snack — kid-approved

Donut Muffins

Simple, easy, kid-friendly, dump-and-stir donut muffins dunked in a cinnamon-sugar topping. | Simple, easy, kid-friendly, dump-and-stir donut muffins dunked in a cinnamon-sugar topping. |
prep time 20 minutes
cook time 16 minutes
yield 12 muffins


Nothing—and we mean absolutely nothing—beats a freshly made donut. But let's face it: they're not the easiest treat to make at home. That's where these donut muffins come in. With their cinnamon sugar topping and warm, buttery crust that forms while they bake, they'll fill the donut-shaped hole in your heart. And best of all, there's no frying or rolling required, so have your kids join you in the kitchen to make the impossibly easy dump-and-stir batter!



For the muffins:

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Nellie’s Free Range Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 large Nellie’s Free Range Eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Nellie’s Free Range Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional


To make the muffins:

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. Scale or measure all dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Stir together milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate small bowl until well combined.
  • Pour the wet ingredients and the melted butter into the dry ingredients and stir until batter is uniform and smooth, with no clumps of dry powder remaining.
  • Evenly distribute batter between all 12 prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake muffins for 15-18 minutes until centers have puffed up and feel set when gently pressed.
  • Allow muffins to cool 5 minutes, then remove them from the pan and let cool another 10-15 minutes while you prepare the topping.

To top the muffins:

  • Place melted butter in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine sugar and spices until thoroughly mixed.
  • Dunk warm muffin tops into melted butter, allowing any excess to drip off, and then roll the muffin tops in the spiced sugar.
  • Repeat process for all remaining muffins. Once each has been coated, dunk them one more time each in the spiced sugar (but not the butter) to add a second layer of topping.
  • Serve warm or keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Nellie’s Notes:

We love using cardamom in the topping to elevate this classic flavor profile and bring a light citrus undertone to the spices, but if you’re a die-hard lover of classic cinnamon and sugar donuts or have a picky little eater at home, simply leave the cardamom out.

To make delicious mini muffins that put donut holes to shame, prepare the batter in the same manner and just adjust the bake time to 12-15 minutes. You should get about 30 mini muffins per batch. For a proper donut hole finish, dunk the whole mini muffin into the melted butter, shake off any excess, and coat fully in the cinnamon sugar.

One of the classic features of a donut is that buttery caramelized crust. To achieve it, we recommend baking these muffins right in a greased muffin pan rather than a muffin pan lined with muffin papers. In a pinch, you absolutely can use muffin papers; you’ll just find that the resulting donut muffins are a bit more muffin-y and a bit less donut-y (but still delicious!).

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Comments Reviews

JosieMay 07, 2023

Can you use any eggs and butter to make this recipe, as I live in england


Hi Josie, yes you should be able to substitute out eggs and butter that are available to you. Let us know how it goes!

MicheleSeptember 28, 2022

Love your recipes! It’s been a long time since we’ve been emailed a printable coupon. Hoping we see one soon!


Hi Michele! We're so glad you are enjoying our eggs and recipes. We'll see what we can do about that coupon!

Jean Blythe September 24, 2022

The perfect autumn breakfast food! I’m going to make them for the grandkids and my coworkers soon.


Hi Jean! We can't wait to hear how it goes!

HollyOctober 06, 2021

Thank you I’m going to try with grandkids this weekend thank you so much


Have fun, Holly! We can't wait to hear how it goes!

AnnieJuly 03, 2020

Would you be able to provide measurements of this recipe in weight (grams, if possible)? Thank you. :)


We don't currently have plans to update this recipe with weights but our friends over at King Arthur Flour have a helpful conversion chart you might like ( Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do, Annie!

Tiara June 28, 2020

These were so goooooodddddd!!!! Thanks for the amazing recipe! I shared it with all of my family and friends and One of my friends asked me if she could have them because she’s on a diet so I was wondering if you have a nutrition chart? Thanks


So glad you enjoyed them, Tiara! This recipe is definitely a favorite of ours too.

Judy CarleMay 31, 2020

These were wonderful and a big hit in our house. However, I used a lot less melted butter for the topping and brushed it on, then sprinkled with the cinnamon sugar mix.


Hi Judy! We're delighted to hear that you enjoyed the recipe! We're happy to hear that you were able to modify the butter to your own taste and appreciate the tip!

KaylaMay 19, 2020

Ok, I’ve been looking for a recipe that’s as good as the cinnamon sugar dunkers I can buy at my local grocery store, and THIS IS IT 😍 I filled my mini muffin tin (24 ct) and had some batter leftover, so I used it to make 4 normal sized muffins. In my opinion, while the regular muffins are good, the mini muffins are INCREDIBLE. Seriously, so worth the extra dunking effort!!! I ended up needing even more cinnamon sugar than called for (ended up using 3/4C sugar and 1.5TB cinnamon). I love cinnamon sugar so I made sure to coat my muffins reeaallll good. I will be making these again and again!! Thanks for the recipe 😋 looking forward to involving my toddler in the process in the future too, I love that this is basically a dump recipe!! So easy!!


We;re so thrilled to hear how much you loved this recipe, Kayla! We love hearing about all the different forms these muffins are tickled you plan to share this with your toddler someday. We hope they enjoy it just as much as you did when you first tried it.

MeganMay 02, 2020

I know someone asked about making these gluten free. I followed the recipe, but I used King Arthur’s All-Purpose Baking Mix. Because the mix has baking powder and salt in it, I omitted both, but added the cornstarch. Otherwise, I followed it exactly, and they’re awesome! They taste just like the cinnamon sugar donut holes we used to get at our favorite coffee shop. Thanks for such a great, easy recipe!


We're so glad you were able to make these modifications and enjoy the recipe!

JamieMay 01, 2020

So as it turns out these are completely delicious. I made a half batch but it will be full batch only going forward for sure. I left out the cardamom because I didn’t have any; I bet these would be intriguing with cardamom and can’t wait to try it. Well played, Facebook ad chooser, you got me! 😁


So happy to hear this recipe found you, Jamie!

MonaApril 28, 2020

Made these today, followed the recipe exactly, and they are amazing! Now that I know how to make them next time I might add fruit. I have a lot of apples, and a lot of cranberries. I will try a version of each.


Glad to hear you enjoyed these as much as we do, Mona! We can't wait to hear about all the different spins you put to this recipe.

JenApril 25, 2020

Cornstarch. What’s the impact of leaving it out?


Hi Jen! Cornstarch is not essential, but it helps create a softer dough. kind of like making your own cake flour. Which yields well in this muffin recipe.

Nina RomoApril 23, 2020

I would like to know where your chickens are raised.


Great question, Nina! Our hens roam the pastures of over 45 small family farms. You can learn more about our free range farms here:

AngelaApril 22, 2020

Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe with us! If you don’t mind me asking, what alterations would need to be made in order to make this in a bread or cake pan?


Hi Angela, we don't mind at all! We haven't tested this recipe in a bread or cake pan yet, but if you do so, we'd recommend lowering the oven temp down to 350F and allowing more time for baking (we estimate closer to 40-45 mins or until the center is fully set). Looking forward to hearing how this turns out!

Alex L.April 20, 2020

Hi Nellie's! I used this recipe and the first time I made it the donut muffins were very 'pretzely' because of the baking soda, I tried another batch with 1 1/2 teaspoons and it still had that pretzel taste to it. I don't know if I am doing something wrong but I made sure to triple check I was correct on the recipe. Should I just keep using less baking soda till it tastes correct?


Hi Alex! We're pretty sure the problem here is that our recipe calls for baking powder, not baking soda. The two are not the same and not interchangeable, otherwise you would definitely get an off taste in recipes like this. We suggest trying the recipe with the amount of baking powder called for, which should fix the pretzel flavor. Happy baking!

KatieApril 15, 2020

Question: I'm new-ish to baking and wondering why this recipe doesn't call for creaming the butter and sugar? Does the melted butter make the dough denser which is better for this recipe? Thanks! Looking foward to trying the recipe.


Welcome to the kitchen crew, Katie! We're so happy to hear you've begun your baking journey, and we think this is a great recipe to try. This recipe was designed to be mommy-and-me friendly, so we tried to keep the steps as simple as possible with a dump-and-stir approach. We can't wait to hear how your donut muffins turn out!

AlyssaApril 14, 2020

When Passover ends I’m going to try these with nutmeg in the batter and a cider glaze before rolling in cinnamon sugar - trying for a cider donut taste!


We're drooling at the idea of this, Alyssa! You'll definitely have to let us know how it goes! 😋💜

Marilyn April 08, 2020

My husband loved them! I did leave out the Cardamom, as I don't care for it, but my husband had a great suggestion, and apple to them. This is a keeper, next time I will try adding apple.


That's a great suggestion, Marilyn! We'll have to try that idea next time. Thanks for giving our recipe a try!

Sarah WilliamsApril 08, 2020

I made these muffins with my mom just now. :) We loved them and I want to eat them all! Mom says it would be so nice to save some for daddy. It was fun to learn to read measurements. Thank you for a wonderful recipe -- what should we make next? :) -- Jed, age 8


We're so glad you loved the recipe, Jed! Baking in the kitchen is definitely a fun and educational activity, and we're so glad you're able to spend this time making yummy treats at home. Now that you've mastered snack time muffins, maybe it's time to give breakfast muffins a try! Here's one of our favorites: You'll have to let us know how it goes! 💜

BarbApril 07, 2020

Have you ever tried filling these like you would a cupcake? I can’t wait to make these, I’ll let you know how they turn out if I fill them with jam. And to Shannon, life is too short, break your rules and have a donut.


While we haven't tried this approach ourselves, we think this sounds yummy and would turn out amazing! For a classic jelly donut style, you could even bake these in mini muffin tins and keep the topping as plain sugar - or keep the spices in there if you'd like a more robust flavor. We can't wait to hear how these turn out for you!

Amudha RajendranApril 07, 2020

These were perfect! Exactly as advertised, no adjustments. Also love your mature responses to comments.


Hi Amudha, we're so glad you loved the recipe! Thanks for giving one of our favorites a try. They've been a bit hit for sure!

magdalena GraydonApril 06, 2020

I’m at 8500 ft......any suggestions on adjusting for high altitude??


Hi Magdalena, we haven't tested this recipe for other altitudes so unfortunately we can't guarantee how they'll turn out at your elevation. We recommend using a trusted guide for cooking and baking at high elevations, such as this one from Colorado State University: We hope this helps!

KayApril 06, 2020

@barbara bourbon: Arrowroot powder is an appropriate cornstarch substitute!

ReenaApril 05, 2020

Made these and followed exact recipe, came out yummy and awesome! Thanks for the recipe.


Hi Reena! We're delighted to hear that you loved them!

DeborahApril 05, 2020

Absolutely delicious!


We're so glad you hear you enjoyed them Deborah!

PaulineApril 04, 2020

So my sister in law wants to make these but has a dairy allergy. What can be substituted for butter?


Hi Pauline! While we definitely love using butter in this recipe and have only tested them with butter, you could swap it out with any preferred baking oil in this recipe - coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc. For the dunking after they're baked, you could try dunking them in only the sugar instead of butter and sugar but they may not be coated as evenly. You could try glazing them in a simple powdered sugar glaze, too!

AnnMarch 31, 2020

Why is cornstarch used?


HI Ann! Cornstarch is not essential, but it helps create a softer dough. kind of like making your own cake flour. Which yields well in this muffin recipe.

Barbara BorbonMarch 31, 2020

Sounds like a recipe I can do. I have most of the ingredients except cornstarch. Is there a substitute? Can I leave it out?


Hi Barbara! Thanks for reaching out. Cornstarch can be left out if you don't have it. It is not essential, but it helps create a softer dough. kind of like making your own cake flour. Just know that the muffins may not be as soft in texture without it, but should still taste good!

Alli March 30, 2020

My toddler had a blast making me these with me! Our only modification is we used less butter for the topping - and they still came out delicious!


Thanks for sharing your experience, Alli! We're happy to hear these were a hit with you and your little one. Baking together is always a joy, and we're so glad we could offer a delicious recipe to try together!

ShaynaMarch 28, 2020

I found these to be just okay. They weren't very close to actual donuts--they were more muffin like. Flavor-wise, kind of disappointed, pretty bland. I'd double the cinnamon and nutmeg and add some cardamon.


We appreciate your honest review, Shayna. We're glad to hear you gave our recipe a try and we think adding in a little extra cinnamon and nutmeg would be fine in this recipe. We love adding cardamom to these and even suggest it in our notes under the instructions! Great minds must think alike 😊

AnneMarch 28, 2020

Delicious recipe! My daughter loved it! Thanks!


Yay! We're happy to hear this recipe is kid-approved, Anne. Thanks for letting us join you in the kitchen!

Kathleen Mendiola March 28, 2020

They sound good


They are so good and delicious! We hope you get the chance to make them soon, Kathleen!

BarbaraMarch 27, 2020

These are fantastic! I used brown sugar in the batter and used demerra sugar for the top. I made them in mini pans so that my husband and I could have three. Since Shannon doesn't like them, can I have her share?


We're so glad you loved them, Barbara! It's always great to hear you've made the recipe your own and that they turned out delicious. Thank you for letting us know how it went!

JennieMarch 26, 2020

Hi ..... do you think these will work with gluten free flour? They sound so yummy!!


Hi Jennie! We haven't tested this recipe using gluten free flour, so unfortunately we can't guarantee how these would turn out using alternative flours. If you do decide to go ahead with the recipe, we recommend using a cup-for-cup gluten free flour instead of a straight gluten free flour (like almond or coconut flour), and they may turn out a little different than described here. We hope this helps, and you'll have to let us know how it goes!

Margaret SmithMarch 25, 2020

Thanks for good product


We're glad we could share this delicious recipe with you, Margaret!

JulieMarch 15, 2020

Very very good.


We're so glad you like the recipe, Julie!

NickieMarch 11, 2020

I agree Cathy! Be polite Shannon and don’t preach. There are some very responsible and employee-owned companies that support US farmers and employ a lot of citizens. If you don’t want to indulge in the occasional treat don’t look at donut recipes.

Mary Poppins March 10, 2020

Hi there, this looks AMAZING!! I'd like to know if i would be able to use coconut or almond milk in place of regular milk?


Hi Mary! That's a great question. While we have not tried substituting regular milk for almond or coconut in this recipe, we do think it would be okay to try with a 1:1 ratio. We'd love to hear how it turns out!

DarcieMarch 08, 2020

Why cornstarch


Great question, Darcie! In this recipe, cornstarch is used to soften the overall flour content and make these muffins a little closer to a soft, cakey texture. If you don't have any cornstarch on hand, you'd be more than fine using all-purpose flour as a substitute - the only difference would be a slightly sturdier texture. We hope this helps!

AshleyMarch 07, 2020

Can these be frozen?


We think these would do just fine being stored in the freezer, Ashley! After baking, we recommend storing these muffins in an airtight container in the freezer and holding off on the butter and sugar topping until after they've thawed and are ready for eating. You'll have to let us know how it goes!

CathyMarch 05, 2020

Looks tasty and fun! And be polite, Shannon.

Katia March 05, 2020

Hi! Can’t wait to make these! Can the batter be made the night before? Would love to make them for my kids before school since I’m off this week!


Hi Katia! Great question. We actually don't recommend preparing the batter the night before because the leavening won't rise by the time you bake them. However, you could prepare the dry ingredients the night before and combine with the wet ingredients in the a.m. right before baking. We hope you and your family enjoy them!

Shannon March 04, 2020

White flour & white sugar are a thing of the past, as everyone knows how bad they are for you. Frankly it goes against your brand to promote junk ingredients with wholesome free range eggs. Fire your marketing dept.


Hi Shannon! Sounds like you may not be a fan of this particular recipe, but we do have some other recipes that are free of flour and sugar. We hope you'll take a peek and let us know what you think. Our team works hard to make sure that we provide a variety of recipes - from healthful daily choices to occasional splurges, that way we can please everyone's palette. Thanks for the feedback - we'll make sure to let the team know your thoughts!

How much did you like this recipe?

Maureen Murry

I made them today, both regular and mini-muffins. Very good!


So good! I added a tablespoon of finely chopped pecans and some nutmeg to the topping as well.


So good! Made this GF by using King Arthur’s GF all-purpose baking mix, then omitted the BP and sat (because the mix has it in it already), and they turned out perfectly. So easy and tasty.