Baked donuts

Yes, you can make baked donuts instead of frying them, whether you want to make sour cream donuts, chocolate cake donuts, pumpkin donuts, or others! Here’s everything you need to know about how to make the best oven-baked donuts in a donut pan.
baked sour cream doughnuts coated in granulated sugar served on a blue plate

There’s nothing better than a freshly fried donut, but turns out, you can skip the deep frying and make baked donuts that are pretty great too! How are baked donuts possible?

Baked Chocolate Donuts in a donut pan, not fried

To bake donuts instead of frying them, you will need a donut pan. They usually make 6 donuts at a time, so it’s actually best to invest in two pans if you can, so that you can make a dozen at a time when you want to. I like the Nordic Ware donut pans.

For mini donuts, you would also need to invest in a mini donut pan. Mini donut pans usually have 12 cavities so that you can bake 12 mini donuts at a time. Again, most recipes will bake more than a dozen, so you might want to invest in two mini donut pans, if you plan on making mini donuts often. This will make your life easier.

baked doughnuts in vintage donut pans stacked on white tablecloth
You can also invest in vintage donut pans (though they might be pans for savarin cakes actually…). For these types of pans, you will have to search on Etsy, Ebay, or at antique sales.

How to make a moist baked donut

The key to a good baked donut is that it has to be moist on the inside, especially with cake donuts that can be dry. I like to add sour cream to the donut batter to add a lot of fat and moisture so that they bake up light and fluffy, and also tender and moist. These baked chocolate donuts and these baked sour cream donuts are great examples of how to incorporate sour cream in your donut recipes.

Adding mashed pumpkin to the batter also makes a more moist donut, like in these baked pumpkin donuts with cardamom. These glazed chocolate donuts with amaretto have almond milk, which also provides a lot of moisture to the recipe. Consulting this baking substitutions list, you can see that sour cream can be replaced with full-fat plain greek yogurt, for example

Many donut recipes will call for oil instead of butter because oil is liquid at room temperature, while butter is solid, which means oil will make a more moist donut with a more tender mouthfeel than a butter-based donut.

baked donut in a dish of granulated sugar to coat it all around

How to make baked donuts taste like fried donut

One technique to getting baked donuts to taste just like fried donuts is very lightly brush them (or dip them, if you dare) in melted butter before coating them in sugar, for example. The butter will give you a more flavourful coating to your baked donuts that is a little fatty, just like fried donuts. This is a technique that is especially common with donut muffins that are dipped in butter before sprinkling with cinnamon sugar.

However, if your goal is to “lighten up” donuts, maybe skip that step. I honestly haven’t been brushing or dipping any of my baked donuts with butter, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. But, to each his own, as they say. 

How to coat baked donuts

Baked donuts can be coated in either granulated sugar, powdered sugar, or even cinnamon sugar. You could even add a little matcha to the sugar to make it green and add lots of tea flavour. Freeze-dried berries can be ground in a spice grinder and then added to granulated sugar to make a berry sugar coating for baked donuts too. Truly, the possibilities are endless!
If you prefer to glaze your donuts, you can make an icing sugar glaze, a chocolate glaze (made with cocoa powder and icing sugar), or even a ganache glaze (made with dark chocolate). It’s really important when you make ganaches and chocolate glazes with real chocolate to use the best types of chocolate that have good flavour because the chocolate is the star in a ganache. 

nine double chocolate donuts that are chocolate cake donuts topped with chocolate ganache glaze and chocolate sprinkles

Toppings for baked donuts

If you want to add fun toppings on your donuts, start with a glazed donuts and make sure to sprinkle the topping on quickly, before the glaze has time to set. This way the toppings will adhere well to the surface of the glaze without ruining the shine. You can use any of the following toppings:

  • rainbow sprinkles
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • chopped nuts or flaked almonds
  • shredded coconut or flaked
  • colourful kids cereal

Image of making baked donuts in vintage donut pans, dipped in shallow dish of chocolate glaze and coated with sliced almonds in a scoop

Storing and freezing baked donuts

Like with many baked goods, donuts, whether baked or fried, are truly best consumed the day they are made, or up to a day later. After that, they go stale and the texture isn’t great.

I wouldn’t recommend freezing baked donuts either, especially if you’ve glazed and decorated them with sprinkles, which may melt/dissolve from the humidity as the glaze defrosts. If you must freeze them, perhaps do so before any glaze is applied to the top.

For sugar-coated baked donuts,  you might want to try freezing the donuts un-coated with sugar, then once defrosted, brush them with melted butter and coat with sugar. The butter will help the sugar adhere and will freshen up the flavour/texture on the surface.

Three mini baked pumpkin donuts with a white glaze and red, orange, and yello sprinkles on top

baked donuts

27 Responses to Baked donuts

  1. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie February 29, 2012 at 6:44 PM #

    How fun that you have individual pans for each doughnut. I actually saw a set of these at an antique store over the weekend and would’ve bought them had I not already owned a doughnut pan.

  2. Cake March 1, 2012 at 12:50 AM #

    These sound fantastic. This post also reminded me that I had those little individual pans… and I think I gave them away. Damn. Great doughnuts, though.

  3. Kiri W. March 1, 2012 at 1:46 AM #

    Oh how neat, I’ve never seen little pans like that! Looks like a wonderful batch!

  4. Medeja March 1, 2012 at 5:34 AM #

    Yeah.. I also think that it’s intriguing and really great idea to bake doughnuts. It’s different.. but I’m sure they tasted great 🙂

  5. MyFudo™ March 1, 2012 at 8:39 AM #

    Doughnuts are always a treat…Baked doughnuts? Double treat! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  6. Gustia March 1, 2012 at 8:42 AM #

    I found your doughnut recipe just in time. We rarely eat doughnuts but there’s a shop about 20 minutes away in Ventimiglia, Italy that makes deep fried doughnuts (ciambelle) that are worth the calories. Last night I was considering buying a deep fryer to duplicate them. Who knows what that could have led to? I’m going to try your recipe today. Thanks for saving us!

  7. Baker Street March 1, 2012 at 10:54 AM #

    I’d love baked donuts! Where did you find those cute baking pans! They are adorable.

    • Jan March 1, 2012 at 4:54 PM #

      I raided my mom’s cupboards and found them. At first, neither one of us knew what they were, go figure 😉

  8. Jo March 1, 2012 at 6:32 PM #

    These look good, lovely photos! i’ve ever made doughnuts as i don’t have the right pans but since you mention you piped the mixture i’m wondering whether it would be possible to pipe ‘rings’ straight onto a baking sheet, or would they just loose shape and spread too much?

    • Jan March 2, 2012 at 2:01 PM #

      Thanks, Jo! I think, if I didn’t have doughnut pans, I’d bake this recipe in a muffin pan (or even a mini muffin pan). Good luck 🙂

  9. El March 6, 2012 at 3:10 AM #

    I’ve never tried baked before. The look great.

  10. [email protected] March 8, 2012 at 5:57 PM #

    These look very very very very yummy – and I will try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  11. DanceMamaE March 9, 2012 at 4:04 AM #

    Has anyone tried using low-fat or non-fat sour cream? Or non-fat plain yogurt? I know baking them makes them less fat laden, but can they be a wee bit healthier? Just wondering.

    • Jan March 9, 2012 at 4:57 AM #

      I completely agree with you that, though baking is a little healthier than frying, this recipe isn’t exactly healthy. Lol!
      I think low- (even non-) fat yogurt or sour cream would work (never tried it in this recipe though). The doughnuts might be slightly less moist from the lower fat content.

  12. Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen March 9, 2012 at 6:15 AM #

    I, too am very excited in baked doughnuts. Could it taste as moist as one that is fried…

  13. Crafty March 19, 2012 at 12:46 AM #

    I wonder how greek yogurt (dense, yet healthy) would work in these? Now I have to find a donut pan to be able to TRY it!

    • Jan March 21, 2012 at 3:58 AM #

      I honestly haven’t tried greek yogurt in this recipe but I think it’s definitely worth a try! Let me know how it goes!

  14. ByBy March 28, 2012 at 5:43 PM #

    Great blog, great recipes! I’m definitely following you!
    I love doughnuts, but frying is not my favorite process, so I’ve been trying different baked doughnut recipes. You can see my last try ( and so far my favorite) here :
    Next time I’ll try your recipe!

  15. Westside Soapworks August 20, 2013 at 10:20 PM #

    I have been on the lookout for a donut pan and didn’t find one anywhere. This past weekend I was at a local thrift shop and found a package of 16 of the individual “pans” for $2.99. I am def giving this recipe a whirl – thanks so much for posting. They sound so, so good!!

    • Janice Lawandi August 21, 2013 at 3:50 AM #

      Awesome! What a steal!
      Hope you enjoy the recipe and get lots of good use out of your new babies 😉

  16. Katie Johnson April 22, 2014 at 6:47 PM #

    Very yummy recipe! I just got a doughnut pan & tried your recipe. I covered half with sugar & half with a glaze. Thanks!

  17. Ronie April 18, 2015 at 3:36 AM #

    It looks greate, but i have yo make a lot for my dougther’s birthday.
    Can i make it a day or more before and put in the frizzer??

    • Janice April 18, 2015 at 1:17 PM #

      Hi Ronie, I have honestly never tried freezing these doughnuts, but they really do taste best the day they are made.


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