Sweet, Savory, and Even Healthy: Modern Donut Innovations

Donuts have always been a fun and affordable way to indulge. They are very portable and can be filled and topped with any number of sweet or savory ingredients. While they remain a favorite fried treat, especially when paired with coffee, donuts these days can also be found steamed, made from plant-based ingredients, or even as the bun to your favorite sandwich.

With many customers these days placing a higher value on living a healthy lifestyle, bakeries and chefs are coming up with more wholesome donut options. It has become much more common to see reduced sugar, lower fat, and vegan offerings at restaurants and bakeries. As donuts are one of the fastest-growing desserts nationwide, there have been all sorts of exciting donut innovations you can tap into to sell more to your customers.

Healthier Alternatives

When you think of donuts, you probably don’t immediately associate them with health. However, with recent recipe and baking innovations some donuts have become healthier options.

  • Minis

One way the donut has been made healthier by chefs and bakeries is by turning them into mini versions. Rather than selecting a huge, indulgent pastry, customers can choose smaller, lower-calorie options for a more manageable treat. These mini alternatives, sometimes sold as ball-shaped donut holes, address the desire for better portion control. Mini donuts encourage moderation while still allowing for a delicious “cheat.”

  • Steamed

Steamed donuts can be lighter, fresher, and dry out less. With steaming instead of frying, even when adding all the classic donut flavors and toppings, you’ll still end up with a lower-calorie and lower-fat treat. Without the added taste and texture of oils used for frying, you’ll also find that the donut’s flavors really shine through.

  • Plant-Based

Another trend that is sure to stick around is the demand for plant-based and vegan dessert options. There have been incredible innovations made in plant-based ingredients, making a delicious vegan donut not only possible but at times even preferable to the traditional kind.

Removing dairy, eggs, and other animal-based ingredients can still produce a donut with high-quality tastes and textures. With many modern consumers understanding the positive impacts that following a plant-based diet could have on both the environment and their own personal health, more are opting to go the vegan route.

  • Protein Packed

Protein donuts are also increasing in popularity, especially among those following keto or other high-protein diets. A protein donut could even be eaten as a replacement for a protein bar before or after a workout. High protein treats also tend to go hand in hand with lower carb and gluten-free options, opening them up to gluten-free customers as well. As protein options seem to be currently harder to find than vegan alternatives, there is still a lot of room for businesses to grow in the keto, high protein, and gluten-free donut markets.

Flavor Innovations

Donuts are great snacking options, whether you’re looking for sweet or savory treats. What is really appealing to customers today are bold innovations in donut flavors.

  • Sourdough

While cake or yeast-raised has always been the donut dilemma, many bakeries are now offering yet another option: sourdough. Giving a completely different texture, it combines the taste of sourdough bread with a yeast-raised donut. A sourdough donut has a buttery, slightly acidic flavor and an airy, soft center that is less sweet than traditional donuts.

  • Adventurous Tastes

Classic donut flavors will always be popular, but innovations in topping and fillings, as well as unique flavor combinations, can really elevate the humble donut into becoming a premium treat. There has never been a time in donut history with so many options.

“Donuts with non-traditional fillings” has been noted as a current leading food trend by the National Restaurant Association. Donut fillings and toppings are not sticking to sweet, either, but venturing into savory tastes as well. Popular toppings can range from cereal or bacon to cheese and jalapenos. Market trends and seasonal ingredients found in other restaurant dishes and recipes will have an impact on what customers want to see on donuts as well.

  • Donut as Replacement

It would not be surprising to see curious new donut dishes on your favorite bakery or restaurant menu. Donuts are no longer limited to the dessert menu but have been used as bread or bun replacements for sandwiches and even turned into pizza or nachos.

Visually Appetizing

The best donut innovations are not only delicious but also a feast for the eyes. Attracting customers to try out creative new treats necessitates creativity in donut aesthetics. To make donuts worthy of being a special indulgence, or an extravagant gift option, they really must look the part.

Consumers, especially those in the younger generations, will always share photos on social media sites of visually appealing food. This is a great way for a bakery or restaurant to passively market their newest donut creations. The presentation and look could be even more important than flavors in bringing people in to try them.

Creating donuts to go along with what is trending in popular culture can also be considered a donut innovation. Donut designs can, for example, incorporate sports team colors and logos or celebrate popular TV shows or movies. There is also a lot that can be done with toppings, colors, and flavors to celebrate all the different seasons and holidays.

From healthier options, creative flavors, and eye-catching designs, the humble donut has come a long way. With a strong recent rise in popularity from bakeries, wholesale donut suppliers, and restaurants, we are sure to be seeing many creative new donut innovations in the future.

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