Birthday Cake Donuts with Vanilla Glaze

Baked birthday cake donuts with vanilla, sprinkles, and a simple glaze! Perfectly rich, delicious, and simple to make, these donuts are a unique twist on the traditional birthday cake. 🎉

An overhead shot of a funfetti donut with a bite taken out, surrounded by other donuts on a white speckled background with rainbow sprinkles.
A side shot of a pile of rainbow donuts on a marble cake stand on a white table, with a woman in a dark green dress holding the cake stand.

Hi hi hi guess what it’s my 25th birthday!

For a hot second there, I was really panicking about turning 25, because (and don’t even start with me on this) but it just felt so big. Not old necessarily old, just like, where is my life going?

(Ok that’s enough existential dread for one post. I’ll shut up now).

Anyways, it’s kind of a weird time to be celebrating a milestone, but luckily I have great family and a pretty cool fiance to make today special regardless! I’m going to eat lots of cake and drink lots of wine and float the river and maybe buy myself something pretty online.

Looking back on 24, it’s been a pretty cool year! I got a new job and made lots of new friends and got to watch my oldest friend get married. I traveled a little, ate a lot, and got engaged to the love of my life. This was a big year for learning all about my goals, slowing down a little, and enjoying simpler things in life.

So, cheers to 25! I still don’t brush my hair, I barely know how to fold a fitted sheet, and I’ve never made a good blondie ever. But I can’t wait to see what this year holds!

A side shot of a sprinkle donut with a bite taken out of it on a grey speckled table surrounded by other donuts.

Let’s celebrate with birthday cake donuts!

Maybe I’ve been posting funfetti recipes too much (is there such a thing??) but I couldn’t let my whole birthday pass without some sprinkles! Plus, ever since making my chocolate donuts with Masala chai glaze last autumn, I haven’t stopped thinking about making a sprinkle-y version. I mean, I was pretty much obligated to make this happen. 🤷

I really thought this recipe would be quite simple to throw together considering funfetti is just regular vanilla cake flavored with fake vanilla. But, I was wrong and this recipe took me a million times to perfect. lol. sos.

Trust me, though, it was worth taste-testing some awful birthday cake donut contenders, because this version is perfectly dense, yet tender, with that nostalgic, delicious “funfetti” taste we all know and love.

Birthday cake donut ingredients

An overhead photo of cake ingredients on a white and grey table.

You only need basic baking ingredients to make these birthday cake donuts. Make sure to grab:

  • Flour: All-purpose is perfect for this recipe.
  • Sugar: We’ll use regular white sugar to give these donuts just a little sweetness.
  • Baking powder & baking soda: This combo gives these donuts the perfect amount of lift.
  • Salt: For balance.
  • Buttermilk: The acid in the buttermilk is necessary to activate the baking soda. However, I usually just make my own buttermilk by combining 1 cup of milk with 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
  • Canola oil: We’ll add a little canola oil to make sure our donuts come out nice and tender. Vegetable or grapeseed oil work too.
  • Artificial vanilla extract: Artificial is key! Use clear if you want perfectly white donuts.
  • Egg whites: Using just egg whites will give us that perfect white cake. However, if you’d rather use 1 whole egg than 2 egg whites, that will work just as well!
  • Rainbow sprinkles: Duhhhh.
  • Powdered sugar: This will make up the base of our glaze.
  • Milk: I use milk in my glazes to add a little extra creaminess. Water or cream work as well but different liquids will affect the texture of the glaze.

ok let’s make some birthday cake donuts

A bird's eye shot of two photos of cake ingredients being stirred together on a grey counter next to baking tools and an emerald green linen.

Start by stirring together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then, whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, canola oil, artificial vanilla extract, and egg whites until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just mixed. Don’t overmix or your donuts will end up tough and gummy.

Two images taken at a bird's eye angle. On the left, sprinkles are being mixed into a bowl of cake batter sitting on a grey and white table surrounded by baking tools. On the right, a donut pan is being filled with the batter.

Next, gently fold the sprinkles into the batter. Then, pipe the batter into a greased donut pan, and bake until they are juuuuust done. Cool completely.

Two overhead images. On the left, glaze is being mixed together on a speckled table, surrounded by sprinkles and a green linen. On the right, 12 sprinkle donuts are lined up on the table.

Meanwhile, whisk together some powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and a pinch of salt to make the glaze. After the donuts have completely cooled, dip the top half of each donut into the glaze, letting the excess run off. Lastly, decorate as desired, and let the glaze set. Serve!

Let’s talk sprinkles

You need to use the exact right kind of sprinkles in these birthday cake donuts, or you’ll end up with a disaster on your hands. (I may know from experience). For this recipe, you’ll want to make sure you get the classic rainbow sprinkles you find in the ice cream section (also called jimmies). These will give you the best color without bleeding into the white batter.

I would highly recommend avoiding nonpareils, because they bleed like crazy. I tried the first batch with nonpareils and the donuts turned out grey and sticky. Not a good look.

As for sequin sprinkles, I have never personally tried them out, but I feel like they would make the birthday cake donuts crunchy. However, it might be worth a shot though if it’s all you have!

A side shot of a white baking sheet lined with funfetti donuts on a grey table covered in rainbow sprinkles.

Storing the donuts

After the donuts have completely cooled and the glaze has hardened, store them in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

freezing funfetti donuts

You can definitely freeze donuts if you have any leftovers! I would recommend freezing them unglazed. When you want to serve, completely defrost the birthday cake donuts, whip up the glaze, and frost as usual.

However, if you have already glazed the donuts, freezing them with the glaze on will be fine. While it may just add a little bit of extra moisture to the donuts while they defrost, it’s not a big deal. The donuts will probably just end up being a bit more “cake-like”.

Two side shots. On the left, a pile of donuts sits on a cake stand with a sparkler sticking out of the top and a woman in a green dress in the background. On the right, the woman in the green dress is eating a donut.

tips & Tricks

  • If you don’t have a donut pan, just use a cupcake tin and only fill them about 1/3 of the way. If you’re feeling extra, you can use a small circle cookie cutter to cut a hole out of the center.
  • However, if you are interested in getting a donut pan, I use this one.
  • If you don’t have a piping bag, just use a large plastic bag, and cut the tip off of one of the corners.
An closeup overhead shot of birthday cake donuts on a grey table.

Some of my favorite recipes from the past 25 years

Beef Stroganoff with Shallots & Brandy
Strawberry Balsamic Handpies + Honey Glaze
Orange Liqueur & Cardamom Crème Brûlée
Bacon Hash Skillet with Runny Eggs & Harissa
Ginger Old Fashioned

Birthday Cake Donuts


AuthorserendipitybysaralynnCategoryDifficultyBeginner

These birthday cake donuts are delicious, simple to make, and require only basic baking ingredients. With rainbow sprinkles and vanilla, these donuts will remind you of traditional birthday cake! **The following recipe is written for high-altitude. Please follow the sea-level instructions if you live at sea-level.**

Yields14 Servings
Prep Time20 minsCook Time10 minsTotal Time30 mins

Birthday Cake Donuts
 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
 ½ cup sugar
 ½ tsp baking powder (1 tsp. for sea-level)
 ¼ tsp baking soda (1/2 tsp. for sea-level)
 ½ tsp salt
 ¾ cup + 2 Tbs. buttermilk - I use 3/4 c. + 2 Tbs. milk + 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (3/4 c. for sea-level)
  cup canola oil
 2 tsp artificial vanilla extract
 2 egg whites (or 1 full egg)
 ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies) + more for decoration
Glaze
 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
 3 tbsp whole milk
 Pinch salt
 1 tsp artificial vanilla glaze

Birthday Cake Donuts
1

Preheat oven to 375°F (350°F for sea-level). Grease the cavities of a donut pan, and set aside.

2

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, canola oil, artificial vanilla extract, and egg whites. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just barely mixed (a few dry spots are ok). The donut batter will be the same texture as a thick pancake batter.

3

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the rainbow sprinkles into the batter until there are no dry spots (don't overmix)! Spoon the batter into a large piping bag (or a plastic bag with the tip cut off).

4

Pipe the batter into the donut pan cavities about 1/2 way full (don't go more than halfway, or the batter will rise too much and you won't get a hole in the center). Bake for about 9-10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

5

Let the donuts cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then let them cool completely on a rack. Dip each cooled donut halfway into the glaze, letting the excess glaze drip off. Decorate as desired, and let the glaze set completely, about 20 minutes. Serve! Store extras in an air-tight container for up to three days.

Glaze
6

While the donuts are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, salt, and artificial vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth! If the glaze is too thick, add milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.

*Note: The glaze should be very thick so that it doesn't drip too much off of the donuts - it will drip a little but shouldn't run off. To test this, dip a spoon into the glaze. If it thickly coats the spoon, it's good to go! If the glaze gets too thin, add more powdered sugar until it's thick. Taste the glaze, and add more spices as desired.

Ingredients

Birthday Cake Donuts
 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
 ½ cup sugar
 ½ tsp baking powder (1 tsp. for sea-level)
 ¼ tsp baking soda (1/2 tsp. for sea-level)
 ½ tsp salt
 ¾ cup + 2 Tbs. buttermilk - I use 3/4 c. + 2 Tbs. milk + 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (3/4 c. for sea-level)
  cup canola oil
 2 tsp artificial vanilla extract
 2 egg whites (or 1 full egg)
 ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies) + more for decoration
Glaze
 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
 3 tbsp whole milk
 Pinch salt
 1 tsp artificial vanilla glaze

Directions

Birthday Cake Donuts
1

Preheat oven to 375°F (350°F for sea-level). Grease the cavities of a donut pan, and set aside.

2

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, canola oil, artificial vanilla extract, and egg whites. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just barely mixed (a few dry spots are ok). The donut batter will be the same texture as a thick pancake batter.

3

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the rainbow sprinkles into the batter until there are no dry spots (don't overmix)! Spoon the batter into a large piping bag (or a plastic bag with the tip cut off).

4

Pipe the batter into the donut pan cavities about 1/2 way full (don't go more than halfway, or the batter will rise too much and you won't get a hole in the center). Bake for about 9-10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

5

Let the donuts cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then let them cool completely on a rack. Dip each cooled donut halfway into the glaze, letting the excess glaze drip off. Decorate as desired, and let the glaze set completely, about 20 minutes. Serve! Store extras in an air-tight container for up to three days.

Glaze
6

While the donuts are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, salt, and artificial vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth! If the glaze is too thick, add milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.

*Note: The glaze should be very thick so that it doesn't drip too much off of the donuts - it will drip a little but shouldn't run off. To test this, dip a spoon into the glaze. If it thickly coats the spoon, it's good to go! If the glaze gets too thin, add more powdered sugar until it's thick. Taste the glaze, and add more spices as desired.

Birthday Cake Donuts

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Last Nite by The Strokes

Birthday Cake Donuts with Vanilla Glaze | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
Simple, nostalgic baked funfetti donuts with a quick vanilla glaze.

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