Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts
Filed Under: Donut | Fall | Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts

October 24th, 2022
5 from 6 votes
5 from 6 votes

Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts are fried to perfection and loaded with pumpkin spice flavors and a thick shiny pumpkin glaze. No yeast required!

Yield: 12 doughnuts

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

The BEST PUMPKIN DOUGHNUTS EVER!! We couldn't believe how good these were... better than the doughnut shop!

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Like all your pumpkin spice dreams have come true!
Texture: The doughnut is crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside, with that thick shiny glaze on top. SO good!
Ease: I wouldn’t call this recipe easy, but it’s totally doable. Deep frying does make a mess and requires your full attention, but it’s so worth it.
Pros: Doughnut bliss.
Cons: Baked doughnuts can be great, but the only way to achieve doughnut bliss (to me) is by deep frying. It’s messy and indulgent, but for special occasions, it’s so worth it!
Would I make this again? Yes yes and yes.

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No need to continue searching for the perfect fall breakfast: Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts are here!

These doughnuts are SO delicious and are perfect for any special occasion or weekend project.

Pumpkin Spice Donuts are absolutely full of pumpkin spice goodness, fried to heavenly perfection, and topped with a shiny pumpkin glaze. 

You can even make and shape the dough the night before, so everyone can wake up to freshly fried and glazed doughnuts. Thanksgiving breakfast, anyone? 

Be sure to check out my tips below for perfect Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts! 

Glazed Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts and donut holes on a tray, ready to serve

How to Make Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts

My Favorite Doughnut Tools:

  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven – For frying. This Dutch oven is nice and deep, which prevents mess as you fry your pumpkin doughnuts.
  • Deep Fry Thermometer – To gauge the temperature of the oil as you fry. Inaccurate oil temperature can result in greasy doughnuts, or doughnuts that are still raw inside.
  • Doughnut Cutter – To cut your dough. You can alternatively use a regular round cutter with a much smaller round cutter, to cut out your pumpkin doughnuts and doughnut holes.
  • Digital Kitchen Scale – For weighing the ingredients. Any issues I hear about the dough being too dry or sticky are likely due to inaccurate measuring! Learn more about that here.

Do I Have to Use Cake Flour?

Yes, cake flour works best to create really light and tender doughnuts. Cake flour is actually made from a softer variety of wheat and is bleached and milled more finely than AP flour. It’s definitely worth the trip to the store to pick some up. Learn more about cake flour and why I prefer to avoid DIY substitutions here

What Type of Pumpkin Should I Use for Pumpkin Doughnuts?

  • I used store-bought canned pumpkin puree for this Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts recipe.
  • While I haven’t tried it myself, you should be able to use homemade pumpkin puree instead, if preferred.
  • Note: Be sure NOT to use canned pumpkin pie filling for this recipe – it is not the same thing as pumpkin puree.
  • Check out my Fresh vs. Canned Pumpkin article for the differences between using fresh pumpkin puree, regular canned pumpkin, and organic canned pumpkin, and learn how to make your own pumpkin puree!

pumpkin puree types (homemade, canned and organic) in bowls, lined up next to one another for comparison

Do I Have to Use Corn Syrup in the Glaze?

  • Corn syrup helps to create a glaze that dips beautifully, stays shiny, and sets perfectly, just like doughnuts from a bakery. 
  • Corn syrup is unfairly demonized and really just misunderstood. At the end of the day, it’s just an invert sugar (meaning that it’s a sugar that’s liquid at room temperature).
  • Corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup.
  • If you don’t want to use corn syrup, I recommend using golden syrup in its place.
  • If you prefer to skip it altogether, just note that this will change the texture and appearance of your glaze.

Can I Bake These Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts Instead of Frying Them?

No. This recipe was formulated to be fried. That really does give you the best taste and texture. If you prefer not to fry, I have plenty of baked doughnut recipes here. I have not tried air frying these doughnuts, and I don’t believe it would work – but let me know if you give that a try!

How to Make Pumpkin Donuts Ahead:

  • The dough itself can be made, covered, and refrigerated up to 24 hours ahead of time.
  • You can also cover and refrigerate the shaped uncooked doughnuts overnight. This is definitely the easier option for serving these doughnuts for breakfast, but the dough is also more likely to dry out slightly this way. Make sure it’s really well-wrapped and limit the amount of time it’s sitting in the fridge.
  • Once the doughnuts are fried and glazed, they need to be served that same day.

pumpkin donut topped with thick shiny pumpkin spice glaze, with a bite taken out

More Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Love:

5 from 6 votes

How to make
Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts

Yield: 12 doughnuts
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Pumpkin Old Fashioned Doughnuts are fried to perfection and loaded with pumpkin spice flavors and a thick shiny pumpkin glaze. No yeast required!


For the pumpkin spice doughnuts

  • 3 cups (339 grams) cake flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (use less if you don't love nutmeg)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup (165 ml) sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) pumpkin puree
  • Canola oil, for frying

For the pumpkin glaze

  • 4 1/2 cups (450 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup or golden syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water


Make the doughnuts:

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter on low speed until sandy, about 1 minute. Add the egg yolks, increase the speed to medium, and beat until light and thick, about 1 minute.

  3. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and pumpkin, mixing until combined. The dough should be sticky like biscuit dough.

  4. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or up to 24 hours.

Make the glaze:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the powdered sugar, corn syrup, salt, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin puree, and vanilla until combined. On medium speed, add gradually add the water, scraping down the bowl, until incorporated. Set aside.

Fry the doughnuts:

  1. When ready to fry, pour 2 inches of oil into a large heavy pot. Attach a candy thermometer and heat oil to 325°F.

  2. On a generously floured work surface, roll out the cold dough to 1/2-inch thick 8-inch wide round. Cut as many doughnuts and holes as possible, dipping the cutter into flour to prevent sticking. Fold and gently re-roll the scraps to make extra holes.

  3. Shake any excess flour off the doughnut dough before adding them to the hot oil about three at a time. Wait for the doughnuts to float, then fry for 20 to 30 seconds. Gently flip over and continue frying for about another minute, or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel lined cooling rack to drain. Fry the holes for about 20 to 30 seconds per side.

  4. While the doughnuts are still hot, give the glaze a whisk before dipping the cracked side of each doughnut into the glaze. Let dry on the cooling racks until set, about 15 minutes, before serving. Glazed doughnuts should be served the same day.

Recipe Notes

Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American
Keyword : donut, doughnut, fall, fall baking, pumpkin, pumpkin spice

This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated with additional recipe tips and baking science information. 

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Misha — October 22, 2023 at 11:36 am

    I halved this recipe after reading other commenters say these don’t keep well. Very tasty! I have no use for corn syrup in my kitchen, so instead of buying a bottle I subbed with maple syrup that I already had on hand and it was fantastic! The maple syrup provided a great maple flavor that paired really well with the other ingredients, and it provided a nice shine when it set. Also, if you are a person that likes to combine sweet and savory, I topped half of the donuts with homemade bacon bits and it was a hit!

  2. #
    Michelle Harper — April 21, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    These are amazing! So easy to make and the taste is out of this world. Mine are a little thinner because I unintentionally rolled thinner than 1/2 inch, but was too lazy to redo. Tasted just as good! This will be a staple for us.

    • #
      Emily — April 22, 2022 at 9:40 am

      Glad you enjoyed them!

  3. #
    mehrona — September 12, 2021 at 1:55 am

    hello tessa, why don’t they need a second rise?

    • #
      Emily — September 13, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      We didn’t find that it was needed! We actually don’t require a second rise for any of our Old Fashioned Doughnuts recipes 🙂

  4. #
    Carolyn — November 23, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    I haven’t had so much fun baking in a while, these turned out so beautifully! Better have a hungry crowd ready though bc they definitely don’t eat as well the next day and wouldn’t recommend trying to get a third day out of them. But they’re so delicious that they should go quickly!

  5. #
    CHRISTINA NORTHRUP — November 1, 2018 at 10:39 am

    i made this recipe and followed directions to the t! Except for my pumpkin glaze and the donut mix i used a tad bit of buttercream. This might have been the best pumpkin dessert ive ever had in my life.

  6. #
    Matt — October 15, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    They were quite tasty. Even though the donut cutter I used needs soldering and repair. The last two were really thick so I cooked them longer. The outsides a bit darker and crispier. Taste Amazing, and I used the substituted cake flour as you mentioned.

  7. #
    KammyBags — February 12, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    It looks so delicious! I wanna test them! ^_^

  8. #
    Angela — November 8, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Measured the same way I do all of your recipes. (I make A LOT of them lol) spoon in measure and level. All of your others worked fine 🙁 yes I used cake flour. I’m totally baffled lol. Holy cow is the flavor good. (Which is why I’m desperate to figure out what went wrong) Just can’t chew them. 🙁

  9. #
    Angela — November 7, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    I made these tonight. Followed the recipe exactly to the letter. The dough wouldn’t even come together because it was so dry even had about a 1/4 c of the ingredients left in the bottom of the mixer bowl and would NOT incorporate. Finally had to add about a tbsp of milk just to kinda bring it together. The dough was so tough you couldn’t chew it. They didn’t split. Not sure what went wrong. HOWEVER the flavor was amazing enough that I will try again if I can figure out what went wrong.

    • #
      Tessa — November 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Hi Angela, I’m sorry to hear that! Did you use cake flour, and did you measure it by volume with measuring cups or by weight?

  10. #
    Megan — November 1, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Hi! I was wondering if your old fashioned sour cream dough can also be refrigerated for 24 hours as well. My mom, unfortunately, is not a huge pumpkin fan but I’d love to make the sour cream version of this doughnut.

    • #
      Jane Zumot — October 3, 2019 at 2:02 am

      Can we baked it instead of frying? Thanks

  11. #
    Melanie Araar — October 28, 2016 at 4:32 am

    These sound delicious! I’ve a question about the glaze- the recipe includes pumpkin puree, but it is not mentioned in the instructions. I’m guessing it may be an oversight, but want to make sure as I want these to turn out perfect 🙂

  12. #
    Diane — October 24, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I bought a bag of Pastry Flour a while back. How is that different than cake flour?

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