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Protein Chocolate Donut Holes (in the Air Fryer)

After making my Protein Air Fryer Donut Holes, they quickly became a staple.

I knew I needed to come up with a chocolate version, but chocolate is very tricky. It’s not as simple as just using a chocolate protein powder or adding cocoa powder to the original recipe.

Cocoa powder dries out baked goods quite a bit- so these took some experimenting to get them exactly right, but I am thrilled with how these turned out.

Chocolate donut holes

These chocolate donut holes are a chocolate lover’s dream. They take only 4 minutes in the air fryer, contain just 35 calories each, and are downright delicious.

I love having these as a quick & easy low-calorie snack, but you can also follow this recipe to make your own full-size chocolate donuts, too.

Chocolate air fryer donuts

I whipped these up, topped them with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, and I was in chocolatey heaven.

Let’s walk through the recipe, because you’re gonna want to make these.


How to make these Protein Chocolate Donut Holes

To make these chocolate donut holes, all you have to do is mix up some dry ingredients, add applesauce and butter, and mix until you have a dough!

From there, it’s as simple as rolling them into donut holes and popping them into the air fryer.

These expand a bit when cooked, so don’t worry about making them huge.

I like to keep these on the smaller side, but there’s no set rule for how large to make these. You may yield slightly more or less than I did, but you should aim to get 25-30 total donut holes.

Some will be smaller and some larger, but we’re not after perfection around here.

Depending on the size of your air fryer, you’ll likely need to do 2 batches. I like to make sure I leave enough space between all the chocolate donut holes so they fully cook all the way around. I like the outside to have a nice crisp to it, so it’s important to make sure the air can make it all the way around!

As long as your air fryer is preheated (I learned when making my Protein Churro Bites and Air Fryer Crispy Chicken that preheating makes a HUGE difference) these should only take about 4 minutes total. Let them go for 2 minutes, then open up the air fryer and flip them over.

After just 2 minutes, they should have expanded a bit already! We flip them over to not only help them fully bake all the way around, but also to make sure they don’t flatten too much on one side.

After 4 minutes, they should be perfect.

Whether you want to coat them in a glaze or powdered sugar (melted chocolate would also be a great idea) they’re ready to coat immediately. I did half my batch as glazed and the other half as powdered sugar because I couldn’t choose…

I think I enjoyed the glazed chocolate donut holes a little bit more because the glaze adds some extra moisture, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide that for yourself.


The best protein powder for protein donut holes

With my original Air Fryer Donut Holes, quite a few people told me that their dough was very sticky and hard to work with. That is most definitely due to using a protein that is 100% whey.

Whey-based protein gets very sticky. That’s why I swear by PEScience protein powder, which is a blend of whey protein and casein protein. The addition of casein makes such a huge difference. Trust me.

Chocolate truffle protein powder

Not to mention, this chocolate truffle flavor is my favorite protein powder on the planet. The flavor is deliciously rich chocolate, which works perfectly for this recipe.

I tested this recipe with whey protein to see the difference, and I found the whey protein dough to be noticeably stickier.

Whenever I’m working with sticky dough, I use either the “wet hands” method or the “floured hands” method.

  • Wet hands means filling a small bowl up with cold water. Then, dip your fingers in the cold water to be able to work with the dough and form it into balls. This typically works very well, but sometimes can make the dough very wet and/or too soft. So, that’s where the second method comes into play!
  • Floured hands is simply flouring up your hands before forming the donut holes. Sometimes this method isn’t ideal because it leaves a coating or dry flour on the outside, but it won’t matter here! Since we’re going to coat the donut holes with either glaze or powdered sugar, you won’t eve notice it!

Feel free to try each method and see which you prefer. I gave both a shot and preferred the floured method, but either works!

At the end of the day, whey protein still works great, but it’s incredibly important that you add the whey protein powder as the final ingredient. When it’s mixed in with everything else, I find the dough becomes much stickier than if it is added as the very last ingredient.

When it came to the taste test, I truly enjoyed both the same, so you can’t go wrong with any type of protein powder.


Other ways to bake protein donuts

If you don’t feel like making protein donut holes in the air fryer, here are a very alternative methods for you:

  1. Add the dough to a donut pan and bake them as full donuts in the oven.
  2. Form the dough into doughnuts to bake in the air fryer.
  3. When in doubt… turn it into a waffle.

This entire recipe ended up making 2 Belgian waffles when I tested it. And yes, I added some chocolate chips for good measure.

While these aren’t the most “macro-friendly” waffles, each one was about 450 calories and 25g of protein, which is still a great breakfast in my eyes.

Plus, these tasted EXACTLY like brownies. For whatever reason, these stay a little bit more dense and gooey in the waffle maker vs the air fryer, and they tasted very similar to brownies. I’m not mad about that.


More Protein Chocolate Recipes

Protein chocolate donut holes

If these chocolate protein donut holes are not enough to satisfy your chocolate craving, I’ve got a ton of amazing chocolate treats for you to dive into.

And don’t worry, they’re all high-protein as well.


Chocolate donut holes

Protein Chocolate Donut Holes

Yield: 25 Donut Holes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes

Chocolate donut holes that are packed with chocolate flavor, ready in just 4 minutes, and sneakily high in protein. Enjoy hot & fresh or store the leftovers for a snack you can enjoy all week long.


Optional Glaze


  1. In a bowl, combine the wet ingredients (applesauce, vanilla extract, and butter).
  2. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar substitute, then mix.
  3. Add the chocolate protein powder to the bowl as the very last ingredient, then mix everything until dough forms.
  4. Preheat your air fryer to 370 degrees F for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the chocolate dough to a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle the top with a small amount of flour, then flip it over and repeat for the other side. This little bit of flour will make the dough much easier to work with.
  6. Break off a piece of the dough, roll it in your hands, and place it into the air fryer basket.
  7. Continue until you have used up all of your dough (you may need 2 batches depending on the size of your air fryer). Note that I got 25 donut holes out of my recipe, but it will vary depending on how large you make them.
  8. Air fry the chocolate donut holes for 4 minutes. After 2 minutes, use tongs to carefully flip each donut hole, then return to the air fryer for the remaining 2 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove the donut holes from the air fryer and proceed to add toppings of your choice (or enjoy as-is).

To make a glaze: Add powdered sugar to a bowl and slowly stir in 1-2 tbsp of milk until it becomes a thick glaze. Roll the donut holes in the glaze and place them on a cooling rack to allow the glaze to harden.

Powdered sugar coating: Simply drop the donut holes into a bowl of powdered sugar to coat.


  • PEScience Chocolate Truffle protein powder creates the best flavor for these donuts holes, but any chocolate protein powder should work. I have not tested plant-based protein, however.
  • The "buttery spread" I use is Country Crock. Any butter spread, margarine, coconut oil, or regular butter will work great.
  • Prefer full-size donuts? Form these into donuts rather than donut holes and follow the same intructions!
  • These donut holes are best served fresh, but can be stored in an airtight container to enjoy throughout the week. If glazed, they'll stay moist. If you use powdered sugar, you might find them slightly dry as leftovers, but if you pop these in the microwave for 10 seconds they'll taste like warm brownie bites. Trust me.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 25 Donut Holes Serving Size 1 Donut Hole
Amount Per Serving Calories 35Total Fat 1gCarbohydrates 5gProtein 2g

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Wednesday 4th of January 2023

Can I replace the buttee apread with plain greek yogurt?


Saturday 3rd of December 2022

Have you tried making these as full sized donuts yet? I really want to try but I’m afraid they might not rise enough!


Thursday 8th of December 2022

I tried with the original donut hole recipe (not the chocolate) and that was indeed the problem, unfortunately. I tweaked the recipe to make full sized donuts so you can make some slight changes to do the same for chocolate, if you want to give it a try!


Thursday 25th of March 2021

DELICIOUS!!! The tips for using 100% whey were spot on, I had no issues. My 4 year old is a donut hole feen and has been requesting these over going to Dunkin Donuts. As with many of Matt's recipes these are quick, easy, and delicious, don't miss out.

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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