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Delight your family with Carrot Cake Baked Donuts with Cream Cheese Glaze for an easy Easter treat or Spring brunch this year! They are soft and moist and not as bad for you as a traditional fried donut.
My husband grew up with a Saturday morning donut tradition in his family. He likes to take our girls on donut runs now too, and they love the daddy-daughter time because I find that eating donuts for breakfast always leaves me feeling blah for the rest of the day. It’s the heavy fried issue that gets to me with starting my day with donuts that leaves me feeling terrible. I’m such a party pooper.
They don’t do it every Saturday, but sometimes Paul and the girls will make a plan the night before so that when they wake up in the morning they pop out of bed and head over to our favorite donut shop for a treat.
I tend to prefer donuts as an afternoon snack since that’s how we always enjoyed them in my family.
But these carrot cake baked donuts are delightful for a breakfast treat that is at least a slightly healthier choice since they are baked instead of fried! I have made traditional fried donuts before (like old-fashioned doughnuts and these delicious apple cider donuts) but I love that baked donuts don’t require heating up a ton of oil for deep-frying!
My donut loving family was thrilled when I made these for them. Especially Rose who ALWAYS goes for cake donuts with sprinkles at the donut shop. Can’t say that I blame her.
Do baked donuts taste like regular donuts?
If you have never had baked donuts before and are wondering if they taste the same as traditional fried donuts, the answer is not quite, but not in a bad way.
The texture is softer, without that crisp fried outer shell that you only get from hot oil. But baked donuts also don’t have a greasy aftertaste that is problematic with many donuts I’ve experienced over the years.
Really, baked donuts are probably closer to muffins in terms of taste and texture, but they are more fun because they have the traditional donut shape that you get using a donut pan. These are the donut pans (<–affiliate link) I have and they work great.
Don’t have a donut pan? You can easily make these in a muffin tin instead. The bake time is just a little longer, which you will see in the recipe notes. But a donut pan isn’t very expensive and I have found that I’m approximately 1,000x more likely to make donuts at home using a donut pan than I am to heat up a pot of oil for fried donuts.
To easily get the donut batter into the donut pan without a mess, use a large Ziploc bag. Spoon the batter into a large Ziploc bag and snip off one of the corners, then pipe the batter into the pan. It’s soooo much easier this way as opposed to spooning the batter into the pan.
The donuts bake super-duper quick, then they need to cool down for just a bit before dipping them in the delicious cream cheese glaze and sprinkling with my favorite Easter sprinkle mix.
Sprinkle Pop makes the cutest sprinkles in all the land! You’ve seen them before decorating some of my favorite treats like these oatmeal rolled sugar cookies or decorating the fruity, tropical guava frosting that I am obsessed with on cupcakes.
Tips for Making Baked Donuts
- Don’t overmix the batter. Just like with muffin, you only want to mix the batter until it is combined and no streaks of flour are remaining.
- Prep your donut pan by spray with baking spray (the kind with flour in it – not cooking spray) before filling the molds to help them release easily from the pan.
- Be careful not to overfill each donut cavity or the hole in the center will close as the donuts bake.
- These donuts are best eaten fresh but can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge. You can freeze unglazed donuts for up to 2 months.
More Baked Donut Recipes that are Perfect for Spring
- Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts
- Baked Strawberry Lemon Donuts from A Latte Food
- Lemon Blueberry Baked Donuts from Make and Taste
- Baked Coconut Lemon Donuts from A Latte Food
- Cherry Limeade Donuts from An Affair From the Heart
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot (about 2 large carrots)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-4 tablespoons milk
- Sprinkles, for decorating
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray donut pans with baking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, oil, and sugars. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until combined.
- Stir in carrots with a wooden spoon, then sprinkle the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the batter and stir just until combined.
- Transfer the batter to a large ziploc or piping bag and cut off the tip. Pipe the batter into the prepared pans until they are about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until the top springs back to the touch or a toothpick inserted into one of the donuts comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese using an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add the melted butter and powdered sugar and beat again. Add the vanilla and milk, continuing to beat until you reach the desired consistency.
- Once donuts are cool, dip each donut into the glaze then decorate with sprinkles. Let set for 1 hour. The glaze doesn't fully harden because of the cream cheese, but it's worth it for that classic cream cheese and carrot cake flavor. If you want a glaze that will dry out better, just omit the cream cheese.
You can make this recipe into muffins using a muffin pan. Bake 18-20 minutes at the same temperature until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.