This looks so wonderful! I know what to buy for my next grocery trip.


David Crichton December 22, 2012 at 6:30 am

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



Hannah January 11, 2013 at 9:38 am

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!


Taylor January 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I love your pictures great dof did you take these yourself?


admin January 31, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Thanks Taylor! Yes, I took them myself with a Canon Rebel T1i camera



Diane @ Vintage Zest February 4, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I made these a while ago, and they actually ended up really, really bready. I can’t figure out what I did wrong, so that I could fix it for next time. Oh well. :/


admin February 4, 2013 at 10:24 pm

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!



Barbara February 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm

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….


admin February 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

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!



Agnieszka February 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Delicious. Just eaten the first batch. Every one is waiting for the second one that is in the oven.


admin February 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

That’s great! Thank you!



Eric February 17, 2013 at 12:03 am

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!


Casey March 31, 2013 at 10:03 am

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!


Mora July 3, 2013 at 3:57 am

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?

Mora xx


Andie Mitchell July 4, 2013 at 10:08 am

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!



Linda Hunton October 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm

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.


Noni November 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm

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?


Nicole September 14, 2014 at 11:34 am



Nicole September 14, 2014 at 11:33 am

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?


Nicole September 14, 2014 at 11:36 am



Michele West October 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

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


Galina January 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm

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.


Andie Mitchell January 17, 2015 at 10:43 am

Hi Galina!

The can is 15-ounces! Thanks!!


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