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Homemade Pumpkin Donuts

Pumpkin Donuts made with yeast for a light crumb and fried for a crisp crust. Roll them in fragrant pumpkin spice sugar as soon as they come out of the fryer for a super crunchy finish.

Yeasted Donuts vs. Cake Style Donuts:

Donut dough can be leavened either with yeast or with baking powder. The two types of donuts do have different qualities.

Yeast risen donuts have a chewy, bready texture similar to an enriched bread or sweet bun. Because of the yeast, this type of donut is very light and airy.

“Cake style” donuts use baking powder and/or baking soda for leavening. The texture of a cake style donut is more cakey/muffiny than bready. Cake style donuts are a little denser than yeasted donuts.

If I’m going to the trouble of making my own donuts, I will take a little extra time to make them with yeast.

But don’t worry, I’ve developed this recipe so that it can be made overnight for maximum ease. See the FAQ section at the end of this post to learn how to work ahead.

Do Donuts have to be fried?

I know there are a million recipes on the internet for “baked donuts”, but real donuts are fried.

A baked donut is just a little cake with a hole in the middle.

The shape doesn’t make it a donut. The process of frying dough is oil is what makes it a donut.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make yeast-risen Pumpkin Donuts:

a bowl with pumpkin puree and yeast and a bowl with dough hook and pumpkin dough.
1. Add the yeast to the water and pumpkin puree. 2. Knead the dough 5 minutes. It should cling to the hook and clear the sides of the bowl.
two bowls with pumpkin dough before and after rising.
Set the dough aside to rise until doubled in volume.
a circle of pumpkin dough and pumpkin dough with donut cut outs.
Roll the dough to 1/2″ thick. Cut the donuts.
a tray of pumpkin donut dough before and after rising.
Set the donuts aside to rise until puffy and about 2x as thick.
A pot of oil with four donuts frying. A wood spatula lifting donut and flipping it over.
Fry the donuts 2-3 minutes then flip to the other side and fry another 2-3 minutes.
a bowl of sugar with a donut on top. A donut and 4 donut holes on a cooling rack.
Coat the donuts with pumpkin spice sugar as soon as they come out of the fryer. Set them on a rack to cool.

FAQs about making homemade pumpkin donuts with yeast:

Can I use a fresh pumpkin to make this recipe?

I tested the recipe using canned pumpkin puree. Homemade pumpkin puree can be more watery so make sure to drain away as much water as possible if using homemade puree.

Can I make the dough the night before and fry the donuts in the morning?

Yes, there are two ways to work ahead to make this recipe.
1. Make the dough and hold it in the refrigerator up to 24 hours. Proceed with rolling and cutting the donuts as listed in the recipe. This is the best option when you want to work more than 24 hours ahead.
2. Make the dough in the evening. Allow it to rise once then cut the donuts. Place the donuts on a sheet pan in the refrigerator overnight. They should be risen and ready to fry then in the morning. Bring them to room temperature before frying.

Can I freeze donut dough?

Yes, you can freeze the cut donuts (before rising). Put the donuts on a sheet pan in the freezer until they’re frozen solid then pack them into freezer bags. Allow them to defrost and rise at room temp then fry as instructed.
a frozen donut

How long do donuts keep?

These donuts are best eaten warm from the fryer or within a few hours of frying.

Can leftover donuts be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze leftover donuts. Rewarm them in a 200°F oven to refresh. Enjoy them while they’re still warm.
frozen donuts on a sheet pan

We love donuts! Here are more for you to try making at home. Rhubarb Fritters, Sourdough Donuts, Apple Fritter Donuts, Apple Filled Donuts, Apple Cider Donuts.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Print Recipe
5 from 2 reviews

Pumpkin Donut Recipe

Pumpkin donuts made with yeast for a light crumb and fried for a crisp crust. Roll them in pumpkin spice sugar as soon as they come out of the fryer for a super crunchy finish.
Prep Time30 mins
Bake Time20 mins
Rising Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time3 hrs 20 mins
12 donuts



  • 4 oz water (1/2 cup, warm)
  • 8 oz pumpkin puree (1 cup)
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 2 oz unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 egg (room temp)
  • 4 oz granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 17 ½ oz all-purpose flour (3 1/2 cups, divided)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pumpkin Spice Sugar

  • 8 oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil (for frying)


Make the dough (day 1)

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl combine the warm water, pumpkin, yeast, butter, egg and granulated sugar. Add half of the flour and mix until it forms a thick batter. If using a stand mixer switch to the dough hook.
    4 oz water, 8 oz pumpkin puree, 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast, 2 oz unsalted butter, 4 oz granulated sugar, 17 ½ oz all-purpose flour, 1 egg
  • With the mixer running on low add the salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg to the batter. Add the rest of the flour.
    1 teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Knead on medium speed for 5 minutes until the dough clings to the hook and clears the sides of the bowl. If working by hand mix in as much of the flour by hand as you can then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and continue kneading in the remaining flour then knead for 5 minutes. If you have a hard time working with the sticky dough you can sprinkle a few more tablespoons of flour as you knead.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat it with oil. Cover and set the dough aside at room temperature for 1-1 ½ hours until it's doubled in volume. (Alternately, you can put the bowl in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours before making the donuts.)
  • Without kneading the dough (kneading will cause it to spring back as you cut) roll to ½" thick on a lightly floured surface.
  • Use a 3 ½" round cutter to cut donuts. Use a smaller cutter to cut a center hole in each donut. Line the donuts on a well-oiled baking sheet, leaving space between them for the dough to rise (I used 2 baking sheets). Reroll the scraps of dough and continue cutting donuts until all the dough is used up.
  • Brush the tops of the donuts lightly with oil. Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap. If you'd like to make the donuts in the morning refrigerate the donuts overnight. If making the donuts the same day, continue with the next step now. The unrisen donuts can also be frozen at this point.

Make the Donuts (day 1 or 2)

  • Allow the donuts to rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour. The time will vary based on the temperature of the room and the temperature of your dough (if you refrigerated or froze the dough they may take longer to rise).
  • Meanwhile, combine the granulated sugar and spices in a small bowl. Heat the vegetable oil to 350 °F in a large heavy pot.
    8 oz granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 quarts vegetable oil
  • Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy. As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll it in the pumpkin spice sugar to coat. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts.
  • Best eaten slightly warm or within a couple of hours of frying.


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Serving: 1donut | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 118mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 3082IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!
Recipe Rating


Saturday 24th of September 2022

Do you think you could do a baked donut instead of fried.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 24th of September 2022

Yes. It wouldn't be the same. It would be more of a little cake, but it would work.