Gluten Free Yeast-Raised Donuts that are crazy delicious! That’s right, these donuts are yeast-raised, fluffy and just as delicious as their gluten-filled sisters – and I will talk you through all the easy steps to get perfect gluten free yeast-raised donuts every time, with only a 30 minutes rising time! If that wasn’t good enough already, they have a margarita cheesecake filling and are rolled in lime sugar. Totally yummy, easy and perfect for Cinco de Mayo.
Plus a FREE printable cheat sheet to help you in the kitchen!
Y’all, I love donuts. Is there anybody who doesn’t love donuts. And look, I love cutting down on some calories with baked donuts as much as the next guy but if I’m having a serious donut craving it’s gotta be deep fried or it just won’t cut it. Since developing a gluten intolerance, real fried donuts have felt pretty much off limits. I mean, how often do you see gluten free donuts in a bakery? And adding the gluten free challenge to the yeast beast? Gah, scary, right?! Well, that’s what I thought. But I’m happy to admit I was very wrong!
My first attempt at gluten free yeast-raised-donuts didn’t go so well, and I’m fairly certain it’s because I tried to bake them! Why Michelle?! Trying to be healthier never seems to work out for me in these situations, so I just shouldn’t try and have ALL the fat instead. After all, it’s only like 6 months until winter, gotta start working on my winter bod now! Anyway, these baked monstrosities basically ended up as mediocre American biscuits. I still ate them, with some strawberry jam, because I hate wasting food and they were okay but they were very far from donut land! It turns out that when you fry them, gluten free yeast-raised donuts basically behave the same as regular donuts – all the same practises apply, the only difference is you need a much wetter dough and the lack of gluten means these babies are a little more reluctant to rise. But that’s okay, I’ll show you how to make it work with ease!
So, how do we make delicious, fluffy, gluten free yeast-raised donuts? Let’s break this down into easy steps:
Yeast can seem pretty scary, but as long as you treat it right it’s good – it just needs warmth and some food (sugar), it is alive after all. For this recipe you want to use Dried Active Yeast not instant/rapid-rise yeast. Why? Because letting the yeast bloom before adding it to the rest of the ingredients gets the rising action happening straight away, you know it’s completely dissolved and activated, plus you know it’s actually still alive. To bloom the yeast, you mix it with warm water and sugar, give it a stir, and leave it in a warm place for 5-10 minutes until it’s frothy – when that happens your yeast is ready to go! (Pst – check the ingredients of your yeast, sometimes they add wheat flour to the instant stuff, not seen it in the dried active but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!).
This is going to be a very wet dough, it’s going to be a bit difficult to handle, and you are going to get sticky! But that is what helps these donuts stay light and fluffy, since we’re not using butter or milk in this recipe (they slow down the rising, which obviously we don’t want). We use a mix of cornstarch (cornflour) and a gluten free all-purpose/plain flour blend (the brand I use is Doves Farm), the high amount of cornstarch will keep these donuts nice and soft. While there’s no gluten in this dough, you still don’t want to overwork it or you’ll end up with tough donuts and that’s no fun! Here is what the dough should look like when it’s ready, smooth, wet and stretchy (sorry for the badly lit iPhone snap!).
There’s only one raising time for this dough and it only takes 30 minutes! When the dough is ready, you cut it into your donut rounds and put on a baking sheet. Then loosely cover and leave in a warm place to rise. I find the best way to do this is turn your oven on to its lowest setting, usually “warm”, for about 5 minutes, turn the oven off and put the donuts in with the door closed. The yeast needs a temperature of about 75F/23C to be happy and do its job – so wherever you leave them rise, make sure it’s around that area. After 30 minutes, check the donuts are risen – they should be puffy and about 1.5 times their original size. To properly check they’re ready, gently press your finger into one, if it leaves an indent they’re ready to go (if they collapse, you’ve over-proofed them, but if you keep the oven off and don’t leave them there for hours, this is very unlikely to happen with gluten free donuts!). Here’s what the donuts will look like after they have finished proofing/raising
Getting ready to fry your donuts:
Before we fry the donuts, you want to “dry” them first. This literally just means, leaving them to rest for 10 minutes after you have removed them from their raising place. This just allows the dough to, well, dry. When the donuts are dry to touch instead of sticky, they won’t soak up a bunch of oil when you fry them – nobody wants an oil soaked donut! You can use this drying time to heat up your oil. You want to use a tasteless oil with a high smoke rate to fry in, vegetable oil is usually my go to. I use about 1 litre of oil, in a small saucepan. You can use a large saucepan but you will need much more oil – you need it to be about 5-6” deep, so there’s at least 2.5” underneath the donut when it is frying. The temperature you want the oil to be is between 360-375F/180-190C, and you want the oil to be “dirty” –clean oil is not the best environment for a donut, they’re filthy animals! If you’re using oil new from the bottle (if you deep fry often, it’s a good idea to save some of the used cooled oil and re-use once or twice), you can dirty it up by frying a few pieces of bread (or some donut dough off-cuts) – this is also a good way to check the oil is the right temperature – a 1” piece of bread/dough should be dark golden brown in about 60 seconds.
Frying the donuts:
Now comes the scary part! Well, it’s scary if you’re as accident prone as me, because that oil is HOT! So yeah, be careful guys. Use a metal slotted spoon to place the donuts in the oil gently, to avoid splashing, and also to remove the donut when it’s ready. Fry one donut at a time, it may seem a bit tedious but this is the best way to ensure your oil stays the correct temperature – the more donuts, the more the oil cools down. Luckily, the donuts cook very quickly, you need to fry them 90 seconds each side – that’s only 3 minutes in total per donut. This recipe makes 10 donuts, so 30 minutes total frying time, that’s not bad at all if you ask me! If you have a large saucepan, by all means try two at a time but make sure you keep a close eye on that oil temperature – if the oil is too cold, the donuts will soak up a bunch of oil and that’s nasty, plus they’ll take longer to cook and may stay raw in the centre. No thanks! The donuts are ready when they are a dark golden brown. Once they’re done, carefully take them out of the oil and place on a plate/tray lined with kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil.
Finishing the donuts:
The hard parts are done, which weren’t really that hard! Now for the tasty additions. First you roll it in lime sugar (so easy to make and so good, here’s my recipe video for making citrus sugar. I’ll include a link in the recipe too!), you want to do this while the donuts are still warm, basically as soon as they are cool enough to handle. I found this to be about 3 minutes, the time it takes to fry your next donut. It takes about 20 seconds to roll a donut, so you can do this while you’re frying no problem (I find it helpful to use the stopwatch on my phone to keep an eye on the frying time easily). Brush the warm donut with melted butter (yay, more fatty goodness!) and then roll in the sugar (set this up before you start frying, just spread the sugar out on a plate). Put on a clean plate to cool and you’re done – repeat with all the donuts as they cool. Once they’re cooled completely you can fill them with your margarita cheesecake mixture, which you can prepare while you’re waiting for them to cool. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a metal nozzle (about ½” diameter, round or star shaped), stick the nozzle all the way into the side of the donut and squeeze – you’ll see the donut start to expand outwards (like your waistline after eating all these yummy donuts), you’ll be filling with the equivalent of about 1.5 tbsp. of cheesecake mixture, keep an eye on those sides and make sure they’re not splitting as you fill.
The best part:
Now eat them!
Here’s your FREE printable cheat sheet!
Gluten Free Yeast-Raised Donuts Printable Cheat Sheet (Click to Print)
See, that wasn’t so hard, right? It’s a little work, but it’s simple really and the results are delicious! Just look at how fluffy the inside of that donut is, you won’t be able to tell there’s no gluten inside these babies! Like all fried donuts, these gluten free donuts are best eaten the same day they are made. You can enjoy them the next day if you warm them in the microwave for about 15 seconds first, they’ll be yummy because, well, they’re margarita cheesecake donuts, but they won’t be as good as the day you made them!
Now, let’s get gluten free yeast-raised donut making with confidence! And, of course, if you have any questions don’t be afraid to yell! Happy frying!
Gluten Free Yeast-Raised Margarita Cheesecake Donuts
Yield 10 donuts
Fluffy, delicious and totally easy gluten free yeast-raised donuts with a margarita cheesecake filling and lime sugar coating
For the donuts:
- 1 tbsp dried active yeast
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 cup (180ml) warm water
- 1 cup (140g) cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 cups (320g) gluten free all purpose flour blend
- 1.5 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend contains xantham gum already)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp maple sryup
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
- 4-8 cups (1-2 litres) vegetable oil, amount will depend on size of pan - it needs to be approx 5" deep
For the lime sugar coating:
- 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
- 1 tbsp lime zest
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
For the margarita cheesecake filling:
- 8oz (225g) cream cheese
- 1 cup (125g) confectioners (icing) sugar
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp tequila
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream)
To make the donuts:
- Put the yeast and 2 tbsp sugar in a bowl and pour in warm water. Stir, then leave in a warm place (75F/23C) to bloom for 5-10 minutes. It's ready when the yeast is dissolved and frothy. I find it best to turn oven on to lowest setting for a couple minutes, turn it off and place the bowl of yeast inside.
- Put the cornstarch, gluten free flour blend, xantham gum, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a bowl and lightly whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Using your mixer with the dough hook attachment, beat the yeast with the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, maple syrup, vinegar and oil until combined.
- Add the flour mixture and beat on a medium speed for 2 minutes, dough should be thick, wet and smooth. Add a little more warm water if too dry (1 tsp at a time). Beat for another 2 minutes. Dough will be stretchy, smooth, wet and sticky
- Put some parchment or wax paper down on your work surface and sprinkle with cornstarch. Coat your hands in cornstarch also. This is where it gets sticky! Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and use your hands to flatten until about 3/4" thick, the dough is so wet you don't need a rolling pin.
- Coat a 3" cookie cutter with corn flour and cut out rounds. Place these on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Re-"roll" dough as needed - be as gentle as possible, the more the dough is worked the tougher it will get.
- Cover the baking sheets with the donuts on loosely (with cling-film or a clean towel) and put in a warm place (75F/23C) to raise for 30 minutes. I turn the oven on for 5 minutes, turn it off, and then place the donuts in the oven. Donuts are properly raised when they are puffy and gently pressing a finger on them leaves an indent
- While the donuts are rising, make the lime sugar by processing the sugar and lime zest in a food processor. See my recipe video for this here. And then spread out on a plate.
- Remove from raising place and leave to dry for 10 minutes.
- While the donuts are drying, heat your oil in your saucepan. I use a small one so I can use less oil and the temperature is easier to control, but whatever size you use the oil needs to be about 5" deep. Heat to 360-375F/180-190C, use a candy/oil thermometer to monitor
- Dirty your oil by frying a few 1" pieces of bread or dough cut offs, the oil is ready when the bread/dough turns a deep golden brown in around 60 seconds.
- Fry your donuts one at a time, for 90 seconds each side. They are ready when they are deep golden brown. Carefully remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with kitchen towel.
- When the donuts are cool enough to handle, after about 3 minutes, brush the donut with some melted butter and then roll in the lime sugar. This takes about 30 seconds to do, so you can do this while another donut is frying. I use the stopwatch on my phone to make sure I keep an eye on the frying time.
- Repeat until all donuts are fried and coated. Leave to cool.
- While the donuts are cooling, make the margarita cheesecake filling by add the cream cheese, confectioners sugar, lime juice and tequila to a bowl and whisking to combine.
- In a separate, clean, bowl whip the cream until soft peaks form (cream will hold it's shape, and be fluffy looking). Gently fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture.
- Spoon the cheesecake mixture into piping bag fitted with a 1/2" round or star nozzle. Stick the nozzle all the way into the side of the donut and squeeze to fill, watch the sides of the donuts for signs they're about to split. For reference, you want to fill them with about 1-1.5 tbsp of filling. Repeat with all donuts.
Donuts are best enjoyed the same day
Get your free printable cheat sheet here
Adapted from I Am Gluten Free
Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
You had me at margarita filling! These sounds insanely delicious. Of course, your photos make them look delicious too. I might attempt to make them one day. You do make it sound fairly easy. Thanks!
Thank you, Kim!
I’m glad I make it sound easy, because they are! 😀
Sounds like a great dessert for
cinco de mayo. I’ve never made my own donuts but I just might
Thank you, Christine! I hope you do give them a go, they’re delicious!
Well done, that was a challenge. They look delicious and the detailed description of the recipe certainly helps.
Thank you Laura, so glad you found it helpful!
What an amazing post. I know that it goes a long way to helping people understand what it means to be gluten free and how they can make it manageable. I am not on a restrictive diet but I’d love these donuts any day of the week!
Thank you, Julie!
It’s definitely been a learning curve for me, so I’m more than happy to share the lessons I learn with others!
I’m feeling all my discipline and self-restraint fly right out the window with these donuts! They look so amazing, and I can’t believe you can make these light, fluffy donuts gluten free. Bravo!
Thank you Tamara!! It was a labour of love, but soooo worth it!!
Just reading through and it mentions no eggs or milk are used as slows down the process. However there are 3 eggs mentioned being used in the recipe. Is it possible to make without eggs?
I’m so sorry, that was a big error on my part, it was supposed to say no butter or milk, not eggs! Oops! Will be editing that now
Unfortunately this recipe cannot be made without eggs, but if you can’t/don’t have eggs hopefully you can find an egg free recipe – perhaps on pinterest!
I love doughnuts too. I try to avoid them but sometimes nothing else will do. Love that margarita cheesecake filling, and that you mastered the gluten free doughnut!
Sometimes you just NEED a donut!
It says nothing about what to do with the yeast
The yeast is prepared in the first step of the recipe. However, I have edited the method slightly to hopefully make that step a bit clearer. Do let me know if you need any more clarification!
I understand that. It does not say anything about what to do with it once it is bloomed.
Sorry, I misunderstood for your first question. To clarify – the eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil, and vinegar are beaten with the yeast, in step 3 of the donut recipe.
I made these today and they were so easy. One issue I had is that within hours they feel hard/stale. Am I doing something wrong?
Oh dear, that’s not good! The donuts do only last a day at their best really, unfortunately that’s just the nature of unglazed, fried donuts. However, they should last more than a couple hours!! It could be that your dough was underproofed when you fried it, that can lead to much denser donuts. When proofing, the best way to check they are ready is to lightly press the dough with your finger, if the indentation disappears they’re not ready – if it stays it’s ready!
The donuts can also become tough and hard if the dough is overworked, i.e. mixed too long – it shouldn’t need more than 3 minutes on a medium speed.
Another thing that will help is to make sure you put the donuts in an airtight container as soon as they’re cooled, that will help them last longer!
I haven’t tried this tip with these donuts (they didn’t stay around long enough!), but when I used to make regular, glutened donuts, after the first day and they had gone a bit hard – I would nuke them in the microwave for 30 seconds and while still not as good as when they are fresh, it made them much softer! Of course, this may make the cheesecake filling quite runny so use a plate!
Hope that helps!
Thanks! I’m thinking I didn’t proof them long enough. We make donuts yearly, Chanukah tradition, but they’ve always had gluten in them. Last year was the first time we tried making gluten-free ones, because of a newly diagnosed wheat allergy, and they were awful! I was so happy when these donuts came out looking and tasting wonderful! It was disappointing when they were hard as a rock by nighttime. Fortunately, this was only a trial run for next week’s big celebration. I’ll make sure they’re fully proofed!
I hope that they turn out great for you second time around!
Have you tried making these ad a traditional donut with a hole in the middle instead of filled?
I haven’t, but I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t work! Do let me know how you get on if you try it!
IS it possible to bake these instead of frying?
Hi Jennifer, so sorry for my late response -I missed this in my inbox! I haven’t tried baking this recipe, I would worry it would come out quite dense. My friend over at Fearless Dining has some great GF baked donuts though, that you could definitely adapt with these flavours – https://www.fearlessdining.com/?s=donuts