Gluten-free Pumpkin Doughnut Holes

Pumpkin Doughnut Holes (gluten free)

Since many stores are putting up their Christmas decorations, it’s a sure bet that Thanksgiving is around the corner! So it’s time to indulge in the flavors of fall — apple crisps, butternut squash soup, pumpkin bread and of course, the highly anticipated seasonal coffee drinks at places like Starbucks, right?

I know everyone is eager to talk about the weather and holiday plans, but I’d like to get back to the fall goodies for a few minutes, particularly these baked pumpkin doughnut holes/mini muffins. What exactly are they — doughnuts or muffins? Let me first say they’re gluten free and easy to make. Since I do a lot of writing about gluten-free foods and recipes for work, I like to try my hand at making gluten-free dishes.

Don’t let that scare you if you don’t follow a gluten-free diet. These goodies are super-tasty — just like the holiday-flavored doughnuts from the local shops, but they’re baked not fried — bonus! If it’s not necessary for you to follow a gluten-free diet I’m fairly certain you can use regular all-purpose flour, baking powder and skip the xanthan gum.

Looks can be deceiving

The only problem I found with these treats is the name (or maybe it’s just me)! You read “doughnut holes” so you expect the result to be the little round, bite-sized cast-offs, right?

I followed the recipe’s directions and put the batter in the mini muffin tin (should that have been my first clue?) to bake. When they were finished baking, lo and behold! Umm, mini muffins not doughnut holes!

I’m not complaining, though, because these “doughnut holes” are amazing, especially with a glass of milk or maybe that coffee drink you’ve been enjoying.

I still can’t figure out how to keep the dough in the shape of a doughnut hole and not a muffin so if you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

I adapted this recipe from

Recipe for gluten-free pumpkin doughnut holes
(a.k.a. mini muffins):

Makes 48 doughnut holes/mini muffins


  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk (instead of the buttermilk, you could use 2 tablespoons milk mixed together with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose Baking Flour)
  • 1/16 teaspoon xanthan gum (the equivalent of about a small pinch – again, I like Bob’s Red Mill product)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the coating:
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons ground cinnamon (more or less based on your taste)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Coat 2, 24-count mini muffin pans with non-stick spray.
  3. In a mixer, combine the sugar and butter until it’s fluffy. Add the egg, pumpkin puree and buttermilk (or substitute), and again, beat until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add the dry ingredients together into a bowl and whisk until everything is thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the batter a bit at a time, and blend until it’s smooth.
  6. Use a tablespoon to drop the batter into the muffin tins. I suggest you don’t fill the dough to the top of the tin -- leave a bit of room for them to “grow.”
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the doughnut holes comes out clean.
  8. Remove the doughnut holes from the tins and allow them cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, melt the butter for the coating, and in a separate bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
  9. Use a pastry brush to LIGHTLY coat each doughnut hole with the melted butter. If you use too much butter, the holes will get soggy.
  10. Immediately after (lightly) coating each with the butter, role the holes in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat each hole all the way “around.”
Makes 48 doughnut holes/mini muffins
I adapted this recipe from



  1. Mary R. says

    Excellent! These turned out very well, similar to regular cake-like donut holes. Not a strong pumpkin flavor – think it added more moistness to the donut holes. The cinnamon sugar coating helps make them extra special. These were quickly devoured by GF and non-GF family members!

    • Patricia says

      Hi Mary – glad everyone liked them! Looking back, I might try to adjust the next batch for more of the pumpkin flavor (especially since they’re easy to put together)!
      Thanks for the feedback!

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