Is there anything more delicious than homemade donuts?
No, no there's not.
❤️ Why you'll love it
- Easy options for classic frying or baking
- Old-fashioned style cake donuts go great with a morning cup of coffee
- Topped with a simple glaze made from fresh lemon zest
Homemade gingerbread donuts taste as good as the holiday season feels! With a sweet, tangy, and cinnamon-spicy flavor, you can enjoy the magic of Christmas morning in every festive bite.
This is an overview of the ingredients. You'll find the full measurements and instructions in the green recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.
This is an overview of the instructions. Full instructions are in the green recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and flatten.
- Use a doughnut or cookie cutter to shape the dough.
- Fry the donuts and drain them on paper towels.
- With a spoon or piping bag, apply glaze to warm donuts and enjoy!
Whether fried or baked, gingerbread doughnuts taste best warm, just after glazing. I recommend gobbling them down on the same day you make them. And, with hints of cinnamon and ginger wafting temptingly through the house, that's never an issue!
However, if you have leftover donuts, store them in an airtight container in the freezer. They keep well for up to three months. If you know ahead of time that you're going to freeze some, leave the glaze off.
You can thaw and warm frozen gingerbread donuts in your air fryer or the oven for a few minutes until heated to your liking.
- Not a fan of molasses? Substitute it for maple syrup!
- Feel free to choose your favorite type of cinnamon—my preferred variety is Vietnamese.
- A pinch of cardamom in the donut batter adds delicious citrus flavor that goes perfectly with the lemon glaze.
- You can use ground nutmeg, but the autumn spice is so much more flavorful when grated fresh!
- If you're not a fan of lemon, use vanilla extract for a mild, sweet glaze.
- Run out of cream for the glaze? No worries—you can use some melted butter instead.
- Toss the warm doughnuts in a cinnamon sugar mixture before glazing for an extra pop of Christmas flavor.
- After glazing, add some festive sprinkles. Or, tint half the glaze in a holiday red and drizzle it over top with a pastry bag!
- Use a mini donut pan to make fun, bite-sized gingerbread mini donuts!
- To air fry the donuts, preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F. Brush some melted butter over both sides of the donuts and cook them for eight minutes in batches.
💭 Things to know
Expert Tip: Be sure to use unsulphured molasses—this is super important! Blackstrap molasses will taste terrible.
- As the primary flavoring component of gingerbread, use a new container of ground ginger if at all possible. For best results, avoid the ancient, stale mini-jar hiding in the back of your pantry.
- Full-fat sour cream keeps your homemade donuts nice and moist. Don't swap it for low-fat, fat-free, or yogurt.
- For really fluffy donuts, use as soft of dough as possible. You can put it in the refrigerator if it gets hard to handle. Do whatever it takes not to add any more flour than needed.
- Just like when you're making biscuits, don't twist the cutter around the doughnut. Simply press straight down, then lift straight back up.
- When it comes to the greased donut pan, anything you prefer is fine. Coconut oil, butter, and nonstick cooking spray all work great.
- However, when frying the donuts, use oil with a high smoke point. My preference for frying is peanut oil. (Vegetable oil doesn't withstand as high of temperatures, but you can use it if allergic to peanuts.)
- Be extremely careful when using an electric fryer. Make sure your kids and pets stay out of the kitchen—you can never be too safe!
- For best results, keep your frying oil around 370-375 degrees F.
- Don't overload the fryer, as it can reduce the temperature and your doughnuts will be soggy. Only fry a few at a time—two or so, if they're full-size.
- Flip your gingerbread doughnuts as they rise to the top. They should be a light golden color.
- Change the oil as it gets dark. This will keep your doughnuts tasting fresh and clean, rather than murky and burned.
- Hold the fryer basket over the fryer for a bit to let the finished donuts drain. Then, set them on paper towels to absorb the remaining oil.
- For the glaze, use freshly squeezed lemon juice! And, don't skimp on the zest. It makes a difference!
- Sift the powdered sugar before stirring it into the glaze for an extra smooth finish with no lumps.
It's actually both! Either spelling is accepted, it usually just depends on where you're from!
Brown sugar provides more flavor than white and is best in this recipe, so I wouldn't swap it!
It depends! They both have pros and cons. Silicone donut pans are flexible which makes removing the donuts very easy. Metal donut pans are better at conducting heat and may bake your donuts more evenly. At the end of the day, whichever you can get your hands on will work fine!
Nope! This blend of ingredients is specially formulated as a gingerbread donuts recipe only—and, it tastes best that way! If you're looking for Christmas cookies, might I suggest these?
📚 Related recipes
- Classic gingerbread is one of those great recipes that tastes like Christmas at grandma's house. Fragrant, soft, and a little spicy, too!
- You'll love these gingerbread snowball cookies, too!
- A stack of gingerbread waffles are perfect fall!
- Craving donuts, but need 'em now? Easy air fryer donuts are made from start to finish in just 10 minutes—yes, 10 minutes!
- There's nothing like a good donut made of simple ingredients. These yeasted donuts are perfect for holiday mornings—and evenings, too!
- Be sure to try this cranberry nut bread! Perfect for holiday giving.
🍽️ Serve with...
📞 The last word
Gingerbread donuts are full of spicy flavor that will sweep you through fall and winter like your favorite, soft flannel jammies and woolie socks. Dark gingerbread cake is topped with a puckery lemon glaze for a cornucopia of sweet, tangy, spicy flavor no one can resist.
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need. Don't forget that you can click on "add to collection" to save it to your own, private recipe box!
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Gingerbread DoughnutsPrint Pin Recipe Save Go to Collections
- Electric Fryer
- ½ cup brown sugar, dark, firmly packed
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup molasses, unsulphured
- ½ cup sour cream, regular not low fat
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 teaspoons ginger, ground
- ½ teaspoon salt, kosher
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- ¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
- Pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
- 2 ½ cups flour, you may need a little more
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon cream, heavy cream or half and half
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- Combine all the donut ingredients except flour mixture and stir well.
- Add just enough flour to make a soft dough, it should leave the sides of the bowl and be JUST firm enough to shape.
- Roll out lightly on a floured counter (well floured, this is sticky dough) and cut with a doughnut cutter.
- Fry in deep, hot oil (360F) turning once.
- Drain on paper towel or brown paper bags.
- Repeat with all of the dough, and then fry the doughnut holes.
- Mix all of the glaze ingredients together until smooth.
- Glaze doughnuts while warm.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Shape the donuts and lay them on a well greased cookie sheet or in a donut pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until done.
- Always cut the dough straight down - do not twist the cutter.
- Don't have a cutter? Use an empty (clean) tomato paste can and cut the donut center out with the wide open end of an icing tip or punch it out with your finger.
- Make sure the oil is hot. 370F to 375F is usually best.
- Don't overload the fryer. Fry a few at a time - no more than 2 for a small fryer.
- Flip the donuts as they rise to the top and are light golden on the underside but don't over-fry them or they will be tough and dry.
- Use the softest dough possible. Refrigerate it as needed to keep it workable.
- Use clean oil - peanut oil is best if you don't have allergies. Change it after every 2nd or 3rd frying session or when it starts to darken.
- Hold the fryer basket up over the fryer to let the finished donuts drain for a few minutes before removing them to drain on absorbent paper.
- Donuts are best served immediately or frozen. They get stale very fast.
- A pinch of cardamom added with the spices gives a warm, citrus flavor that's delicious.
- Add the glaze while they are still warm.
- Cooked donuts freeze well for up to three months. If you are going to freeze them don't add glaze until you're ready to serve.
- To serve donuts that have been frozen just thaw and heat in the air fryer or oven for a few minutes.
- Donuts taste best when they are freshly made so eat them the same day or freeze for another time.
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First published October 2007. Last updated October 19, 2022 with better images and more tips.