Donut Hole Cookies

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These adorable little cookies are adapted from one of my most dog-eared cookbooks, How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. Nigella calls them Snickerdoodles (the classic sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon-sugar) but since they taste and look so much like donut holes, my kids have renamed them Donut Hole cookies. I know they look plain, but I guarantee you can’t eat just one.

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Before you bake them, note that the recipe calls for two whole tablespoons of cinnamon. I point that out only because I’ve started making them on several occasions thinking I had plenty of cinnamon but then ran out, so just be sure you have enough. Also, despite their resemblance to donut holes, they’re not moist and chewy. They’re more of a biscuit-type cookie, something you’d serve with tea or coffee.

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Unlike most Snickerdoodles, these cookies are loaded with nutmeg, which is what gives them their distinct donut-y taste. I grate my own but there’s no need to bother as long as your ground nutmeg is reasonably fresh.

To begin, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and give the mixture a good whisk to combine.

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Set that aside, then place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until light and fluffy.

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Beat in the eggs one by one. Be sure they are at room temperature, otherwise the mixture will curdle. To warm them up quickly, simply place them in a small dish of very warm water for 5-10 minutes.

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Next, beat in the vanilla.

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Add the flour mixture.

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Then mix on low speed until the dough comes together in a cohesive mass.

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Make the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

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Then, with your fingers, squeeze off tablespoons of dough and roll in the cinnamon-sugar.

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Arrange the balls on parchment lined baking sheets.

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Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool slightly and roll in cinnamon-sugar again.

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Cool cookies on rack and enjoy.

Donut Hole Cookies

Print Recipe
Servings: About 56 Cookies
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Set racks in middle and upper thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter with 3/4 cup sugar until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl and beating until well incorporated after each addition. Quickly beat in vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the dough comes together into a cohesive mass (it may look crumbly at first).
  4. Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well. Using your hands, pinch off about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and roll into a ball, then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture and set on baking sheet. Continue with remaining dough, spacing balls about 2 inches apart. Bake first batch for 15 minutes, rotating pans once halfway through (move bottom pan to top and top pan to bottom). When cookies are cool enough to handle but still warm, roll again in cinnamon-sugar, then set on rack to cool. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
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  • Danita

    Can’t wait to try these. Thanks for the hint on the eggs. I often forget to set my eggs out ahead of time.

  • Linda

    I love that there are cookies and not just muffins. Thank you. These will be in my cookie boxes this year.

  • These look so yummy,I can’t wait to make them!

  • I LOVE this idea!!!! YUMMY!

  • Cynthia

    Snickerdoodle cookies are one of my favorites! Mine always end up looking slightly deflated, though – hopefully I’ll have more luck with your recipe!

  • I just made these and they are soo good!! Thanks so much for this idea. They do taste JUST like donut holes!

  • Julie

    I made these tonight. Mine seem to be a little dry. Could I have over cooked them? I’m thinking of dipping them in chocolate to salvage them for a party Thursday night. What do you think?

  • Hi Julie,

    So sorry your cookies came out a little dry. Did you measure the flour properly (spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling it off)? That makes a big difference. The other thing I’m thinking is that maybe the name is misleading…they’re not meant to be moist and chewy. They’re almost a biscuit type cookie, something you’d serve with coffee or tea. That said, I don’t think dipping them in chocolate would hurt one bit :) Hope that helps!

  • Julie K

    I’ve been looking for a recipe for snickerdoodles that didn’t require crisco…thanks! I did make a few substitutions. I used cloves because I didn’t have nutmeg. Also, I used 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour and 2 cups plus a few tablespoons of white flour. The kids love them and they were very easy.

  • Christen G.

    WARNING: These cookies are so good, you could eat the whole bag. Consider yourself warned.

  • Joanne

    These look delicious (and less calorie laden then pop ems!)

  • Cassie

    hole-y freaking yum! ;)

    [i make bad jokes]

  • @nola727

    OMG I need to make this. Your directions are easy to follow and I’m literally salivating!

  • Jeff C

    I want them NOW!!!!

  • Schmidty

    Well heck! I’ve been making snickerdoodles for twenty years (my son’s favorite) and I’ve never used nutmeg! Time for me to try them your way. My recipe is the same otherwise and I love the fluffy texture of these cookies. (And I may have to hunt down a copy of your Domestic Goddess cookbook just for the title alone! LOL)

  • Emily Pedersen

    Snicker doodles are my favorite!! These were amazing. Replaced my favorite snicker doodle recipe with this one.

  • Tamar

    These look so awesomely delicious and the photos are fab. Gonna have to try this… I heart some donut holes.

  • Gianna

    These look so good!

  • Angela

    Just made these and am a little disappointed. Very dry indeed and a bit ….boring :(

    • Jenn

      Sorry you didn’t care for them, Angela. They are definitely a more Italian-style cookie, almost like a biscuit.

  • Aria

    making these now just put them in the oven!!!!

  • Esther

    I love cookies like this with coffee. The recipe I usually use for Snickerdoodles is not near as good as this one. I loved the nutmeg in them! Making these reminded me of making Snickerdoodles with my son about 35 years ago (sniff, sniff). Great recipe!

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