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Donut Hole Cookies

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donut hole cookies

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 to me, they taste more like donuts in cookie form. Note that the recipe calls for two whole tablespoons of cinnamon. I’ve started making them on several occasions thinking I had plenty of cinnamon but then ran out, so be sure you have enough before you start baking.

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Donut Hole Cookies

Servings: About 56 Cookies
Total Time: 40 Minutes


  • 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


  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.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The Cookie Dough can be Frozen for up to 3 Months: Roll the dough into balls, let set on a baking sheet in the freezer, then place in a sealable bag and press out as much air as possible. Bake as needed directly from the freezer. (Allow 1 to 2 minutes longer in the oven.) To Freeze After Baking: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Reviews & Comments

  • How do I make these if I do not have a mixer with a paddle attachment.

    • — Ruth Drake on April 7, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Ruth, You can use a hand-held mixer with beaters. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 9, 2018
      • Reply
  • These cookies looked delicious and my daughter and I were super excited to make them! We were so disappointed because they’re turned out to be so dry that they’re basically inedible. I even made a glaze to add to the donuts to try to add some moisture, but even that didn’t work because the batter is so dense. We ended up throwing away all the cookies. Such a disappointment!

    • — Rebekah on August 11, 2017
    • Reply
  • Made these today as an addition to our Christmas cookies – delicious. I recommend under baking by 1 minute.
    Thanks for a great recipe!

    • — Lisalen on December 21, 2016
    • Reply
  • I made these this weekend and they were a hit! Great recipe. I did find them slightly dry though – if I were to make them again and wanted them to be more moist should I add more egg? Any recommendations of what I should do to make them slightly more moist?

    • — Sharmila on September 26, 2016
    • Reply
    • Hi Sharmila, They cooking them a minute or two less or add an egg yolk.

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2016
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Esther on November 5, 2013
    • Reply
  • making these now just put them in the oven!!!!

    • — Aria on July 16, 2013
    • Reply
  • Just made these and am a little disappointed. Very dry indeed and a bit ….boring 🙁

    • — Angela on April 26, 2013
    • Reply
    • Sorry you didn’t care for them, Angela. They are definitely a more Italian-style cookie, almost like a biscuit.

      • — Jenn on April 26, 2013
      • Reply
  • These look so good!

    • — Gianna on June 27, 2012
    • Reply
  • These look so awesomely delicious and the photos are fab. Gonna have to try this… I heart some donut holes.

    • — Tamar on May 21, 2012
    • Reply
  • Snicker doodles are my favorite!! These were amazing. Replaced my favorite snicker doodle recipe with this one.

    • — Emily Pedersen on May 17, 2012
    • Reply
  • 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)

    • — Schmidty on March 7, 2012
    • Reply
  • I want them NOW!!!!

    • — Jeff C on March 1, 2012
    • Reply
  • OMG I need to make this. Your directions are easy to follow and I’m literally salivating!

    • — @nola727 on March 1, 2012
    • Reply
  • hole-y freaking yum! 😉

    [i make bad jokes]

    • — Cassie on March 1, 2012
    • Reply
  • These look delicious (and less calorie laden then pop ems!)

    • — Joanne on March 1, 2012
    • Reply
  • WARNING: These cookies are so good, you could eat the whole bag. Consider yourself warned.

    • — Christen G. on March 1, 2012
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Julie K on December 29, 2011
    • Reply
  • 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!

  • 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?

    • — Julie on December 20, 2011
    • Reply
  • I just made these and they are soo good!! Thanks so much for this idea. They do taste JUST like donut holes!

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

    • — Cynthia on December 15, 2011
    • Reply
  • I LOVE this idea!!!! YUMMY!

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

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

    • — Linda on December 14, 2011
    • Reply
  • Can’t wait to try these. Thanks for the hint on the eggs. I often forget to set my eggs out ahead of time.

    • — Danita on December 14, 2011
    • Reply

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