Mini Chocolate Peppermint Reindeer Donuts (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
I have always loved to make ‘kid’ baked goods and desserts. I’m not sure why but cute desserts just get me every time. I love putting eyeballs on cookies, donuts, anything to give them some life and character. I mean don’t get me wrong, not everything I make has eyeballs! But I do love to make cute baked goods during the holidays. They are fun for adults and adult holiday parties as a conversation piece, or a fun craft for kiddos at home as well. It’s a win win!
I actually got this idea from Pinterest a couple of years ago. I cannot take the credit for this idea, but I’ve made them a couple of times in the past and they were always a hit. This time I used cranberries for the noses because I didn’t have any clean version hard shell candies. I rolled them in sugar to give them a little sparkle and for a snow glisten. I also made some without eyeballs for a simple minimalist option. For those who want a more ‘mature’ donut. Is that a thing? I guess it is now.
These little reindeer donuts are so easy to make. I have a great gluten free peppermint mocha donut recipe that I used here and they worked perfectly. I used a mini donut pan (about 2” round donuts), rather than a normal size donut pan. They only baked for a few minutes. Once they cooled, I dipped them in chocolate, cut some mini twist pretzels into antlers, and added the eyes and cranberry nose. They couldn’t be more easy! If you are looking for a cute holiday gluten free dessert or a gut healthy dessert, these little donuts are perfect.
And soooo chocolatey and delicious!
Ready to do some holiday baking? Christmas Eve baking for Santa? Everyone will love these reindeer donuts.
These mini reindeer donuts are gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free!
…And they still taste amazing. I use coconut sugar as a low glycemic sweetener, a gluten free flour blend, and dairy free butter. They can also be made vegan by omitting the egg, or replacing with an aquafaba egg. Flax egg may work as well but your donuts will get more dense.
What is in these Mini Reindeer Chocolate Peppermint Donuts?
Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend: I’ve used both Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur 1:1 GF Flours here. Bob’s will give you a denser donut and King Arthur will give you a fluffier donut. Both came out great. I have not tried any grain free substitutes for this flour, yet.
Cacao or high quality cocoa powder: I always use cacao in my baking because of the high antioxidants and it’s pretty rich. If you choose to use cocoa, I suggest a dutch cocoa or another high quality cocoa powder. This will make a difference in your donut richness and flavor
Coconut Sugar: My go to in all my baking. It’s low glycemic, doesn’t mess with blood sugar levels and is safe on most diets. It does not taste like coconut! You can opt for cane sugar here as a replacement but I’d reduce the amount to 1/2 cup
Instant Coffee: Make sure this instant coffee and not coffee grinds!! Use 1 tbsp for a lighter coffee aftertaste or 2 tbsp for a stronger coffee flavor in your donuts. If you are making these with the kiddos, omit the coffee! They’ll still taste great. You could also sub in some cinnamon.
Sea Salt: This balances out the sweetness in baked goods
Baking Soda: This will help make your donuts rise
Baking Powder: This will work with the baking soda to make sure your donuts have a nice rise
Non Dairy Milk: You can use any milk of choice here
Coconut Oil: I suggest unrefined so there is no coconut flavor. You can sub this for vegan butter/ghee/butter
Egg: This is optional but I find it gives my donuts a nice texture and crumb. If you’re not intolerant to eggs or vegan I recommend adding it
Peppermint Extract: A hint of peppermint flavor to the donuts and the glaze
Chocolate Chips: I use paleo dark chocolate chips here, but any will work
Are these Mini Reindeer Chocolate Peppermint Donuts easy to make?
Yes! This is easy level baking. You just need mini donut pans to make them into donuts. No other equipment is required. Just mixing up the ingredients, piping or spooning into the pans. After baking it’s an easy chocolate dip, c
utting up some mini twist pretzels into antlers, and added the eyes and cranberry nose. They’re fun to build and watch come to life!
What special baking items do I need?
Mini donut pan, I used this one
Optional piping bag or ziploc bag for piping the batter
How to store these Reindeer Donuts:
These are great fresh after they are baked, but I like them a lot better the next day. They get more dense, similar to a real cake donut, and the flavors are stronger and more blended!
These last 3-4 days in an airtight at room temp on the counter. After that, store in fridge for up to 7 days. These can also be frozen and defrosted at room temperature when ready to enjoy! I suggest wrapping them tightly in non-BPA plastic wrap first to avoid frost, and then in an airtight container or bag.
*this recipe will make about 2 dozen+ mini donuts. If that's too many, you can half the recipe.
2 cups of GF All Purpose Flour Blend*
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp of unsweetened cacao or good quality cocoa powder
1 cup of coconut sugar
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp of instant coffee*
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups of non-dairy milk
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil, refined
1 egg (you can omit this but will add more rise and texture to your donuts)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup of chocolate chips of choice, I use paleo
1 1/2 tsp of coconut oil
Crushed candy canes
Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray your mini 2" donut pan with cooking spray or coconut oil. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cacao powder, coconut sugar, instant coffee (1 tbsp for a lighter coffee note, 2 tbsp for a stronger coffee flavor or omit if you're baking with the kiddos), salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir until well combined.
In another bowl, melted coconut oil (make sure it’s not hot), peppermint extract, room temperature egg. To make your egg room temperature, place it in bowl of warm water for 3 minutes. Warm your milk up to room temperature by placing in microwave for a few seconds. We are working with room temperature ingredients so we do not re-harden the coconut oil when mixed. Now add your slightly warmed milk to the rest and mix well.
Combine the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined and smooth.
You have the option to either pipe your batter into the donut pans, or spoon them in. Piping them will make the tops more round and is a bit easier to get into the pan with no mess, but either way will work. I like to put my batter in a ziploc bag, seal, and trim off the corner of the bag. I use that as my alternative piping tool. You can just discard of the bag after.
Fill your donut cavities about 3/4 way up to the top. If you over fill, they may rise too much. If that happens you can just cut the holes back out once they are cooled.
Bake for 7-9 minutes until tops are risen, slightly cracked. You can also test with a toothpick to make sure the insides are done. If you are using a full size donut pan, bake for 14-16 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then flip them over and finish cooling on a cooling rack or flat surface.
Now you want to prep your decorations. Taking your pretzel twists, you can either carefully cut them in halves with a knife or break them with your fingers. Each half of the mini twist will represent antlers. Cut them all into antlers and set aside.
Have your cranberries on hand and the candy eyes ready. You have the option to roll the cranberries in sugar first to give them a snowy look.
When the donuts are cooled, mix your chocolate glaze. Melt your chocolate with the coconut oil in a small shallow bowl until fully melted and smooth. I do this in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring frequently.
Hold each donut and dip them flat into the chocolate face down. Shake off excess chocolate and place back on cooling rack or onto a piece of parchment paper. Repeat until all donuts have been dipped.
Before the chocolate completely hardens, you want to add the candy eyes. Add the eyes on top of the donut above the holes. After your chocolate dip has hardened a bit (so you don't leave fingerprints), take your pretzel halves and place them on either side of the donut, gently pushing them inside the donut so they stay. Repeat until all donuts have antlers.
Finally, add the noses. Place a cranberry in the center of the donut so it rests. These are not meant to be eaten and can be popped out easily! Another option is to use candy coated chocolates similar to M&M's.
Enjoy these little guys!
*I’ve used both Bob’s and King Arthur’s… Bob’s will be a bit more dense
*I’ve made these donuts with 1 tbsp of instant coffee and 2 tbsp. 2 tbsp gives you a coffee/mocha flavor. It’s up to you on how much coffee flavor you’d like. I found a happy medium for myself at 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp. You can omit the coffee if you're baking with the kids.
If you love donuts, check out these other recipes:
GF Peppermint Mocha Donuts
GF Apple Cider Donuts
Paleo Pineapple Upside Down Donuts
If you make these mini reindeer donuts, leave comments and reviews below! I’d love to hear from you and it helps others! And be sure to tag me on instagram @gutsy_baker, and use #gutsybakes so I can see your creations!