Caramel Apple Doughnuts

I love caramel apples. I love dairy-free recipes.

The gooey treat reminds me of the afternoons in the kitchen with my Mom, melting caramel for Halloween apples; and later, the endless hours I spent hanging out at the Calgary Stampede Midway as a teenager.

Those caramel apples were upwards of $8 a pop, but that didn’t stop me!

Suffices to say, I’ve had enough midway treats to last a lifetime.

If I had to choose a favorite, it would have been the mini cinnamon sugar doughnuts. I must have had 2-3 bags a day during the 10 day event for at least 15 years of my life.

There were even a couple of years when I’d asked Santa to bring me a Belshaw Donut Robot so I could prepare them for myself all year round.

Thankfully Santa has some sense in him and never gave me that doughnut fryer.

Plus, where did I think I was going to put that thing, in my room?

Luckily, I’m older and a bit wiser now.

I don’t spend $8 on sugar-loaded caramel doughnuts, and I’d rather get a robot to clean my house than one to make me doughnuts.

But after all these years, I still have a soft spot for any midway treat.

Naturally I saw this as a perfect opportunity to buy a doughnut pan and come up with a recipe that would make any mini doughnut fanatic swoon.

And let me tell you, Imm a swoonin’

Caramel Apple Doughnuts

Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free, Grain free

Caramel apple in doughnut form. zomg.

Yield: 12 doughnuts

Servings: 12




  • 1 batch of dairy-free caramel topping (below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and oil a doughnut pan with a dab of coconut oil. Set aside
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine all wet ingredients.
  4. Add dry to wet and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes to thicken up.
  5. Place the batter in a piping bag or large ziploc bag with the end cut off the end so there’s about a 1/2-inch opening.
  6. Fill each cavity 3/4 to the top. Be careful not to overfill or the doughnuts will overflow while cooking.
  7. Place in the oven to bake for 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean and edges are just beginning to brown.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before grabbing the pan with an oven mitt and tipping over onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely (about 30 minutes) before adding caramel topping.

View nutrition facts

I have to admit, the caramel was an afterthought.

The original plan was to coat the doughnuts with cinnamon sugar, but one taste of the cake-like doughnut with a strong apple flavor and I just couldn’t pair it with plain ‘ol cinnamon sugar.

This doughnut deserved something better…

Oh yes…

Dairy-free Caramel Topping

Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free, Grain free

A 3 ingredient, dairy-free caramel topping that will take you under 10 minutes to make!

Because this is a natural caramel, it will not hold up well at room temperature. Once you’ve dipped the doughnuts, serve immediately or place in the fridge or freezer. The caramel will melt on you if you leave it out! But don’t worry, the doughnuts will still be just as tasty regardless. If you don’t want a hard topping (exactly the consistency of caramel on a caramel apple) don’t cook the honey as long.

Yield: 1/2 cup

Servings: 12, enough to dip 12 doughnuts


  • 6 tablespoon unpasteurized honey
  • 2 tablespoon roasted cashew butter or other nut butter
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Place honey in a small frying pan and heat on medium-low heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly with a fork or spoon. The honey will begin to foam. Don’t worry, this is good!
  2. Add nut butter and vanilla and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes, until big bubbles form and the mixture pulls away from the side slightly. The longer you cook it, the harder it will get.
  3. Remove from heat and use immediately before it hardens up on you to the point where all you can do is sit on the couch and snack on the large mass of natural caramel before you…

View nutrition facts

Take that, donut robot.

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. I love making doughnuts now that I have a pan. When I though about how long it had been since I had a doughnut it seemed so strange. These sound amazing! That caramel topping looks so sinfully delicious!

  2. LOL at our local market, they have a donut robot and I am always exceptionally amused by it!!! Like you said, I’d rather have a robot to clean my house though. ;) Since I don’t own a donut pan, could you magically drop these over my house on your way to India?

  3. We used to go to the mountains every fall when I was a kid – we’d always stop for apple doughnuts and caramel apples. I haven’t had them in YEARS, but these look like a healthy blend of my favorite childhood treats. already pinned to try ASAP! :)

  4. These look so fanastic – thanks for sharing the recipe. Since I don’t have a donut pan but do have a mini bundt cake pan do you think it would work about the same?

    • A couple of people have said that putting the batter in a muffin tin worked well!

  5. This recipe is JUST WHAT I NEEDED after a rough day (there’s nothing like a good baking session to make me feel better).
    The only change I made was adding 1/4 tsp nutmeg, because I think ALL donuts need a dash o’ nutmeg. If they taste anything like they smell, I’m going to be in heaven soon. Thanks, Leanne!

  6. This is why I like you: you wanted a donut fryer for Christmas. This is so something I would so want as well :) And that caramel sauce? Brilliant! Love how you made it!! These donuts look fabulous, Leanne.

  7. All I can say is WOW. If you had a shop, I’d move there and get a place right above it! :-))

  8. My son and I can’t wait to try these!! We have tons of food allergies and when he walked by and saw the photo, he practically drooled all over himself!! Hoping they turn out well using an egg substitute!

  9. So excited to try these……I may need to add a donut pan to my cupboards! Thanks for sharing!

  10. These look absolutely incredible! Especially that caramel topping – I’m going to need to try that on something! These really make me wish I had a doughnut pan, they sound fantastic. And your pictures are amazing :D

    • Thanks Heidi! I’ve only done it once, but I’m pretty sure you could make these in a muffin tin, too!

  11. Oh Leanne, you are a donut making genius! These sound so freakin delicious. I used to love getting caramel apples at the Texas State Fair when I was a kid (I’m sure they probably have a fried version of them too… those crazy peeps fry everything). I’ve always seen that caramel apple sauce mix in the produce section of the store but never bought it because I knew they would just not compare to those wonderful apples of my youth. Lucky for me, I also love donuts so anything somewhat reminiscent of the apples are pretty much awesome in my book. Thanks for this awesome recipe. I will be making them VERY soon :)

  12. Oh wow, I was not going to look at this because I just knew we couldn’t eat it, but I looked anyway and what a wonderful surprise to find how healthy they are!! We will make these one day! Thank you so much for the recipe and the photos!

  13. These look crazy good! I just made something with apples that I was going to post later this week; but NOTHING nearly as amazing as these. Wow. I love love caramel sauce and could just die happy with one of these babies!

  14. These look amazing! I have a ton of apples that I don’t want to eat (too crunchy) so I was planning on making homemade apple sauce because finding unsweetened apple sauce where I live is a challenge. This sounds like a great use for my future apple sauce! I can’t wait to try the caramel. I don’t understand how it can possibly work, but obviously it does. The pictures are fantastic too. :)

  15. Love that these donuts are made with coconut flour! I have an abundance of it so I will definately have to try these out :) Love that picture of the caramel dripping from the spoon!

  16. I seriously need to get me a doughnut pan and make these stat! That dairy free caramel topping is genius!!! Do you think this would work with a different sweetener like brown rice or maple syrup??? I can’t have honey because of the fructose :(

    • I’ve made my other doughnut recipes in a muffin pan and they’ve turned out. Not with this recipe specifically… but always an option if you don’t want to wait to get a doughnut pan! I’ve never tried making the caramel or doughnuts with any other sweetener, but if I were to choose one, I’d say brown rice syrup may be a better option. Good luck!

  17. I just made these, and they are awesome! My family has gone paleo and these were the perfect sweet fix. Since I don’t have a doughnut pan, I just used a muffin tin. I also passed on the carmel topping and just dusted them in cinnamon sugar while they were hot. I do suggest using a piping bag or ziplock bag because they rose exactly as I left the batter in the pan. These were a hit because they weren’t entirely sweet with just the sugar topping. Although, I wouldn’t deny one with carmel! TRY THIS RECIPE!

  18. These look so good! I can’t wait to try them. Thank you for also including the nutritional information–you couldn’t be a better foodie! :)

  19. Wow these doughnuts look fantastic!!!! I’ve had doughnuts on the brain ever since I bought a pan – I’ve made several versions but not caramel apple– this is a must make!!! Thanks for the yummy recipe!

  20. I recently made dairy-free caramel out of coconut sugar and coconut milk but I’m very intrigued to try yours too. And this reminds me, why haven’t I bought a donut pan yet?

    • I didn’t know you could make caramel that way, too! I bet it’s way lower in sugar. Did you have a recipe that you followed?

  21. Leanne these look amazing! I had a donut pan in my hand the other day at the store and then put it down. Now I wish I had bought it. I was loving the idea of making gluten-free, dairy-free donuts then talked myself out of it.
    Darn it, I am gonna go buy one now. Your recipe looks like a super wonderful starting point. Thanks for sharing!

  22. I am making these this weekend, I can’t wait! My one question is (because I am cooking/baking-challenged) is how do you get the caramel on top of the donuts like in the picture. Thank you so much!!

    • No worries. I just kept the caramel in the pan and dropped the doughnut in there, wiggled it around a bit, and pulled it out, then placed it on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

  23. hello there! i just made these today! off the bat, i can tell you these were DELICIOUS!!….easy to make…loved the caramel sauce….just so yummy…my daughter has a friend who is allergic to wheat (which i have learned is not the same thing as being gluten-intolerant), so i always try to accommodate her…
    gotta ask about the number of eggs you listed–6 whole eggs…i was afraid it might be a typo?…so i backed down to 4 eggs and still bumped up the almond flour to 1/2 cup and another 1/4 of teff and another 1/4 of tapioca flour…they still turned out great….i am wondering if you requested 6 because i would get a fluffier texture?….i was in a 45 minute bind where i had to get the girls off to ice skating but needed a hearty snack, so i had to make the decision to use 4 eggs…again, yum yum–adding this recipe to the permanent file : )

    • Glad you liked the treats, Eva! 6 eggs is correct but happy to hear you made a bunch of changes and they still worked out :)

  24. Made these today, though I was a tad short on the honey in the doughnut recipe so I topped the honey off with pure maple syrup.

    I also don’t have a doughnut pan so I used a mini muffin tin. I used a ziplock bag as a piping bag and I filled the cups a little fuller than I should have. After reading the reviews I assumed they would not grow much in the oven but mine grew quite a bit so next time I will fill them less. (I had filled them full to the top, whoops!) I used melted coconut oil to grease my pan but they stuck super bad anyway.

    However they were delicious, even without the topping! I can’t wait to make them again :)

    • Wow, even with all the changes it still worked out! I’m so pleased :) I’ll be sure to add instructions to the recipe that advise people not to fill up the mix too high to the top of the muffin tin/doughnut form. Thanks for the feedback.

  25. What would you replace the eggs with to make this egg-less as well? The Dairy Free drew my attention since I have an allergy to eggs. They look so good!
    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Jeanene: coconut flour is incredibly challenge to bake without eggs. Each time I’ve tried, the batter stays raw and soup-like. I’ve usually experimented with flax eggs, apple sauce, ground chia, but with no luck. I’ve heard egg replacer works well, but I haven’t tried it. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  26. Leanne, thanks for this delightful recipe. My tweens LOOOOOOVED these doughnuts. We didn’t try the sauce yet, since the doughnuts were just delightful on their own.

    Splendid work you do here!

  27. Made these today for a potluck and everyone loved them! People even asked if they were deep fried. Soooo delicious!

  28. I keep seeing these awesome looking donuts and then read the ingredients and get sad again. While they are gluten-free they almost always seem to call for almonds. I cant eat almonds without a huge stomach ache that is worse than even my lactose induced aches.

    Is there something I can use as an almond substitute? Having never baked with it- I dont actually know how it influences a recipe or how to replace it. Can I use more coconut flour or another GF flour as a substitute? Can I use another nut flour/meal? I would love to eat donuts again!

    • Hi Corlissa – you’re right… there are a lot of donuts with a lot of almond flour, isn’t there? Have you checked out my chai donuts? Here’s the link. They are made with coconut flour which you’ve said is okay, so you should be good. If you want them to taste like caramel apple, you could try replacing 1/4 of the egg whites with apple sauce and the chai spice with cinnamon. You could also try using this caramel apple recipe and just subbing the almond flour with sorghum and an extra 1 tablespoon of oil. These are all guesstimates, but it’s what I would do!

  29. All the donut recipes on this site are incredible. So delicious and I love caramel. I don’t have apple sauce but lots of bananas. I hope mashed banana will be ok to substitute with the apple. I am going to try it and will let you know.

    • Oh I’m sure banana will do the trick. Let me know how it goes!

  30. This recipe is amazing! I only have a pan for 6 donuts, so I had to put the rest of the batter into a 6 muffin tin. I was surprised that the muffins actually baked like a regular muffin with a bit of a rounded top. They are delicious even without the icing. Thank you so much for sharing.

  31. Do I need to use the almond flour with this recipe? It is hard for me to get a hold of

    • Hi Harley! You can use any type of milk that you have on hand. Enjoy!

  32. Can I just use whole wheat or regular flour? or is it imperative that I use coconut and almond flour?

    • Hi Camille – best to use the flour combinations I have in the recipe as I haven’t tested it any other way. Sorry!

  33. After finding this recipe I immediately ordered my very own donut pan and waited eagerly for it to arrive two days later! Then it was on! I started mixing and tasting and mixing and tasting when inspiration hit…these would be so good with some bacon! So I cooked up some Applewood Smoked Bacon, pulsed it in the food processor and threw some bacon sprinkles on my finished donut…OHHHH MY!! So good…everyone, even my non paleo pals LOVED them! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!

  34. I was really excited about these doughnuts when I first saw you post last year, and last week, on the first day of fall, I thought it would be a great way to usher in the season. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE and have been satisfied with so many of your recipes. Your creativity is inspiring and constantly keeps me trying new things in the kitchen and finding new ways of doing something in a more healthy way. However, when I made these doughnuts, I felt that they were just missing something. Shared them with 2 friends and they also thought the same. They weren’t very apple-y, and I couldn’t place my finger on what was missing or different (grated apple? more cinnamon?). Racking my brain on what to improve because the concept is a great one!

    • Hey Jenn! Thanks for the feedback. That’s so strange because Kevin and I LOVED this recipe. But, to each their own. I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy them! Have a great Sunday :)

  35. Oh my, oh my, oh my, these are the best donuts EVER!!!!! and my children are so thankful for this recipe (and my husband) who have all lived without me baking any sinful sweets since we started our family detox. The BEST thing about these donuts is that they don’t put my head in a fog after eating them and when I woke up the next morning I had the feeling that, even though they are delicious I could live without them (that’s a good sign that I am not feeding the pathogens in my body). THANK YOU, from my whole family.

    • Hey Sarah! I do have this… but not on the older posts (like this one!) still have to go back and enter them all in. ah!

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