These baked donut holes are delicious and easy to make - no frying involved! Light and fluffy dough is combined with two topping options of cinnamon sugar and a classic glaze.
You don't even need a special donut hole pan, but can also use a mini muffin pan to make these homemade donut holes. It's much easier to make for a quick sweet treat than actual donuts!
If you love apple cider donut holes, I give an edit for that for fall. It's an extremely versatile recipe and one that is perfect for a special breakfast meal.
Why You'll Love Baked Donut Holes
Whether you're intimidated by frying dough in oil, don't want to mess with the clean up, or you just want to save a few calories, you'll love these baked donut holes. It's a lot of the same flavors without the fuss and no yeast required either.
- Easy to customize - You can make these with a cinnamon sugar coating, glazed donut holes, or apple cider spiced. They also work well with gluten free flour.
- Healthier than fried - By baking these, you save about 30-40 calories per donut hole.
- Less mess - Without hot oil splattering everywhere, you have an easier clean up.
- Fun to make - These just require a mini muffin pan or a donut hole pan so they're great to make with kids.
- All purpose flour - I like to use Gold Medal or White Wings. Bob's Red Mill Organic is another good one. Gluten free flour can be substituted as well using ½ oat flour and ½ brown rice flour or Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour Substitute.
- Sugar - Regular white cane sugar works for this recipe.
- Applesauce - Provides a great texture to the homemade donut holes.
- Milk - I used whole milk, but you can replace it with your favorite milk substitute or even apple cider for more apple flavor.
- Egg - One large egg or substitute with ¼ cup additional applesauce.
- Baking powder and baking soda - For best results make sure these are fresh.
- Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla
For the cinnamon sugar topping - Extra white sugar, butter, and cinnamon are needed.
For the glaze topping - Use powdered sugar and either full fat milk or apple cider.
Step by Step Instructions
Just a few steps and you have the most delicious homemade donut holes!
Step 1 - Mix together dry ingredients
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and butter or grease a 24 count mini muffin pan or donut hole pan. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Step 2 - Stir in the wet ingredients
Stir in the egg, milk, applesauce, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Whisking until just combined. Some lumps can remain - just do not overmix as this will leave the donut holes more dense.
Step 3 - Pour batter into pan
Pour the batter into the greased donut hole or mini muffin pan and bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes or until the donut holes have puffed up and are light brown on the edges. Place them on a baking rack to cool.
Step 4 - Make the toppings
Create the cinnamon sugar topping by melting butter in the microwave in 20 second intervals till fully melted. Stir it together with the cinnamon and sugar, and roll the donut holes in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk or apple cider until smooth and drippy. Dip the tops of the donut holes into the mixture and then allow the glaze to cool and harden on the baking rack.
How to Make Apple Cider Donut Holes
This original recipe was created by Jennifer Bragdon and it was for apple cider donut holes. I updated it recently to make it more versatile for all times of year! But if you'd like to make these fall-spiced, here's the original recipe.
For apple cider - Look for an alcohol-free, dark, freshly pressed juice that contains visible sediment at the bottom of the jug. Spiced apple cider is fine too. You can usually find it in the cold case located in the produce section of the grocery store, rather than in the juice aisle.
Start by simmering 1 ½ cups apple cider with 2 cloves in a small saucepan over med-low heat for about 20 minutes. You should have at least ½ cup remaining. Remove the cloves and measure out to ½ cup. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool. Use this apple cider reduction in place of the milk, use ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.
Gluten Free Option
Make these baked donut holes gluten free by combining half oat flour with half brown rice flour. I've made both ways and it's wonderful! The gluten free version occasionally takes a bit longer to cook than the all purpose flour, so plan on an extra 5 minutes or so.
You can also use Bob's Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour Substitute.
Glazed or Cinnamon Sugar?
The recipe for the glaze makes 12 donut holes, so just enough for you to coat half. Usually people like to have a mix of options!
Glazed donut holes - these are the traditional sugar coating that hardens as it cools. I like to add a little bit of vanilla extract to the recipe for flavor, but fresh vanilla bean would be even better!
Cinnamon sugar - This buttery cinnamon sugar coating is so great for fall. It has a slight crunch on the outside from the sugar!
- You can mix and match the different coatings, or try a new favorite. These would be amazing drizzled with melted white chocolate, or mix pumpkin spice seasoning with sugar. A simple powdered sugar dusting would work as well.
- These can be made into larger muffins or donuts, you may need to just double the baking time.
- This recipe makes 24 donut holes.
- For a light and fluffy dough, make sure to not overmix, which will take all the air out and make the donut holes more dense. A few lumps can remain!
Obviously these are best served fresh and warm, but donut holes will keep up to 3 days in an air tight container at room temperature. You can refrigerate them, but they tend to dry out.
To freeze - Cool donut holes completely and place into a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, leave at room temperature for about 1 hour. If your intention is to freeze, I recommend waiting to coat them till after defrosted.
Gifting - If giving a large batch, cool donut holes completely and place them into the container, separating layers with parchment paper.
What to Serve with Baked Donut Holes
These could classify as a dessert, but they're really best for a special breakfast or brunch. They would be amazing with these other recipes:
Frequently Asked Questions
It's very easy! If you don't want to buy a donut hole pan you can use a mini muffin pan. I've even seen some people fill a regular muffin pan with tin foil to create a smaller inner section, but that seems like a lot of work.
Typically fried donut holes, the kind you traditionally get at a donut shop, are lighter in texture and also contain yeast. With baked donut holes, they're still light, but not quite as airy and they also contain fewer calories. They have more of a cakey texture.
Yes, I would recommend using oat milk for a milk substitute (or apple cider) and using ghee or Earth Balance pressed oils for the cinnamon sugar coating. This will also make the recipe vegan.
If you love these baked donut holes, you'll love some of these other fall baking and brunch recipes!
Baked Donut Holes
- 1⅓ cups all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cinnamon Sugar Topping - Covers 12 donut holes.
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons milk or apple cider
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray with oil or butter a 24 count donut hole pan or a mini muffin pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add milk, egg, applesauce, and vanilla and stir till just combined, making sure not to overmix. A few lumps can remain. Spoon the batter evenly into 24 mini muffin cups, about 2-3 teaspoons each, just enough to fill the cup.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 7-9 minutes, till just puffed up and very lightly browned on the edges.
- Let the donut holes cool for 5 minutes then gently remove them from the pan and place them onto a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath. This will catch all of the drippings from the toppings.
- Set aside the melted butter, and whisk sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. In a third bowl, whisk powdered sugar, milk (start with 2 teaspoons and add 3 as needed), and vanilla till smooth. For the cinnamon sugar donut holes, dip them in the melted butter and then roll them into the cinnamon sugar to coat evenly. Set on the baking rack. Dip the donut holes into the glaze or drizzle it on top.
- For gluten free use ⅔rd cup of oat flour and ⅔rd cup of brown rice flour or Bob's 1:1 substitute. Bake 10-12 minutes.
- I find the amount of liquid needed for the glaze varies greatly with readers. Perhaps it's the milk being used - I haven't figured it out. Some only need 2, some closer to 3. You can adjust the glaze by adding more powdered sugar if it's too thin, or more milk if it's not transforming into a glaze.
- For apple cider spiced - Start by simmering 1 ½ cups apple cider with 2 cloves in a small saucepan over med-low heat for about 20 minutes. You should have at least ½ cup remaining. Remove the cloves and measure out to ½ cup. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool. Use in place of milk and add ¾ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg in place of the current measurements.
- See post for serving suggestions. Donut holes freeze great up to 3 months.
This post was originally created in 2018 as Gluten Free Apple Cider Donut Holes. The recipe has since been changed, but if you preferred the original, it is typed in the post. Recipe updates, new photos, and instructions have been added September 2022.