Super satisfying Paleo donuts are the right way to start your day eating grain-free. The perfect breakfast or after school snack!
I really like the low-carb, high-energy-ness of Paleo baked goods for early morning school breakfasts. And my kids love this stuff.
These plain Paleo donuts and moist and tender, and just sweet enough. They're packed with all the good fat you need to keep you going all morning long.
I have a tendency to step up the Paleo baking in January, and most of it is for make-ahead breakfasts like these donuts and my Paleo breakfast cookies. Almond flour baking leads to really filling treats like these bakery style almond flour muffins, and that's what makes it perfect for school breakfasts.
How to make a Paleo donut glaze
I originally posted this recipe in 2013, and I had made a perfectly simple honey glaze that looked and tasted great. I have been unable to recreate the exact same glaze ever since.
I believe heating some honey with a bit of water mixed with arrowroot powder would make a great glaze, but I haven't gotten the proportions quite right just yet. In most of the photos here, the glaze you see is a really simple one.
To make the lighter-colored glaze, simply grind coconut palm sugar in a blender or food processor with about 1 tablespoon arrowroot per cup of sugar until it has nearly the consistency of confectioners' sugar.
Place the ground sugar in a small bowl and add water by the half-teaspoonful, stirring until you have a very thickly pourable glaze. Dip the tops of the cooled donuts in the glaze and allow them to sit until the glaze is set.
The coconut sugar glaze has a strong flavor, as the sugar itself is quite flavorful. If you don't like the taste of coconut sugar, you won't like the glaze!
The donuts really don't need the glaze though. They're perfect without it. For nine other gluten free donuts recipes, come on over!
What are the best donut pans?
I feel like I've bought every sort of donut pan there is, and most have been awful. The biggest problem I've had is that the center of each well has a very short raised center.
When the raised center is too short, the only way to make a donut with an actual hole that goes all the way through the donut is to fill the well no more than halfway through. And then it looks more like a ring than a donut.
The only donut pans that I like are the nonstick ones made by Wilton, like this 6-cavity nonstick donut pan(affiliate link—feel free to shop around). They also make mini pans with 12 wells.
I've actually rid my kitchen of any and all other donut pans since they seem to bake only heartache. For even more discussion about donut pans, see my recipe for gluten free apple cider donuts.
What about the electric donut maker?
I love my electric donut maker. I have the Babycakes donut maker, and I got mine at Kohl's year ago (with a coupon! on sale!). But I seem to have misplaced it.
And it's not like I live in a huge house where that makes any sense. I'm beginning to suspect that I gave it away. I have a tendency to do that since I love “tidying up.”
If I were to buy it again, I would buy this Babycakes multi-treat baker (affiliate link, but shop around for sure) since it's oddly less expensive than the just-donut-maker. Plus, you can use it to make miniature cupcakes, donuts or cake pops.
Although I haven't made cake pops since my blog posts looked like this. But now, of course, I feel that I must make cake pops. I'll edit this if (okay, when) I buy that little machine.
Ingredients and substitutions
Since these donuts are Paleo, they're already grain-free and dairy-free. They do contain some additional allergens, so here is all the ingredient information I can provide:
Almond flour: As in any Paleo recipe I write, the only almond flour that will work as described in the recipe is a finely ground, blanched almond flour. Blanched almonds are simply almonds that have had their skins removed.
I have had great success with both Honeyville brand and Nuts.com finely ground blanched almond flour. Almond meal is a much coarser ground, and will not yield good results. I'm afraid I can't recommend any of the Bob's Red Mill brand almond flour or almond meal products.
If you need to be nut-free, you can try replacing the almond flour with finely ground sunflower seed flour, but the donuts will likely turn green due to the reaction between the sunflower seeds and the baking soda in the recipe. It won't affect the flavor, though.
Eggs: Since there are two eggs in this recipe, you can replacing each of them with a “chia egg” (one tablespoon finely ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). It's not a perfect substitute, but it's the one I like best.
Coconut flour: The two tablespoons of coconut flour in this donut recipe really help give the baked donuts structure. I have made these donuts with a full cup of almond flour (120 g) and no coconut flour. The recipe works but the donuts are considerably more fragile once baked.
Maple syrup: Be sure you're using real maple syrup in this recipe, not imitation syrup, which is really just high fructose corn syrup. The 1/4 cup maple syrup can be replaced with 3 tablespoons (63 g) additional honey.
The Perfect Paleo Donuts
1/4 cup (84 g) honey
1/4 cup (84 g) pure maple syrup
6 tablespoons (72 g) nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce) unsweetened almond milk, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (196 g) finely-ground blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons (12 g) coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
If using an electric miniature donut maker, warm the donut maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Otherwise, preheat your oven to 300°F, grease a donut pan (full-sized or miniature) and set it aside.
Place all of the ingredients in the order listed in a blender and blend until smooth (alternatively, you can whisk the ingredients together by hand, but the batter will not be as smooth). The batter will not be pourable, but will be very soft and easily scooped.
If using an electric donut maker, fill the bottom of the donut maker wells completely with batter, then close and secure the lid. Allow to bake for 3 1/2 minutes. Open the donut maker and remove the donuts with the remover tool included in the package. Transfer the donuts to a wire rack to cool completely, and repeat with the remaining batter.
If using the oven, fill the prepared donut wells about three-quarters of the way full. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 8 to 12 minutes (depending upon size), or until the donuts are just set and very lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the donuts to sit in the pan for about 5 minutes or until they begin to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Originally posted on the blog in 2013. Recipe modified only slightly. Most photos and video new.
Meghan Poling says
I can’t wait to try these! With my histamine intolerance and recently discovered yeast allergy it’s been hard finding treats I can eat without much grief. Have you considered recipes using cassava flour? I have more tapioca starch than I know what to do with (but I LOVE your Against The Grain copycats!) and recently got myself a bag of cassava flour to play around at making pasta.
Thanks for all your hard work!
Nicole Hunn says
Hi, Meghan, I have experimented with cassava flour a bit, but learned that it’s relatively high in carbohydrates and I couldn’t see much of a benefit over other flours, so I stopped. I’ve been getting more and more questions about it, though, so I think I’m going to start up again and should have some recipes on the blog in the next month or so. Stay tuned!
Deborah Nisson says
Made these this morning and they were really good. I got silicone donut pans for Christmas. Send at 300 degrees they took a LOT longer than the time specified. Should I. She st a higher temperature in silicone? They passed the grandson test!
Nicole Hunn says
I’m really glad that you enjoyed the donuts, Deborah (and that your grandson did too!). I do find that baking in silicone does affect baking times and temperatures.
Love all your recipes and cookbooks (I own them all) even though I am not gluten-free, my daughter and grandson are. I bake and cook for gluten-free people in town. When making donuts in a mini-donut maker, I spray the inside of a cheap plastic bag, add the batter, snip off a small corner of the bag and squeeze the batter into the donut depressions. Works so much better than spooning it in as the directions said.
Nicole Hunn says
Hi, June, thanks for the tip. A zip top plastic bag is a great alternative to a pastry bag, like you can see me using in the video.
Your website is my go-to source for GF recipes that WORK! I’ve shared your recipes with others who are new to GF cooking and baking, and they’ve been very grateful. Unlike the reviewer above, I really appreciate your forays into Paleo and alternative flours. Yes, these flours are expensive, but I believe there are significant health benefits to eating grain-free. While I don’t follow a strict Paleo diet, I do rotate in low-carb days. So many of the Paleo sites offer recipes that don’t cut it. I can always count on your recipes to be well tested, so that I am not wasting precious ingredients. Thanks for all your hard work in making my life easier.
Nicole Hunn says
That is so kind of you to say, Linda. I really appreciate your trust, and would never knowingly betray it. If you’re interested in low-carb, you’ll definitely want to take a look at the next new recipe here on the blog. I think you’ll love it! ?
I actually am loving that you are expanding and giving us some healthier choices with flours such as almond flour and coconut flours. I especially appreciate the healthier, easy to take with you, fast breakfast and snack recipes that you’ve been posting lately.
I understand why you enjoy Paleo meals but it seems lately that you have gone from common everyday ingredients to more complicated or expensive ingredients. Fancy shortening, another different flour that also is expensive. I am sad to see that lately I won’t be making any of the recipes that you have posted. I have your first two cookbooks and they are my go to and I was looking forward to your next cookbook but now I am not sure about what I am going to find in it. I don’t envy you having to come up with all these recipes and all the hard work you do but I want cheap easy recipes that my daughter will eat not more flour blends or special ingredients.
Nicole Hunn says
Thanks for your comment. I believe I can put your mind at ease. I promise you are not losing your go-to resource for simple, cost-effective gluten free comfort foods. My cookbooks are and will remain designed to provide readers with gluten free versions of familiar foods. And they are and will remain focused on a small complement of gluten free flour blends (including the new bread book).
I am very mindful that ingredients like the blanched almond flour that is in heavy rotation in Paleo baking is comparatively more expensive than, say, an all purpose gluten free flour. I have only developed comparatively very few recipes with it for the blog for many reasons, not the least of which is the cost. However, I consider the blog to be a laboratory of sorts to help me determine what gluten free recipes are interesting and possible. There are many, many Paleo blogs (and cookbooks) today, and I do not plan to join their ranks. However, I believe that all of these trends have something to teach. In service of my commitment to posting, on average, 20 out of 30 days each month on the blog every week, I must reach outside my comfort zone. That expansion does not signal a shift in focus.
Finally, I would like to clarify that the shortening I specified is not, in fact, fancy at all. I have priced it competitively and compared the cost to unsalted butter (not fancy organic butter – just plain butter) and have found it to be almost exactly the same price. However, you can use any shortening brand you like. I specified Spectrum as that is what I use, and when I don’t specify, readers ask for specifics.
These look yummy. I love your blog and I’ve purchased your first book. My son loves the sweet and sour chicken. Best he’s ever eaten and then I told him it was gluten free, an added bonus. My daughter is gluten free after many years of tummy aches and then hives in her early 20’s while in college. A doctor finally suggested we eliminate gluten from her diet and see if it could be causing her problems in her intestinal trac. Low and behold after two weeks the hives disappeared, her asthma became less of an issue and the stomach aches virtually went away (except by mistakes in restaurants). However you would have thought it was a death sentence when she thought that her basic comfort foods macaroni and cheese, cinnamon scones and muffins were goners :( but thanks to so many of you pioneering women who have ventured forth where no one else would venture, she can still eat her comfort foods. I very much enjoy your recipes and look forward to your new book coming out. As a much added bonus, I discovered that eating gluten free greatly lowers my pain levels associated with my Chronic Fatigue. Keep up the great work there are those of us out there who consider you our hero !!!!!
Nicole Hunn says
Thanks so much for the nice note, Cynnamon. I’m so glad you and your daughter are feeling so much better, and I’m honored to be a small part of your good health!
Christina, you might want to try the flax egg subsitution (though I haven’t tried it with this recipe, so I don’t know if it will work!): 1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg, mix the water into the ground flax seed and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Again, not sure if it will work in this recipe, but I have found that it works most times when baking. Good luck!
Nicole Hunn says
Oh, no, Linda. It’s Paleo, and I know what’s in it (honey, virgin coconut oil and palm sugar), but I did what I never do when I was making it: I didn’t measure anything, instead just threw some of this and some of that in a saucepan, and now I can’t replicate it exactly! I will, though. Still working on it…
Do you think I could substitute the vegetable shortening for coconut oil?
Thank you! Having to just go GF, your site is a blessing… just waiting on your cookbooks to arrive. LOL. I can make these donuts… and eat them… and be totally smitten.
Nicole Hunn says
I’m happy to be able to help in these early days of GF for you, Knot. And thank you for buying my cookbooks!
Jennifer Sasse says
These look wonderful and healthy – healthy donuts – love it! Say, how do you get the center to be an actual hole? I have said donut machine and I always get a thin film over the hole….
Nicole Hunn says
Good question, Jennifer! One of two ways: (1) Brush aside the batter that is sitting on top of the center of each of the donut wells before closing the lid; or (2) Just push through the donut with your pinky after baking! ;)
Donia Robinson says
I’m so OCD, I guess, that I never knew you were supposed to just plop some batter in the center. My daughter and I always spread it out in the wells. No film that way! Although, I’m thinking the film could make a nice little well for some extra glaze to pile up in. Am I right?
Anneke Krall says
Yes, Donia, you are! Happens all the time in my donuts!