A quick and easy pumpkin donut recipe that is perfect for those chilly fall mornings. Tossed in sugar and spice, these donuts have all the flavors of fall!
Fall is the perfect time of year to make all things pumpkin! I love having a good and acceptable excuse to serve pumpkin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner- oh, and don’t forget dessert!
These donuts are so delicious, but better yet, they are easy to make. In less than an hour, you’ll have warm, scrumptious donuts ready to serve your family!
To make these donuts:
- The oil will take a while to heat up, so get it started while you make the dough for the donuts. Pour enough oil into a large pot to give you about an inch of oil. Heat the oil to 365°F, over medium-high heat. You must use a thermometer – no guesswork allowed here! Use a frying thermometer or a candy thermometer to ensure proper temperature. While the oil is heating, you can prepare the donuts (keep an eye on the oil temperature).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all of your dry ingredients: flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together all of your wet ingredients: pumpkin, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted butter.
- Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture; using a fork, mix until combined. Do not over-mix. If the dough is too wet, you can add more flour. Start with adding 1 tablespoon, and mix. If you still need more, repeat by adding another tablespoon of flour. The dough should be sticky but easy to work with.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ½-inch thickness with a floured rolling pin. Then, using a 2 ¾-inch pastry cutter and a 1-inch pastry cutter, cut out donuts and donut holes, placing cut donuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or cutting board. Re-roll as needed to use all the dough. You can use a bigger donut cutter, but keep in mind the recipe will yield fewer donuts than the recipe indicates.
- Once your oil has reached 365°F, place no more than 3 donuts in the oil at a time, or you run the risk of cooling your oil too much. Fry for about 2 minutes, flipping once after 1 minute. Donuts are done when they are golden brown on both sides. Move to a paper towel-lined cooling rack to cool. **Keep an eye on your oil temperature and adjust the heat up or down to maintain a temperature of 355°F to 365°F.** (See Tips and Tricks below for more information on frying).
- Allow fried donuts to cool for 1 minute before rolling them in the sugar. Be sure to coat all sides. If you allow them to cool too much, the sugar will not stick to the donuts.
- Continue the process until all donuts are fried and coated with sugar.
- Fry donut holes using the same method, frying no more than 12 at a time.
Tips and Tricks:
Tools: You’ll need to be able to cut out your donuts. You can buy a donut cutter to cut out the donut and donut hole simultaneously. These tend to measure from 3 inches to 3 1/2 inches, so you will get fewer donuts. The cutter I use is 2 3/4 inches. Or you can use pastry cutters. I have a set of pastry cutters with 12 different sizes of circular cutters. I find that the 2 3/4-inch cutter and the smallest 1-inch cutter make the perfect size donuts and donut holes. They will be smaller than the large bakery donuts, but then I can have two and not feel too guilty about it! You can always make larger donuts, but remember, this recipe will yield fewer donuts than the recipe indicates. You can always whip up another batch if you need a few more donuts, as this recipe is so quick and easy to make.
Dough: Donut dough should be sticky but not so sticky that you find it hard to work with. The key is flour. If the dough seems a bit sticky, add a little flour no more than a tablespoon at a time. Also, it is important that you lightly flour the surface you plan on rolling the dough out on – including the top of the dough and the rolling pin. Before you use the cutters, dip them in flour. After cutting two or three donuts, dip the cutters in flour again to keep the dough from sticking. Once you cut the donuts, place them on a cutting board or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The dough will not stick to the parchment paper.
Frying: *Honest moment* Frying things in oil used to intimidate me. But I’ve done it enough times that I am pretty comfortable with it now. Just use common sense and be careful. Here are a couple of tips on frying:
- First, the temperature is so important! When frying anything in oil, you’ll have to use a frying thermometer or candy thermometer. You’ll also have to know the temperature of your oil to cook the food correctly. If your oil is not hot enough, your food will be under-cooked. If the oil is too hot, you will burn your food. For frying donuts, you’ll want your oil to be between 355F and 365F. The hardest part of making donuts is keeping your oil between those two temperatures. You will discover that your temperature will drop as soon as you put the donuts in the oil. That is why you should never fry more than three donuts at a time because your temperature will drop too low. Just keep a close eye on your thermometer, and take the time to adjust the oil temperature. If you need to, wait a few minutes between batches to allow your oil to get back to 365F. But you also don’t want to put your donuts in oil over 365F because they will be overcooked on the outside and most likely undercooked on the inside. If your oil is getting too hot, you can carefully remove it from the burner for a few minutes to let the oil cool down.
- Never drop the donuts into the hot oil! You will get splashed and burned. Most people, myself included, assume that the oil will sizzle and pop when you add the donuts, kind of like the trials of frying bacon. However, if the temperature is correct (not too hot), when you put the donuts in the hot oil, they will sizzle, but under the surface, and it will not splatter or spit at you. The technique I use is to simply lay the donuts gently in the oil. They will initially sink to the bottom, but they will float to the top after a few seconds.
- Flip the donuts after about a minute or when they are golden brown. You will need something to flip and remove the donuts from the oil when they are done. A pair of forks will work or even a large meat fork. They even make a tool called a spider strainer made for frying food. The strainer looks like a spider web, hence the name.
- When you are done frying your donuts, don’t throw the oil out! You can reuse it. Once you’ve finished frying, let the oil cool. When it’s reached a safe temperature, place a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth (even better if you use both!) over the container you plan to store it in and strain the oil. Label the oil with the date and what you fried in the oil; you don’t want to fry donuts in oil that previously was used for frying fish…gross! Store the oil in a cool, dry place for no longer than 3 months. Always check your oil before reusing it. If it is cloudy or rancid smelling, throw it out!
The one downside to donuts is that they don’t make good leftovers. They just don’t taste the same the next day. I have tried heating them in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds to see if I could revive them. It helped a little, but they were not as good as a freshly made donut. So I would not recommend making these with the intent to have leftovers, but instead, make as many as you think you will eat for breakfast that morning.
Pumpkin Spice Donuts
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4-5 cups vegetable oil, for frying (see notes)
For Coating Donuts:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Pour enough oil into a large pot to give you about an inch of oil. Heat the oil to 365°F, over medium-high heat. Use a frying thermometer or a candy thermometer to ensure proper temperature. While oil is heating, prepare donuts, keeping an eye on the oil temperature.
- In a small bowl, mix ½ cup sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg (for dipping finished donuts in). Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted butter.
- Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, and using a fork, mix just until combined. Do not over mix.
- On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll dough to ½-inch thickness. The dough is sticky, so be generous with the flour. Then, using a 2¾-inch pastry cutter and a 1-inch pastry cutter, cut out donuts and donut holes, placing cut donuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or cutting board. Re-roll as needed to use all the dough.
- Once your oil has reached 365°F, place no more than 3 donuts in the oil at a time (or you run the risk of cooling your oil too much). Fry for about 2 minutes, flipping once. Donuts are done when they are golden brown on both sides. Move to a paper towel-lined cooling rack to cool. **Keep an eye on your oil temperature and adjust the heat up or down to maintain a temperature of 355°F to 365°F.**
- Allow fried donuts to cool for 1 minute before dipping them in sugar and spices, coating all sides.
- Continue the process until all donuts are fried and coated with sugar.
- Fry donut holes using the same method, frying no more than 10 at a time.