donut holes, 2 ways

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in Dessert, nut-free | 42 comments

donut holes, 2 ways

For some reason, when Simon and I hear the word donut, we can’t stop thinking about them. We watched a movie once where donuts were an underlying theme, and after the movie ended, it was all we could talk about. Being from opposite sides of the country, we have different donut memories. I could rattle off just about every option on the Dunkin Donuts menu, and Simon, being from San Francisco, prefers his donuts to be overpriced and smug. No I’m kidding. I actually don’t know what kind of donuts he likes. That’s because while he was telling me, I wasn’t really listening, but instead was still dreaming about my Dunkin faves: glazed, Boston cream, and those insanely good glazed chocolate cake ones.

With Hanukkah coming up, I really wanted to create a donut recipe worthy of the Festival of Oil Lights. And to pay homage to my East Coast upbringing, just had to make them apple cider donuts. (my other fond donut memory is one of apple picking and apple cider donuts) While the classic version is simply rolled in cinnamon sugar, I also included a recipe for a chocolate glaze. Because: chocolate.

Each coating recipe makes enough for the entire batch, so you can make one or both.

paleo nutfree donuts



 donut holes, 2 ways

makes 25-30 donut holes


for frying:
1.5-2 cups light olive oil or coconut oil

for the donuts:
2/3 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup apple cider

  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil to 360. (If you don’t own a deep-fat thermometer, just  heat the oil over a medium flame, until it’s hot. You obviously don’t want it to smoke, but it will start to shimmer. A small drop of dough dropped in should sizzle enthusiastically the moment it hits the oil)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the arrowroot, coconut flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat to combine the eggs, honey, and apple cider.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and Stir to combine. You want to get rid of all the lumps. The batter will be somewhat thin, like pancake batter.
  5. Let it sit for one minute to thicken.
  6. Once the oil is hot, drop the dough into it with either a small cookie scoop, or two spoons. You want to aim for about 1 tablespoon per donut. Drop in 8-10 donuts per batch.
  7. Fry for 3-4 minutes, flipping several times. To make sure they’re done, cut one in half and check the inside before removing the remainder of them. (If you follow me on Instagram, you can watch the video of these donuts frying, where they flip themselves!)
  8. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a metal rack over a baking sheet.
  9. Repeat with the remaining dough.

for the cinnamon sugar:
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

  1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the donuts in the mixture.

for the chocolate glaze:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey

  1. In a double boiler over steaming water, melt the chocolate and coconut oil.
  2. Stir in the honey
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature before dipping in the donuts. The glaze will be quite thin when warm, and won’t adhere to the donuts until it’s cooled down a bit. But act quickly once it’s the consistency of warm pudding! The window here is small, and the glaze will harden quickly. If it does, simply reheat enough to make it fluid.
  4. Dip the donuts in the chocolate glaze and remove to a wire rack over wax or parchment paper to catch the drips. It will harden once cool.



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  1. Simone – would you believe I am one of those weird people who has never tried a Dunkin Donut? I think there are about 3 of us in the entire western world. Since giving up grains, I guess I never will try one BUT this recipe of yours makes me seriously want to make donut holes Zenbelly’s way. YUM!

    • Simon has never had one, either! I think they’re truly a regional thing…

  2. Do you think these would freeze well?

    • I haven’t tried it, but I think cakes in general freeze well, so these should too… Maybe pop one in the freezer as a test before throwing the whole batch in there!

  3. Do you think coconut oil would be as good for the frying?

    • I think health-wise, it’s better. I was going for flavor, so used light olive. When I tried coconut on my first test batch, they were greasy, but I think that had more to do with the actual recipe needing tweaking, and the oil not being hot enough. Maybe try a smaller batch to test, just to be safe.

      • I used coconut oil and mine turned out great. I let them drain on a paper towel for a minute and they weren’t greasy.

  4. At this point, I probably shouldn’t be so surprised at how amazing these are because everything thing I have made from your recipes is unbelievably amazing! You’ve really outdone yourself with these! They are slightly crispy on the outside and airy in the middle and I would never know they were paleo if I hadn’t mixed up the batter mysel! Well done! I continue to be impressed with your culinary skills!! :)

    • Thanks, Alima! That’s wonderful to hear. And thanks for reporting back about the coconut oil!

  5. Do you think you could use tapioca starch instead of arrowroot?

    • In most recipes, they’re pretty interchangeable. There’s a chance the tapioca will make these gummy, though. I haven’t tried it, so can’t say for sure. Maybe try a half batch first, and please report back if you try it!

  6. Any thoughts on substitutions for the apple cider? I am about to make a batch with it but have one lovely child who would prefer not to have the apple flavoring and I am not sure what to replace that amount of liquid with…?

    • I’m not sure what will provide the same moisture and sweetness, but you could try almond milk or coconut milk. Or in theory, I suppose any kind of juice should work.

      • For some reason, in reading the recipe I saw apple cider vinegar, but its just apple cider correct? I guess since so many paleo recipes call for apple cider vinegar that’s just what I saw. Lol

  7. That’s what I was going to ask. Is it apple cider “juice” or apple cider vinegar?

    • Apple cider juice!

  8. A couple stupid questions if you don’t mind…is a “deep-fat” thermometer the same as a “candy” thermometer? And as for sauce pan size I have a 2qt or a 4qt, which would be better? These are calling my name :) I’ve never fried donuts (or anything really lol) I’ve only tried baked donuts…can’t wait!

    • Not a stupid question! They’re the same, made for both purposes. I used a 2 quart sauce pan, and made the donuts in 3 or 4 batches, which worked great! I hope you love them :)

      • Lol, I don’t know what I did wrong but mine look nothing like your picture, but they taste good :)

      • This is not the first time I’ve heard this! More like fritters, right? I’m pretty sure it’s because of how I dropped them into the oil. I’m going to make them again and have the boyfriend film it, so people can see how I wound up with somewhat of a round shape! I’m glad they at least tasted good :)

  9. Thanks so much, I can’t wait to try them!

  10. I used applesauce instead of apple cider……SO good. Just trying to decide which way to coat:)

  11. And now I want a blueberry cake donut from D&D… I also want to make these immediately.

  12. Finally got to make these … fantastic! Burned the first batch b/c no thermometer but got it tweaked and got the round shape figured out using the double spoons… these are SO So gOOD!!!

  13. Do you think they would be good fried in leaf lard?

    • YES. OMG yes. Let me know how they come out!

  14. I made these today and the texture and taste was amazing! Thanks for such a great recipe!! I didn’t have apple cider on hand, so I subbed coconut milk with some vanilla extract. For some reason the batter flattened way out when I tried to fry it, so I put it in a well greased mini donut pan and baked at 350 for about 8 min. They were incredible, thanks again!

  15. I just made these and they are AMAZING! I can’t believe I waited until I bought the cookbook to try them! The fritter thing happened to us too. We concluded that we might not have used enough oil, so they were sitting on the bottom of the pan. I will try more oil next time and see what happens.

    • Horray! If they were sitting at the bottom, it could be a case of not hot enough oil also. It’s a trial and error situation with donuts, quite often! It could also be that the batter didn’t get thick enough, it usually thickens after sitting for a minute (because of the coconut flour), but I’m not sure that every brand of flour in this case is identical. If you make them again and the batter seems thin, just add a little more coconut flour so it’s more scoopable. I’m glad you still loved them! :)

  16. Did you ever get around to making that video? I’m trying to search the site for it and am coming up blank. Thanks!

    • I didn’t! I’m kind of video challenged over here… So many I want to do, but I need another person! Aaaaahhh. :\

      • I understand! I know you said you use two spoons. Do you just load the first spoon and use the second one to quickly scrape off the batter into the oil?

      • Yes, that’s what I did, sort of like using two spoons to push cookie batter onto a baking sheet. A disher (like an ice cream scoop with a lever) works even better, and you can get them all in the oil way faster, too. Thanks for understanding! I seriously another 2 or 3 of me over here :)

      • I just came here to see if a video had been put up too!! They came out like fritters. I’ll try the method you both described (at least the way my mind is interpreting it!!)

  17. Hi,

    My donuts are coming out porous and not round. What should I do?

  18. I made these last night, FYI, and they turned out great! I was worried because my batter was never very thin. I even added an extra splash of cider. I was more like loose cookie dough. I used my cookie scoop, and other than burning the first batch, they came out great! Perfectly round and perfectly delicious!

    Oh, I did use grade b maple syrup instead of honey. I went to make these at 9:30 pm (don’t judge) and saw that our honey was a solid block. But if anything the syrup was runnier than honey, so I’m not sure why my batter was so thick. Oh well, they turned out amazing :-)

  19. I made these last night and my batter was more like pancake batter consistency, should it be thicker than that? Mine turned out like fritters, not great to look at but delicious to eat, they were a huge hit at the Super Bowl party last night and disappeared in a hurry!

    • I’ve found that grain-free flours vary a lot! If you make them again, just add another tablespoon of coconut flour and let sit for a minute. It should get thicker so you can get rounds instead of fritters!

  20. Drool… I’m going to try these using Kombucha instead of apple cider and report back… after my husband and I finish our insanely delicious apple pie;) Xx

    • Oh nice! Please let me know how they work with kombucha!

  21. These are absolutely amazing. Thank you for all of your hard work to prepare such incredible recipes! Our family is very, very grateful.

    • Thanks, Lori! I’m so glad to hear it :)


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