When you follow a special diet, it’s rare to be able to just go out and buy donut holes. And let’s face it, we all crave special treats once in a while. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to make your own at home! This cookbook recipe for dairy-free gluten-free donut holes takes minutes to throw together, and is healthier than a box of Munchkins or Timbits. Yes, they are baked, not fried! The delicious results are perfect for a lazy Sunday or even Christmas morning.
Easy Baked Donut Holes with Options for All
This recipe for baked dairy-free gluten-free donut holes was originally shared with me by Colette Martin, from her wonderful cookbook, The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts. She calls them powdered doughnut holes, and makes them without any top allergens. We originally posted this recipe in 2014, but have since updated it. I’ve added more options to the recipe, and also have some tips and notes in the FAQs below.
Can I Use a Store Bought Gluten-Free Flour Blend Instead?
In theory, yes. But keep in mind that the results can vary based on the blend you use. Colette formulated this recipe to work best with this particular blend of flours and binders. If you use a different blend, it could negatively affect the results. Also, if your blend contains gums, you might need to reduce or omit the xanthan gum.
Can I Bake these Donut Holes with Regular Wheat Flour?
If you don’t need gluten-free donut holes, then yes, you can use wheat-based flour instead. Swap all-purpose flour for the gluten-free flour blend and omit the xanthan gum. Also, when you add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix just until combined rather than the full 2 to 3 minutes. The gluten in wheat flour can bind too much if overworked, which takes away some of the delicate texture of pastries.
I Don’t Have a Kitchen Scale. What Measurements Can I Use for the Gluten-Free Flour Blend?
Colette’s ratio is 2 parts brown rice flour to 2 parts sorghum flour to 1 part arrowroot starch. If you use 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup sorghum flour, and 1/2 cup arrowroot starch, it will make about 2 1/2 cups of the flour blend. This is just a little more than you need for this recipe.
What Can I Substitute for the Arrowroot Starch?
Arrowroot is a pricy starch. I prefer to substitute cornstarch for it. You could also use a blend of half tapioca starch and half potato starch. Tapioca starch is a lighter starch, while potato starch is heavier. So they balance out well.
What is Flaxseed Meal? Can I Use Whole Flaxseeds?
Flaxseed meal is simply ground flaxseeds. If you only have whole flaxseeds, grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Measure out 1 tablespoon after grinding the seeds.
Can I Use Chia Seeds Instead of Flaxseed Meal?
You can substitute chia seeds 1:1 for the flaxseed meal. For more seamless results, grind the chia seeds, then measure and add to the warm water.
What Type of Milk Alternative Should I Use?
To keep it top allergen free, Colette makes these dairy-free gluten-free donut holes with hemp milk. But most milk alternatives will work just fine, including oatmilk, soymilk, coconut milk beverage (in large cartons, not cans), almond milk, or other nut milks, if you are okay with these allergens. In terms of the flavor, an unsweetened, original / plain, or vanilla version will work nicely.
What Type of Oil Should I Use?
Colette tests many of her sweet baked goods with grapeseed oil. It’s relatively neutral in flavor, has a smoke point suitable for baking, and is inexpensive. But you can use your favorite baking oil. Most will work fine. If you like to bake with coconut oil, make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin.
Can I Use Dairy-Free Butter Alternative instead of Shortening?
You can use dairy-free buttery sticks (1/2 stick), also called vegan or plant butter in stores. However, this does reduce the fat in the recipe a touch, and it adds more salt and flavor. This could negatively affect the overall flavor and texture a little.
Can I Make this Recipe in a Regular Donut Pan?
You can turn this into a gluten-free donut recipe. Shape the dough to fill the wells almost to the top of your donut pan and bake as directed. They should bake in a similar amount of time, but you can use the toothpick test to tell if they are done.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Donut Holes
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, sesame-free, soy-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian.
- 2¼ cups (288 grams) Basic Gluten-Free Flour Blend (below)
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoonbaking powder
- ½ teaspoonsalt
- ¼ cup non-hydrogenated shortening, softened (like Spectrum Organic)
- ½ cup (110 g) sugar
- 1 egg or 1 flaxseed egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons warm water)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) plain dairy-free milk alternative
- ½ cup (120 g) unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (72 g) powdered sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease the cups of a mini muffin pan or doughnut hole pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar with a mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl, as needed.
- Add the egg or flaxseed egg and blend on continue to mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the milk alternative, applesauce, oil, and vanilla, and blend for another minute.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until well blended. The batter will be thick with some graininess.
- Use a medium cookie scoop or spoon to form balls of dough in tablespoon-sized portions. Dampen your hands with warm water and gently pass the dough from hand to hand until the ball is smooth. Place each ball of dough into the prepared pan. Dip the cookie scoop or spoon into warm water periodically, if the dough starts to stick.
- Bake the donut holes for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let the doughnut holes cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer them to a cooling rack.
- Just prior to serving, roll the doughnut holes in the powdered sugar to coat them on all sides or sprinkle the powdered sugar on just the tops. Store (without the powdered sugar topping) in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
To Freeze: Freeze unpowdered doughnut holes for up to 6 months in an airtight container. Thaw at room temperature. Reheat at 325°F (165°C) for 7 minutes and then add powdered sugar, if desired.
Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes: In a small bowl, whisk together 2½ tablespoons sugar and ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the tops of the donut holes with the cinnamon sugar blend prior to baking. Omit the powdered sugar.
Glazed Donut Holes: Omit the powdered sugar. Sift 2 cups powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add 3 tablespoons milk alternative and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and whisk to combine. It should be relatively thin, to coat the donut holes. If it's too thick, add 1 tablespoon of milk alternative (1/4 cup total). While the donut holes are still warm, dunk them in the glaze and place them on a wire rack over a pan, paper towels, or parchment paper (to catch any drips). Let them set up.
This recipe is adapted from The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.