It’s probably safe to assume that at this point the country is replete with enough Thanksgiving dinner inspiration to last into the next millenium. A speedy Google search turned up 180 MILLION hits when I plugged in the words, “Thanksgiving recipes” (my Colorful Cabbage Salad among them). So let’s all stop talking turkey for the moment and consider something nearly as pressing:

What are we going to feed all the family and friends who descend for the holiday in the days following the famous feast?

Here’s what:  these homey, wholesome, homespun crazy good Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze.

If you don’t have a baked donut pan already, get ahold of one because a batch of these beauties alone is worth the 10 bucks it will set back your bank account.  I can boast about the recipe so very boldly because it’s not my own. I borrowed it — tinkering with the ingredients ever so gently — from Tracy Benjamin, the talent behind the immensely charming blog, Shutterbean.

Because these donuts are baked instead of fried, there is no vat of boiling oil to contend with and the fat content is cut in half, if not more than that. The whole-wheat pastry flour and pumpkin ups the nutritional value, offsetting the decadence of that heavenly glaze.

The glaze results from browning a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan until dark and aromatic, and then stirring it into confectioners’ sugar. I’d planned to top the donuts, as Tracy does, with toasted pecans, but when the kids caught wind of my plan, I thought they might slap the bowl of chopped nuts right out of my hand. Colored sprinkles on glazed donuts? Yes. Pecans? Absolutely not.

However you dress these babies up, do make them. They are tender, moist, and have the cozy, spiced flavors so redolent of fall. Piled onto a plate alongside a pot of coffee (and a pitcher of milk for the kids), I can’t imagine a better way to greet sleepy guests bunking in for the holiday.

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze

These tender pumpkin donuts are excellent warm from the oven or hours later at room temp. Either way, hot coffee for grown ups and cold milk for kids are a must here. The number of donuts and cooking time may vary depending on the size of your pan.


Oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the pan
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown Butter Glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons milk, plus more as needed

Preheat oven to 325 F. Generously grease donut pan with oil or non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, canola oil, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth and blended.

Add the pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and whisk until smooth and one even consistency.

Spoon batter into a glass measuring cup with a lip for pouring or a small pitcher and fill donut pan about 1/4-inch shy of the top.

Put in the center rack of the oven and bake until the top of the donut springs back when lightly pressed, about 13 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on the counter for 3 or 4 minutes. Invert pan and gently release donuts onto a rack to cool for another 10 minutes or so.

While the donuts cool, make the glaze. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until browned. Pour browned butter into a bowl with confectioner’s sugar. Add the vanilla and milk and stir until the glaze is silky smooth with no lumps. If the glaze solidifies a bit as it cools, add more milk, a few drops at a time as needed.

Dip cooled doughnuts into bowl, allowing any excess frosting to drip back into bowl.

Serve immediately.

Makes 9 donuts.

*All-purpose white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat pastry flour

Adapted from a recipe by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean

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  1. Cynthia
    11.19.2012 at 9:43 AM #

    Any chance this recipe could be used to make glazed muffins instead? If so, cooking time?

    • katiemorford
      11.19.2012 at 9:49 AM #

      Hi Cynthia

      I haven’t done that but seems to me it would work. As for cooking time, I’d bake them until a toothpick comes out clean. I’d love to hear back if you give this a try and any details about cooking time, etc.

  2. 11.19.2012 at 10:15 AM #

    Mmmmm, yummy! Can’t wait to try these!

  3. Cynthia
    11.19.2012 at 12:08 PM #

    Thanks Katie, I’ll give it a shot

  4. 11.19.2012 at 8:09 PM #

    Pumpkin and brown butter squished together in a donut must be a dream come true. These look incredible!

    • katiemorford
      11.19.2012 at 8:53 PM #

      They are! Nice to hear from you!!

  5. Reed
    11.19.2012 at 8:19 PM #

    Does the type of flour matter very much?

    • katiemorford
      11.19.2012 at 8:54 PM #

      They are delicious with either whole wheat pastry or all-purpose…can’t vouch for other types of flour.

      • Reed
        11.19.2012 at 8:59 PM #

        What about using whole wheat flour? Or pastry? Or does only whole wheat pastry flour work?

        • katiemorford
          11.19.2012 at 9:45 PM #

          I think whole-wheat flour would be too heavy. I bet pastry flour would do fine.

  6. Jennifer
    09.21.2013 at 3:28 PM #

    Super! I substituted applesauce instead oil. They came out fantastic!!

    • katiemorford
      09.22.2013 at 10:17 AM #

      Good for you … I will give that a try!

  7. Sheri B.
    09.24.2013 at 9:30 PM #

    Do you know if you can mix up the batter the night before, to save time in the mornings?

    • katiemorford
      09.26.2013 at 6:03 AM #

      I’ve never done that with donut batter, but it’s is worth a try. Make it the night before and just bake up a hot batch in the morning. I’m going to try it myself. I’d suggest pulling the batter out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to fill the pans. If you get to it before I do, please let me know how it goes.

  8. Starla
    10.06.2013 at 8:07 AM #

    My family and I loved these! Thanks again, Katie! You never steer me wrong

    • katiemorford
      10.06.2013 at 8:47 AM #

      Oh good! I just picked up some pumpkin yesterday with these in mind. It’s that time of year.

  9. 11.20.2013 at 8:20 PM #

    Totally up my alley thank you. Yum.

    • katiemorford
      11.20.2013 at 10:33 PM #

      Now you just have to adapt the recipe for the slow cooker!

  10. Yossi
    04.03.2014 at 7:50 PM #

    Hi Katie! Is the pureed pumpkin made of raw pumpkin?

    • katiemorford
      04.05.2014 at 5:50 AM #

      No, the pumpkin is cooked and then pureed. You can do it yourself or buy it in a can.


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