How to Make Gluten-Free Doughnuts
It can be tricky to find gluten-free doughnuts in stores, but they're quite easy to make at home! You'll be blown away by how simple and delicious these homemade doughnuts are.
Growing up, stopping at the doughnut shop was a rare Sunday morning treat. I still remember pressing my palms to the glass, trying to decide between chocolate glaze and rainbow sprinkle.
Since going gluten-free, I’ve found it tough to find a wheat-free version of my favorite treat at bakeries. With this gluten-free doughnut recipe, it’s easy to recreate crispy, light doughnuts at home. We’ll share tips for shaping the doughnuts, options for baking and frying, plus flavor variations. And, bonus—you can use both frosting and sprinkles.
How to Make Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Doughnuts
This recipe was shared with us by Molly Winsten, a registered dietitian who specializes in food allergies and food inclusivity.
- 2-1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2/3 cup canola oil, plus more for frying
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Dash salt
- 2 tablespoons water
Step 1: Make the doughnut batter
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, slowly mix in the water, eggs, vanilla and oil.
Once all the ingredients are incorporated, slowly increase mixer speed to medium-high, then mix for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Allow the batter to rest for at least 15 minutes. This allows the flour mix to absorb the liquid ingredients, resulting in a slightly firmer dough that’s easier to work with.
Step 2: Shape the doughnuts
After 15 minutes, pour or pipe batter into doughnut molds.
Step 3: Bake the doughnuts
To make plain baked doughnuts, bake for 10-12 minutes, until the dough is set and crisped on the edges. Let cool for 2-3 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a baking sheet and leave them in the oven another minute or two to crisp. Skip ahead to Step 6.
Alternatively, you may choose to bake and then fry the doughnuts, which will impart the classic crispy golden exterior. (Frying alone doesn’t work well with wet GF batter: the dough will disintegrate.) For this option, bake the doughnuts for 9-10 minutes, until the batter is just set. Let the doughnuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Step 4 (Optional): Fry the doughnuts
Heat oil to 350° over medium-high heat, or use a deep fryer. Insert a thermometer to maintain a consistent temperature.
When the oil is hot, fry the doughnuts in batches until they’re golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Be careful not to crowd the fryer, which will prevent the doughnuts from crisping.
Test Kitchen Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, use the handle of a wooden spoon. Insert the handle into the oil, and if it bubbles, the oil is hot and ready. This will not be as consistent as a thermometer or regulated fryer but can work as long as you keep your eye on it.
Step 5: Make the glaze
While the doughnuts are cooling, stir together the glaze ingredients. Use a bowl large enough to fit a whole doughnut for the easiest decorating.
Step 6: Decorate the doughnuts
Once the doughnuts are cool, it’s time to decorate! For a professional presentation, place doughnuts directly into the glaze. Let sit for 15-20 seconds, then rotate the doughnut as you lift for a smooth finish. Alternately, you can drizzle or pour the glaze over the cooled doughnuts.
While the glaze is still wet, add extra toppings as desired. Good choices include sprinkles, nuts, chopped gluten-free cookies or candy pieces.
Tips for Making Gluten-Free Doughnuts
What kind of gluten-free flour should you use to make this recipe?
You’ll need an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix for this recipe: that’s a blend of flour and starches that mimic the texture of traditional wheat flour. Don’t try to use a single flour (like rice flour)—it won’t work.
How else can you shape gluten-free doughnuts?
Traditional doughnut batter is shaped by hand, but the gluten-free batter doesn’t have enough structure and stability—it needs the extra support of a pan. (If you bake gluten-free bread at home, you know the drill.) If you bake doughnuts often, it’s worth getting a doughnut pan or mold. To bake doughnuts without a doughnut pan, you can also hack a muffin pan.
What are some variations of this gluten-free doughnut recipe?
There are all kinds of flavor combinations and variations to really make this recipe your own. Here are some of our favorites.
- To make chocolate doughnuts, add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the batter.
- For birthday cake doughnuts, stir 1/2 cup of your favorite sprinkles into the batter before baking.
- Make a maple glaze instead of vanilla glaze by using 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, a dash of salt and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
- Make maple-bacon doughnuts by topping the above with cooked crumbled bacon.
- Use boxed GF cake mix for a shortcut. Add the recommended amount of eggs, but cut the water and oil amounts in half and add a dash of vanilla.
- Use gluten-free pancake mix. Swap in 2-1/2 cups of gluten-free pancake mix plus 2/3 cups of sugar for your dry ingredients.
How should you store gluten-free doughnuts?
Most doughnuts don’t last long—that’s why bakeries sell day-olds for a discount! Gluten-free doughnuts will keep for about 2 days, stored at room temperature, and tightly wrapped in a plastic bag or airtight container. They’ll taste best on day one. After that, they will still be good but might get a bit dry. Revive them with a quick jolt in the microwave.
Doughnuts freeze well. Wrap them tightly in an airtight container or bag, and reheat when the mood strikes.