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What Are Vegan Donuts?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated May 16, 2024
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Vegan donuts are donuts that have been made with ingredients that were not derived from animals or animal byproducts. A traditional donut recipe typically calls for eggs, milk, and lard or butter. Such ingredients are animal byproducts and therefore unsuitable for those who adhere to a vegan diet. Vegans do not consume food derived from animals or animal byproducts, including cheese and honey. Consequently, these donuts mimic the taste and texture of traditional donuts but substitute non-animal ingredients.

A classic donut recipe calls for a simple dough of flour, sugar, and baking powder. Eggs and milk are added, and the dough is kneaded until smooth. The dough rings or rounds are then deep-fried in oil or lard until browned on all sides. Once the donut has cooled, it is frosted, glazed, or injected with filling.

Vegans do not consume food from any animal or made with ingredients that are animal byproducts. As a result, a traditional donut will not be appropriate for a vegan to eat. Vegan donuts substitute or eliminate animal-derived ingredients.

Instead of milk, vegan donuts contain a nondairy substitute like soy milk. Other common nondairy milks include almond, rice, and coconut. The type of nondairy milk used can affect the taste and texture of the donut. A powdered egg replacer, among other possible substitutes, can be used in lieu of a chicken egg, while some vegan donut recipes eliminate this ingredient altogether.

In addition to using non-animal ingredients in the dough, vegan donuts also avoid toppings, glazes, or fillings that contain animal byproducts. For many vegans, this also includes refined sugar. Some refined sugar is processed with animal bone char, used to remove color and impurities. The bone char is not in the sugar, but is used in the manufacturing process. As a result, an alternate sugar, such as turbinado, beet, or raw, may be preferable when making glazes, fillings, and other toppings for these donuts as well as the dough itself.

The most common type of donut is a ring of deep-fried dough. The possible toppings and frostings are seemingly endless and range from the standard sugar glaze to the more exotic, like bacon or rose petals. Filled donuts are fried, flattened dough rounds, usually injected with a filling like jam or cream. Small balls of dough fried and glazed or coated with a topping are called donut holes.

Most vegans make their own donuts by either baking or frying the dough. Vegan donuts are increasingly available commercially at health food stores and from bakeries like Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, in the United States. Frozen vegan options are less common than the fresh-baked varieties, but they are usually available in urban markets with significant vegan populations.

The history of the donut is unclear, although this food has existed for millennia. There are variations of donuts made around the world, from the Spanish rosquilla to the Japanese an-doughnut and the South African koeksuster. Not all donut variations are sweet. For example, the southern Indian donut called vada is savory.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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