Think of these Carrot and Orange Baked Donuts like a light and vibrant take on carrot cake. The donuts are soft and moist and each bite showcases sweet carrot and bright citrus. The creamy orange glaze brings all the flavors together in this easy, small batch donut recipe.
Baked Carrot Donuts
Baking with carrots doesn’t just have to be for Easter – and these Carrot and Orange Baked Donuts are a testament to that! It also doesn’t hurt that carrots are sweet and easily transformed from a mixed salad vegetable to the star ingredient in baked sweets.
But, rather than just make carrot cake donuts – because we probably all had our fill of carrot cake for Easter – orange launches these donuts right into Spring. It is amazing how a little orange juice and zest can brighten up a bake. Sweet and tart of the orange pairs beautifully with the earthy sweetness of carrots.
And, did I mention these donuts are baked, not fried? Don’t get me wrong. I love a fried donut. But If I’m going to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of making them at home. Frying in hot oil is something I still need to practice. Plus, get over the fact that the house is going to smell like hot oil for a while. But, I’m not there yet.
Do Baked Donuts Taste Like Fried Donuts
No. They do not. Frying dough makes it all nice and poufy and usually with a crispier interior. And to call out the elephant in the room is that a baked donut will not have that fried oil taste. That said, a baked donut is going to be healthier than a fried donut.
There are a lot of variations on the donut (or doughnut), and I could go down a rabbit hole talking about the difference of yeast donuts, cake donuts, and baked donuts. I’m not going to do that. There are donuts to eat.
To keep it easy(ier) – this recipe is a cross between a cake donut and a muffin. A cake donut is a donut with ingredients similar to cake and use a leavening agent to make the donut rise. And a traditional cake donut is still usually fried in oil. These Carrot and Orange Baked Donuts are all of that – up to fried in oil. We get to keep it easy and use a donut pan to make our donuts. I like easy.
Small Batch Baked Donuts
Talking about the donut pan – one of the great things about the typical donut pan is it is already designed for a small batch with 6 donut cavities. There are a few ‘mega’ pans that allow you to bake more at a time, but we don’t have to worry about that for this recipe.
This recipe makes 6 donuts. The Goldilocks of donuts. Not too many (to get stale). Not too few (to get donut envy). Just right.
Carrot and Orange Baked Donut Details
- Easy – You could get by with just using one bowl for this recipe. The liquid ingredients can be measured and mixed in a liquid measuring cup. Yes, a carrot needs to be grated and an orange zested. However, even with these steps, it is still an easy recipe.
- Small Batch – This recipe makes a half dozen donuts. And I think most would agree that donuts are best the day they are baked. So, the smaller batch affords you this benefit.
- Soft and Cakey – We talked about how baked donuts have similar ingredients to a cake (or muffin). Thus, these donuts have comparable texture.
- Sweet and Bright – The freshly grated carrots add to the sweetness of the donuts. The orange juice and zest bring in a bright citrus kick. And a few shakes of warm spices round it all out.
- Glazed – I’m not talking a watered down powdered sugar glaze. The glaze on these donuts is smooth and creamy with a mix of cream cheese, coconut cream, and powdered sugar. And we add a little orange zest to tie into the flavor of the donuts.
What You Need To Make Carrot and Orange Donuts
- Medium Orange – We use the juice and the zest in the donuts
- Carrots – At least 2 medium sized carrots. I do not recommend small carrots in the bag.
- All-Purpose Flour – I have not tested a gluten free version, but you could try a 1:1 blend.
- Granulated Sugar – I have started using organic cane sugar in my baking. Though regular granulated sugar still works.
- Baking Powder – To make the donuts rise tall and fluffy!
- Ground Cinnamon, Ginger, and Nutmeg – Feel free to adjust any of the spices as you like.
- Salt – Salt is great to balance and enhance flavor.
- Milk – Any milk type/fat will work. I use unsweetened carton coconut milk because it is super creamy.
- Egg – 1 large egg.
- Vanilla Extract – For flavor!
- Unsalted Butter – I like unsalted butter since we add our own salt.
- Cream Cheese – For the frosting.
- Powdered Sugar – Also for the frosting.
- Canned Coconut Milk or Cream – This makes the glaze extra creamy and cuts back on the tang of the cream cheese. I recommend unsweetened canned coconut milk or cream. And you only use the coconut solids from the can.
- Donut Pan – 6-Cavity pan
- Mixing Bowl
- Hand Held Mixer
Tips For Making Baked Donuts
- Refrigerate the canned coconut milk/cream overnight – This is for the creamy glaze. We only use the coconut solids from the can and refrigerating the canned coconut milk helps with the process of separating the solid from liquid.
- Use regular, fresh carrots – I don’t recommend bagged grated carrots, or baby carrots. I don’t find they have the same sweet, fresh flavor. You will need at least 2 carrots for this recipe.
- Cool the donuts – Before glazing. Warm donuts equal melted glaze.
- Refine the glaze to taste – Feel free to add more or less sugar and zest to the glaze. Keep in mind, adding more powdered sugar may result in a thicker glaze.
- Enjoy the day they are baked – The donuts are so soft and light the day they are baked.
More Small Batch Donut and Breakfast Recipes
- Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts
- Baked Blueberry Streusel Donuts
- Homemade Bagels
- Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls
- Orange and Almond Breakfast Scones
Carrot and Orange Baked Donuts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons orange zest (from half an orange)
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from half an orange)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup milk, any kind
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup fresh carrots, grated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Creamy Orange Glaze
- 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk or cream, full fat (only the coconut solids from the can)
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (more or less to taste)
- 2 teaspoons orange zest (more or less to taste)
Creamy Orange Glaze
- Make the glaze first.
- Canned coconut milk or cream – We are only using the coconut solids from the can. I recommend refrigerating the can at least overnight. This helps the coconut solids and liquid to separate in the can.
- In a small bowl, add the cream cheese and coconut solids. Use a hand held mixer and beat on medium speed until the mix is smooth and creamy. Add the orange zest and powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add more or less zest and powdered sugar to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Spray each donut cup with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- In a small mixing bowl or large liquid measuring cup, add the sugar, orange juice, zest, milk, egg, vanilla extract. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients and the melted butter to the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to fold the batter until no dry streaks remain. Add the grated carrots and fold until just incorporated.
- Spoon equal amounts of the batter into the donut wells, and smooth the batter with the back of the spoon. You can also transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe into the donut wells.
- Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, or until the tops of the donuts spring back when lightly poked with your finger. Cool the donuts in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes then transfer to the wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the donuts are completely cool, glaze the donuts. Either dip the donuts into the glaze, or smooth it on with an offset spatula. The donuts are best enjoyed the day they are baked. Enjoy!
about the author ...
I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!
I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!