Cinnamon Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze – Low Carb and Gluten-Free


Cinnamon DonutsBrowned butter.  Just the very words are enough to send shivers of delight down my spine.  I love butter as it is, but there is something about heating  it to the point where it becomes nutty and fragrant that is pure heaven.   Typically I’ve used browned butter in savoury dishes, as sauce for fish or vegetables.  Combined with some lemon and capers, or some crispy sage leaves, and that browned butter sauce will have you running your fingers across your plate, trying to get every last drop into your mouth.  I’ve only tried browned butter once in a sweet recipe, and although the cookies were good, the flavour of the butter didn’t really come through.  I suppose I just didn’t use it in a high enough concentration.  Lesson learned…when it comes to br0wned butter, there is never too much of a good thing.

I recently saw donuts with a browned butter glaze on Foodgawker, and although I didn’t even glance at the recipe, knowing it would be carb and sugar-laden, the idea struck a chord.  I knew I had to come up with my own version and see if it would be as good as I imagined.  I let the idea take shape in my mind, knowing that the donut itself had to have some flavour to stand up to the intensity of the glaze.  Cinnamon seemed like the very thing to complement the glaze and have enough flavour on its own.

Now, this is going to be one of those recipes where you should do as I say, not as I do.  These donuts were amazing, and the glaze tasted like caramel.  The execution, however, left a little something to be desired.  As I often do, I was trying to save time and water by combining my glaze ingredients into the same pot where I’d browned the butter.  But the heat of the pot had the effect of cooking the glaze further and it began to thicken and clump.  I realized mid-stream that I should have had my Swerve ready to go in another bowl, and whisked my browned butter into it, instead of the other way around.  I quickly transferred everything to a new bowl, whisked in more Swerve and then my vanilla and cream.  I couldn’t quite beat out some of the clumps, but the glaze was still delicious and actually spread quite nicely on the cooled donuts.

Cinnamon Donuts with Browned Butter Glaze

Yield: 8 Donuts*


  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated erythritol (I used Swerve)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 10 drops liquid stevia
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Glaze:
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 7 tbsp powdered erythritol (I used Swerve)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  1. For the donuts, lightly grease a donut pan and preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, erythritol, protein powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  3. Stir in melted butter, eggs, almond milk, stevia and vanilla extract until well combined.
  4. Fill donut pan holes approximately 2/3 full and bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until donuts are lightly browned and set.
  5. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Repeat with any remaining batter.
  7. For the glaze, melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter is browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Place powdered erythritol in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in browned butter until well combined. Mixture will be thick.
  9. Stir in 1 tbsp of cream at a time until a spreadable consistency is achieved.
  10. Stir in vanilla extract.
  11. Spread glaze on cooled donuts and let set, about 20 minutes.


*How many donuts you get will depend on the size of your donut pan. Some are a little bigger than others. Mine is on the smaller side, although not a mini-donut pan.

Serves 8. Each donut has a total of 5.4 g of carbs and 2.2 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3.2 g.

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  1. says

    Ok… now normally I’d be skeptical with the whole low carb donut thing (should those words be in the same sentence?) but then you snuck in the brown butter glaze and, well, when you add brown butter, you can do no wrong.

    • Carolyn says

      You know what? I was never much of a fan of donuts, but once I started making my own low carb version, I fell hard. And it’s so fun to tell my kids they get donuts for breakfast…they look so happy!

    • Carolyn says

      I’ve never used powdered stevia but I know it’s potent stuff. I wouldn’t use more than about 1/4 tsp, if that.

  2. says

    I made a few modifications to make them dairy-free:

    I used Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder (chocolate was all I have on hand) instead of Whey. I used coconut oil instead of butter in the donut batter. I used homemade ghee (I already had some browned) and coconut milk for the frosting along with a few drops of stevia (in addition to the powdered erythritol).

    They turned out wonderful except for the part where I didn’t grease my donut pan and they stuck to the bottom. :)

    • Carolyn says

      Wow you made the already! And oops on the donut pan…I’ve done that more times than I’d like to remember.

  3. says

    I know you wouldn’t get the “donut effect” if you didn’t use a donut pan, but can you see this working … in a muffin pan, for example? I just can’t bring myself to buy another piece of equipment that I will use only in a blue moon. Looks yummy.

  4. Stacy Wade says

    We were just talking about donuts yesterday, so we are definitely going to give these a try. They look delicious.

  5. says

    That’s it. I’m going out today to buy donut molds. Maybe even minis just for fun. Or maybe I’ll get reeeeaaaallllly crazy and buy both! But THIS is the recipe I’ll make :)

  6. says

    Carolyn, I had a dream about these last night! I swear I did. I saw your post last night on FB with the photo of these donuts, and I swear I could not get them off my mind…so I ended up dreaming about them. :/ Girl’s gotta eat! 😉

  7. says

    I’m curious to know (and maybe this is somewhere on your site, but it’s 9:47pm and I want to make something NOW to take to an amusement park tomorrow!)….but how does the Swerve measure out compared to other sweeteners? Is it measured the same as sugar (1/4 sugar is replaced by 1/4 cup Swerve)? I’d have to use Splenda, and the white and brown Splenda’s are measured out differently…..I’d love it if in your recipes you include what the comparable amount of sugar would be so we can easily swap in our own sweeteners.

    • Carolyn says

      Swerve can be used cup for cup like sugar. But splenda won’t work very well for the topping, I don’t think.

    • Carolyn says

      Sure. But keep in mind that hazelnut meal usually isn’t as finely ground so your donuts may be a little less smooth looking.

  8. Holly says

    I made these 2 days ago, and my husband has declared them to be his favourite gluten & grain-free treat yet! I made them in a mini bundt tin, and 8 cakes took 18 mins to bake. They really were delicious, the only problem I had was the icing turned out a little gritty. Any suggestions?

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Holly, what kind of powdered sweetener did you use? I think maybe a little more cream would have helped a bit. Here’s a suggestion….mix the powdered erythritol and cream before adding the browned butter. I think it might dissolve better that way.

  9. Johanna says

    I made these in a regular sixed muffin tin. The recipe as-is made 6 muffins and they took approx 22 mins to bake.

    I do not have liquid stevia so I used liquid splenda – have no clue as to the conversion so I winged it – used a little more than 1/4 c worth of sweetener (about 18 drop liquid splenda)

    They were good but not sweet enpugh on their own w/out the icing.

    The icing was not my favorite – the swerve stayed gritty and had a cooling effect (although def not as pronounced as my regular erythritol) I did use the confectioners swerve. I don’t think I care for the taste of so much erythritol, I find it gets bitter and burns my tongue and mouth when used this way, in this quantity. next time I may try adding powdered isomalt and polyd to my butter on the stove, melting it then adding the swerve and letting it melt completely, then take off heat and add cream. it may be more praline-like but the crystalization is not good to me. The taste itself was good – Just the after taste/mouth feel of so much erythritil. I must be sensitive to it!

    I will def make the donut recipe again and play with the icing… I will have to try the other technique of dissolving the swerve in the cream first as well. Also Iwonder if I cool the browned butter in the fridge before I add to the swerve if that will prevent recrystalization.

  10. Leigh says

    Just made these after thinking about them for days. So, so, so good. I’m new to making donuts, and these were more dense than I expected, but still so very good. Will be making these again!

  11. Liz says

    I knew these would be good, but I’m STUNNED at *how* good! This was my first attempt at a baked good since going low-carb and wheat-free, and I have to tell you, with recipes like this one to alleviate a donut/cake/sweet craving, I honestly don’t see any reason why I would need to have a traditionally-made donut ever again. I *so* appreciate your efforts with these recipes… they really make me feel like this can absolutely be a permanent lifestyle for me, with no need to “cheat”!

  12. Rebekah says

    I made these tonight because I wanted something not chocolate or cheesecakey & hoped the kids would like. My eldest hates most of my sugar-free baking, so I was determined to make this recipe a little sweeter. I added some extra erythritol equivalent to a 1/3 of a cup, added 10 drops of maple extract along with vanilla extract & some extra cinnamon.

    The glaze is not done yet, these babies just came out of the oven. My eldest tried a quarter & is asking for more! My toddler is a little harder to please though….

    Winning recipe, will make these for an upcoming toddler birthday party. Carolyn, how do you come up with all these fantastic recipes??

    • Carolyn says

      Phew, when I read the first part of your comment, I thought they weren’t going to have made the grade! I have no idea how I come up with these, they just pop into my head and I do them. I have a long list of things I want to make and there isn’t time enough in the world for me to make them all!

  13. Celeste says

    Oh my! I made these donuts this afternoon! What a treat they are.
    I did make a few changes… Used egg substitute and used Liquid splenda in place of the stevia. I used 18 drops for the donut part of the recipe. For some reason the stevia leaves me with a terrible after taste. Don’t know why…
    I added 10 drops of liquid splenda to the Glaze. Only had to use 1 tablespoon of heavy cream.. It was perfect!
    My DH had one and he did just fine with blood sugar control… He has been a type I Diabetic since he was 12 years old. Now 58 years old. He keeps extremely tight control of his blood sugar and so far the recipes I have tried from you site have been just fine for him. FYI…. his last A1C was 5.3
    He has not had a donut since he was a little boy. Haha… He licked the bowl of the glaze!

    • Carolyn says

      How wonderful! I am so glad for your husband that these worked out well. His A1c is fantastic! And I am so glad that one of my recipes gave him a chance to have donuts again.

  14. Katharine says

    Just made these! I subbed plain whey protein powder and upped the vanilla to 3/4 tsp in the donuts (Sometimes the vanilla protein powder is too strong for me). My glaze doesn’t look anything like yours, but luckily it still tastes fantastic!! I just ate an entire one and swear it resembled the beloved cake donuts I used to eat every Sunday as a child. And the smell of that brown butter icing is AMAZING. I couldn’t stop smelling it. Wow! I think this is one of my favorites from your site, Carolyn. Thank you!

    • Katharine says

      Just made these. Again. Delicious! Best part was I tested my blood sugar before eating one…and again 2 hours afterwards. And it was a few points LOWER than when I started! The glaze smells SO good when it’s warm, I can hardly stand it! I just stand there sniffing and sniffing and sniffing… kids don’t really like them, but that’s fine….more for ME! :)

  15. lisa says

    I finally made these last night. Never did brown butter before and your instructions were perfect! I want to find other uses for it! The glaze never got to be “spreadable” so I’m unsure what I did wrong there but I poured over the cooled donuts as a glaze and the butter hardened up after. Delicious!!!!!!!

    • Carolyn says

      They won’t rise very well if you don’t have some sort of additional protein, even if it’s egg white powder or hemp protein.

  16. says

    Carolyn – I finally got around to making these. I LOVE THESE!!!! The donut flavor, with the added vanilla whey protein, is by far better than coconut flour donuts I have made in the past. The browned butter glaze, wowee!! I tasted it before putting on the donuts, to see if it was good, double WOW! It reminds me so much of caramel that I came back to read the post and sure enough you said it tasted like caramel. I was so anxious to try the donut (even though it wasn’t completely cooled) so I put some glaze on it. Normally, I don’t like glazed donuts, or glazed anything. But this version is awesome! Now, I went back to the kitchen to add the rest of the glaze to the other 7 donuts that are completely cooled now. So, here I am waiting for another 20 minutes (glaze is starting to thicken, oh yes) for the glaze to set and will have a second donut. I am so happy I decided to try these this morning. I’m assuming I could store these (whatever is left of them) in an airtight container, but do I refrigerate them? Forget about freezing them, they will never make it to that stage.

    • Carolyn says

      I think you could have them on the counter for a day or two, probably no more than that. Glad you like them so much!

  17. Janet says

    Wow! I didn’t know something “healthy” could taste this FABULOUS!!!!! And the aroma as they were baking was an appetizer like no other. My husband LOVED them. He said they’re better then what you buy then added, “they’re better then home made”….. which of course tickled my funny bone because they ARE home made. Makes me feel like a Kitchen Queen to be able to offer these to my husband and growing boys. I bought 2 donut pans and can see they will be put to good use. THANK-YOU for the inspiration and the FABULOUS recipe. Thank-you even more for doing “what you do” and blazing the way for us others who are looking into low carbing and gluten free, taking out the hard part, and handing us these golden recipes on a silver platter! May you be RICHLY BLESSED. If you decided to publish cookbooks I’d love the opportunity to purchase one! Happy Thursday to you :-)

  18. Heather from Canada says

    Hi Carolyn. Could I use a bit of Bob’s red mill gf flour or peanut flour in place of the protein powder? Protein powders give me violent migraines, I think from the soy lecithin generally used as a preservative. Thanks!

  19. Belenda says

    Have had these pinned forever and finally took the time to make them this morning. The donuts, alone, are pleasantly and surprisingly good. I have way too many fails with almond flour recipes being moist. The icing – not so much. Too much of the cooling aftertaste for me. However, not all is lost. I have cream cheese sitting out and plan on mixing that brown butter icing, couple tablespoons at a time, into the cream cheese. I hope to salvage the brown butter concept.

  20. Mindy says

    Hi Carolyn, I can’t wait to make these! I think I may try substituting maple extract for vanilla in the glaze as I love maple donuts. I’ve been wondering if these along with other recipes such as your coconut raspberry muffins,coffee cake, etc. could be frozen? I’m not sure how the swerve freezes up. Thanks again,I’m going to give you credit for being able to stick to my low carb,no sugar lifestyle and continue with my passion for baking! Thank you a million times over!!!

  21. Judy says

    This recipe is fabulous! The perfect combination for Fall or anytime. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. We really loved it.

    The Brown Butter Glaze is the icing on the cake! :)

  22. Leah says

    Amazing! Followed recipe mostly to a tee but used the Babycakes donut maker (also dipped some of them into your ganache recipe!) they are what dreams are made of!! Love your recipes! Thanks so much!

    • Becky says

      I made these today and oh, they are so wonderful. My husband had to ask if these were something that I could eat too. He didn’t know, and couldn’t tell, they were low carb. Do they need to be refrigerated?

  23. Tiffani Butler says

    Made these last night, with xylitol though, there are a couple of stores I still need to try to find Swerve, they were amazing. But when I put them in My Fitness Pal, they came out to 13 net carbs with my ingredients, I guess 9 when I subtract the sugar alcohol.

  24. Jenn says

    I made these and they were absolutely amazing. I used low carb chocolate Isopure protein because it’s my favourite, but the chocolate didn’t pull through, which is fine. I also used sugar free cinnamon sugar syrup (the Torani kind) in lieu of the vanilla. For the frosting, something about 7tbs of Swerve makes me think it’s too sweet. I used 3tbs Swerve powered, 3tlbs browned butter, and about 1.5tbs cream cheese to add thickness, and a splash of cream to get the spreading consistency i needed, and again a touch of the Sugar Free Cinnamon torani which complements the browned butter! I have a feeling these are going to disappear! They are amazing!

  25. Teresa says

    I made these using baking blend. Had to add water cause consistency was really dry. Have you tried these with baking blend?

    • Carolyn says

      I think you must have made some error if they were really dry. Baking blend would make them far dryer than almond flour.

  26. Shirley says

    I have never used Whey Protein Powder before. Are they all about the same, or is there something particular I should look for?


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