test-4 Delicious, Healthy Baked Donut Recipe Hacks
Food & Nutrition
4 Delicious, Healthy Baked Donut Recipe Hacks
Lindsey Toth, MS, RD • June 11, 2020

Yes, you read that right—healthy donuts! Sound too good to be true? No way. The key to staying healthy and happy isn’t depriving yourself of all the things you love. It’s about balance. You can make sure your nutritional needs are met and still enjoy delicious foods you love, especially when you have healthy recipes like these on hand that pack in both nutrition and flavor.

Try these healthy donut recipe hacks to satisfy your sweet tooth, and maybe even surprise your family if you don’t decide to keep them all for yourself! They probably won’t even notice that they’re eating healthy.

What’s the Secret to Healthy Donut Recipes?

As you probably know, most donuts are deep fried and they absorb a lot of cooking oil. By the time the donuts make it to your plate, the fat content of them is between 20-30%!1

Plus, many bakeries cook their donuts in shortening, a fat that is solid at room temperature and often loaded with trans-fats.2 Some newer shortening formulations are trans-fat free, but that’s still a lot of unnecessary calories added to the fats used in the recipes.

So, why not have delicious baked donuts instead? You can even sneak in some stealthy nutrition by adding fruits, veggies and healthy spices, or switch up your healthier donut game by experimenting with different flours or using coconut oil instead of butter. Here are some healthier donut hacks to try below.

1. Donuts with Veggies or Fruit

Who could resist a strawberry shortcake donut, or a blissful baked banana donut? Or how about a spiced carrot cake donut instead? Sounds good to me! Adding veggies or fruits is a great way to get some extra nutrition in your sweet treats. Here’s a recipe to get you started.

Baked Banana Donuts3

This clever recipe uses unsweetened applesauce and coconut sugar for a delicious, healthier donut alternative. Grab a donut pan and give it a try!

What you’ll need:

    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
    • 3 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
    • 2 tablespoons milk, dairy or non-dairy

How to make it:

    1. Preheat your oven to 350°F
    2. Lightly grease your donut pan with coconut oil or spray
    3. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, and all wet ingredients in another larger bowl
    4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients ¼ cup at a time
    5. Spoon into donut pan being careful not to overfill (stop at about ¾ full or just below the edge of the pan)
    6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean
    7. Place the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing the donuts from the pan

You could also try these delicious Baked Carrot Cake Donuts, or Lemon Baked Donuts with a Strawberry Glaze.

2. Spice it Up

Did you know your spice cabinet holds a wealth of nutrition? Phytonutrients in herbs and spices provide a host of benefits, and many of them have a long history of being used as health tonics.4,5 Here are a few spices to try in your donuts.

Cardamom Donuts
Cardamom is good for digestion and overall gastrointestinal health, plus it’s high in minerals like magnesium and zinc.6,5 This sweet and pungent spice is versatile and an excellent choice for adding to donuts.

Cinnamon Donuts
Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and promotes heart, brain and blood health, plus it lends sweetness without sugar.7 Mix it with some coconut sugar for a topping or add it to your dough.

Turmeric Donuts
Turmeric is a time-tested antioxidant super spice with numerous beneficial properties backed by science—from cognitive and mood support to promoting heart and joint health.8 Research has shown that even using small amounts of turmeric on a regular basis may promote brain health.5

All three of these delicious spices work well for donut recipes. Try them yourself in the recipes below!

Cardamom Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar9

What you’ll need:

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted

For the topping:

How to make it:

    1. Heat the oven to 350°F
    2. Lightly grease your donut pan well with coconut oil or spray
    3. Mix flour, cardamom, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside
    4. Whisk egg and sugar together in a larger bowl until combined well
    5. Whisk milk and melted butter or coconut oil into the egg mixture
    6. Mix dry ingredients ¼ cup at a time into the egg mixture until combined well
    7. Spoon batter into your donut pan, filling each ¼ to ¾ full
    8. Bake for 12-15 minutes

How to make the topping:

Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl, then brush donuts with melted butter or coconut oil and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top (or dip the donuts into the bowl to coat.)

Vegan Chai Golden Milk Donuts with Turmeric10

We’re really excited about this recipe because it includes the golden spice turmeric, plus healthy Chai spices like cloves and ginger and a creative cashew topping. You won’t regret giving this one a try!

What you’ll need:

For the topping:

How to make it:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F
    2. Lightly grease your donut pan well with coconut oil or spray
    3. Stir together flour, sugar, salt and spices in a medium bowl
    4. Combine milk, oil and vanilla in another bowl
    5. Slowly combine the liquid mixture with the dry ingredients and stir until blended
    6. Spoon batter into donut pan and bake for about 12 minutes or until springy upon touch
    7. Cool completely on a rack

How to make the topping:

Combine topping ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add a splash of milk if it seems too thick. Frost the donuts with the mixture, then sprinkle the tops with cinnamon, and add a few cashew crumbles if you’d like.

Also, give this recipe for no-bake turmeric protein donuts a try!

You can learn more about the many, amazing benefits of turmeric in What is Turmeric? and Turmeric vs Curcumin: What is the Difference?

3. Experiment with Flours

Want gluten-free donuts? No problem! Make your donuts gluten-free just by switching out your wheat flour for one of the many gluten-free alternatives like arrowroot flour, coconut flour, or a gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend. Check out Your Essential Guide to Gluten Free Flours for more options, and try the gluten free donut recipe below.

If you just want to switch it up for the added benefits of varying the grains in your diet, try opting for whole wheat flour or spelt flour. Spelt flour is especially good for baking. It has a mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavor, plus it’s a light flour so it doesn’t weight down baked goods like wheat flour can. Give it a try in the recipe we’ve included above for Vegan Chai Golden Milk Donuts.10

Gluten-Free Zucchini & Chocolate Donut Recipe11

What you’ll need:

For the topping:

    • 1/2 cup of mini, gluten-free dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

How to make it:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F
    2. Lightly grease your donut pan with coconut oil
    3. Mix flours, baking soda, spices and salt in a large bowl
    4. In another bowl, whisk eggs and add the maple syrup, zucchini, coconut oil and vanilla extract together
    5. Slowly combine the egg mixture with the dry ingredients
    6. Add ½ cup of chocolate chips and stir well
    7. Carefully pour the batter into your donut pan until each section is ¾ full
    8. Bake for 12-15 minutes and cool on a wire rack

How to make the topping:

While your donuts cool, melt ½ cup of chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate in a double boiler stirring until melted, then drizzle the topping over each donut with a spoon. You could also melt it in a microwave. Just add the dark chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for one minute, then stir and microwave for an additional minute and stir again until smooth.

4. Have Fun with Toppings

Sugary sprinkles can be fun, but there are plenty of options to try that are more interesting and flavorful! Top off your healthy donut recipes with options that add irresistible flavor and nutritional value instead of the “empty” calories those colorful sugar sprinkles would give you.

Try using nuts or nut butter to add some protein (like in this recipe for pistachio topped donuts from Joy the Baker). Or add chia seeds or flax seeds for a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

You can also top your donuts with citrus zest to get in some extra vitamin C and citrus bioflavonoids or add some fresh fruit! Pile your baked donut recipes high with strawberries and a little coconut whipped cream, or top with mixed berries and coconut shavings. Get creative with flavors and have some fun!

Healthier Donut Recipes

Meeting your nutritional goals doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy foods you love. In fact, eating a variety of whole, natural and nutritious foods can be a lot of fun. When you’re trying healthy dessert hacks, don’t be afraid to try new things and push the boundaries of what you think usually goes in a dessert. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well some uncommon ingredients, like turmeric, pair with some of your favorite indulgences.

The next time you have a craving for something that may not seem the healthiest, do a little research for alternatives, like these healthy donut recipes hacks. Healthy options are often just as good, if not better than the original recipes.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to forgo your favorite treats altogether. Just strive for a healthy balance. And we’re here to help you find that balance, with resources to help guide the way, and nutritional supplements from real food sources to fill in gaps when needed.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like reading Pack Your Pantry: How to Make a Real Food Pantry, Real Food: A Revival or a Revolution? and 6 Healthy Movie Snacks You’ll Love.

Lindsey Toth, MS, RD | Swanson Health Products

About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD

Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products

Lindsey is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for pie. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food. Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.


1 Donut. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/donut (Accessed 05/23/2018)

2 Shortening: Good or Bad? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/shortening#section3 (Accessed 05/23/2018)

3 Healthy Baked Banana Donuts. Yoga by Candace. https://www.yogabycandace.com/blog/2018/3/13/baked-banana-donuts (Accessed 05/23/2018)

4 Antioxidants in Herbs and Spices. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92763/ (Accessed 05/23/2018)

5 Spices and Herbs That Can Help You Stay Healthy. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/over-50-nutrition-17/spices-and-herbs-health-benefits (Accessed 05/23/2018)

6 Cardamom. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-614/cardamom (Accessed 05/24/2018)

7 10 Proven Benefits of Cinnamon. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section8 (Accessed 05/24/2018)

8 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section5 (Accessed 05/24/2018)

9 Cardamom Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar. The Spice Train. https://thespicetrain.com/2015/12/27/cardamom-donuts-with-cinnamon-sugar/ (Accessed 05/24/2018)

10 Connoisseurus Veg. Chai Golden Milk Doughnuts. https://www.connoisseurusveg.com/chai-golden-milk-doughnuts/ (Accessed 05/24/2018)

11 Gluten Free Zucchini Chocolate Donuts. Amy Stafford. http://ahealthylifeforme.com/gluten-free-zucchini-chocolate-donuts/ (Accessed 05/24/2018)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.