Breakfast & Brunch · Desserts

Irish Coffee Donuts

I am pretty sure for most people, eating a donut is a two-step process.


Step one: Say, “f*ck it!” Step two: Finish donut in two bites.

No one goes for a donut with health in mind. Donuts don’t even qualify as a “special treat,” like say, ice cream or a cupcake. People don’t plan to eat donuts. They just appear, and then the resulting thought of “screw it I’m having that donut” gets made in about four seconds. No one savors a donut. Donuts get devoured in record time. And afterwards you think, “that was good.”

Amirite? Every time I make donuts, I feel totally outrageous. Since it’s a donut, I feel limitless in how over-the-top I can make it. And I rarely plan to bake them; the thought just pops into my head and next thing I know, an hour of my day gets spent on donuts. I’m a planner, I think things through, and I tend to believe decisions made impulsively are seldom good. Donuts are the exception. They are always a good idea. You know what they say…

“no time spent making and eating donuts is time wasted.” -Duncan Doughnut


Irish Coffee Donuts happened in my kitchen yesterday morning. Just when I’d told myself I’d brainstormed and made enough recipes for St. Patrick’s Day. (More to come this week!) But the idea came to mind, and I had to act. Have you ever had an Irish coffee? Strong coffee served in a glass mug, spiked with a shot of whiskey and topped with whipped cream. My mom used to order them all the time after dinner when we’d go out, so  I’ve been drinking sips of Irish coffee since the age of six. Now that I think of it, spiked coffees used to always be on the backs of dessert menus in restaurants, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen any. Were boozy coffees a thing of the late 90’s/early 2000’s? I say we bring them back.


I snapped a photo of these donuts with my iPhone and sent it to my father yesterday. He was mystified. “A coffee-flavored donut? I don’t… I don’t think anyone has ever done that before.” What can I say Dad, I’m a donut pioneer. Then he says “so when does this blog thing of yours turn into income?”

Ugh. Anyways, I’m pretty sure there are coffee-flavored cake donuts out there somewhere, but these were the first I’ve had. Fluffy yet dense donuts get flavored with both brewed coffee and espresso powder. You can certainly taste the coffee, but it’s not overly strong. I think even those who “don’t care for coffee” (who are you?) would still like these donuts.

As always, the glaze is the best part. In this case, the whiskey glaze. There is a very famous ice cream shop in San Francisco that I still have not been to, that serves a flavor called “secret breakfast.” It’s ice cream with caramelized corn flakes and bourbon in it. You don’t even have to explain to me why they’re famous. How awesome does that sound?


Yes, I’m a big fan of putting booze in recipes, even “breakfast” recipes, and this glaze is no exception. A little melted butter to help the powdered sugar form that “crust” we all love, a tablespoon of whiskey, and a touch of brewed coffee and milk to thin it out. I usually prefer just a thin coating of glaze on my donuts, but not in this case. Equal ratio of glaze to donut, please.

Lastly, because these donuts, as always, had me feeling *outrageous,* I decided to finish them with a drizzle of semisweet chocolate. This is more for appearance then anything, so you may leave it off if you don’t want to take the extra time.

Just like how the real Irish coffee is an “after dinner drink” these donuts are more of an “after dinner donut” than breakfast. But hey, I can’t think of a much better way to say “top o’ the mornin’ to ya!” on St. Patrick’s Day than with an Irish Coffee Donut.



Irish Coffee Donuts
Yields 8 donuts

Coffee flavored cake donuts with a sweet whiskey-spiked glaze!


  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. (137g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. (41g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. (13g) brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder*
  • 1/4 strongly brewed coffee or espresso, warm
  • 1/4 whole milk, room temperature
Whiskey Glaze:
  • 1 3/4 cups (210g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbs. (27g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbs. Irish whiskey
  • 1-1.5 Tbs. brewed coffee
  • 1.5-2 Tbs. milk or cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • Optional: 2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350°F . Spray a donut pan with cooking spray. Given this recipe makes 8 donuts and most pan only have 6 cavities, you’ll likely have to bake these in two batches.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the butter, oil, and sugars. Add the egg, vanilla, and espresso powder, then continue to whisk until slightly foamy. Stir in the coffee and milk.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time, mixing gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Try not to over mix it.

Fill the donut cups about 3/4 of the way full, no higher. If your pan only makes six donuts, reserve the remaining batter on the counter. Alternatively, you can spray a mini muffin pan and make donut “holes” instead!

Bake for 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a cooling rack. Be careful, as I always think it’s a little tricky lifting the donuts out. If you still have batter left over, wipe out the pan, respray, and bake your last two donuts as you did the first six.

To make the glaze, place the powdered sugar in a large, shallow mixing bowl. Whisk in the butter, whisky, 1 tablespoon of coffee, 1.5 Tbs. of milk, vanilla, and a dash of salt. Continue whisking until it’s completely smooth and no lumps remain. Add an additional 1/2 tablespoon each of coffee and milk if it’s too thick, and a bit more salt if it’s too sweet.

To glaze the donuts, dip directly into the bowl, face down. Meaning, the slightly flatter side exposed when baking. Return to the cooling rack and repeat with the remaining donuts.

Allow the donuts to set before eating, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Optional: Once the glaze has slightly set, melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring between each, until smooth. Drizzle over the tops of the donuts and allow to harden before serving.

*Espresso powder, not instant coffee granules.




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