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Sugar Donut Muffins

Sugar Donut Muffins

While a donut with white frosting and a generous topping of rainbow sprinkles was never turned down, sugar donuts were always my favorite when I was a kid. I liked the subtle crunch of all that extra sugar on top of a light, fluffy donut. They’re still a top choice for me now, although I think they’ve lost their top ranking to plain, old-fashioned cake donuts.  These sugar-topped donut muffins combine the best features of these two types of donut in a package that is easy to make and far lower in fat than a deep-fried pastry because it is baked in the oven.

The muffins in question here are fairly plain, with just a hint of nutmeg and splash of vanilla. Once baked, they are rolled in sugar and left to set a bit before being served. The result is a muffin with a fairly crisp outer layer that is very similar to the coating on a sugar donut. Sugar donuts typically use a yeasted dough. These use a fairly typical muffin batter to produce what would be a cakey donut. I used oil in the batter to help keep the muffins moist inside, imitating their deep-fried namesakes.

The oil has a second function here, too.  It keeps the sides and base of the muffin soft – softer than using butter, since butter will caramelize with the muffin’s sugar while in the oven and eventually firm up the sides that are in contact with the muffin pan. This softness is important because it provides a good surface for sugar to stick to when you’re roling the muffins in sugar. Many donut muffin recipes that I’ve seen in the past call for a muffin to be dunked in butter before being rolled in sugar. This is effective, but not entirely necessary (especially since it adds quite a bit of fat to the recipe). Plenty of sugar will stick to a hot-from-the-oven muffin without applying any butter to its sides and base. I prefer to brush the top of the muffin with just a little bit of butter, then roll the whole thing in sugar. Be careful with your fingers when you handle the hot muffins, and place them on a wire cooling rack after dipping them to let the sugar fully adhere.

Sugar Donut Muffins
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until light in color.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Pour into egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract.
Divide batter evenly into 10 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

While muffins are baking, melt butter and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.
When muffins are done, lightly brush the top of each with some melted butter, remove from the pan and roll in sugar. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 10 muffins.

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  • Dorothy
    January 4, 2010

    Oh. Emm. Gee. These were delicious! Made them this weekend in my mini donut pan (got 36), and they were SOOOO much better than the donuts I made using the recipe that came with the pan. Thank you! 🙂

  • Cheryl
    May 7, 2010

    Just made this for the beginning of a 4 day long weekend. Nice and light with a great flavour. Nice to have “donuts” without the smell of grease. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Esther
    May 7, 2010

    I’m curious whether it’s ok to bake them in mini cupcake tins? I might bring them to school for a breakfast potluck. Thank you in advance.

  • jd
    June 5, 2010

    i used 1/4c strawberry yogurt and 1/2c milk just because i didn’t have enough milk! :p

    i also put white chocolate chips in the center (so half batter… chips then some more batter to cover)

    i rolled them in butter and powered sugar

    yummyyyyyy! thanks for this awesome recipe. its just what i needed to make my finals study weekend a little more bearable :p

  • Sibel
    July 2, 2010

    I wanted to let you know that I made these last week and they tasted fantastic! (too bad, my muffin pan thought the same and tried to keep half of the muffins to himself…)

    this is going to be one of my speed dial recipes!

  • Just followed a link over to you from CaffeIna who made the muffins too. They look so delicious I wanted to thank you for the original post. I’m looking forward to making them.

  • Sara @CaffeIna
    August 1, 2010

    I made these yesterday and they came out simply perfect! I usually change recipes even just a little bit but yours was perfect…by now the best I’ve found around! Thank you!!!! (oh, of course I linked to your post!)

  • Ryan
    August 3, 2010

    was making these and poured the milk in only to realize I bought expired milk today!! ugh!! everything was ruined 🙁

  • Jessie @ Hearty Bakes
    September 13, 2010

    Those muffins look inviting and im sure my children will love to have it for breakfast. Just a few ques, must i use electric beater to beat egg & sugar till fluffy, sugar dissolve or hand whisk till light in colour will do? Upon adding the flour, oil & milk, just stir few stroke (batter lumpy) like making muffins or batter must be running where all are fully mixed. Appreciate your help and i look forward to made these lovely muffins.

  • linda
    October 2, 2010

    i”going to make them riht now .thanks mmmmmm!

  • Hannah
    October 16, 2010

    These were featured in the Vancouver Sun!

  • jennifer
    October 16, 2010

    I love sugar donuts. I never considered making a muffin version before. And since they’re lower in fat, I may have to give these a try. They look scrumptious.

  • ChristineZ
    October 17, 2010

    These were totally delicious. I made them tonight, in a fit of restlessness. Picture here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cristine/5092416248/

  • Maria P.
    December 26, 2010

    Made these in mini muffins pans for Christmas brunch. They were a hit! I added cinnamon to the sugar for a cinnamon/sugar version. Bite sized munchkins couldn’t taste better!

  • Monique
    January 16, 2011

    Hi Nicole,

    I made those yesterday and they were great! My only concern was that the batter was very thin, just like Lisa (in the previous comments) said. I know you said to her that the batter shouldn’t be so thin so I just want to know what is the exact weight for the 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  • Monique
    January 18, 2011

    NO answer? 🙁

  • Christy Spurlock
    July 30, 2011

    I loved these sugar donuts. I made these in a mini-muffin pan and they were like bite sized. Loved them!

  • LauraJane
    September 2, 2011

    Hey Nicole! I just wanted you to know that I tried this recipe out and it was SO darn tasty. I wrote a little bit about it on my blog, I hope that’s alright! You can see the post here if you have time would like to 🙂 Just wanted to say thanks for a NOM recipe!


  • Diane
    February 23, 2012

    Just made these this afternoon for my kids’ after school snack – so easy to make and delicious! I made them in a mini-muffin tin and they were the perfect size. Thank you!

  • Meegan
    April 24, 2012

    Hi! I made these for my family today and they are a HUGE HIT! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe 🙂

  • sarah
    July 6, 2012

    just made them today and they were great, lovely and light. I did have to upto the flour since I felt the consistency was too runny. next time I might add some jam or custard in the middle.

  • BeachBum2U
    July 16, 2012

    Thanks to my Facebook Friend Maureen Wait in Australia, our group has this recipe now to bake and sell at our next bakesale fundraiser, they sold like crazy at thiers this past month, thanks for the great recipe and site!

  • Kimberly
    August 9, 2012

    Can’t wait to make these injected with lemon curd!

  • alex
    May 13, 2013

    I made these tonight and they were really salty. Can I make them without the salt and nutmeg (I hate nutmeg lol)

  • Lu
    September 17, 2013

    Looks easy and tasty. I’m gonna try to do a diabetic version.. …. I have many friends who are diabetic and still love their ‘sweets’. If I can make cheese cake diabetic….I am sure I can these!!

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