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.
- All purpose flour – Medium protein all purpose flour makes a donut that has enough structure to puff up in the fryer, but also has a tender crumb.
- Yeast – Yeasted donuts have a more bready and resilient texture than donuts with baking powder.
- Pumpkin Puree – Make sure you use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Canned pumpkin puree is very consistent in flavor and water level. If you use homemade pureed pumpkin make sure it not too wet. Blot the pumpkin with paper towels to remove excess moisture if your puree is very moist.
- Sugar – Just enough sugar is added to lightly sweeten and tenderize the dough. Another layer of spiced sugar adds a sweet finish.
- Spices – If you have a pre-mixed pumpkin spice blend you can use 2 teaspoons of the spice mix in place of the spices listed in the recipe.
How to make Pumpkin Donuts
- Add the yeast to the water and pumpkin puree.
- Knead the dough 5 minutes. It should cling to the hook and clear the sides of the bowl.
- Set the dough aside to rise until doubled in volume.
- Roll the dough to 1/2″ thick.
- Cut the donuts.
- Set the donuts aside to rise until puffy and about 2x as thick.
- Fry the donuts 2-3 minutes.
- Flip to the other side and fry another 2-3 minutes.
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
These donuts are best eaten warm from the fryer or within a few hours of frying.
Yes, you can freeze leftover donuts. Rewarm them in a 200°F oven to refresh. Enjoy them while they’re still warm.
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.
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.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Pumpkin Donut Recipe
- 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
- 1 quarts vegetable oil (for frying)
Make the dough (day 1)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl combine4 oz water, 8 oz pumpkin puree, 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast, 2 oz unsalted butter, 1 egg, and 4 oz 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.
- With the mixer running on low add 1 teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg to the batter. Add the rest of the flour.
- 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 8 oz granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ginger and ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg in a small bowl. Heat 1 quarts vegetable oil to 350 °F in a large heavy pot.
- 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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