Baked Homemade Applesauce Doughnuts

homemade applesauce doughnuts

Since I could talk, (although before I could pronounce the word “doughnut”), one of my favorite treats (or meals) has been doughnuts – fried, with sprinkles, cake or raised, powdered or granulated – I love them all (except Boston creme). Every fall I long for fresh apple cider doughnuts, and while I haven’t yet grabbed this year’s first jug of cider, I did get a 3 pound bag of local McIntosh apples. For whatever reason, when I got them, I immediately thought “doughnuts.” I figured if I transformed the apples into applesauce, (I’m not set up for the canning process to make apple cider. Plus who does that?) I thought it would be an easy leap to make some applesauce doughnuts.

It wouldn’t be a real recipe for me if something didn’t go terribly wrong in the process. Wanting something a bit healthy, I originally set out to make gluten-free applesauce doughnuts. I had some brown rice flour and proceeded to mix it with the applesauce, spices, and other (soon-to-be-thrown-away) ingredients to hopefully create a delicious fall treat. What emerged from the oven were anemic, sour blobs that even I, a doughnut devotee couldn’t stomach.

Some cooks or bakers tweak and refine recipes several or even dozens of times until they get it right. I’m not one of them. At this point, I would have typically thrown the dirty dishes in the sink and eaten some chips, abandoning the effort. But I decided to at least try a gluten-full version using whole wheat flour and a modification of ingredients. These, I’m glad to report, came out more respectably.

My applesauce doughnuts are baked, and while I respect baked doughnuts, they won’t substitute for the bag of freshly fried farmer’s market apple cider doughnuts that, now that I think about it, I really need to get this weekend. But, my little-used doughnut pan needed to be rinsed off, so why not take it for a ride?

These whole wheat applesauce doughnuts had a nice (if muffin-like) consistency and were not too sweet. (The only sweetener is homemade applesauce, and that doesn’t have added sugar either). So, I made a quick glaze that helped to cover up some of the doughnuts’ unsightly blemishes, (uneven cooking?) and give a glossier, more appetizing appearance. I think a more richly spiced or flavored glaze, and maybe some crumbly coffeecake topping would have worked really well too. (Sorry to conflate my favorite breakfast breads). But the glaze helped take these from “doughnut shaped muffin” to a slightly more legitimate doughnut treat.

Frankly, this recipe would have been sufficient if it were just for applesauce, because the applesauce I made to create the doughnuts turned out to be way more sweet and satisfying. But using both the food mill and the doughnut pan in one recipe seemed like a noteworthy accomplishment worth sharing. I would have no less respect for you should you decide to make this delicious applesauce and can (so to speak) the doughnuts altogether.

As I mentioned, these recipes call for some specialized equipment. The first is a food mill, which is a hand-cranking mechanism that is mounted on top of a mixing bowl. It comes with several inserts that will puree foods coarsely or finely, depending on which one you choose. In my mind, this is the only way to make applesauce, and the only way I’ve ever made it.  However, I’m sure others have pureed it using various contraptions with some success. The other piece of equipment I used in these recipes is a doughnut pan. It’s basically a non-stick baking pan with six doughnut-shaped wells where you pour the dough. After 12-15 minutes in a hot oven, the dough bowls transform into cake-like entities that usually only look ugly on one side.

Homemade Applesauce (used in Doughnuts)
Recipe type: Breakfast, Sweets
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 lb apples, peeled, cored and sliced into thin crescents
  • 1 c water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  1. Heat a large pot and add apple slices. Stir in water, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt. Adjust heat to low-medium and cover. Cook 12-15 minutes or until the apples have broken down and are starting to disintegrate. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Assemble food mill over a large bowl. Gradually add in apples and crank your heart out until applesauce comes out the bottom and fills the bowl. Keep applesauce chilled in the refrigerator. Serve that way or at room temperature.

You can make the applesauce the day before you plan to make the doughnut recipe. I guess you could also use store bought applesauce, but I don’t think it tastes as good.

For the applesauce doughnuts:

  • 1 c applesauce
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 4 T canola oil
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c rice or soy milk
  • pinch of salt


  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 4 T confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Divide dough between six wells of a non-stick doughnut baking pan. Bake about 15 minutes or until doughnuts are golden and a knife inserted comes out clean. Transfer doughnuts to a cooling rack.

In a small bowl, combine maple syrup and sugar. When doughnuts are cool, drizzle glaze on both sides of doughnuts or dip each one in glaze individually.


  1. Nicole Henry says:

    I was wondering if you could substitute rice or soy milk with almond milk in this recipe? Thanks!

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