Zeppole Style Gluten Free Vegan Donuts



My last allergy-free donuts, “Gluten Free Vegan Baked Cake Donuts“, really pleased my kids. This new recipe for Gluten-Free Vegan Yeast Donuts, really pleased my husband, Adam, who grew up working at flea markets every weekend in New York.

Adam took a bite and said they tasted just like Zeppole, the Italian-American ricotta cheese-based donuts. Luckily, my husband loves Zeppole, and thinks it’s pretty cool that I’ve replicated the flavor with absolutely no eggs, gluten (which he is intolerant to), or dairy (which he is allergic to). So let’s just call these Zeppole-Style Gluten-Free Vegan Yeast Donuts. Whoa, that’s a mouthful. Forget about saying it; just pop a donut hole in your mouth instead. Enjoy, and pretend you’re at a street fair, or flea market, or perhaps even an amusement park somewhere on a hot summer night.

FYI, I will continue working on donuts until they taste like a donut through and through. To me, gluten-free or not, a homemade donut should remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen. Look for the next incarnation of this recipe. And I’m still wondering, what kind of donuts do you like best? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Zeppole-Style Gluten-Free Vegan Donuts

Makes 12 donuts and 12 donut holes

Homemade donuts always remind me of state fairs, and my grandmother. These Gluten-Free Vegan fried donuts also remind me of Coney Island, and the celebration of Saint Joseph’s Day in NYC. Why? They are part donut, part zeppole. Get ’em while they’re hot!

  • 1 (.25 oz) packet rapid rise yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 teaspoons for sprinkling on yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 Tablespoon flax seed meal mixed with 3 Tablespoons hot water (“flax egg”)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons warm rice milk (110F)
  • 2 1/2 cups Authentic Foods GF Classical Blend, or my Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • canola oil for frying
  • Cinnamon Sugar (1/4 cup of granulated sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon ground cinammon)
  • confectioners’ sugar (optional)

1. Combine warm water and yeast, mixing well. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, mix, and set aside to proof the yeast, 10 minutes. It should foam.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining granulated sugar and the vegetable shortening, mixing on medium speed, about 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture, the flax egg, and the rice milk. Mix until combined.

3. Measure out flour mix by spooning flour into a dry measuring cup, then leveling it off with a straightedge, or the back of a knife. (Do not scoop the flour directly with the measuring cup or you’ll wind up with too much flour for the recipe). Combine flour mix with xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well.

4. Add half flour mix to main bowl, mixing well on medium speed until combined, then add rest of flour mix; mix until dough balls in the center of the bowl. Don’t rush it. Use hands to pat dough into a smooth ball. If too sticky, sprinkle with a little flour mix until ball is round and smooth. Place back in bowl and cover with a kitchen towel; let rest 10 minutes.

5. Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with a little bit of flour mix. Place dough onto parchment, sprinkle with a tiny bit more flour mix and roll out to a 1/2-inch thick. Remove top sheet of parchment. Using a floured donut cutter, cut out donuts and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Flour the donut cutter before you make each cut. I use my fingers to poke the donut hole out of the center of the cutter if the dough sticks. Same thing with the donut. Just gently poke it out with your finger, coaxing it to drop onto the baking sheet. Flip. Don’t be shy about this; any finger indents will disappear in the donuts’ rise.

6. Once you’ve cut out as many donuts as possible, gather together the scraps of dough, mold together, and roll out to 1/2-inch thick again. Cut out remaining donuts. Cover donuts with a light kitchen towel, and place in unheated oven. Fill a large pan with boiling water and place on bottom of oven. Let donuts rise to twice their height, about 2 hours. They should be 1-inch high.

7. Fill a heavy flat-bottomed pan or pot 3 inches deep with canola oil. Heat to 350°F. (or if using a deep fryer, heat to 350°F). Using a greased slotted or regular spatula, slide donuts into hot oil. Cook 3 at a time. Cook until a lovely rich golden color, about 2-3 minutes, flipping them once.

8.Transfer to a cooling rack. Cook donut holes in batches of 6. Let oil come back to 350°F between batches for best results.

9. Either turn donuts in cinnamon sugar while still warm, to coat, or let cool to room temperature and place in a zip-lock bag with powdered sugar, and shake to coat.

10. Best when eaten fresh (like all donuts), or they can be frozen and then thawed on counter, on demand.

Zeppole-Style Gluten-Free Vegan Donuts
Copyright © 2010 by Cybele Pascal

Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Makes 6 cups

The key to the very best gluten-free baked goods is Authentic Foods superfine brown rice flour; it is the Cadillac, or cashmere, of brown rice flours and is worth its weight in gold. It is not grainy like other rice flours, and bakes the most fantastic cookies, cakes, pie crusts, and so on. If you can’t find it at your local natural foods market or Whole Foods, order it online. Both Ener-G and Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flours will also work in these recipes, but they won’t turn out quite as well. The brands of potato starch and tapioca flour or starch are not as important; I find them all interchangeable. (Please see Resources, page 177, of The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook for more information.)

  • 4 cups superfine brown rice flour
  • 1 1/3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 2/3 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

1. To measure flour, use a large spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the back of a knife or straightedge. Do not use the measuring cup itself to scoop your flour when measuring! It will compact the flour and you will wind up with too much for the recipe.

2. Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size zipper-top bag. Shake until well blended. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix recipe reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook: How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, and Sesame. Copyright © 2009 by Cybele Pascal, Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)


SAFETY NOTE: Because each person’s food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concernsbefore consumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

For more allergy-friendly donut recipes you might like, try:

Gluten Free Vegan Baked Cake Donuts from me

Gluten Free Old Fashioned Donuts from The Baking Beauties

Gluten Free Baked Donuts from Gluten Free Goddess


35 Responses

  1. Look at my name – you had me at Zeppole. 3 girls with autism on GFCF diet. I am all over this. Thanks!

  2. flo makanai says:

    I’ve never made donuts, I’ve never fried dough (it seems super complicated and dangerous and I’m not fond of the boiling oil’s scent) BUT I feel I need to try your recipe: it seems perfect and without all the food we can not eat at home. once again, thanks!

  3. Cybele says:

    Kim Rossi Stagliano:

    Love your name!

  4. Cybele says:

    Hi Flo. I was going to suggest you try my baked cake donut recipe, if you want to avoid frying, but remembered you can’t get the egg replacer in France. Let me know how you like these.

    all best,


  5. These are some fabulous donuts you’ve got!!

  6. Cybele says:

    Thanks Steph! Hope you enjoy them.


  7. Anonymous says:

    I love donuts and these… mmm… look delicious!. Beautiful boy!. Homemade donuts remind me my mom, she made the best donuts in the world.

    Thank you for these donuts!.

  8. Iratxe says:

    I forgot to sing… jeje.


  9. Cybele says:

    Anonymous, you are welcome! I would love to see your mom’s donuts.

  10. Cybele says:

    Iratxe, what does jeje mean? 🙂

  11. Good Afternoon Cybele!
    I met you at the FAAN Conferance in Anaheim. I just made your choco mini cupcakes from your Baking book and they came out SOOOO DELICIOUS! My daughter Aria, who never got to eat any desserts cause of her many food allergies, absolutely LOVED them and I took some to her Daycare today for them to try and they ate them up fast! Thank YOU, Thank YOU, Thank YOU!! I will try these donut’s this weekend so she can have another new treat. Your recipes have changed our lives for the better. THANK YOU AGAIN!

  12. Iratxe says:

    I am Anonymous… jeje.

  13. HELP! I tried to make these donuts on Saturday and I failed miserably! my dough came out very crumbly and when I got it to finally spread to cut out the doughnuts I put them in a non-heated oven to rise, with the boiling water, they never rose. I have no idea where I went wrong. I thought I followed the recipe to the “T”. HELP!

  14. Hi Aubree:

    What brand of superfine brown rice flour did you use? If anything, this dough should be sticky, not crumbly. And did you use a thermometer to test the temp of the warm water? Did your yeast proof like in the picture? Knowing that will help me help you.

    all best,


  15. Hi Cybele,
    I actually have to use a coconut flour because my daughter has a rice allergy as well as the top 8. But yes I did follow all the directions as listed and the yeast did foam like in your picture. Maybe it was the flour? I will try again but wasnt sure if I needed to go over another step in the process.
    thanks for the help,

  16. Adrienne says:

    Hi Cybele!

    We have loved your main and now your dessert recipe books, and were happy to meet you, our favorite allergy-friendly chef, at FAAN conference in Anaheim! From your suggestion there we made these donuts. The flavor and texture were not just indistinguishable from “regular” but actually yummier than “regular” donuts! DELICIOUS! DD and our non-allergic family gobbled them up.

    Question — I’m having problems getting the donuts (and other recipes like the Blueberry Boy Bait) to rise? Everything turns out flat and dense. My donuts didn’t rise to twice their height (my Blueberry Boy Bait is like a brick). The baking powder is a new can of Clabber Girl double acting baking powder. The yeast, water temp, and proofing look as pictured. The other ingredients, measurements, and methods are as listed. Where am I going wrong?

    (and Katie — W-, D-, P-, TN-, E-, S-allergic)

  17. Cybele says:

    Hi Aubree:

    Coconut flour will not behave like my Basic Gluten Free flour mix. It’s very heavy and dense, and since my recipes weren’t formulated around it, it won’t always work. I would try some of my other recipes, from the Allergen Free Bakers Handbook that are tested and tested again. You might want to try this alternate GF flour mix that I came up with for readers who can’t eat rice. It works well in my recipes.

    1 1/2 cups Garfava Flour (garbanzo fava bean flour mix)
    1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
    2 cups Tapioca Starch
    2 cups Arrowroot Starch

    Hope that helps!

    All best,


  18. Cybele says:

    Hi Adrienne:

    Nice to meet you at the FAAN conference. The donut recipe I was referring to at the conference was actually a different one: http://www.cybelepascal.com/?p=1718 it’s much easier!

    Re: the blueberry boy bait, it should not be like a brick, it should be moist and buttery. What size pan are you using? What type of brown rice flour are you using? It never rises as high as the cupcakes and muffins, but it shouldn’t be hard. I’m sure we can get to the bottom of it, with some troubleshooting. Are you baking it in the center of the oven? Did you perhaps open the oven too much while baking? Have you tested your oven temp with an oven thermometer? Again, what brand of brown rice flour did you use, because they are so variable. What type of shortening did you use? And did you beat the egg replacer till frothy, as I did in the FAAN demo?

    With the donuts, did you let them rise in a warm oven? Did you let them rest two hours to rise? Did you replace the warm water in the oven, to make sure it stayed warm in there?

    Let me know so I can try to solve the problem.

    all best,


  19. Adrienne says:

    Hi Cybele,

    re: Fried Donuts – I did let them rest for 2 hrs in a warm oven to rise, but maybe the oven wasn’t or didn’t stay warm enough. I will try replacing often with boiling water to correct. I will let you know if that gets a rise out of them (pun intended). And we will give the baked donuts a try too.

    re: Blueberry Boy Bait – The flavor, moistness and texture are great and it’s still so yummy that my family actually doesn’t care that mine looks like a doorstop. But I know that my brick-like density couldn’t be anywhere close to what you intended, ha!
    I do use Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour, Bob’s Red Mill potato starch and tapioca flour, and Spectrum shortening. I generally use a separate oven thermometer to confirm the temp, bake in the center of the oven for good heat distribution and air flow (no convection), and resist opening the door to peek so I won’t mess up the temp. I’ve been using a 9×9 aluminum pan for this recipe.
    Perhaps I have not been really frothing the egg replacer with room temp rice milk. Your FAAN workshop demo’ed well what needs to happen. I will really put some effort into it and see if that does the trick. I will let you know. Thanks for helping me consider variables.

    Donuts and blueberry “coffee cake” are some truly American desserts. It’ll be fun to tweak the recipes this holiday weekend and I’m sure my family will be more than happy to eat my experiments. Hope you all have a good holiday weekend too. Happy 4th of July!


  20. Cybele says:

    Hi Adrienne:

    Have you tried the crumb cake? It might be more the texture you are looking for.

    all best,


  21. Lori says:

    These look sooo good – I haven’t had donuts in 4 years…Think I’m going to try these.

    My favorite donut is Apple Cider Donuts…and of course the Chocolate Donut! 🙂

    Love your recipes the Oreos are to die for! ^..^ be well

  22. Dawn says:

    I was wondering about how long roughly, you need to mix in Step 4. I have your book and have made a lot of recipes from it and everyone loves them, but for some reason I’m having a problem with this one. I mixed it together,and it started to form a ball, with about half in a ball and the rest on the bowl, and because you said to not rush it, I let it continue to mix and within 15 seconds the ball dispersed. I kept letting it mix hoping it would come back again, but after 5 min (I am quite sure that was way to long) it never did. I added a bit more flour because it seemed so sticky and finally when I took it out, I could get it into a ball using a spatula but when my hand touched it it became a huge sticky mess. I have added a lot of extra flour but it is now losing the sticky feel to it, so I’m wondering if I over stirred it. (Pretty sure I did lol)

    They are not finished yet, I am currently making them and am at Step 5, but I just wanted to find out about how long it usually takes to form that ball.

    FYI, I used Bob’s white rice as my kids can’t have brown rice, and I used almond milk instead of rice milk. Also, my yeast did not foam like your picture, my rapid rise for some reason never does, but my active yeast will. I’ve used both packets and the jar and it never foams very big.


  23. Cybele says:

    Hi Lori:

    Wow, I’m behind on answering comments. So sorry. THanks for this. I love apple cider donuts too! Yum. Thanks for the feedback on the oreos. I love them too.

    all best,


  24. Cybele says:

    Hi Dawn, sorry I just saw this. I’m 99% sure the problem is the white rice flour. It’s not about how long you are or aren’t mixing. It’s not as absorbent as the superfine brown rice flour and is not pulling in the liquid ingredients like it should. It’s just the wrong flour for this recipe, which was designed around that superfine brown rice flour. I also suspect that your rapid rise yeast is no longer active, or you are using water that is either too hot (which is killing it) or too cold (not activating it). Do you have a thermometer? even a meat thermometer will do if you don’t have a candy thermometer. Some of my recipes are fine when you sub out alternate flours, but some are very specifically developed around the superfine brown rice flour. So sorry!

    I hope it won’t put you off my recipes in the future. all best,

  25. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the feedback Cybele! I finished the donuts, they never rose at all, but they were scarfed up within a couple of hours. I have tried using rapid rise yeast before and it NEVER foams for me, in 4 years of baking breads, and other deserts, it’s never rose, obviously I’ve used many different jars and packs. I have honestly just given up on the rapid rise and don’t use it.

    As we speak actually, I am making them again, this time using Active Dry. It foamed up wonderfully, the mixing of it was perfect, nice ball and after the 10 min rest time, I could feel/see that it did puff up. My problem this time, is that after 2 hours, they never rose. I currently have then in a warmed oven, trying a last effort to see if they rise at all. If they don’t rise I will give it up and cook them up.

    I’m real bummed about the brown rice flour 🙁 My kids have sensitivities to brown rice so I guess this means we either eat these flat or I give them up all together. Thanks for the response.

  26. Lexi Rodrigo says:

    This is exactly what I’m in the mood for today. I was wondering if it was in your Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook. I’m so happy to find it here. Thank you, Cybele!

  27. Lexi Rodrigo says:

    Darn it, mine didn’t rise either! I suspect my rice milk was too hot 🙁 Oh well, I’ve eaten the donut holes that I got too brown and they’re good anyways, so I’m pretty sure the kids will still like them. They’re not at all dense, despite the lack of rising. Will definitely try making these again.

  28. Nicole says:

    I mentioned to my husband the other day that you have some doughnut recipes, and we can’t wait to try them! One question for you… I am allergic to potatoes and was wondering if there is another starch that you would recommend to use in the baking mix other than potato starch?

    • cybele says:

      You can try cornstarch or arrowroot starch, but i haven’t tried it that way so can’t promise results.

      all best,


  29. ninabean says:

    my favorite are maple bars

  30. Carolyn W says:

    I know this is a really old post so you may not see this and respond, but it is worth a shot =) I am trying to make these for Hanukkah and I can’t get it to form into a ball, it seems really very liquidy – I measured quite carefully and followed your recipe for the basic brown rice flour. I carefully temped both the water for the yeast and the milk and the yeast worked nicely but this ball thing is just not happening. Any suggestions??

    • cybele says:

      Hi Carolyn:

      Sorry just seeing this. Did you get it to rise?



      • Carolyn W says:

        It rose quite nicely, but it was too sticky to roll out, so I dropped it by the tablespoon into the hot oil, for all doughnut holes. It was tasty but I think my oil temp was wrong as they came out great on the outside, but nowhere near done in the middle.

  31. Hannah says:

    These were amazing! My kids DEVOURED them! The recipe came together perfectly with the exception of the oven-rise. They didn’t rise at all….I used the ingredients exactly like what you called for. It didn’t matter, though. They fried perfectly and were delicious. Thanks again for another great recipe!

  32. Kathy says:

    I have stopped consuming tapioca because I am allergic to latex. They claim that I have a very high chance of having a severe reaction to tapioca because the cassava plant and the rubber plant are related.

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