Tastes and smells have a wonderful way of bringing back memories you had long forgotten. This happened to me this week when I bit into these pumpkin spice donut holes I made. Suddenly I was a teenager again, sitting in the passenger seat of my parent’s minivan, with one of my parents or a willing sibling driving me to work on a cool summer morning.

Since sleep is of the essence to a teenager (in the morning at least) I never made much time for breakfast. I’d quickly toast two slices of whole grain bread, spread on some butter and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. Now I make time for slightly heartier breakfasts, but this amazing (healthy) pumpkin spice donut hole recipe took me on a trip down memory lane as I remembered the flavors of cinnamon toast.

Refined-sugar free pumpkin donut holes

So how is it healthy and also a “donut”?

Well, technically because it’s baked in a muffin or mini-muffin tin I suppose you could call it a muffin, though being rolled in cinnamon sugar makes it fall more into the donut category in my mind. However, if you’re conscious of how much sugar you’re consuming (like I am these days), you’ll be happy to know that this recipe actually doesn’t call for refined cane sugar; instead it gets its sweetness from applesauce and maple sugar. I repeat: they are refined sugar free! Using applesauce eliminates the need for oil and also sweetens the recipe naturally. Oats also make a nice addition to this recipe to soak up some of the liquid from the pumpkin and applesauce, and to add more whole-grain fiber goodness to give you more sustained energy. For fans of using oats instead of flour, check out this great recipe for flourless pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from Pinch of Yum. 

Pumpkin Donut Holes made in a Muffin Tin

So without further ado, here is the recipe for these awesome healthy maple apple oat pumpkin spice donut holes you’ve been waiting for!

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes


“Healthy” Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes

  • Author: Rachel VanDUzer
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 12 mins
  • Total Time: 27 mins
  • Yield: 12 muffins 1x
  • Category: Muffins/Donut Holes


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

[To roll the “donut holes”]

  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar (or a mix of maple and regular sugar if you can’t part with that much!)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease a mini muffin tin or muffin tin.
  3. Pulse the oats in a food processor for 30 seconds to 1 minute until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and spices and pulse to combine.
  5. In a medium bowl mix the pumpkin puree, applesauce, milk, maple sugar and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. Crack the egg into another bowl and whisk. Add the beaten egg to the wet mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Add the wet mixture to the food processor and pulse just until combined.
  7. Spoon into a muffin tin.
  8. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, using the convection setting if you have one. (I used the convection setting for the last 5 minutes and they turned out perfectly!)
  9. Remove and allow to cool 5 minutes.
  10. Roll the muffins in the melted butter, then in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  11. Serve and enjoy!
  12. Store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for best results.

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