Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Buttercream


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These chocolate pumpkin donuts topped with brown sugar buttercream and chopped pecans are so tasty, you won’t even notice that they’re baked instead of fried!

pumpkin and chocolate donuts with brown butter buttercream

Show up to a dinner party with these chocolate pumpkin donuts with brown sugar buttercream in hand and you’ll definitely be met with smiles (and maybe even some delighted squeals.) They may be impressive, but the beauty of cake donuts is that, since they don’t need to rise, they’re really quick to make.

The hardest part was deciding what flavor I wanted to go with. (I debated my options for hours!)

Like always, I used Gold Medal flour. I love the history of the brand and enjoyed learning more about it when I visited them in Minneapolis last month. Did you know that the name comes from the fact that they actually won a gold medal? I mean, duh, but that had never actually occurred to me before. It turns out that way back in 1880 their flours won the gold, silver, and bronze medals at the International Millers’ Exhibition. Pretty impressive! I might have been in an oddly nostalgic mood, but using such an iconic brand to make such an iconic dessert kind of gave me chills.

pumpkin and chocolate donuts with brown butter buttercream

Pumpkin puree keeps these donuts really tender and rich, and gives them a subtly earthy flavor that goes really nicely with the chocolate. They taste more chocolate-y the first day, but as they sit overnight the pumpkin flavor becomes more pronounced.

Since the brown sugar buttercream that is super sweet, I intentionally went a little easier on the sugar in the cake. On their own, the donuts definitely need a little something extra, but once you frost them and add a few pecans for crunch they’re kind of amazing. So amazing, if face, that I completely forgot to tell people that they were baked – and they didn’t notice.


pumpkin and chocolate donuts with brown butter buttercream

Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Buttercream 1

Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Sugar Buttercream

To make these donuts, you'll need a donut pan. They're becoming easier and easier to find (I think I picked mine up at Home Goods). If you don't have a donut pan, you can make donut "holes" by baking them in a mini muffin pan instead – they'll only need about 10 minutes in the oven.
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Lauren Keating


For the donuts:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar packed
  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1-3/4 cups Gold Medal® all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the frosting:

  • 6 tablespoons butter softened
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • chopped pecans optional


  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in the sugars, then stir in the pumpkin puree.
  • In a second bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the remaining ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are no lumps.
  • Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into each well of a 12-donut pan, as neatly as you can (you can also use a pastry bag to pipe it into the pan). Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean. Let the donuts cool, then remove from the pan.
  • While the donuts cool, prepare the frosting. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it's light and fluffy. Add the sugars, vanilla, and milk and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If necessary, you can thin the frosting out with a little more milk.
  • Pipe the frosting onto the cooled donuts. Top with chopped pecans, if desired.

This post was sponsored by Gold Medal Flour. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me inspired in the kitchen.

By on November 29th, 2013

About Lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren! I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie.

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6 thoughts on “Chocolate Pumpkin Donuts with Buttercream”

  1. You’re torturing me with all these delicious-looking doughnuts! How am I supposed to decide which kind to make first?

  2. I love baked donuts. I think the texture is great, nice and cakey. When you grow up on Dunkin’ your used to that hefty donut.


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