My husband and I love to sit on our front porch on Saturday mornings, sipping deliciously brewed coffee and chatting while we watch the world wake up. Our kids usually join us one-by-one as they roll out of bed . . . often just in time to see our neighbor bring home a big box of sprinkle-covered donuts for his family.
Now, I’m all for the occasional treat along with high quality protein and veggies in the morning, but we’re a gluten-free family so the local donut shop is just not an option for us. Fortunately, these naturally sweetened paleo donuts are super easy to whip up and fun to decorate!
Unlike fried donuts made with yeast, these cake donuts are leavened with baking powder before they’re popped in the oven. I kid you not, they taste similar to the Little Debbie snack cakes we (or at least I) grew up on, only with wholesome ingredients instead of corn syrup and tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).
I layer these donuts with a chocolate glaze and then let my kids decorate their own using the topping of their choice. Here are a few ideas:
- Mini-chocolate chips for triple chocolatey goodness
- Non-GMO Starfetti sprinkles
- Chopped macadamia nuts
Now, on to the recipe!
Easy Chocolate Donuts Recipe (Gluten-Free, Paleo)
For the donuts:
- ¾ cup blanched almond flour
- ¼ cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder (or tapioca flour)
- ½ tsp baking powder (how to make baking powder substitute)
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 5 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp butter or sustainably harvested palm shortening (melted, plus more for greasing the pan)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract (how to make vanilla extract)
For the glaze:
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease your donut pan with coconut oil.
- Mix the almond flour, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate mixing bowl, mix the eggs, maple syrup, butter, and vanilla. Pour them into the dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth.
- Divide the batter equally into the donut pan.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes.
- When the donuts are ready, remove them from the oven them to cool until comfortable enough to handle – it usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Next, gently remove them from the pan and dip them in the glaze. Top with sprinkles or chocolate chips if desired, then serve.
- To make the glaze, place the butter, cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla in a small pot or saucepan. Heat on low while whisking until the butter is just barely melted. Use a spoon to drizzle the tops of the donuts with the glaze. If it's a little too thick to drizzle, whisk in a teaspoon of water and check the consistency. Continue adding water in 1/2 teaspoon increments until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most common questions I receive about gluten-free and paleo desserts.
Sunflour, which is flour made from ground sunflower seeds, can often replace almond flour in a recipe, but I have not tested it in this one. If you try it please let me know how it turns out!
I wish someone would make a cast iron option, but unfortunately the only ones I know of are non-stick donut pans and food-grade silicone donut pans. I don’t use silicone for much in my kitchen, but I think it’s worth it to be able to make these on occasion for my family.
Coconut flour absorbs liquid differently than almond flour and unfortunately will not work in this recipe.
Want More Grain-Free Recipes?
Chocolate Overnight Oats – Creamy, chocolatey and rich in healthy fats, this overnight oatmeal is a simple and delicious make-ahead breakfast recipe.
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins – These muffins are moist, cakey, and super simple to make! My daughter helped perfect the recipe, which makes them extra special in our house.
Sugar Cookies With Easy Frosting – Decorated with naturally colored sprinkles and plant-based, natural food dye, these sugar cookies are delicious and so pretty!
Fudgy Brownies – These chewy, fudgy brownies are one of my favorite recipes from Danielle of Against All Grains book, Meals Made Simple. She was kind enough to allow me to share them with you.
Grain-Free Snickerdoodle Cookies from Danielle of Against All Grain – Chewy and buttery-soft on the inside, these snickerdoodles have a crispy surface and belly warming cinnamon flavor.
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies – These ooey-gooey paleo chocolate chip cookies are one of my family’s tried-and-true favorite recipes.