The time has come to make vegan Boston Cream doughnuts. It’s been years since I last had one from Timmy’s but I still remember those soft puffy donuts, covered with chocolaty glaze and filled with smooth vanilla pastry cream. It was one of my favourites. I’m not about living life without Boston Cream doughnuts, are you? I didn’t think so. Luckily, they’re not that difficult to make vegan from scratch. The most donut-y of donuts are deep-fried, but I’ll also show you the baked option AND show you how they do in an air fryer too.Click here to skip to the printable recipe. Or PIN this for later.
Video tutorial for Vegan Boston Cream Doughnuts
How to make Vegan Boston Cream Doughnuts
Don’t be intimidated! Making vegan Boston Cream Doughnuts at home is not difficult. But it does take time and patience. Here are the basic components that we’ll make, then assemble:
- vegan pastry cream (super easy!)
- yeast doughnut dough
- chocolate glaze
You can either deep fry, air fry, or bake them. Of course, deep-fried yeast doughnuts are the best but the air fried and baked versions are still really delicious.
Vegan Pastry Cream
First, make the pastry cream since it needs to chill before you can use it to fill your doughnuts. It’s really easy to make vegan pastry cream. Simply combine a quarter cup of flour, the same volume of sugar, a couple tablespoons of a neutral oil like canola, a little vanilla extract, lemon juice, and a cup of your favourite plain or vanilla plant milk. I like using soy milk as it’s the thickest and makes the creamiest pastry cream but I’ve tried almond milk and it works fine too. Then heat it up until it’s thick and pudding-like. You can do this over the stove or in the microwave. This can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Measuring Flour Properly
Start your dough by measuring out your flour properly. I showed you in my jackfruit Bao recipe video how to do the fluff, scoop, and level method. But many bakers swear by the spoon and level method. You still need to fluff your flour first. Then scoop it spoon by spoon into your measuring cup, while taking care not to pack it in. Then level off with a straight edge. For me, the two methods are equally good if you know what you’re doing. The spooning, though, is rather annoying and I’m lazy. So I’d rather use my trusty ol’ kitchen scale for accuracy and less effort. On the less effort note, I’m using my blender’s food processor with dough attachment for this recipe. You can use a mixer or do it by hand like in my last donut recipe tutorial. Whatever you like.
Make the Doughnut Dough
Since I don’t keep bread flour in my pantry (why, I don’t know), I’m also adding extra gluten flour, AKA vital wheat gluten, to give the dough more bounce and strength. It’s not 100% essential but I think it improves the quality of your final product. Plus a tablespoon of ground flax. It also improves the texture of the final product but if you don’t have it, just leave it out and replace with a tablespoon of regular flour. Next in, instant yeast. If you have traditional yeast, you can use it too but you’ll have to mix it with warm water first before you add it. Give that a quick mix before adding the rest of the dough ingredients. Process or stir until a soft, sticky dough forms. Then process it for a minute more before covering up and letting the dough rise until it’s doubled in size; about an hour.
Before anyone asks, do not use gluten-free flour for this recipe. It’s usually not a good idea to sub gluten-free flour straight for regular flour in a yeasted dough recipe. One day I’ll make a doughnut recipe just for my gluten-free viewers but today is not that day.
When your dough has risen, you can take it out of the bowl and on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead it a few times to break down the big air bubbles that have formed in there. The dough will get elastic and bouncy again so we’ll give it a rest for 15 minutes. It’s not entirely necessary but I like to make things easier on my hands so I wait for the gluten to relax a bit before rolling the dough out. I use my handy dandy beer bottle rolling pin, you use whatever you like. The dough should be fairly soft and easy to roll out. Roll it to about half an inch or a little thinner; I use the width of my fingers as a guide.
Then cut out your doughnut shapes. You could use a proper dough cutter, I’m using a cup. For my last doughnut recipe, I used a large mason jar ring but since these are filled doughnuts without holes, I figure these don’t need to be as large.
Put your cut doughnuts on to a well-floured baking sheet, or one that’s lined with parchment paper and just a little dusting of flour. Make sure to space them out so they have room to expand.
When you’ve cut out as many doughnuts as you can, squish the scraps together and roll out again to cut more doughnuts. Then cover your doughnuts up with something that won’t stick and let them rise again. About 45 minutes to an hour.
When the doughnuts have doubled in size, it’s time to cook them. If you’re deep frying, heat up an inch or two of canola or other neutral high smoke point oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan for even heat distribution. You want your oil at 350 Fahrenheit or 176 Celsius. The digital thermometer I usually use stopped working so today I’m relying on visual cues. I use a chopstick and stick it in. If bubbles form around it, it’s hot enough for frying. But if the stream of bubbles is so intense that it seems to mist up, it’s a bit too hot. It’s not precise and it’s not the best method but we use what we have!
When you lower the doughnut in, the oil will bubble up around it. Be super careful. If you’re new to deep frying on the stove, please do only one at a time. In about 45 seconds, the bottom should be golden brown and you can flip it. After about 30 to 45 seconds on that side, you can remove it, let the excess oil drip off, then place it on a paper towel lined rack. Maybe use more than what I have there. That was my last piece of paper towel.
Sometimes, the oil will get too hot and you’ll need to lower the temperature. If your donut puffs up like crazy right away, chances are the oil is a bit too hot. It’s not a big problem but you’ll have some wonky looking doughnuts with a huge air bubble in the middle that will make for a messy cream doughnut later but to me, homemade doesn’t need to be perfect.
When all the doughnuts are done, let them cool down to room temperature before filling and glazing. Let the oil cool down too and when it’s at room temperature, you can strain it and save the oil for another deep frying session. Just keep it in a cool dark place to prevent it from going rancid prematurely.
Deep fried donuts are the standard but baking or air frying is easier, quicker, probably safer, and way lower in fat. They come out pretty darn delicious too so even though they aren’t the same as the deep fried version, they are still worth it.
Baking or Air Frying Doughnuts
To bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius and when the oven has reach temperature, bake for 10 minutes and not a second more. You just want to cook the doughnuts but not brown them. Just like with frying, set them on a wire rack to cool before filling and glazing.
If you’re using an air fryer, preheat it a few minutes or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I set mine to 375 this time but 360 or a little lower could do it too. While that’s going on, lightly oil the pan and set your dough in. My pan fits two at a time.
Then pop them in, set a timer for 4 or 5 minutes and let it cook. They come out a little golden on top and really look more like buns than doughnuts. But they will get donut-iter later. Just wait and see!
Assembling Vegan Boston Cream Doughnuts
When the cooked doughnuts have cooled to room temperature, we can fill them. First, prep the doughnuts by poking them with a chopstick. Move the stick around a little to create a pocket for the pastry cream.
Your pastry cream is probably quite stiff from being in the fridge so loosen it up with a whisk or use an immersion blender like me. Also, as it sat in the fridge, it may have gotten some dried up bits so blending helps to eliminate that. Otherwise, you might push the cream through a mesh sieve to make it really smooth.
You’ll need a piping bag for this next part. I’ve tried using plastic bags with a corner snipped off but that’s way messier so I really recommend a piping bag of some kind. Fill the bag, then insert the tip into the hole you already made, squeeze, applying even pressure and fill ’em up! Bakeries weigh their doughnuts to make sure they get filled evenly. I’m just going by feel. And sure, you may get some doughnuts spilling their guts, but it’s kind of half the fun.
Now we have a whole bunch of cream filled doughnuts, let’s get the chocolate glaze on. I’m simply using a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips that happen to be vegan-friendly and microwaving at 30 second intervals until they are melted. They will still hold their shape so they might not look completely melted but they’re ready. Add a teaspoon of refined coconut oil and stir. Carefully dip a doughnut in, let the excess chocolate drip off, then back on to a wire rack. Repeat with the rest.
Beautiful shiny chocolaty perfection. But they’re taunting you. Unless you want a super messy situation, let them sit until they are set. Takes about a half an hour to an hour, depending on the room temperature. I’m sure some of you live in super hot places where this would take forever and it would be better to refrigerate. Lucky for me, I filmed this on a very reasonable 26 degree Celsius day and it only took about half an hour.
Homemade Boston Cream doughnuts require patience. And they are so worth it. These deep fried doughnuts are so legit. Plus, you’re in charge of the pastry cream so you don’t get those doughnuts where there’s one bite of cream and the rest is basically bread.
Speaking of basically bread, the baked version is also pretty darn good. The texture is not as donut-y as the fried version, but with that perfect coat of dark chocolate and smooth vanilla cream filling, they really hit the spot.
But the air-fried one is probably the one I’ll make most of the time. The texture is somewhere between the deep-fried version and the baked version and the method is much less work and safer for an accident prone person such as myself.
All versions of these Vegan Boston Cream Doughnuts are best eaten the same day but as long as they not warm at all, you can put them in an air-tight container lined with paper towel in the fridge to eat the next day. Remember, you can make the pastry cream and dough ahead of time so there’s really no reason not to serve them fresh. But it’s your donut-making reputation on the line. You do what YOU want!
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Printable Recipe for Vegan Boston Cream Doughnuts
For Pastry Cream
- 1 cup soy milk or your choice of plant milk (235ml)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (30g)
- 1/4 cup sugar (50g)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil or neutral oil of your choice (30ml)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (5.3oz / 150g)
- 1 tablespoon ground flax/chia seed*
- 2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten**
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (for baked version)
- 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- dash of nutmeg, optional
- 1/2 cup of warm water (105-110°F)
For Chocolate Glaze
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil
Prepare the pastry cream
- Whisk all the pastry cream ingredients together in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat while stirring until the mixture becomes thick and bubbly. Lower the heat to medium low and continue stirring for a minute while the mixture thickens into a pudding-like consistency, then remove from heat.
- Alternatively, you can actually do this in the microwave too. Just zap it for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds so it cooks evenly and doesn't bubble over.
- When cool enough to put in the fridge, cover it with plastic wrap right against the surface, minimizing any air pockets. You can make this ahead and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Prepare the Dough
- Combine the flour, ground flax/chia seed, vital wheat gluten, and instant yeast in a mixer, food processor, or large mixing bowl. If you'll be baking these donuts, also add baking powder for extra leavening power. Process/whisk for a few seconds.
- Add refined coconut oil, sugar, vanilla extract and, optionally, ground nutmeg. Add the warm water. Process/mix until a soft, sticky dough comes together. Process/mix a minute more, then cover and let rise in a warm location for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.
- If you are making this dough ahead, you can skip the first rise, cover it the dough with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to two days. Allow the dough to warm up to room temperature before continuing.
- Lightly flour your clean work surface and transfer the dough to it. Knead the dough for a minute; it will become more elastic and bouncy. Cover it again and let rest for 15 minutes to allow the gluten to relax and making rolling out easier.
- Roll the dough out to 1.25cm thickness (I used the width of my index finger as a guide). Use a round cutter 7cm in diameter, cut out the doughnut shapes (I used the rim of a cup for this). When you run out of dough, gather the scraps into a ball and roll out to cut more out. This recipe will make 9 x 7cm diameter rounds.
- If you are frying (or air-frying) your doughnuts, place the rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet dusted lightly with flour. Or if you don't have parchment paper, generously dust a baking sheet with flour and use that. Either way, leave room between the rounds so they can double in size without touching. If you are baking the doughnuts, place the rounds directly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap dusted with flour (flour side down) or a damp lint-free cloth and let rise in a warm location for 45 minutes to an hour or until doubled in size.
- Heat an inch or two of a neutral flavoured oil, like canola, in a heavy bottomed pot over high heat to 175°C. See video for visual cues that the oil is hot enough.
- Use a slotted spoon or spatula to gently lift a doughnut off the baking sheet, brush off excess flour, and carefully lower into the oil oil. Cook for 45 seconds or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook for 30-45 seconds longer or until that side is also golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel lined wire rack to cool. Repeat with all the donuts, frying one or two at a time. Keep an eye on the temperature and adjust as needed to keep it at 175°C. The the oil temperature is too cool, the doughnuts will cook more slowly and be more greasy at the end. If the oil temperature is too hot, the doughnuts may puff up too much, creating a large air pocket that makes for a messy cream situation.
- Let the cooked doughnuts cool to room temperature before filling and glazing.
- Preheat oven to 175°C. When the oven reaches temperature, bake doughnuts for 10 minutes. Remove from oven immediately. The doughnuts should be just cooked through, white on top and slightly browned on the bottom.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before filling and glazing.
- Preheat air fryer for a few minutes to 182°C or according to manufacturer's instructions. Meanwhile, lightly oil the bottom of the pan and place two doughnuts in. They should fit without overlapping.
- When the air fryer is preheated, pop the pan in and air fry for 4-5 minutes. The doughnuts will come out lightly golden on top, resembling dinner buns more than deep-fried donuts. But once finished with cream and glaze, they will be excellent healthier Boston Creams!
- Transfer to a wire rack immediately and let cool to room temperature before filling and glazing.
To fill the donuts
- Use a chopstick to poke a hole into the side of each doughnut. Wiggle it around a bit to create a pocket for the cream.
- Loosen the pastry cream blending it thoroughly with an immersion blender. Or you can whisk it by hand. In that case, I recommend passing the cream through a sieve to make it super smooth.
- Fill a piping bag with a suitable tip with the pastry cream. I used a #230. Pipe the filling into each doughnut evenly.
For the Chocolate Glaze
- In a heat-proof bowl, microwave chocolate chips at 30 second intervals for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until the chocolate chips are melted. They will look shiny but may hold their shape; this is fine. Do not over heat! Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Do not let any water touch the chocolate!
- Add a teaspoon of refined coconut oil and stir until well combined and very smooth.
- Dip each doughnut into the glaze carefully, allow the excess chocolate to drip off, then place back on to the wire rack to let the chocolate set. The chocolate should set between half an hour to an hour; depending on the temperature of your kitchen. On extremely hot summer days, this can take longer so it may be better to set in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
- These vegan Boston Cream Doughnuts are best eaten on the same day as cooking. Enjoy!
- Make sure to measure the flour correctly. Using much flour will make this dough too tough. When in doubt, start with less flour and add more as you knead it.
- *Ground flax/chia seed is used as an egg replacer and improves the texture of the final product. If you can't get it, you can leave this ingredient out and replace with the same amount of all-purpose flour, though your final result will be a bit different.
- **Vital wheat gluten, also known as pure gluten flour, adds more protein to the all-purpose flour and gives the dough more elasticity and strength. You can substitute the all-purpose flour for bread flour and leave the extra gluten out. If you can't get bread flour or vital wheat gluten, just ignore this ingredient. Your final result will be a bit different, but still good!
- I used Instant Dry Active Yeast (aka quick rise) for this recipe. If you are using regular dry active yeast (aka Traditional), dissolve it in the warm water before adding to the rest of the dough ingredients. If you're using yeast envelopes, use half an envelope for one batch of this recipe.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips are often vegan-friendly; just look out for milk ingredients in some brands. Or choose the vegan chocolate chips of your choice.
- Looking for regular fried sugar glazed donuts? Try my original vegan doughnut recipe!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 329Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 20gProtein: 6g
Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.