Kirbie's Cravings

3 Ingredient Carrot Cake Donuts

These donuts taste like carrot cake in donut form. The dough is just 3 ingredients and you can have fresh soft and fluffy donuts in just a few minutes. They are easy to make and you can customize them with various toppings.

These carrot cake donuts are so fun and cute. They are great for breakfast, brunch or dessert. I added a glaze for decoration, but it’s not necessary because the donuts are already sweet on their own.


  • Self-Rising Flour
  • Cinnamon Applesauce
  • Shredded Carrots

Self-rising flour: Self-rising flour is flour that already has baking powder and salt added to it. I like to always keep self-rising flour on hand because it saves a few extra minutes of prep. If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can also make your own with all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.

Cinnamon applesauce: You can use sweetened or unsweetened. I would recommend sweetened if you plan on leaving the donuts plain. If you are going to add a glaze then you may want to use unsweetened so that the donuts aren’t too sweet. Applesauce and self-rising flour create the dough for these donuts. The cinnamon in the applesauce adds the cinnamon flavor you would normally find in carrot cake.

Shredded carrots: This recipe needs thinly shredded carrots. Because the donuts don’t cook that long you want the shreds to be very thin so that they soften and cook in time. I use the small holes on my box grater.

How to Make Carrot Cake Donuts

The three ingredients are all combined until a sticky dough forms. The donuts can then be fried, baked or cooked in the air fryer. If you want them to taste like classic soft and fluffy donuts, then frying then is the best method to cook them. However, if you prefer to make them healthier, you can make them in the oven or air fryer but they won’t taste like traditional donuts. They will instead taste like baked donuts.

If desired, you can dip the donuts in glaze. I added a simple thin glaze and then added some finely chopped pecans on top and some grated carrots. Pecans or walnuts are often found in carrot cake but I found that adding them to the dough can cause them to burn during frying, which is why I kept them out. But if you are looking for that texture, you can add them on top of the glaze.

Topping Ideas

These donuts are topped with a simple glaze with chopped pecans and grated carrots on top. Some other options include:

  • Roll them in cinnamon sugar
  • Dip them in cream cheese icing
  • Dip them in cinnamon glaze
  • Dust with powdered sugar

You can also just eat them plain. I personally prefer eating donuts without glaze or icing so when I make them for myself, I just eat them plain.

More Easy Donut Recipes

3 Ingredient Carrot Cake Donuts

Servings: 21 donuts
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
These soft donuts contain all the flavors of carrot cake. The dough is just 3 ingredients and the donuts are very easy to make.


  • 1 1/4 cups (164 g) self-rising flour see note regarding amount
  • 2/3 cup (165 g) cinnamon applesauce
  • 1/2 cup (37 g) thinly shredded carrots
  • canola or vegetable oil (if frying the donuts)


  • Add self-rising flour, applesauce and shredded carrots to a large mixing bowl. Mix with a spatula until a dough forms. The dough should be sticky (i.e., you won't be able to shape it with your hands).
  • Frying method (recommended method): Add 2 inches of cooking oil (canola or vegetable) to a medium saucepan. Bring to medium heat, 350°F (177°C). 
  • Once oil has reached the required temperature, scoop the dough using a 1 tbsp cookie scoop and gently release it into the oil. Cook in small batches (4-5 at a time) to prevent the oil from losing its heat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until donuts are medium brown and fully cooked on the inside. You may need to turn the donuts halfway through so that they brown evenly on all sides. You can cut one to test if you aren't sure if they are fully cooked. Repeat with remaining dough. When the donut balls are finished cooking they should mostly be round but there may be some crispy bits hanging off of them because of how sticky the dough is. I just rub those off while they are crispy to make the dough balls perfectly round.
  • Air fryer method: Preheat air fryer to 350°F (177°C).  Lightly spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Using a 1 tbsp cookie scoop, scoop dough and release onto air fryer basket, spacing donuts 1 inch apart. You will likely only be able to cook a few at a time depending on the size of your air fryer. Spray the tops of the donuts with cooking oil spray (you can cook them without but I recommend spraying the surface of the donuts so that they have a golden brown finish). Cook donuts for about 5 minutes in preheated air fryer. You only want to cook the donuts until they are just cooked. If you cook them too long, the outside will become like a thick crusty bread.
  • Oven method: Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Use a 1 tbsp cookie scoop to scoop the dough and release it onto the prepared pan, spacing donuts 1 inch apart. Lightly coat the the surface of the donuts with cooking oil spray (this helps them have a more golden brown finish rather than remaining pale). Cook donuts for about 12 minutes in preheated oven or just until the inside is cooked. If you cook them too long, the outside will develop a thick crust that will make them taste more like crusty bread.


  • To make your own self-rising flour, add 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 and 7/8 teaspoons baking powder and 5/16 tsp salt to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until evenly combined. Make sure your all purpose flour contains a regular amount of protein (3 grams per 1/4 cup).
  • This recipe was tested with Gold Medal self-rising flour which has a regular amount of protein (3 grams per 1/4 cup). If you have a lower protein self-rising flour (2 grams per 1/4 cup), please use the homemade self-rising flour method. Brands like White Lily and King Arthur make a low protein self-rising flour.
  • The carrots should be finely/thinly shredded. I used the small holes on my box grater.
  • You can use sweetened or unsweetened cinnamon applesauce. If you can't find cinnamon applesauce, you can add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to your applesauce.
  • If you want the donuts to taste like classic donuts, you will need to fry them. You can cook them in the air fryer or bake them but the donuts will taste more like baked donuts. Fried donuts are best consumed within 1-2 hours after they are finished cooking. If you save them too long they will become more dense and a little oily.
  • Air fryer or baked donuts are best consumed soon after they are done. I recommend glazing/decorating as soon as they are cool enough to touch and eating them while they are still warm. Once they have cooled they will be more bready.
  • You don't technically have to coat the air fryer or baked donuts in cooking oil spray. They will still cook without it but they won't look as nice. The cooking oil spray helps them brown on the surface, otherwise they will look very pale and floury.
  • Optional glaze: For the glaze used in the photos, add 2 cups powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsp of milk. Whisk until a glaze forms. If you want a thinner glaze you can add a splash more of milk. If you want a thicker glaze, you can add a little more powdered sugar.  After dipping the donuts in glaze, I also sprinkled finely chopped pecans on top and added some freshly grated carrots right before serving (you don't want to add the grated carrots until right before serving because they will start to brown)
  • Nutrition estimate is for the dough only (using unsweetened cinnamon applesauce) and does not include optional glaze or oil used for cooking since it is difficult to determine the amount of oil absorbed during the cooking process.


Serving: 1donut, Calories: 30kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 0.5g, Fat: 0.004g, Sodium: 86mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 1g, NET CARBS: 7

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!



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