Brown butter donuts? Vanilla bean glaze? YES.

WARNING: These donuts are CRAZY.

I wasn’t even going to post them. Not really. I made them for Jay’s partner who helped him out moving some stuff, and because they were so insane I decided I had to make them again & post them for you. Seriously.

I also upped the ante a bit.

Brown butter donuts with a thick vanilla bean glaze!

See… the first time I made them I made a regular vanilla bean glaze. Half a bean scraped into some milk & confectioner’s sugar. Bam. It was delicious. Jay’s partner loved ’em, we loved ’em.

But I knew that it could be BETTER.

Brown butter donuts with vanilla bean glaze. They're baked, so they're good for you. Right?

Side note: how cute is my great-grandma’s homemade crocheted pot holder?

Okay, so anyway, this time I made the glaze with heavy cream instead of milk. That just elevated it to a whole new level of amazingness. Mind-blowing. It’s thick, rich, and sweet without being too sweet (thanks, salt). It also nicely covers the pale part of the baked donuts without it looking too bizarre.

It’s basically insane. But, like, better for you ’cause their baked. Right?

BROWN BUTTER DONUTS with VANILLA BEAN GLAZE (donut recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, who adapted it from  Doughnuts)

makes 6 baked doughnuts, can be doubled


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (but we’ll only use 2 tablespoons of browned butter for the recipe)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla bean glaze:
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar (you’re only using as much as you need to get desired thickness- don’t worry you’re not using it all!)
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a donut pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter.  Butter will begin to crackle and pop as it melts.  That’s the water melting out of the butter.  Once the water has evaporated the butter will quiet down and begin to brown.  Keep an eye on it, it browns quickly.  The butter will begin to smell nutty.  Remove from heat and immediately transfer browned butter (brown bits and all) to a small bowl.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Measure out 2 tablespoons of browned butter and whisk into the wet ingredients.
  5. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together until no flour bits remain and all of the ingredients are well combined.  Try not to overmix the batter.  That might create rubbery donuts.
  6. Use a small spoon to dollop batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth out and fill each doughnut in the pan three-quarters full with batter.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and try not to over-bake them.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To make glaze: Sift 1 cup powdered sugar into a bowl and whisk in the salt. In a separate bowl, pour in the heavy cream & add the vanilla bean “caviar.” Whisk to combine. Small clumps of vanilla is ok, but if it bothers you just gently whisk to break them up.
  9. Add the heavy cream to the powdered sugar & whisk again. Add sugar in tablespoons until desired thickness is achieved.
  10. Once the donuts are completely cool, dip top-side-down into the chocolate glaze.  Return to the wire rack.  Icing will not really ever “set” so I’d avoid stacking, however if you refrigerate the donuts it might set. Donuts are best within 2 days.

If you’re like me, and either never remember to buy buttermilk or decide to make cupcakes/cakes/donuts at 3 a.m. when you have none, you should make your own. I’ve been doing it for years and I find it’s way easier and better. Just mix one cup whole milk with 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. I prefer using vinegar, and I usually make it 2 cups at a time & store it in a jar in the fridge. This way I’m never out of buttermilk! Just wait about 5 minutes after adding the vinegar to the milk before using, and give it a shake.

Baked brown butter donuts with a thick vanilla bean glaze.

Uhm, yeah.

There really isn’t much to say.

They’re the easiest donuts ever to make because they’re not fried. No nasty smells, no big cleanup, and yet they’re still soft & delicious. Can they compare to a fried donut? Not quite, no. But they definitely hold their own! Don’t be afraid to waste butter & flour on baked donuts… they really can be fantastic.

Easy baked brown butter donuts with a thick vanilla bean glaze.

And if you’ve never had brown butter before, then you need to get on that. Brown butter (or beurre noisette) is one of the best things in life.

Oh yeah- don’t ask why I filed these under breakfast. But hey, donuts are technically breakfast, right?

Sources & credits: Pyrex “Spring Blossom” mixing bowl; vintage, crocheted pot holder made by my great-grandmother.

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