When I shared my Apple Cider Donut recipe recently, you guys really enjoyed it. I made them a few times myself, and I’ve been really into them.
I wanted to shift my gears to the other Fall flavor- pumpkin. But “pumpkin spice” donuts leave a lot to be desired. I’m not a fan of aggressive pumpkin spice flavor, but I’m a huge fan of pumpkin itself.
So, I set out to create a donut recipe that would highlight pumpkin while still having a bit of spice. And, my friends, this is it.
These donuts are nice and chocolatey, but you can taste the actual pumpkin along with the spice. If you’ve never considered adding chocolate to pumpkin spice, you’re in for a real treat.
I haven’t done chocolate + cinnamon very much, but these donuts are going to change that for me. I love these so much.
If you’ve made my Apple Cider Donuts already, this recipe will look similar. I used that recipe as my baseline, with a few necessary tweaks to make these beauties.
Ingredients and Substitutions
As always: you have substitution questions, and I have answers. Here are some of the main ingredients and what you can substitute…
- Protein Powder: I used Vanilla PEScience in this recipe, which is a whey/casein blend. You can absolutely use a chocolate protein powder and these will probably be even better! However, I’d caution against using a 100% whey protein. I did not test it, and there is a chance it will work no problem, but the whey/casein protein blend really helps the texture of these. Pure whey protein tends to lead to dry, denser baked goods. It’s worth a shot, but you may not get the same soft, airy result.
- All-Purpose Flour: You can use a 1:1 gluten-free alternative if you want, but substituting the flour out completely for something like almond flour or oat flour will not work. The all-purpose flour is where these donuts get their cake-like texture from.
- Sugar Substitute: I use sugar substitutes to save on calories, but you can use regular sugar in place of any substitutes. This recipe uses both granular and powdered sugar, so you can use the real-deal if you want. And if you didn’t know, you can easily make your own powdered sugar! Just toss your sugar or sugar substitute into a food processor or spice grinder and you’ll have yourself powdered sugar.
- Canned Pumpkin: If you’re in a country that doesn’t have canned pumpkin readily available, you can use pumpkin puree or make your own. If you’re in a real pinch you can use applesauce, but then you’re not making pumpkin donuts anymore.
Batter vs Dough
Donuts, whose formal spelling is DOUGHnuts, are called that for a reason. Typically speaking, they’re made with a dough that you cut shapes out of and deep fry.
If you’re new to the donut game, there are 2 types of donuts: yeast and cake donuts. Yeast donuts are the ones cut out of dough. They’re the super light and airy donuts you’ll typically find with icing at Dunkin or Krispy Kreme.
Cake donuts are made with a batter and baked in a mold, which is what we are doing here. We’re not messing with yeast, and the baking powder in this batter is what makes these babies rise.
Once you mix everything up, you’ll be left with a thick batter that you can then fill a donut pan with. All we have to do is mix up our dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then combine ’em.
This batter is thick, mostly thanks to the pumpkin in it. Because of this, we’re not left with the prettiest of donuts. But hey, we’re after flavor here, not looks. The tops of these donuts weren’t super smooth, and the bottoms had a bit of air bubbles to them…
But that’s fine! They taste phenomenal, and we’re just going to cover them with icing anyway…
See?! Problem solved.
If you don’t have a donut pan, I definitely recommend picking one up! I’ve gotten great use out of mine. There are plenty on Amazon, and you can even grab cheap silicone ones like this one.
That being said, you can toss this batter into a cupcake/muffin tin or mold to make these into muffins! They’re great even without the icing, so I’d imagine they’d make awesome muffins as well.
Letting these donuts sit
Our icing is a combination of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and milk. A traditional icing will have some kind of corn syrup mixed in to help it harden and give you that beautiful glossy topping.
Since we’re not using any kind of syrup, that leaves us with a liquidy icing. The secret is letting it sit. As it cools, it will naturally harden! Check out the before/after here. The before is when I added the icing to the donuts, and the after is once the donuts sat in the fridge for 20 minutes.
You can 100% eat the donuts right away, but the icing is going to get all over your hands. Not the end of the world. That being said, if you have a little patience, the icing will harden and be ready for ya to pick up and eat!
20 minutes in the fridge worked perfectly for me, but you can leave these out at room temperature as well.
As far as storing these go, I left them on a plate in the fridge to keep the icing nice and hard, and they were still great the following day. You can certainly leave these out at room temperature in a sealed container if you’d like, too.
More recipes you’ll love
If you enjoy this recipe, I’ve got some other pumpkin & cinnamon focused recipes you need to check out:
- Protein Apple Cider Donuts
- Cheesecake Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies
- Cinnamon Roll Protein Sugar Cookies
- Apple Cobbler with Sweet Biscuits
- Apple Pie Overnight Oats
- 110g All-Purpose Flour
- 62g (2 Scoops) Vanilla or Chocolate Protein Powder (I used PEScience)
- 20g Granular Sugar Substitute (I used Anthony's)
- 20g Cocoa Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 pinch Salt
- 2 Large Eggs
- 100g Canned Pumpkin (or Pumpkin Puree)
- 80g Unsweetened Applesauce
- 28g Light Butter (or regular butter)
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 50g Powdered Sugar Substitute (I used Swerve)
- 5g Cocoa Powder
- 2 dashes Cinnamon
- 2 tbsp Milk of Choice (plus an extra splash)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix up all the dry ingredients to avoid clumping.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together all of your liquid ingredients. It's okay if it's not a completely smooth mixture at this point. The butter will not completely mix into the rest of the liquids, and that is to be expected.
- Add the liquid mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients, and use a silicone spatula (or mixing spoon) to mix it all up until you have a smooth batter.
- Spray a donut pan with nonstick butter spray and fill your molds about halfway.
- The batter is pretty thick, so what I did was spoon the mixture into the mold and then dipped my fingers in cold water to use my fingers to evenly spread the batter around. The batter will be sticky if your fingers aren't wet!
- Add to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. While those are in the oven, make the icing by whisking together all of the icing ingredients- you'll want to add one tablespoon of milk at a time while mixing. If you add it all in at once, it won't mix as well.
- I used 2 tablespoons of cold milk but found my icing still too thick, so I mixed in one extra splash of milk. Put the bowl in the fridge to allow the icing to thicken a bit while the donuts finish baking.
- Remove the donuts from the oven and let them cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the donuts from the pan and onto a cooling rack, then take your icing out the fridge and use a spoon to top your donuts.
- These donuts can be enjoyed immediately, but the icing will be runny. I added the donuts to the fridge for about 20-30 minutes and the icing hardened & set perfectly, with the donuts remaining nice and soft!
The protein powder I use is a blend of whey & casein. To see how different types of protein powder affect donut recipes, check out my Ultimate Protein Powder Substitution Guide.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1 Donut
Amount Per Serving Calories 165Total Fat 4.5gCarbohydrates 20gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 12g