Vegan Donuts

published Feb 12, 2022
Vegan Donuts Recipe

After making these vegan donuts, you won't miss the dairy version.

Serves10 to 14

Prep20 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Six vegan donuts on a wooden cutting board with various toppings.
Credit: Tara Holland

Traditional yeasted donuts usually contain eggs, milk, and sometimes butter, but these vegan donuts will even fool your dairy-loving friends and family.

If you replace the eggs and dairy that would typically be in a traditional donut recipe with dairy-free alternatives, you can have a donut that’s just as delicious. The key is to make smart swaps! Here’s how to make the best vegan donuts.

How to Make Donuts Vegan

When replacing the milk with a non-dairy alternative, choose a lighter “milk,” like almond or beverage (not canned) coconut milk, as some oat milks may be a little heavy. To replace the eggs, you need an emulsifying ingredient that has a similar consistency. Below are some examples. 

Credit: Tara Holland

Do I Need Any Special Equipment to Make Vegan Donuts?

Some donut recipes are made with a batter similar to cakes, using baking powder and baking soda as leaveners. Making it this way yields a much runnier batter, which needs to be scooped into a donut mold tray, as it would be impossible to cut into shapes.

The recipe below is made with a more traditional yeasted dough, which admittedly takes longer to make, but is worth the effort. The dough is rolled out and cut with either a donut cutter or using 2 regular round pastry cutters (one of them should be around 3 to 3 1/2 inches for the outer ring, and 1 inch for the inner center, which creates the donut holes).

The Secret to the Best Vegan Donuts

This recipe does not need any special treatment compared to a regular donut, apart from substituting the dairy ingredients. This recipe has a touch of apple cider vinegar, which is a great way to add lightness to doughs due to the acidity creating a chemical reaction to leaveners, such as yeast, baking soda, or baking powder. You create the dough in a stand mixer, allow it to proof for 1 1/2 hours, roll, cut, proof it for another 45 minutes, then shallow-fry the donuts in oil to get that deep golden-brown color. Once the donuts have cooled slightly, either dip them in vegan butter and cinnamon-sugar or top them with a vanilla glaze and sprinkle with shredded sweetened coconut. Or why not do both?

Vegan Donuts Recipe

After making these vegan donuts, you won't miss the dairy version.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 10 to 14

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the donuts:

  • 5 tablespoons

    vegan butter

  • 1 cup

    unsweetened coconut milk from a carton (not a can), or unsweetened almond milk

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet

    active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 1

    small ripe banana (about 5 ounces)

  • 2 teaspoons

    apple cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 4 cups

    all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting

  • 4 to 5 cups

    vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus more for greasing

Option 1: Coconut Cream Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoons

    beverage coconut milk or almond milk

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 packed cups

    sweetened, shredded coconut

Option 2: Cinnamon Sugar

  • 5 tablespoons

    vegan butter

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

Equipment

Instructions

Make the donuts:

  1. Place 5 tablespoons vegan butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted, about 30 seconds. (Alternatively, melt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.) Let cool slightly.

  2. Heat 1 cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk in a small saucepan over low heat until warm to the touch (about 110℉). (Alternatively, microwave the milk until warm, about 15 seconds.) Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of the granulated sugar (from the 1/3 cup), and stir to combine. Let sit until foamy, 6 to 7 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, place 1 small ripe banana in the bowl of a stand mixer and mash with a fork until almost liquified. Add the butter, remaining granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until well-blended, about 2 minutes.

  4. Reduce the speed to low and add the yeast mixture. With the mixer still on low, gradually add 3 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour in 1/4-cup increments, waiting until the flour is incorporated or the lumps have disappeared before adding the next increment. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  5. Switch to the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and mix until the dough is tacky, becomes more elastic, and comes away slightly from the sides of the bowl but still sticks a bit to the bottom, about 2 minutes.

  6. Lightly coat a large bowl with vegetable oil. Scrape the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

  7. Dust a large unrimmed baking sheet or work surface with all-purpose flour. Transfer the dough onto the flour, sprinkle light with more flour, and knead for 1 minute, dusting with more flour as needed if sticking. Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Using a 3- to 3 1/2-inch round cutter (or a donut cutter), cut out rounds as close together as possible, dipping the cutter in flour before each cut. Using a bench scraper or spatula, transfer the cut donuts to the edge of the baking sheet, spacing them 1-inch apart. Using a 1-inch cutter, cut out centers. If the dough is soft and delicate, use your hands to shape them back into rounds if needed.

  8. Gather the dough scraps into a ball and repeat rolling and cutting out more donuts and donut holes. Loosely cover the donuts with plastic wrap and let rise until puffed and slightly risen, about 30 minutes.

  9. About 10 minutes before the donuts are ready, heat 4 to 5 cups vegetable oil in a large cast iron or high-sided skillet (use enough oil to go 1-inch up the sides) over medium-high heat to 360ºF. Meanwhile, line fit a wire rack onto a baking sheet, then line the rack with paper towels.

  10. Fry the donuts in batches of 4: Using the bench scraper, carefully transfer the donuts into the hot oil and fry, flipping once, until deep golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towel-lined rack. Add the donut holes to the hot oil and fry, flipping once, until deep golden-brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer to the rack.

Make the coatings:

  1. For the coconut glaze and topping: Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut or almond milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in a shallow bowl and whisk until smooth. Place 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes in a second shallow bowl, separating any flakes that have stuck together.

  2. For the cinnamon sugar topping: Place 5 tablespoons vegan butter in a microwave-safe shallow bowl. Microwave until melted, about 30 seconds. (Alternatively, melt on the stovetop in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and transfer to a shallow bowl.) Place 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a second shallow bowl and whisk to combine.

Glaze the donuts:

  1. Remove the paper towels from underneath the donuts.

  2. For the coconut glaze and topping: Dip and top 1 donut or donut hole at a time: Dip the top of the donut into the glaze, then dip the glazed part into the coconut. Return glaze-side up to the rack. Place the donut hole in the glaze and turn to coat completely, then drop into the shredded coconut and roll and press until completely coated. Return to the rack.

  3. For the cinnamon sugar topping: Coat 1 donut or donut hole at a time: Dip the donut or donut hole in the melted butter and turn or flip to completely coat. Drop into the cinnamon sugar and toss or flip to completely coat. Return to the rack.

  4. Let the donuts and donut holes sit until the coatings are set, about 30 minutes. Donuts are best eaten the day of being made.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dough can be made up to 24 hours in advance and left to rise in the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours before rolling.

Air fried donuts: To air fry the donuts, heat an air fryer to 360ºF. Coat the air fryer basket with coconut oil spray. Place as many donuts and donut holes in the basket as you can so they sit in a single layer with 1/2-inch space between each. Spray the donuts and donut holes with coconut oil spray. Air fry for 4 minutes, flip, and air fry for 2 minutes more. They will have a drier texture than shallow fried, but still delicious!

Storage: Donuts are best eaten on the day they are made.