Are donuts dairy free?

Donuts are a beloved breakfast pastry that come in many delicious flavors and varieties. But for people with dairy allergies or intolerances, a key question arises: are donuts dairy-free? The short answer is that traditional donuts are not dairy-free. Most standard donut recipes call for ingredients like butter, milk, or cream. However, there are dairy-free donut options available too. With some adjustments to the traditional recipe, donuts can be made without any dairy ingredients.

Do Traditional Donuts Contain Dairy?

The classic donut is not dairy-free. Traditional donuts are fried pastries leavened with eggs and dairy ingredients like butter, milk or cream. Here’s a breakdown of the common dairy ingredients found in classic donut recipes:

  • Butter – Butter is added to donut dough for flavor and richness. Butter contains milk fat, making it a dairy product.
  • Milk – Whole milk is often used to make donut dough or batter. The proteins in milk can add structure and create a softer texture.
  • Cream – Heavy cream may be used in place of milk for an even richer donut.
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk donuts use the tangy dairy product for flavor.
  • Sour cream – Some cake style donuts are made with sour cream for moisture.
  • Cream cheese – Cream cheese frostings and fillings contain dairy.
  • Cheese – Cheese donuts flavored with cheddar or other cheeses contain milk proteins.

As you can see, most traditional donuts contain some type of dairy ingredient in the dough, batter, filling, frosting or coating. So if you have a milk allergy or are avoiding dairy, you’ll need to modify the classic donut recipe.

Why Are Dairy Ingredients Used in Donuts?

There are a few reasons why butter, milk and other dairy products are standard ingredients in donuts:

  • Tenderness – The fat in butter and milk gives donuts a soft, tender texture.
  • Moisture – Dairy ingredients introduce moisture into the donuts so they don’t end up dry.
  • Flavor – Butter, milk, and cream all provide rich dairy flavor.
  • Leavening – The proteins in milk assist with leavening and rising.
  • Browning – Milk proteins promote desirable Maillard browning during frying or baking.
  • Structure – Dairy ingredients can strengthen the donut dough so it holds its shape.

When making donuts without dairy, alternative ingredients will need to be used to provide the attributes that dairy typically lends to the pastry.

Common Dairy-Free Donut Replacements

Donuts without butter, milk or cream can absolutely be made at home. Here are some of the most commonly used dairy-free substitutions:

Dairy Ingredient Dairy-Free Substitutions
Milk Soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk
Butter Vegan butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil
Cream Full fat coconut milk, cashew cream
Buttermilk Lemon juice + soy milk, vegan yogurt + soy milk
Sour Cream Tofu sour cream, vegan yogurt
Cream Cheese Vegan cream cheese, cashew cream cheese

Using non-dairy milks, vegan butter, and other dairy substitutes allows you to make moist and tasty donuts without the dairy. Just keep in mind that the texture and flavor may vary slightly from a traditional dairy-based donut.

Tips for Dairy-Free Donuts

Here are some top tips for getting great results when making dairy-free donuts:

  • Choose unsweetened non-dairy milk to avoid adding extra sugar.
  • Stick to non-dairy milks with a higher fat content to mimic whole dairy milk.
  • If the dough seems dry, add a touch more non-dairy milk or oil.
  • Let doughs and batters rest so the flour can fully hydrate.
  • Don’t overmix dairy-free doughs which can cause them to toughen.
  • Fry the donuts at the proper oil temperature of around 365°F to 375°F.
  • Glaze or coat donuts while still hot so it adheres.
  • Check fillings for added dairy ingredients like whey before using.

With a bit of practice, you can learn how to adjust recipes to make irresistible dairy-free donuts. The final results will be soft, moist, and have plenty of flavor without butter, milk or cream.

Best Bases for Dairy-Free Donuts

Having a great base is key to delicious dairy-free donuts. Here are some of the most popular bases that work well without dairy:

Vegan Cake Donuts

Cake donut batter made with oil or non-dairy milk makes fluffy dairy-free donuts. Bake or fry until golden brown. Tip: Let the batter rest so the flour fully hydrates for the best texture.

Vegan Yeast-Raised Donuts

Donut yeast dough proves well with non-dairy milk and oil. The dough should be moist and rise twice for pillowy donuts. Tip: Knead the dough well to develop the gluten.

Vegan Baked Donut Holes

For easy dairy-free donuts, bake bite-size donut holes. Use a thick cake batter with baking powder and oil. Tip: Toss holes in cinnamon sugar after baking while still hot.

Vegan Baked Donut Loaves

Bake rectangular loaves of donut batter then slice into portions. They store and reheat well for easy breakfasts. Tip: Add a streusel topping before baking.

Vegan Fried Donut Holes

For mini fried donuts, use your favorite cake or yeast dough. Shape into balls and fry quickly until golden. Tip: Roll warm donut holes in icing or sugar.

Vegan Apple Cider Donuts

Apple cider gives incredible flavor to dairy-free donuts. Use in cake or yeast doughs. Tip: Coat apple cider donuts in cinnamon sugar.

Dairy-Free Icing, Glaze and Topping Ideas

Finish your dairy-free donuts with any of these easy icings, glazes or toppings:

  • Vegan vanilla glaze – powdered sugar + non-dairy milk + vanilla
  • Strawberry glaze – powdered sugar + strawberry juice
  • Maple glaze – powdered sugar + maple syrup
  • Chocolate ganache – vegan chocolate + coconut milk
  • Peanut butter glaze – powdered sugar + peanut butter + oil
  • Coconut glaze – powdered sugar + coconut milk + flakes
  • Cinnamon sugar coating
  • Rainbow sprinkles
  • Chopped nuts
  • Shredded coconut

Drizzle, dip or coat donuts in your favorite dairy-free icings and toppings. Get creative with gluten-free sprinkles, crushed cookies, candies and more.

6 Dairy-Free Donut Recipes to Try

Here are 6 must-try dairy-free donut recipes that are all soft, fluffy and full of flavor:

1. Dairy-Free Cake Donuts

These simple baked cake donuts are made with oil and your choice of unsweetened non-dairy milk. They’re easy to cut out and fry or bake.

2. Vegan Baked Blueberry Donuts

How can you go wrong with fresh blueberry baked donuts? This recipe uses coconut oil for moisture and dairy-free yogurt for tang.

3. Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Pumpkin spice donuts are a fall favorite. Pumpkin puree gives natural sweetness and moisture to these baked treats.

4. Easy Vegan Donut Holes

These mini baked donut holes are lightly spiced, super soft and come together with just a few ingredients.

5. Dairy-Free Old-Fashioned Donuts

Traditional yeast-raised donuts fried to golden perfection. Non-dairy milk gives a tender, cakey texture.

6. Vegan Apple Fritter Donuts

Apple fritters are chunks of warm spiced apples tucked into sweet fried dough. Irresistible!

Are Store-Bought Donuts Dairy-Free?

Most standard grocery store donuts are not dairy-free, but there are some supermarket and bakery options that may work if you need to buy donuts. Be sure to read labels since dairy can be hidden in flavorings. Watch out for whey or casein in particular. Here are some dairy-free donut varieties that can sometimes be found in stores:

  • Krispy Kreme glazed donuts (check for whey in ingredients)
  • Entenmann’s Softee Donuts (plain variety only)
  • Some store bakery old-fashioned cake donuts (watch for hidden dairy)
  • Katz Gluten Free Donuts (multiple dairy-free flavors)
  • Brami Beans Lickety Gluten Free Cake Donuts (dairy-free)

Your best bet is to call ahead and ask if available donuts are made without dairy and double check labels. Many grocery stores may carry a few varieties that happen to be dairy-free even if they aren’t advertised that way.

Dairy-Free Donuts at Coffee Chains

Large coffee shop chains will often have some dairy-free donut options too. Here are some places to find dairy-free donuts like old-fashioneds, glazed or yeast-raised:

  • Krispy Kreme – Original Glazed Dairy-Free Donut
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – Glazed Donut
  • Tim Hortons – Original Glazed Donut
  • Starbucks – Plain Donut and Old-Fashioned Donut

Once again, confirm that ingredients are dairy-free when ordering since formulations can change. Most coffee chains will have nutritional information available if you request it.

Are Donut Holes and Munchkins Dairy-Free?

Small bite-size donut holes or “munchkins” from shops like Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme are often dairy-free as well. Here are some places you can find dairy-free mini donut holes:

  • Krispy Kreme Glazed Munchkins
  • Dunkin’ Donuts MUNCHKINS Glazed Donut Hole Treats
  • Tim Hortons Timbits Original Glazed
  • Safeway Mini Donuts (check seasonal flavors)

The mini plain glazed or original glazed donut holes are typically vegan and dairy-free. But varieties with coatings or fillings may contain milk ingredients, so check first.

Can You Make Dairy-Free Filled Donuts?

Yes, you absolutely can make dairy-free filled donuts at home! Use dairy-free milk, butter and egg substitutes in your favorite yeast dough recipe. After frying or baking, inject donuts with dairy-free fillings like:

  • Berry jam
  • Apple butter
  • Vegan chocolate hazelnut spread
  • Coconut cream
  • Dairy-free cheesecake filling
  • Vanilla pudding made with coconut milk

You can also split and fill baked donut loaves or donut holes. Filled dairy-free donuts make for a special treat!

Top 5 Dairy-Free Donuts from Shops

More and more donut shops are offering dairy-free options. Here are 5 of the best dairy-free donuts you can get from national and local bakeries:

1. Ronald’s Donuts – Vegan Blueberry Cake

These spot-on blueberry cake donuts are loved for their flavor and tender crumb.

2. Kane’s Donuts – Glazed Chocolate

A chocolate glazed yeast donut that’s light, airy and deep chocolatey – a customer favorite.

3. Psycho Donuts – Vegan Tex-Ass Donut

A huge glazed yeast donut smothered in vegan bacon crumbles. Over the top in all the right ways!

4. Dun-Well Doughnuts – Vanilla Cake Donut

Fluffy dairy-free cake donuts with hints of vanilla and a perfect glaze.

5. Mo’ Pweeze Bakery – Chocolate Love Donut

This local shop makes unbelievable chocolate iced yeast donuts without any dairy.


While traditional donuts are made with butter, milk and other dairy ingredients, truly dairy-free donuts are absolutely achievable. With some simple ingredient swaps like non-dairy milk and vegan butter, you can recreate all your donut favorites without dairy. And don’t forget the toppings – dairy-free glazes, frostings and fillings take these treats over the top. With the tips in this article and some practice with recipes, anyone can master dairy-free donuts that are just as soft, moist and decadent as the originals.

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