Caramel Donuts

This caramel donuts recipe creates pillowy soft donuts with a crispy crust dipped in a gooey, delicious caramel sauce and topped with chopped peanuts. If you’re looking for a perfect breakfast indulgence, look no more!

A hand holds a caramel donut hovering over another donut. There are more in the background, too.

When it comes to donuts or any sweets for that matter, I want them to be the best! That’s because if I’m going to spend my limited caloric budget on it, it had better be good! These caramel donuts are in that category. They’re soft and tender in all the right places and served with a perfect caramel topping!

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Using ground nutmeg in the donut batter is a secret ingredient that makes these donuts taste like coffee-shop quality donuts
  • Adding molasses to the batter infuses a caramel flavor to every bite
  • Topping these donuts with a caramel frosting and chopped nuts gives it a payday-candybar-like flavor that is undeniably delicious!

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Flour — I recommend all-purpose flour, but you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour or high-quality gluten-free baking flour.
  • Brown sugar — Use light, dark, or homemade brown sugar.
  • Salt
  • Baking powder + baking soda — Make sure yours is fresh by testing a bit of baking powder in hot water and baking soda in vinegar. If it bubbles, your batch is good to go.
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Vegan Butter — If using storebought, I recommend Earth Balance or Miyokos, or you can use homade vegan butter.
  • Vegan yogurt — I recommend plain vegan yogurt such as Forager or Silk. You can substitute vegan sour cream.
  • Molasses
  • Chopped peanuts — This is an optional topping, but highly recommended.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegan creamer — I prefer using thick vegan creamer (the kind poured into coffee) or coconut milk. Other thick plant-based milk options would be cashew milk, soy milk, or vegan evaporated milk.
  • Powdered sugar
A vegan caramel donut sits in the foreground with several more donuts in the background.

How to Make Caramel Donuts

  1. Stir together the dry ingredients.
  2. Stir together the vegan butter and vegan yogurt. Then stir in the molasses and water.
  3. Make the batter by stirring the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture.
  4. Spoon the batter into the donut compartments.
  5. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the donuts are done.
  6. Make the caramel glaze by bringing vegan butter and brown sugar to a boil.
  7. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and cream, and then stir in the powdered sugar.
  8. Dip donuts in the caramel glaze and add chopped peanuts.

Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions.

Step One: Combine the Dry Ingredients

In a bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, spice, salt, and baking powder, and baking soda. Stir to combine.

Step Two: Combine Wet Ingredients

In a microwaveable bowl, place the vegan butter. Heat for 20 to 30 seconds, until the butter is melted. Add it to a bowl with the vegan yogurt and molasses and stir to combine. Stir in the water.

Step Three: Make the Donut Batter

Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. It should be a thick batter without lumps.

A bowl holds a liquid mixture and is pouring it into another bowl full of flour.

Step Four: Spoon and Bake

Use a tablespoon to carefully distribute the batter into the donut compartments, filling them generously and equally.

  • Make up to 12 smaller donuts — Use 3 tablespoons of batter per compartment.
  • Make 8 or 9 larger donuts — Use 4 tablespoons of batter for thicker donuts.

Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the donuts are puffy in the middle and done.

Step Five: Glazing Donuts

Here’s the steps to glazing the donuts:

  1. To make the caramel icing, heat vegan butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Stir and boil for up to a minute.
    Looking down on a saucepan full of brown sugar and vegan butter that has come to a low boil.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cream. Allow it to cool for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and stir to combine. This glaze will thicken as it sits, so be prepared to add 1/2 teaspoon of additional cream as needed.
  4. Once the donuts are cool enough to handle, dip the top part of each donut in the glaze and add chopped peanuts while the icing is still wet.
A hand holds a donut over a bowl of caramel glaze. The donut is dripping the glaze after having just being dipped. There are more donuts in the background.

Topping Ideas

Caramel combined with peanuts reminds me so much of Payday candy bars. Here are some more topping ideas for your donuts:

  • Large flakes of sea salt will make salted caramel donuts.
  • Sprinkles will make them festive.
  • Coconut flakes are always amazing on donuts.
  • Mini chocolate chips (see my dairy-free chocolate chip guide to find vegan mini chocolate chips) would be beautiful and delicious.
  • Chopped bacon-flavored almonds would add bits of crunch and smoky flavor.

Storage Tips

Store donuts in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

More Vegan Donuts

If you love these caramel donuts, you’ll definitely want to try even more vegan donuts:

Looking down on a counter full of vegan caramel donuts.

A hand holds a caramel donut hovering over another donut. There are more in the background, too.

Caramel Donuts

These baked caramel donuts are such a treat you'll want to make a double batch! That's because every bite is infused with caramel goodness.
5 from 2 votes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 272kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup vegan butter, melted
  • cup vegan yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts

Caramel Glaze

  • ¼ cup vegan butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vegan creamer (see note)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C and coat a regular-sized donut pan with vegetable spray.
  • In a bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, spice, salt, and baking powder, and baking soda. Stir to combine.
  • In a microwaveable bowl, place the vegan butter. Heat for 20 to 30 seconds, until the butter is melted. Add it to a bowl with vegan yogurt and molasses and stir to combine. Stir in the water.
  • Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. It should be a thick batter without lumps.
  • Use a tablespoon to carefully distribute the batter into the donut compartments, filling them generously and equally. Use 3 tablespoons of batter per compartment for smaller donuts and 4 tablespoons of batter for thicker donuts. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the donuts are done.

For the Caramel Glaze

  • To make the caramel icing, heat vegan butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Stir and boil for up to a minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cream. Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes, then add the powdered sugar and stir to combine. This glaze will thicken as it sits, so be prepared to add 1/2 teaspoon of additional cream as needed.

Glazing Donuts

  • Once the donuts are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Once they're cool enough to handle, dip the top part of each donut in the caramel icing. Add chopped peanuts while the icing is still wet.

Recommended Equipment

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Notes

*Make this gluten-free by using 1:1 gluten-free baking flour.
To make 12 smaller donuts (based on 6-compartment donut pans) distribute approximately 3 tablespoons of dough into each compartment.
To make 9 larger donuts, distribute approximately 4 tablespoons of dough in each compartment.
Sprinkle the top of donuts with flaked sea salt to make salted caramel donuts.
Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 260mg | Potassium: 149mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Enjoy!

22 Responses to Caramel Donuts

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlyamelia Reply

    I just made these: the donuts are yummy and fluffy but the frosting didn’t work 🙁 I made straight-up caramel, and I tried it twice. I don’t know what I did wrong. It is far too hard to spread so I’ll have to make a glaze and just eat this caramel as a snack.

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLindsay @ The Live-In Kitchen Reply

    These look so good! I actually got one of those donut pans for Christmas last year and haven’t even used it yet! Shameful, but these might make me get into the kitchen and put it to good use!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I have a few dishes like that as well. Maybe you’re just waiting for the right recipe to get it started. I love baked donuts – can’t imagine them any other way now!

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