stack of pumpkin filled donuts
Individual Desserts,  Seasonal

Pumpkin Donuts with Pumpkin Filling

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These pumpkin donuts are crispy, soft, and filled with a creamy pumpkin custard that tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. They’re coated in a sugar and pumpkin spice mixture. The donut dough has pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to really amp up that pumpkin flavour! Oh and the dough is a no knead dough which gives the donuts beautiful open middles perfect for filling. They turn out so soft and pillowy too!

The filling is very easy to make – combine and heat until thickened. It has pumpkin puree and the perfect amount of pumpkin spice to not overpower – only enhance the pumpkin flavour. It ends up tasting like the best part of a pumpkin pie – that luscious creamy middle. It’s impossible to stop eating!

This recipe will walk you through frying the pumpkin donuts and everything else you need to know to be successful. I have a lot of tips and tricks for getting them perfectly crisp, pillowy, and not greasy. 

torn apart pumpkin spice donut with filling coming out

The star of the show

I used canned pumpkin puree to make these pumpkin donuts. It goes into both the dough and filling. It’s thick, packed with flavour, and accessible year round. If you want to make your own pumpkin puree, strain it to get it to the consistency of hummus. 

The dough

I based the pumpkin donut dough off of my no knead dough that I use in my no knead chocolate tahini babka. It’s easy to make (just combine everything in a large bowl and let it rise), and turns out perfectly soft and pillowy each time! I reduced the butter in the dough because they are going to be fried and added pumpkin puree to give it some pumpkin flavour and colour. 

The trick is to flatten and fold the dough a few times before rolling out and cutting circles. This creates layers in the dough that will later form large air pockets perfect for filling. 

Donut be afraid of frying!

The frying part is way less intimidating than it looks. The key is to just keep an eye on the oil temperature. Definitely use a thermometer – you just won’t be able to get accurate results without one. I used a candy thermometer that also doubles as a frying thermometer. It just clips onto the edge of the pan. If you can’t get your hands on a thermometer, you can check out how to fry donuts without a thermometer.

The best oil for frying donuts is 190°C (370°F). You want the temperature to be high enough so that the oil doesn’t soak into the dough and low enough so that they cook all the way through. I found this to be the perfect temperature! It’s usually recommended to fry donuts at 350°F but I found that to be way too low and the pumpkin donuts turned out very greasy. 

You know how the first pancakes or crepes never turn out? Same with donuts. That’s why I add in the extra scraps first. That way your nicely cut donuts will turn out perfect each time. You can also cut into the scraps and see if they’re fully cooked to make sure that the temperature is perfect. 

Keep an eye on the temperature the whole time. When you add the dough it will dip a little – turn up the heat a bit. As they continue to fry and you take them out, the temp will start to increase – turn it down. You’ll become a pro pretty quickly! Just make sure that you don’t go above the smoking point of your oil. 

I used canola oil for frying the donuts because it has a high smoke point and is light and neutral tasting. Other popular oils for deep frying are peanut oil and vegetable oil. 

Once the pumpkin donuts are fried, lift them over the oil with a spider tongs and let the excess oil drip down. Transfer onto paper towels and blot, removing any excess oil. Transfer them onto a cooling rack cool and remove any more extra oil left.

pumpkin spice donuts in white dish with one bitten donut

Key Ingredients

Full ingredients are in the recipe card below but please read through for lots of tips and substitutions.

Cornstarch: this helps thicken the custard so that it pipes well. You can replace with all purpose flour if you prefer.

Brown sugar: I prefer to use brown sugar because it gives the donut and filling more flavour and amps up the fall vibe!

Large eggs: These go into the custard to add thickness and body, and in the donut. 

Canned pumpkin puree: I use a good quality canned pure pumpkin puree. If you are making your own pumpkin puree, you may need to strain it to get it thick enough (like hummus or a thick Greek yogurt). 

Heavy cream: heavy cream gives the custard extra richness and milkiness. I use 35% whipping cream. 

Pumpkin spice: This is what’s going to amp up that pumpkin flavour and bring it to a whole new level! If you can’t find one at the store, you can make your own pumpkin spice mix. I didn’t add too much of it to really let the pumpkin flavour shine through – to not overpower. If you love the flavour of pumpkin spice then you can definitely amp it up!

Vanilla bean pod: To drive that custard flavour home, I added in vanilla bean seeds. You can use 1 tbsp vanilla paste or 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract if you can’t find any.

Active dry yeast: You can also use instant dry yeast but the flavour is a little different and it will rise faster so keep an eye on it. I prefer active dry yeast. To make sure it is still active, dissolve it in a bit of warm water with some sugar. If it foams on top that means it is active. 

All purpose flour: Weigh the flour to get the most accurate results. If you don’t have a scale, measure properly by stirring the bag and spooning gently into a measuring cup. Scrape the excess off the top with the flat edge off a knife without packing it into the cup. 

Vegetable oil: Use a neutral tasting oil with a high smoke point. Vegetable, peanut, sunflower, and canola oil are perfect for frying. I used canola oil. 

Pumpkin Custard Filling 

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch breaking up any lumps. Add eggs and whisk to break them apart. Add the pumpkin, cream, milk, pumpkin spice, vanilla bean seeds and pod, and salt.

Heat the mixture on low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a simmer and becomes very thick. Add cold butter, stir until melted, and transfer into a container. You can strain it if you see any lumps but I didn’t need to. Put plastic wrap right over the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until cold. I popped mine into the freezer for one hour. 

Donuts

Dissolve the yeast in a bowl with the warm water and 1 tsp sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Set aside for a few minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. You want it to start to form a foam on top to make sure that the yeast is active. 

Combine flour, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, and salt in a large bowl and mix. Make a well in the middle and add butter, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree, milk, and the yeast mixture. 

Use a spoon to mix at first and then get in with your hands to mix until a sticky and shaggy dough forms. If not all of the butter gets mixed into it, it’s ok. 

Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place (see notes) until doubled in size, about 30- 45 mins. 

Turn out the dough onto a well floured surface and flatten and fold a few times with your hands to give it a good mix. Roll out to ¾” thick. Cut out about eighteen 3.5″ circles of dough and transfer onto a parchment lined baking sheet, rerolling the dough as needed. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 15 minutes. Save the dough scraps. 

While the dough is rising, heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pot (I used a wide and narrow pot). Clip a cooking thermometer onto the side of the pot to monitor the temperature. Heat to 190°C (370°F). 

Prepare a baking tray lined with 4 layers of paper towels for the freshly fried donuts. Prepare a cooling rack with a layer of paper towels underneath as well. Mix together the sugar and pumpkin spice in a large bowl for the sugar topping. 

When the oil comes to temperature, carefully add the dough scraps. I add in the dough scraps first because the first donuts never taste as good – I don’t have to waste any of the pretty ones then.  Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil with tongs or a spider. Gently shake excess oil off and transfer onto the paper towels. Carefully blot them with the paper towels and transfer onto the cooling rack. Once they cool enough to handle, add them into the bowl with spiced sugar and coat well. Set aside to cool completely. 

Repeat with the rest of the dough, making sure that the oil temperature stays at 190C (370F) and do not overcrowd the pan. The donuts need plenty of space. As you continue frying you will get better at multitasking and dropping in new dough as you blot freshly fried donuts. 

Once the pumpkin donuts are completely cool, poke a hole through one side with a chopstick or knife. 

Fill a piping bag fitted with a piping tip (I used a Wilton 4B) with the cooled pumpkin custard filling. Fill the donuts through the hole until they feel heavy and the filling starts to come out of the hole. 

Enjoy! The pumpkin filled donuts are best eaten the day they are fried and filled while they are still crisp and soft. Store any leftover donuts in the fridge and reheat very lightly in the oven to make them taste as if they were freshly fried without melting the custard. 

Pumpkin donuts with pumpkin spice sugar coating, filled with pumpkin custard

Check out my other seasonal recipes:


Happy frying! xx

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stack of pumpkin filled donuts

Pumpkin Donuts with Pumpkin Filling

Mary
These pumpkin donuts are crispy, soft, and filled with a creamy pumpkin custard that tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. They’re coated in a sugar and pumpkin spice mixture. The donut dough has pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to really amp up that pumpkin flavour! Oh and the dough is a no knead dough which gives the donuts beautiful open middles perfect for filling. They turn out so soft and pillowy.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Rest Time 1 hr 20 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 18 donuts

Equipment

  • large heavy bottomed pot
  • thermometer

Ingredients
  

Pumpkin Custard Filling

  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 16 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 vanilla bean pod cut in half lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter cubed and cold

Donuts

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast 7g
  • 5 cups all purpose flour 600 g
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tbsp pumpkin spice
  • tsp salt
  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • 2 large eggs room temperature and whisked
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup milk warm
  • 100 oz vegetable oil I used canola 3 L or 0.8 gallon

Pumpkin spice sugar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice

Instructions
 

Pumpkin Custard Filling

  • In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch breaking up any lumps. Add eggs and whisk to break them apart. Add the pumpkin, cream, milk, pumpkin spice, vanilla bean seeds and pod, and salt.
    4 tbsp cornstarch, ½ cup brown sugar, 4 large eggs, 16 oz canned pumpkin puree, 1 cup heavy cream, ½ cup milk, 2 tsp pumpkin spice, 1 vanilla bean pod, ⅛ tsp salt
  • Heat the mixture on low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a simmer and becomes very thick.
  • Add cold butter, stir until melted, and transfer into a container. You can strain it if you see any lumps but I didn’t need to. Put plastic wrap right over the surface of the custard.
    ½ cup unsalted butter
  • Refrigerate until cold. I popped mine into the freezer for one hour.

Donuts

  • Dissolve the yeast in a bowl with the warm water and 1 tsp sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Set aside for a few minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. You want it to start to form a foam on top to make sure that the yeast is active.
    ½ cup water, 1 tsp sugar, 1 packet active dry yeast 7g
  • Combine flour, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, and salt in a large bowl and mix. Make a well in the middle and add butter, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree, milk, and the yeast mixture.
    ½ cup unsalted butter, 5 cups all purpose flour 600 g, ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ tbsp pumpkin spice, ⅛ tsp salt, ¼ cup butter, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, ¾ cup canned pumpkin puree, ¼ cup milk
  • Use a spoon to mix at first and then get in with your hands to mix until a sticky and shaggy dough forms. If not all of the butter gets mixed into it, it’s ok.
  • Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place (see notes) until doubled in size, about 30- 45 mins.
  • Turn out the dough onto a well floured surface and flatten and fold a few times with your hands to give it a good mix. Roll out to ¾” thick. Cut out about eighteen 3.5″ circles of dough and transfer onto a parchment lined baking sheet, rerolling the dough as needed. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 15 minutes. Save the dough scraps.
  • While the dough is rising, heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pot (I used a wide and narrow pot). Clip a cooking thermometer onto the side of the pot to monitor the temperature. Heat to 190°C (370°F).
    100 oz vegetable oil
  • Prepare a baking tray lined with 4 layers of paper towels for the freshly fried donuts. Prepare a cooling rack with a layer of paper towels underneath as well. Mix together the sugar and pumpkin spice in a large bowl for the sugar topping.
    1 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • When the oil comes to temperature, add the dough scraps. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil with tongs or a spider. Gently shake excess oil off and transfer onto paper towels. Blot them with paper towels and transfer onto cooling rack.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough, making sure that the oil temperature stays at 190°C (370°F) and do not overcrowd the pan.
  • Once donuts are cool enough to handle, coat in sugar mix and coat well. Set aside to cool completely.
  • Once the donuts are completely cool, poke a hole through one side with a chopstick or knife.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a piping tip with the cooled pumpkin custard filling. Fill the donuts through the hole until they feel heavy and the filling starts to come out. Enjoy!

Notes

The donuts are best eaten the day they are fried and filled while they are still crisp and soft. Store any leftover donuts in the fridge and reheat very lightly in the oven to make them taste as if they were freshly fried without melting the custard.
Keyword pumpkin custard, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin filling, pumpkin spice, pumpkin spice donuts

2 Comments

  • Penelope

    These look SO good, I was just wondering if I could use gluten free flour instead of the wheat flour? Would they not cook correctly or do you think it would be fine?
    Amazing recipe ❤️ 👏

    • Mary

      Hi and thank you so much! I haven’t tried making them with gluten free flour so I really wouldn’t know. I recommend searching up a gluten free filled donut recipe and filling them with the pumpkin custard from my recipe (the filling is gluten free). That way you know for sure that they will be delicious! 😀

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