Every so often during our childhood, usually on Saturday mornings when we didn’t have soccer or basketball games, our parents would treat my brother and me to a special donut breakfast. We’d walk to the little mom-and-pop shop about a mile away from our house, bright and early before the rest of the neighborhood woke up, to pick out our treats.
As soon as we walked through the door, we ran over to the long glass display case filled with hundreds of pastries. The “kid-sized” donuts sat on the top shelf on the far right, closest to the entrance, a few rows above the bite-sized donut holes.
After careful consideration of each donut’s sprinkles — chocolate, rainbow, or festively themed (red, white, and blue stars in July, green Christmas trees in December, that sort of thing!) — we’d point to the exact donuts we wanted… Which generally were the ones with the most sprinkles! Always incredibly sweet, the owner would grab a pair of tongs and hover them over the pastries we pointed to, just to make sure we received the exact sprinkle-topped donuts we asked for.
As little kids, that was a huge deal… Not all of the donuts were evenly covered in those sprinkles!
On extra special occasions, our parents let us eat our treats in the shop, rather than carrying them home in a white paper bag. The owner put each of our donuts on a small plate and handed us little round glass bottles of apple juice, and we walked over to one of the booths with bright red vinyl-covered seats to happily enjoy every last crumb of our donuts.
Back then, we were picky eaters and gravitated towards the plain flavors of vanilla, chocolate, or a combination of the two. Vanilla with vanilla glaze, chocolate with chocolate glaze, vanilla with chocolate glaze… We didn’t really mind as long as the donuts had lots of sprinkles and we weren’t required to share a bite with our parents!
During one of my last few trips back home, my parents and I reminisced about that cute little donut shop and our favorite donut flavors. Although I became much more adventurous as I grew up, I still love cake-style donuts the most, like the ones we purchased from that store.
And with fall finally starting to arrive here in California, those memories inspired me to bake these Healthy Pumpkin Donuts with Vanilla Bean Glaze when I returned home! They’re so soft and moist with lots of cozy pumpkin and warm spice flavors, and I topped them with a deliciously sweet vanilla glaze as a nod to some of my favorite childhood donuts.
Yet unlike those ones from my past… These are baked, not fried! And with how comforting and rich they taste, you’d never believe they’re 36 calories!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY PUMPKIN DONUTS
Let’s go over how to make these healthy pumpkin donuts! You’ll start with white whole wheat flour and homemade pumpkin spice. Remember, white whole wheat flour has the same health benefits as regular whole wheat flour — just a lighter taste and texture! This is because they come from different varieties of wheat. White whole wheat flour is made from white wheat, whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from red wheat. (And no, white whole wheat flour doesn’t contain any all-purpose “white” flour!)
Hint: It’s similar to the difference between red and green grapes! Same health benefits, slightly different flavors.
I prefer homemade pumpkin spice, rather than store-bought, because I love a smaller ratio of cinnamon to the other spices. By increasing the amount of the other spices besides cinnamon in pumpkin spice, you get a much stronger and richer flavor! For these healthy pumpkin donuts, you’ll need cinnamon (← that type is my favorite!), ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves.
Hint: Pumpkin spice is short for “pumpkin pie spice” — aka the spices that are used to make pumpkin pie. So pumpkin spice doesn’t actually contain any pumpkin!
Unlike most other baked donut recipes, you only need ½ tablespoon of butter or coconut oil to make these. That really helps keep your healthy pumpkin donuts low calorie and low fat! However, they still turn out really moist, cakey, and tender thanks to…
Pumpkin and Greek yogurt! If you’ve browsed through my recipes before, then you know how much I love using Greek yogurt in my baked goods. It adds the same moisture as extra butter or oil but for a fraction of the calories, and it gives these healthy pumpkin donuts a protein boost, too!
The pumpkin actually plays three roles in these healthy donuts. (What an overachiever! 😉 ) Flavor… Moisture… And an egg replacer! That’s right. These healthy pumpkin donuts are egg-free. No eggs required! To make my life easy, I use store-bought canned pumpkin purée. Just make sure it’s the regular kind, not pumpkin pie mix!
To sweeten your healthy pumpkin donuts, you’ll use liquid stevia. Stevia is a plant-based, no-calorie sweetener that contains nothing refined or artificial (aka it’s clean eating friendly!). It’s also really concentrated… You just need 1 ½ teaspoons to sweeten this entire batch of donuts!
Hint: Many brands and stevia products have slightly different sweetness levels, so I recommend using the same one I do for the best results. I buy it online here, and you’ll use it in all of these recipes of mine, too. (It’s not a “one-recipe” type of ingredient — I promise!)
HOW TO BAKE HEALTHY PUMPKIN DONUTS
Now that you’ve mixed together your batter, it’s time to bake your healthy pumpkin donuts! First, you’ll need some donut molds. I bought mine online here! I have four of them, and I love how they’re really durable and super easy to use.
Hint: Because my favorite donut mold pans are silicone, they’re a bit floppy… So I just set them on a metal cookie sheet to make it easier to slide them into and out of the oven!
To quickly fill your donut molds (without making a big mess!), place a gallon-sized zip-top bag into a big tumbler. (I use the souvenir soda cups I’ve gotten from baseball games… They’re the perfect size!) Transfer your batter into the bag, cut off one corner, and pipe the batter into your donut mold pans.
Super easy, right??
HOW TO MAKE SUGAR FREE VANILLA BEAN GLAZE
This glaze is totally optional. I think the donuts taste excellent without it, but… I think the glaze turns them from “Yum!” to “WOW HOLY COW THESE ARE AMAZING!” So for me? It just depends on how motivated (or lazy!) I’m feeling! 😉
This healthy vanilla bean glaze is incredibly easy to make! Simply stir together confectioners’ style erythritol (← I buy it online there!), vanilla bean paste (← I buy it online there too!), and milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency. That’s right… No powdered sugar here!
Usually, I aim for a glaze that’s thick enough to dip and also stays put on the tops of these healthy pumpkin donuts, but… I got distracted and added a bit too much milk for this particular batch that I photographed. However, I actually loved how that classic fully-glazed donut look turned out for these, so I just went with it — even though it did make a bit of a mess! 😉
After eating a plate of these delicious little gems… I know that my childhood picky eater self would’ve reached for seconds, even without any sprinkles on top! 😉
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy pumpkin donuts with vanilla bean glaze!
Healthy Pumpkin Donuts with Vanilla Bean Glaze
FOR THE DONUTS
- 2 cups (240g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 4 ¼ tsp homemade pumpkin spice (see Notes!)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tbsp (7g) coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tsp liquid stevia
- ¾ cup (183g) pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix!)
- ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt, room temperature
- ¾ cup +1 tbsp (195mL) nonfat milk, room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and lightly coat 31 mini donut cups with nonstick cooking spray.
- To prepare the donuts, whisk together the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, vanilla extract, and liquid stevia. Stir in the pumpkin and Greek yogurt. Stir ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of milk. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and remaining milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.)
- Transfer the batter to a large zip-topped plastic bag, and cut off one corner, Pipe the batter into the prepared donut cups. Bake at 350°F for 15-17 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch. Cool in the muffin cups for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Just before serving, prepare the glaze. Stir together the confectioners’ style erythritol, vanilla bean paste, and milk (use less milk for a thicker glaze, or use more milk for a thinner glaze). Working with one donut at a time, dip one side into the glaze, gently shake the donut to remove the excess, and return to the wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining donuts and glaze.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Information
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Waffles
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy pumpkin recipes and healthy donut recipes!
And now for some exciting news… I’m giving away a set of brand new mini donut pans so you can make these pumpkin donuts! To enter, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter box below. It sometimes takes a few minutes to load, so be patient! After logging in with your email address or Facebook account, enter using as many options as you’d like.
*Donut Pan Giveaway will be open until 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time on October 14, 2019. Open to the US only. Must be 18 years or older and have a valid email address to enter. Winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond, or else a new winner will be selected.