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29 Healthier Donut Recipes

June 1, 2014
Kate Morin

Who doesn’t love a good donut? Cakey or light, frosted or glazed, filled or in hole form—let’s be honest, donuts are just a (very good) excuse to eat cake for breakfast. But some of those store-bought delights might as well be in the dessert display, given that they can pack up to 52 grams of sugar! Here are 29 recipes to help you make a healthier donut to enjoy (without all that sugar) any day of the week. (Pssst: We might have a little treat for your four-legged friend at the end, too!) 

1. Banana-Chocolate Chip Donuts
A batter made from mashed banana, Greek yogurt, and spelt flour gets studded with dark chocolate chips in this easy recipe. Roll the freshly baked rounds in a mixture of raw cane sugar and cinnamon for an extra-special crunchy and sweet coating.

2. Banana-Blueberry Greek Yogurt Donuts
Mashed banana and Greek yogurt take center stage in this healthier cake donut recipe. Thanks to a few other tasty ingredients and add-ins (chocolate chips or fresh blueberries — you choose!), these little rings are a great way to start (or end) the day.

3. Chocolate-Frosted Bite-Sized Donuts
These miniature donuts are made with whole-wheat flour (higher in fiber!) and sweetened with nothing but coconut milk, agave, vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. The chocolate-spice combo makes for a delightful treat with a little flavor twist.

4. Whole-Wheat Honey-Glazed Donuts
Here’s something you don’t expect to see in a healthier recipe: The word “fried.” These whole-wheat, yogurt, and cinnamon rounds get cooked up in coconut oil for a semi-healthier but still decadent donut treat. The honey-cinnamon glaze applied post-frying gives them a little something extra, too.

5. Pecan Glazed Pumpkin Cake Donuts
We’re suckers for anything pumpkin flavored. Throw in pecans and pumpkin pie spice, and we may just worship you (or at least your recipe). These gluten-free cake donuts are made from a combination of brown rice and sorghum flours and potato starch combined with pumpkin puree, a bit of sugar, buttermilk, and coconut oil. They’re baked up and glazed with a mixture of coconut milk, powdered sugar, and cinnamon, and dipped into ground pecans. Can you say “yum”?

6. Mini Vegan Vanilla Donuts
Vanilla bean powder adds some extra-pungent flavor to these mini gluten-free donuts. Coconut flour, potato starch, coconut milk, coconut oil, and a bit of sugar round out the flavor. (Maybe these should be called vanilla-coconut donuts…)

Mini Vanilla Cardomom Donuts

7. Mini Gluten-Free Vanilla-Cardamom Donut
Cardamom is a fantastic spice best known for its inclusion in traditional chai spice blends. (Yes, like in a latté.) The spice lends a bit of heat (thanks to ginger) and sweetness (thanks to cinnamon), and it pairs wonderfully with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

8. Paleo Donuts
No grains or dairy in this recipe! Ripe bananas and applesauce combine with coconut flour and almond meal for a fruit-and-nut-based healthier donut. Top with coconut butter glaze!

9. Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Donuts
By now, we’ve all tried baked oatmeal. But what about baking up our favorite whole-grain breakfast in a different (more round and cake-like) form? This recipe calls for making your own oat flour (it’s easy, we swear) and combining it with raisins, cinnamon, and ground flaxseed for a healthier donut to dunk in your coffee.

10. Maple Donuts with Maple Glaze
Maple syrup is one of our favorite sugar alternatives—so these double-maple donuts might be our version of heaven. Whole-wheat flour makes up the base, which is sweetened with stevia, applesauce, and a bit of maple syrup and maple extract. Once baked, they’re glazed with even more maple extract.

11. Mini Mocha Protein Donuts
Almond flour and chocolate protein powder pump up the protein content of these mini donuts. Add in some instant coffee, a vanilla-chocolate glaze, and any topping of your choice (we vote for ground-up chocolate-covered espresso beans), and you have a donut worthy of any healthier dessert plate.

12. Peanut Butter Cup Donuts
Peanut flour and a sugar substitute make these donuts a little less sugary, without cutting down on taste. This might be the perfect way to get that peanut butter cup flavor for breakfast!

13. Baked Coconut Donuts 
The coconut milk and extract and toasted coconut topping is hard to resist! We recommend using whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose in this recipe. To cut down on sugar, you could also try using ground toasted coconut in the icing instead of powdered sugar (it will probably just be a little grainier and not as thick).

14. Lemon Poppy Seed Donuts
The classic lemon-poppy seed flavor combo gets a little kick with buttermilk and Greek yogurt in this easy recipe. Plus, who wants to eat a boring old muffin when a donut shape is an option?

15. Banana-Oat Breakfast Donuts
Ripe, mashed bananas and ground oats make up the super-healthy base to these fiber-rich breakfast donuts. Apple juice and applesauce do the sweetening, while flax adds some omega-3s and cinnamon and vanilla extract add some extra flavor.

16. Gluten-Free Banana Donuts
These gluten-free sweet treats use bananas and gluten-free flours to make a cakey base and get topped with a coconut oil glaze sweetened with lucuma powder, a natural fruit-based sweetener made from a Peruvian fruit.

17. Gluten-Free, Vegan Healthy Donuts
A mix of oat, brown rice, and almond flours paired with chia or flax meal make for a healthier donut base worthy of any breakfast plate. This recipe’s vegan, but feel free to sub in animal-based products—regular milk; regular butter or margarine instead of vegan varieties; milk-based yogurt; real egg—if that’s your thing (or what you happen to have on hand).

18. Greek Yogurt Cinnamon Roll Donuts
While they’re certainly delicious, it’s no secret that Cinnabon isn’t even close to the healthiest option out there. So fill that craving with these cinnamon roll donuts instead! Our favorite superfood, Greek yogurt, helps achieve that buttery texture and flavor without a ton of added fat. And don’t worry, this recipe still opts for a traditional cream cheese glaze—just go easy with it!

Chocolate Chocolate Donuts

19. Chocolate Cake Donuts
Betcha can’t guess the base for these chocolate delights! Garbanzo beans (yes, like what hummus is made of) make up the protein- and fiber-rich foundation for these donuts. Whole-wheat flour makes ‘em even healthier. But don’t worry, you still get a little decadence from melted chocolate chips! (Oh yeah, and the chocolate-almond milk glaze.)

20. Sweet Potato Flax Donuts
Sweet potato puree, oat bran, and flax seed make this donut a little healthier. Top that with the vanilla protein powder-based icing, finish with a sprinkling of slivered almonds, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

21. Low-Carb Gluten-Free Cinnamon Donuts

Almond flour makes these donuts a lower-carb option, while egg white powder ups the protein factor. Glaze with a mix of coconut milk, stevia, and ghee (clarified butter) for a delicious and decadent (but still healthier) option.

22. Pumpkin Carob Chip Protein Donuts
Chocolate protein powder will help these donuts keep you energized ‘til lunch. Pumpkin puree, applesauce, some maple syrup, and lemon juice make for a flavorful batter that then gets studded with carob chips (a caffeine-free and calcium-packed chocolate alternative).

23. Healthy Gingerbread Donuts
Perhaps this one is best suited for the winter holiday season, but it’s never too early to start celebrating! The gingerbread flavor comes from nutmeg, cloves, and superfoods cinnamon and ginger. Mix all these seasonings into spelt flour, applesauce, molasses, and coconut sugar for a hearty, festive donut. You can almost taste Christmas!

24. Carrot Cake Donuts with Honey-Cream Cheese Frosting
If you throw a veggie in it, it has to be healthier, right? Oat flour serves as the base for this recipe, but it gets amped up by shredded coconut, applesauce, and pineapple juice (for sweetening), grated carrot, and super-healthy cinnamon. Top it with a cream cheese and honey glaze and a sprinkle of toasted coconut.

Peach Donuts with White Chocolate and Pistachios

25. Peach Donuts with White Chocolate Glaze and Pistachios
Peach donuts made from donut peaches. Need we say more? Well, we will: they’re peeled and dipped in melted raw cacao butter (a.k.a. white chocolate), healthy-fat-filled Brazil (or macadamia) nut flour, agave, and vanilla, and topped with chopped pistachios.

26. Whole-Grain Strawberry Donuts
The bright-pink, fried n’ frosted, artificial-strawberry-flavored rings lining the shelves at the donut shop? Not so healthy. These whole-wheat buttermilk donuts filled and glazed with real strawberries? Much better!

27. Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes
Donut holes: The favorite elementary school snack! Instead of getting a dunk in the fryer, these healthier whole-wheat holes get baked up in a mini muffin tin and topped with brown sugar and cinnamon.

28. Almond-Topped Whole-Wheat Donuts
These whole-wheat treats are spiced up with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, glazed with melted dark chocolate, and dipped in slivered almonds (a superfood in our book!).

29. Bonus Recipe:  Blueberry-Apple Donuts for Dogs
Don’t let Fido miss out on the healthy donut action! This recipe was formulated just for pups with whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, dried blueberries, apple, and just a little apple juice. The dough is baked and then frosted with a cream cheese, honey, and flaxseed glaze. Honestly, we think they’d taste pretty good to humans, too! (If your pup’s tummy can’t handle dairy, frost with some natural peanut butter instead of cream cheese!)

Will you be whipping up a donut recipe to celebrate? Share your favorite in the comments below!


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