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Parmesan Pumpkin Donuts

Experience the fusion of Dunkin’ Donuts and South African Pampoenkoekies at home! Prepare savoury Parmesan Pumpkin Donuts in just 35 minutes.

Serving Savory Pumpkin Donuts

As the leaves begin to change and the air becomes crisp, one of the ultimate comforts is sinking your teeth into a warm, fresh donut. Dunkin’ Donuts, with its familiar array of sweet treats, might be a go-to for many when this craving strikes. Yet, there’s something undeniably special and satisfying about crafting your own sweet masterpiece right in your kitchen.  You might discover that while Dunkin’ Pumpkin Donuts has a special place in your heart, there’s also room for the unique pleasure of homemade donuts, made even more special by the personal touch you bring to them.


The Heritage of  “Pampoenkoekies”

The roots of this delightful snack run deep in South African culture. South African Pampoenkoekies, or pumpkin fritters, have been a beloved treat in South African households for generations.
Traditionally, these sweet treats are made by mixing mashed pumpkin with flour, sugar, and aromatic spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The batter is then fried until golden and crispy, resulting in a comforting dessert that warms the soul.

These fritters are not just food; they are a celebration of heritage and a symbol of togetherness. Each family may have its own secret recipe, but they all share a common love for the warm, spiced, and savoury goodness of Pampoenkoekies.

A Savoury Twist: Parmesan Pumpkin Donuts

Inspired by traditional Pampoenkoekies, our Parmesan Pumpkin Donuts introduce a savoury deviation from the classic recipe. By adding sharp, tangy parmesan cheese to the pumpkin batter, we’ve created a unique snack that’s perfect as an appetiser or a delectable side dish. The result is a scrumptious donut with a crispy, golden exterior and a soft, flavourful interior that’s sure to impress.

homemade donuts

Tips for Perfecting Your Parmesan Pumpkin Donuts

  • Select the Right Pumpkin: The choice of pumpkin matters. Look for a pumpkin variety that’s not too watery. Butternut or sugar pumpkins work well, as they have a sweet and creamy flesh.
  • The Art of Pureeing: If you’re using fresh pumpkin, peel, then steam or bake it (covered) until it’s soft, then puree it until it’s smooth. The consistency of your pumpkin puree will impact the texture of your donuts.
  • Balance the Flavours: The combination of nutmeg, Parmesan, and a pinch of chilli flakes adds depth to the flavour. Adjust the spiciness according to your taste.
  • Frying to Perfection: Heat your oil to the right temperature (around 340°F/170°C). You’ll know it’s ready when a small drop of batter sizzles and rises to the surface. Fry the donuts until they are golden brown on the outside and cooked through.
  • Serve with Style: When serving, don’t forget to grate extra Parmesan over the donuts for that extra savoury kick. They are delightful on their own, but a dipping sauce like aioli or a spicy tomato chutney can also enhance the experience.

Trick or Treat. 

Were these Parmesan Pumpkin Donuts a trick or treat? Let me know! and if you’re looking for more pumpkin delights, try Pumpkin Spice Latte Tiramisu, Air Fryer Pumpkin Gnocchi Bake, and Roast Pumpkin with Burrata

As always, if you try this recipe let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with.

savoury donuts

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use canned pumpkin puree instead of fresh pumpkin? 

Yes, you can use canned pumpkin puree as a convenient alternative. Just make sure it’s 100% pure pumpkin puree without any added sweeteners or spices.

Is it necessary to add Parmesan cheese, or can I omit it?

Parmesan cheese is a key flavour component of these donuts, but you can omit it if you have dietary restrictions or prefer a different flavour profile. The donuts will have a different taste, but they’ll still be delicious. If opting to make the recipe dairy-free add 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan and use a dairy free alternative for the milk. 

What’s the best dipping sauce for these parmesan pumpkin donuts?

These donuts are flavorful on their own, but you can serve them with dipping sauces like aioli, spicy tomato chutney, or a yoghurt-based dip for added flavour. 

Can I pan-fry these donuts instead of frying them?

Sure. Firstly, reduce the flour to 1 cup. Add a knob of butter to a frying pan, along with a drizzle of oil. This will help the butter add flavour without burning. Add in spoonfuls of the batter, just like you would if making American-style fluffy pancakes. Cook until bubbles appear on the top then gently flip to cook the other side. 

Can I make the batter ahead of time?

It’s best to make the batter just before frying or baking to retain its texture and rise. Baking powder will lose potency if let to sit. However, you can prepare the pumpkin puree in advance for convenience.

How do I store leftovers, and can I reheat them?

Store any leftover donuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, you can use an oven or air fryer to restore their crispiness, or a microwave for a quick warm-up.

homemade donuts
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savoury donuts

Parmesan Pumpkin Donuts

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 as a snack


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 small butternut/pumpkin, peeled and diced)
  • 1 cup flour +2 Tbsp (135g)
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 50g parmesan, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or a generous pinch of table salt
  • Oil for frying


  1. If you don’t have pumpkin puree, start by steaming the diced pumpkin until it’s soft and can be easily mashed with a fork. Then, puree the steamed pumpkin until smooth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, flour, milk, grated parmesan, nutmeg, baking powder, chilli flakes (if using), egg, and salt. Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated. The batter should be moist, thick, and just hold its shape when scooped with a spoon but not as thick as playdough. Add a small touch of flour to achieve the consistency if your pumpkin puree was quite wet (1-2 Tbsp max)
  3. Heat oil in a high sided saucepan to 170°C (340°F). The oil should be about 10cm deep, and only fill half of your saucepan, leaving room for the oil to bubble. You can test if the oil is ready by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil; if it sizzles and rises to the surface, the oil is hot enough.
  4. While the oil heats, prepare a tray lined with kitchen towel to drain the pumpkin fritters.
  5. Use two teaspoons to shape the fritters into rough balls, then hold the batter in one spoon, and use the other to slide the batter into the oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry a few at a time to keep the oil at an even temperature.
  6. Fry the fritters until they are golden brown on the outside and cooked through, which should take about 2-3 minutes on each side. If they are still doughy in the middle, the oil may be too hot, so lower the temperature slightly.
  7. Remove the fritters from the oil and place them on the prepared tray to drain any excess oil. They should be light, fluffy, and cooked through.
  8. Pile the pumpkin fritters onto a plate and grate more parmesan over them for that extra savoury kick. Enjoy this delightful South African-inspired snack!
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Snacks
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: South African
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