Desserts / Snacks

Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake Donuts

I have a very important announcement… I believe this may be my last pumpkin recipe of the season! It’s been a fun series but I’m now getting ready for some Christmas treats (yay!). And I managed to save one of my favorite recipes for last. These donuts are so delicious and so fun to make, and they’re pretty open for customization.

There is a reason that this is my very first donut recipe: I don’t love frying things. It’s usually very messy and, especially here in Hawaii, it can be a very hot and sweaty process. You’re probably asking: “Why don’t you just bake them?” Well, I personally don’t think baked donuts even compare to fried donuts. Yes, they’re so much worse for you, but the crispiness that frying gives them is worth the extra calories.

I found these donuts to be so much easier than I originally expected. Making the dough itself is a pretty straightforward process (wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and combine) and the actual frying goes by quickly. It’s a basic buttermilk cake donut base, just with added pumpkin and spices. The dough needs to be chilled in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, as it makes it much easier to roll out flat and cut into donut shapes.

I chose to make three different toppings for my donuts: a chocolate glaze, a vanilla glaze, and a cinnamon-sugar coating. I did not include a recipe for the cinnamon sugar (literally just put sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss the donuts with it), but I did include both glazes. My personal favorite is the classic vanilla glaze, but all three were delicious, so it’s up to you!

You may notice that this recipe makes donuts for a crowd. 45 donuts seem like a lot and I did not seek to make so many in one batch! I didn’t have a donut cutter so I used biscuit cutters instead. These made slightly smaller donuts, about 2 1/2-inch across, which is why the dough made so many servings. Unless you are planning on giving these away or eating 45 donuts by yourself, then I’d recommend halving this recipe.

These are best eaten the day of, as they start to lose their crisp exterior by the next day. However, you can store these in an airtight container for 5-6 days, possibly even longer in the fridge. This is such a fun project, especially with the family during the holidays. Add your favorite sprinkles or toppings, but you really can’t go wrong with these pumpkin buttermilk cake donuts.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake Donuts

For my last pumpkin recipe of the season, we're making pumpkin buttermilk donuts! These are really fun to make and super customizable for whatever toppings you prefer. A great dessert to share with family and friends this holiday season!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 45 small donuts


For the donut:

  • 4 cups flour (plus extra if needed)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (plus 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (blotted)
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 6 cups vegetable oil

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp water

For the vanilla glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp water


Make the donuts:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and spices.
  • Blot the pumpkin puree with paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture.
  • In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, and eggs until smooth and well combined. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. You can do this in a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or just with a whisk/wooden spoon. Your dough should be moist and slightly tacky. If it's too wet, just keep adding flour until your dough comes together.
  • Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Toward the end of chilling time, start to heat the vegetable oil in a large pot.

Make the glaze:

  • While the donut dough is chilling, prepare the glaze. I made a chocolate glaze, vanilla glaze, and cinnamon sugar, but feel free to just double one of the recipes.
  • For the chocolate glaze: In a small bowl, sift together the sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the water and vanilla. Keep whisking until the glaze is smooth and pourable. If the glaze is too thick, add more water a little at a time.
  • For the vanilla glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar, water, and vanilla extract. Add more water or powdered sugar until you achieve a thin, pourable glaze.

Cook your donuts:

  • On a well-floured surface, roll out your donut dough to a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a donut cutter, or different sized biscuit/cookie cutters, cut out your donuts and donut holes. Gather the scraps to roll out and cut again. Continue until you've used all your dough.
  • Score your donuts by cutting three slices on the top, in the rough shape of a triangle.
  • Check that your oil is ready for frying. Take a small piece of scrap dough and place it inside. It should bubble and eventually rise to the surface if it's ready.
  • Fry your donuts, scored side up, a couple at a time (depends on the size of your pot, but somewhere between 3-6 donuts at a time). Let the donuts rise to the surface and flip them until they are golden brown on each side (approximately 1 minute on each side). Test your oil every few batches to make sure it's still at an appropriate temperature.
  • Let donuts cool on a wire rack with something underneath, since excess oil may still drip off. Your donuts should be a deep brown color and crisp on the outside. Cut into one to ensure that it's cooked all the way through and not doughy.
  • While donuts are still slightly warm, dip in the glaze of your choice. Return to the wire rack to let the glaze dry. If you want to coat your donuts in cinnamon sugar instead, just toss them in a bowl with the mixture while still warm.
  • Repeat the process until you have fried and glazed all of your donuts. Let cool and enjoy!
Keyword cakedonut, chocolateglaze, donut, pumpkin, pumpkindonut, vanillaglaze

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