Looking for a way to use up some cold weather citrus? These baked (or air-fried!) Vegan Brown Sugar Grapefruit Donuts absolutely do the trick. I definitely have a weak spot for donuts. Fun fact, whenever I visit a new city I look up whether they have a vegan donut spot! These cakey donuts are the classic donut you know and love but with a little twist.
I’m a fan of both baked and fried donuts. I recently got an air fryer which is what inspired this recipe. Can air-fried donuts come anywhere close to the fried alternative? I also wanted to see if they were better than baked donuts! In the recipe below, I have instructions for both a baked version and an air-fried version, but I’ll briefly go over the differences here.
Air Fried vs. Baked
I found that the air-fried donut cooked faster and had a bit of a crispier “shell” on the outside. The interior of the donut was also a bit denser. The baked versions took about 3 times as long to cook and were fluffier on the outside. I honestly really enjoyed both versions, and I found the main benefit of air frying them was saving time.
The Best Vegan Cake Donut
To make a good vegan cake donut, you’ll want to make sure you’re subbing in the right ingredients for the traditional egg and butter. I’ve tried too many recipes where my ‘donuts’ turned out more like a muffin in the shape of a donut. In this recipe, I’m using Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer. It’s my go-to egg replacer because it really holds the donuts together and keeps them from having too much ‘crumb’. I’ve tried this recipe with a flax egg, and the donuts came out very crumbly and loose in texture (more like a muffin).
In this recipe, I’m using coconut oil which helps keep the donuts moist. If you’re not a fan of coconut flavor, I promise you can’t taste it once these donuts are cooked. I’ve tried using vegan butter, but again the texture turned out a bit too loose for my liking.
Tips For The Best Donut Shape
A few important notes before we begin:
When you fill-up your donut pan with your batter, only fill them halfway! The first few times I made these, I was a little too generous when filling my pan. These donuts rise a good amount when baked, so filling the pan halfway helps you achieve the perfect donut shape.
The donut pans I’m using in this recipe are by Bellemain. I used to use a super inexpensive pan I’ve had for years, but I wasn’t getting the ‘donutey’ shape I wanted with it. I never got a defined hole in the center! These donut pans from Bellemain are nonstick and give you the best, cute donut shape.
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup of brown sugar
- 1 tbsp egg replacer, mixed with 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp grapefruit zest
- 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp almond milk
- 2 tbsp grapefruit juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
Brown Sugar Icing
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ tbsp melted vegan butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond milk
- 2 tsp grapefruit juice
- ½ tbsp grapefruit zest
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. If air frying, preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F.
- Grease 2 donut pans.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, and vegan egg replacer.
- Add in the grapefruit zest, almond milk, grapefruit juice, and vanilla.
- On top of the combined liquids, add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients together with a fork before combining them with the liquids. The mixture should come together into a thick batter.
- Fill the donut pan with the batter. Make sure to only fill the donut pan halfway with batter.
- If using the oven, bake the donuts for 15 minutes.
- If using an air fryer, air fry the donuts for 6 minutes.
- Let the donuts cool completely on a wire rack before icing them.
- While the donuts cool, make the icing by whisking together the powdered sugar, brown sugar, melted vegan butter, vanilla, almond milk, grapefruit zest, and grapefruit juice in a medium-sized bowl.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper under your wire cooling rack (for easy cleanup).
- Ice the donuts by dunking one side of them into the icing bowl. Place the donuts back on the wire cooling rack.
- Top the donuts with more grapefruit zest.
The flavors for these donuts are as the title suggests: brown sugar and grapefruit. These vegan cake donuts are dense little morsels of joy. They have a delicate tanginess from the grapefruit mixed with a beautiful caramelly sweetness from the brown sugar.
You can store these donuts in a Tupperware in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat them, pop them in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. If you’d like to freeze them, I recommend doing so prior to icing them.
Happy donut making!
If you’re looking for some more fun baking recipes, you should also try out these:
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