These deliciously fluffy and plush homemade Italian-inspired cream filled donuts are simple to make and filled with the creamiest pastry cream and lemon curd! No egg and dairy free!

vegan cream filled doughnuts in a pan

Veganized Bomboloni (Italian Cream Filled Donuts)!!

Cream filled doughnuts (or donuts? How do you like to spell it?) are some of the best bakery pastry treats around. A soft plush fried sweet dough filled with the creamiest vanilla custard is truly hard to match.

But if you’re vegan, like me, or dairy free, let me tell you, the bakeries are few and far between where we can find one of these 😂 So we make them instead!

Trust me, making homemade cream filled doughnuts is easier than it looks. Because I love following recipes inspired by my Italian heritage (and we have TONS veganized classics, thanks to being able to adapt my grandma’s recipes!), I decided we should add some vegan bomboloni to our repertoire.

sliced open bomboloni on marble

Bomboloni are deliciously soft and sweet Italian cream filled doughnuts that usually have a citrus flavor to them (as do most of my grandma’s recipes! My vegan versions of her panettone and her pane di Pasqua are my favorites!) and are filled with an easy vanilla pastry cream (in Italian: crema pasticcera). 

 This vegan version of the Italian classic doughnut is perfect for a weekend breakfast or holiday brunch or dessert (or anytime you miss having doughnuts!). And don’t let frying doughnuts intimidate you- it’s actually much easier than you think!

torn open vegan doughnut with pastry cream

How are these donuts vegan and dairy free?

Typically, Italian cream filled donuts require both eggs and dairy to make the doughnut dough and the cream filling. 

However, we’re actually subbing in dairy free yogurt (my favorite vegan egg substitute!), vegan butter, and dairy free milk in the doughnut dough, and using this delicious and EASY 10 minute vegan vanilla pastry cream for the filling. 

And because I wanted to add some citrus to these vegan bomboloni, I also made a batch of my vegan lemon curd. Totally optional, but if you want a more Italian-inspired cream filled doughnut, it’s so the move!

Ingredients & Substitutions:

Let’s go over what you’ll need to make both the dough and the cream filling for these vegan cream filled donuts:

For the dough:

  • Flour: You can use bread flour, or just use all purpose flour here- either works great!
  • Sugar: A high quality vegan granulated sugar, like Florida Crystals, is so important here! 
  • Yeast: I used active dry yeast. You could make these doughnuts with quick rise yeast as well, but the method will be slightly different. 
  • Dairy free milk: You can use soy milk, almond milk, oat milk or cashew milk here!
  • Vegan butter: I recommend using Violife unsalted vegan butter. It’s delicious, tastes like real butter, and is entirely nut free as well!
  • Dairy free yogurt: This is one of my favorite vegan egg substitutes in vegan baking. Yogurt does a great job at replacing both the egg yolks and the egg whites in bread and cake recipes. 
  • Sunflower oil: This is my favorite oil for frying doughnuts in. You can also use canola oil or vegetable oil. And be sure to save the oil after it’s cooled and cleaned for future frying!

For the custard:

  • Heavy vegan cream: For our vanilla cream, I like using a vegan heavy cream, like Silk or Plant Crock. You could swap in coconut cream, but it will have a very coconut flavor to it!
  • Dairy free milk: To help keep the custard not SUPER thick, and more creamy and lush, I use soy milk or almond milk to thin the mixture to more of a whole milk consistency.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch will help to thicken our custard without adding in any eggs. You can also use arrowroot starch.
  • Vanilla extract or paste: Either works here. I like to add in the vanilla paste as well, for the specks of vanilla bean seeds!
  • Vegan butter
vegan doughnuts filled on parchment paper

Equipment recommendations:

For frying doughnuts at home I think it’s always helpful to use a big slotted spoon and a large saucepan with walls. This will allow you to fill the saucepan with the oil, and the slotted spoon will help you remove the doughnuts.

Additionally, you definitely need a thermometer to read the heat of the oil! A candy thermometer works great here. You can get one at any grocery store or order online.

For filling the doughnuts: A doughnut nozzle is recommend, as it’s easiest, but honestly, I just used one of my cake piping tips with a piping bag! Super simple and seamless too!

For making the doughnut dough: The process is also a lot quicker with a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, but you can also make the dough by hand in a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon!

Timeline overview:

  • Make the dough- 20 minutes
  • First proof- 60 minutes
    • While proofing, make the custard filling- 10 minutes
  • Shape the doughnuts- 10 minutes
  • Second proof- 30-45 minutes
  • Fry the doughnuts- 20 minutes
  • Cool- 10 minutes
  • Fill- 10 minutes

Step by Step Photos: How to make Vegan Cream Filled Donuts:

Shaping the doughnuts:

Second rise:

Frying the dough:

Coating and filling:

Can I bake these doughnuts instead?

You can definitely bake these cream filled donuts instead of frying them, but I will say that the color won’t be as golden, and they might not puff as evenly. When you fry the doughnuts, you flip them half way through to create an even cooking.

When you bake the doughnuts, they’re baking on one side typically the entire time, making them not puff evenly.

If you do decide to bake these doughnuts, brush both sides with vegan butter, and bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes. 

bitten vegan doughnut on marble

Filling ideas:

If you don’t want to go with the classic Italian cream filled doughnut flavor, you could also:

  • Add in melted chocolate to the custard for a chocolate filled doughnut
  • Stir in nutmeg and cinnamon to the pastry cream filling (and coat the doughnuts in a cinnamon sugar dusting!)
  • Swap out the custard for strawberry or blueberry jams
  • Just use vegan lemon curd!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Keep monitoring the heat of the oil: Too hot, and you’ll burn the doughnuts or brown them too fast on the outside without cooking them enough on the inside. Make sure you’re monitoring the thermometer (which is why it’s so crucial to use one!).
  • Save the oil once it’s cooled! After the oil has cooled completely, you can strain the oil and store it in an airtight container in a cool dark place for future frying.
  • Make the custard while the doughnuts are doing the first proof: This will give the custard enough time to cool and thicken before filling.
  • Dust with powdered sugar instead: If you don’t want to do a granulated sugar coating, just lightly dust them with powdered sugar for a less-sweet cream filled doughnut 🙂
  • Place the fried doughnuts onto a cooling rack with paper towel underneath: This will make up clean up easier 🙂
vegan cream filled doughnuts in a pan

Want to save this recipe for later? Add it to your favorite recipe board on Pinterest!

Vegan Homemade Italian Cream Filled Donuts (Bomboloni) pinterest pin

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!

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vegan cream filled doughnuts in a pan

Vegan Homemade Italian Cream Filled Donuts (Bomboloni)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Britt Berlin
  • Prep Time: 50
  • Resting time: 105
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 large doughnuts 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

These deliciously fluffy and plush homemade Italian-inspired cream filled donuts are simple to make and filled with the creamiest pastry cream and lemon curd! No egg and dairy free!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3/4 cup (184 g) dairy free milk, heated to 110F
  •  1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar or coconut sugar, divided
  • 4 cups (500 g)  bread flour or all purpose flour
  • 2.5 tsp (.25 oz) dry activated yeast
  • 12 tbsp (185 g) unsalted salted vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 grams) unsweetened applesauce or dairy free yogurt, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For frying:

  • 3 cups sunflower oil, for frying
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

For filling:


Instructions

  1. Please read through all instructions before beginning.
  2. Prep: Grease a medium bowl with olive or coconut oil, and set aside.
  3. Bloom the yeast: In a separate large bowl, combine the dairy free milk, 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, and activated yeast. Mix with a wooden spoon, and cover. Place in a warm area to activate for about 10 minutes. The yeast should begin to foam and smell yeast-like (similar to beer).
  4. Make the dough: Once the yeast is activated,  you’ll start the dough. In a large bowl or using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add the bread flour and remaining sugar to the bowl. Mix just until the sugar is mixed throughout the flour. Then add in the dairy free yogurt, vanilla, and bloomed yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed until a very shaggy dough forms, about 3-4 minutes. Then add in the tablespoons of vegan butter, and begin to mix again on medium speed. Stop every so often to reincorporate the butter. Once the vegan butter is incorporated, turn the speed of the stand mixer onto high, and allow the dough to be kneaded in the bowl for about 10-15 minutes, or until soft and pliable. The dough might still be slightly tacky, but should not leave globs of dough on your finger tip. The trick is to knead the dough until it passes the windowpane test.
  5. First proof: Place the dough ball into the medium sized greased bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm area (ideally above 80F) to rest for about 60-120 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  6. While the dough is proofing: Follow the instructions for making the custard filling and the lemon curd if desired. Cover and chill the custard in the fridge until ready to use. Additionally, cut out 8 parchment paper squares (or more if you plan on dividing the dough into more doughnuts) and place them on a baking sheet.
  7. Shape the dough: Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a clean surface, and place the dough onto the surface. Divide the dough into 8 even dough balls (or more for smaller doughnuts). Take one piece, and pinch the corners together to create a ball. Then gently roll the dough ball between your palms or on the lightly floured surface to smooth the seams until you get a smooth dough ball. Place the shaped dough onto the parchment paper, and repeat for the remaining dough.
  8. Rest: Cover the baking sheet of doughnuts and place in a warm area again to rest until almost doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
  9. While the doughnuts are resting: With 10-15 minutes remaining of resting time, pour the oil into a large saucepan with walls and heat the oil until it reaches about 350-365F, keeping it steady at that temperature for frying. Use a candy thermometer please. For the cooling, place paper towels onto a cooling rack or below to sop up any excess oil.
  10. Fry the doughnuts: When the doughnuts are ready, take one doughnut carrying it on its parchment paper and place it onto the slotted spoon, removing the parchment paper. Lower the doughnut into the oil and fry doughnut on onside for 2 minutes or until lightly golden the bottom. Then flip the doughnut using the slotted spoon to fry on the other side for 1:30 minutes. You can place more doughnuts in a time if your pan can hold it, as long as you keep the temperature between 350-365F. Remove the cooke doughnuts with the slotted spoon, and place them onto the cooling rack.
  11. Coat the doughnuts: After the doughnuts have cooled for 10 minutes, dip each doughnut into a large bowl with the granulated sugar, and flip to evenly coat. Repeat for all doughnuts.
  12. Fill the doughnuts:  Use a knife or a long skewer to poke a hole in the seam of each doughnut, and use the skewer to create a pocket towards the middle of the donut. This will be where you fill the doughnuts. Then fill a pastry bag with piping nozzle with the lemon curd (if using) and another with the vegan custard. Pipe the filling into each doughnut by inserting the tip into the hole made by the skewer.
  13. Serve and enjoy! Serve the doughnuts freshly baked or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Notes

Please read blog post for all tips and tricks!