Are there dairy-free donuts?

Quick Answer

Yes, there are many dairy-free donut options for people who avoid dairy due to preference, intolerance, or allergy. Popular dairy-free donut varieties include glazed, chocolate, pumpkin, jelly-filled, and cake donuts made without cow’s milk, butter, or other dairy ingredients. Many major donut chains offer dairy-free options, and there are also specialized dairy-free bakeries making donuts with plant-based milk and vegan ingredients. With some research and label reading, people who avoid dairy can enjoy tasty donuts.

What makes donuts not dairy-free?

Donuts are traditionally made with cow’s milk and butter, which make them not dairy-free. Here are some common ways dairy ingredients are used in donut recipes:

  • The donut batter contains cow’s milk or buttermilk
  • The donuts are fried in butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • The donuts are topped with dairy-based glazes or frostings made with butter, cream cheese, or milk
  • The donuts are filled with dairy-based creams or custards
  • The donuts are coated with powders that contain milk ingredients

Any of these uses of dairy ingredients would make the donuts not dairy-free. People with dairy allergies, intolerances, or preferences need to avoid these traditional donuts.

What makes donuts dairy-free?

Dairy-free donuts are made without any cow’s milk, butter, cream, or other dairy derivatives. Here’s what goes into making them dairy-free:

  • The batter is made with non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, oat, coconut, or other plant-based milks
  • The donuts are fried in vegan oil or shortening without butter or ghee
  • The glazes and toppings are made without butter, cream, or milk
  • They use dairy-free fillings such as fruit jams, nut butters, or vegan custard
  • They are coated with dairy-free powders instead of those containing milk ingredients

Carefully following recipes and using the right dairy-free substitutions makes it possible to enjoy all the delightful flavors and textures of donuts while avoiding dairy.

What are some common dairy-free donut varieties?

Many classic donut types can be made dairy-free, including:

  • Glazed donuts – These are made with a simple sugar glaze that contains no dairy.
  • Chocolate donuts – Dairy-free chocolate glazes and coatings are used.
  • Pumpkin donuts – Pumpkin puree gives great flavor without dairy.
  • Jelly-filled donuts – These are filled with dairy-free fruit jams and jellies.
  • Cake donuts – The cakey texture comes from baking instead of frying.
  • Yeast donuts – These are leavened with yeast rather than baking powder.
  • Apple fritters – Chunks of apple are fried into the batter.
  • Blueberry cake donuts – Blueberries add fruit flavor.
  • Cinnamon sugar donuts – A dusting of cinnamon sugar gives a comforting flavor.

The possibilities are endless for the types of dairy-free donuts that can be created.

Where can you find dairy-free donuts?

More and more options for buying dairy-free donuts are popping up. Here are some places to find them:

  • Dunkin’ – Dunkin’ offers several donut varieties that are dairy-free, like glazed, chocolate, and jelly.
  • Krispy Kreme – Their original glazed donuts are dairy-free, and seasonally they may have other dairy-free options.
  • Shipley Do-Nuts – Their plain glazed donuts are dairy-free.
  • Specialty bakeries – Many vegan and allergy-friendly bakeries offer dairy-free donuts, like Erin McKenna’s Bakery in New York.
  • Grocery stores – Some grocery stores have dairy-free packaged donuts near other allergy-friendly foods.
  • Online ordering – Companies like Partake Foods ship dairy-free donuts.
  • DIY – Make your own dairy-free donuts at home with simple recipes and ingredients.

Calling ahead to confirm dairy-free options, reading labels carefully, and asking questions can help ensure you get donuts without dairy.

How are dairy-free donuts made?

Making dairy-free donuts requires swapping out the dairy ingredients for plant-based substitutions. Here is an overview of how they are made:

Dairy-free batters

Rather than milk and butter, dairy-free donuts are made with:

  • Non-dairy milk like almond, soy, oat, or coconut
  • Vegan butter or oil for fat and moisture
  • Egg replacers like flaxseed, chia seeds, or bananas for binding
  • Baking powder for leavening

These ingredients make a moist, fluffy dairy-free batter.

Dairy-free frying

The donuts are fried in:

  • Vegetable oil, coconut oil, or vegan shortening

Rather than butter or ghee, these vegan fats get the donuts perfectly crisp and golden brown.

Dairy-free glazes and toppings

For flavorful finishes, dairy-free donuts are topped with:

  • Glazes made with powdered sugar, non-dairy milk, and vegan butter
  • Dairy-free chocolate, caramel, or fruit glazes
  • Drizzles, sprinkles, and coconut without milk ingredients

These decorative final touches give dairy-free donuts all the crave-worthy flavors.

Dairy-free fillings

The filled donuts have sweet fillings like:

  • Fruit jams and jellies
  • Nut butters
  • Vegan custard made with non-dairy milk
  • Dairy-free cheesecake filling

The fillings provide ooey-gooey enjoyment without any hidden dairy.

What are some popular brands of dairy-free donuts?

Many major donut sellers now provide dairy-free options, including:

Brand Dairy-Free Options
Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed, chocolate, and select other flavors depending on location
Krispy Kreme Original Glazed and seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice
Shipley Do-Nuts Glazed donuts
Whole Foods Glazed, chocolate, jelly, holes, and seasonal options in bakery
Partake Foods Packaged soft-baked cookies and cream, pumpkin spice, chocolate, etc.

In addition, many local donut shops and bakeries may offer dairy-free varieties or do special orders. Checking menus, ingredients, and talking to staff is the way to find out what dairy-free donuts are available.

What ingredients and substitutions are used to make dairy-free donuts?

Making donuts dairy-free relies on using plant-based and vegan ingredients. Here are some common substitutions:

Dairy Ingredient Dairy-Free Substitution
Milk Almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, etc.
Butter Vegan butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil
Whipping cream Full-fat coconut milk
Sour cream Plain dairy-free yogurt
Cream cheese Dairy-free cream cheese, silken tofu
Buttermilk Non-dairy milk plus lemon juice or vinegar
Yogurt Dairy-free coconut or almond yogurt

Using these substitutions, nearly any donut recipe can be made completely dairy-free.

What are some health benefits of dairy-free donuts?

Dairy-free donuts offer some potential health advantages:

  • They are safe for people with dairy allergies or sensitivities.
  • They avoid saturated fat from butter and cream.
  • They provide options for people who are vegan or avoid dairy.
  • They reduce cholesterol intake compared to dairy-based donuts.
  • They may promote heart health if made with healthy oils.
  • They eliminate risks associated with lactose and casein.

However, donuts are still considered an indulgence. Homemade versions made with less sugar and healthy fats are a healthier way to enjoy dairy-free donuts.

What are some drawbacks of dairy-free donuts?

Dairy-free donuts do have some disadvantages:

  • Store-bought options are often still high in sugar, salt, and refined carbs.
  • They tend to have more additives and stabilizers to mimic a dairy-based recipe.
  • Completely eliminating rice milk provides no protein.
  • Some people miss the richer taste of dairy-based donuts.
  • There are fewer options available unless you visit a specialty bakery.
  • Home recipes take more time and can be tricky without dairy ingredients.

However, dairy-free donuts are improving as demand increases. With care taken to use quality ingredients, dairy-free donuts can taste fantastic.

Are there nutritious dairy-free donut recipes?

Yes, you can make quite nutritious dairy-free donuts at home. Here are some ideas for healthy recipes:

  • Swap all-purpose flour for whole wheat or almond flour.
  • Use avocado, banana, or pumpkin puree for moisture instead of oil.
  • Reduce sugar by adding fruits, spices, extracts, or low glycemic sweeteners.
  • Add nuts, seeds, or oats for fiber and crunch.
  • Use non-dairy Greek yogurt for protein and thickness.
  • Bake instead of frying when possible.
  • Top with fresh fruit, coconut, and natural sweeteners instead of glazes.
  • Fill with protein-rich cashew cream, nut butters, and preserves.

With smart substitutions and ingredient choices, dairy-free donuts can still be a delightful treat.

What are the best tips for baking dairy-free donuts?

Here are some top tips for successfully making dairy-free donuts at home:

  • Allow non-dairy milk to sit out and curdle slightly to better mimic buttermilk.
  • Let dough rise completely for light and airy texture.
  • Use arrowroot powder or cornstarch to help bind and add crispness.
  • Rest batter for 5-10 minutes before frying for thicker, sturdier donuts.
  • Fry donuts in 2-3 inch vegetable oil at 350-375°F for 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Flip donuts halfway through frying using a mesh spider or slotted spoon.
  • Place donuts on a cooling rack or paper towel to absorb oil.
  • Glaze or coat while still warm so flavors seep in.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Perfecting these techniques and timing results in tender, crispy dairy-free donuts that hold up well for days.


Donuts made without any dairy are absolutely possible to find and enjoy. Major brands now produce dairy-free options, and customized recipes allow you to make your own at home. With plant-based milk, butter, and cream substitutes, traditional donuts can be recreated to be safe for vegans and people with dairy issues. While not necessarily a health food, dairy-free donuts can be a delicious comfort food when homemade carefully. With the growing demand, access and quality of dairy-free donuts will continue to improve. So for anyone wanting to avoid dairy, delicious donuts are still on the menu.

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