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Saturday Snacks: Let’s Make California Grill’s Plant-Based Lavender Sugar Donuts!

When my kids were little and had to get a shot at the doctor’s office, our standard operating procedure was to stop for a donut on the way home. Dunkin’ Donuts knew what it was doing when it placed a franchise right next door to a pediatrician’s office. These people are out to make money, after all. We human beings need our donuts, especially after something like a shot. And you know what? Those magical little circular sugar bombs did the trick with my kids every single time. They kept their eyes on the sugary prize, and got through that not-so-fun appointment.

I come by my donut-loving ways honestly. As I’ve mentioned before, on special Saturdays when I was a kid, my parents would pull out a small spice cake mix box from the cabinet and make a simple cake for us to enjoy with breakfast. Sometimes that spice cake turned into spice cake donuts thanks to my mom’s early 80s electric donut maker, which made everything all that more fun.

I have, for years, wanted to buy something to make donuts for myself. Whether it was a donut pan or a donut cutter; it didn’t matter. I just wanted the ability to make donuts on demand in my own kitchen. Today’s Saturday Snacks recipe was the catalyst that I needed to make my donut dreams come true. And if you’re someone who a) loves donuts or b) sticks to a plant-based lifestyle or c) is all of the above, you’re in luck. These little babies are fabulous.

And I must say before those who do not lead plant-based lives chime in: these are so good. If you didn’t know that they were plant-based, you would never guess. I promise.

We’ll be turning to Delicious Disney Walt Disney World: Recipes & Stories from the Most Magical Place on Earth once again today to channel just a bit of Disney snack goodness. California Grill‘s Plant-Based Lavender Sugar Donuts will be our go-to weekend treat, and just in case you aren’t vegan and don’t normally have some of today’s ingredients on hand, you’ll need to schedule a special stop by the grocery store like I did.

My youngest is vegan, so I wasn’t totally surprised by some of the ingredients that were called for. The first one that caused me just a moment of pause was the canned chickpea liquid. Exactly how much liquid is in each can of chickpeas? We need 3/4 of a cup of that mysterious stuff, so I decided to go ahead and pick up two cans just in case.

I had never used ground flaxseed before, so it was fun to get to work with it, and I had only previously used coconut oil to try to get the eyeliner and mascara off of my eyes at the end of the day, so to get to bake with it was something new. And don’t worry, I bought a fresh jar to bake with.

The ingredient that caused me a bit of consternation was the culinary lavender. Unfortunately, you just can’t find culinary lavender everywhere. It’s available on Amazon, but I wasn’t super excited about the prices that I was seeing. And then it occurred to me that perhaps The Spice and Tea Exchange in Disney Springs would carry it. If you’ve never stopped by the Exchange on a visit to Disney Springs, I highly recommend that you do. They have a little bit of everything in that shop. From loose tea to rare spices to candles and cookbooks; it’s a veritable treasure trove, and I’m happy to say that they indeed carry culinary lavender.

Our first step in prepping things for the Lavender Sugar Donuts is to make the titular ingredient: the lavender sugar. Ideally, you want to get this started the night before, but the recipe also states that if you don’t let the lavender and sugar sit overnight, you can simply let them rest for a few hours. I opted for the latter approach because I was wanting to bake the donuts that afternoon and had forgotten about the overnight component. Ahem.

I grabbed a small mixing bowl and tossed in a cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of the dried lavender. I mixed the two together and covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for three or so hours.

Friends, the next step almost drove me to drink. The recipe asks us to sift out the culinary lavender with a fine mesh strainer after we’re done letting it flavor the sugar. My fine mesh strainer turned out to be very, very fine. TOO FINE. There were granules of sugar not fitting through that strainer, much less the culinary lavender. By the time that everything was said and done, I was picking lavender buds out of the sugar by hand. Make sure that your strainer isn’t too horribly fine before setting about this task. Or, as I thought could be an idea for next time, wrap the culinary lavender in a bit of cheesecloth before placing it in the bowl of sugar. Either way, there’s absolutely no way that I’m doing this step ever again with my current strainer situation. I’m thinking the cheesecloth is the way that I’ll be going next time. Serenity NOW.

Our next step is to pour 3/4 of a cup of lukewarm water into the bowl of a stand mixer and add in 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast. Combine the two, and let the yeast and water sit for about 5 minutes until things are nice and frothy.

While my water and yeast were doing their thing, I went ahead and whisked together 3/4 of a cup of canned chickpea liquid (only one can was needed) and 5 teaspoons of ground flaxseed. This is something that I would wait to do until the yeast mixture is ready the next time that I make the donuts. As the ground flaxseed and chickpea mixture sat, it got thick. It ultimately didn’t mess with the end result of the donuts, but it was enough to make me stop and think.

Once the yeast mixture was frothy, I added in the flaxseed and chickpea liquid and mixed things together.

I then got to the part of the recipe that I’ve come to like the most: dumping every other ingredient required into the bowl in one fell swoop. I added in 1 1/4 cups of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of coconut oil, 6 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of the lavender sugar, and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt.

I turned the stand mixer (with dough hook attached) on to low speed until the dough pulled away from the sides of the bowl and started to form a ball. This took a little time, so if yours takes a bit, hang in there and don’t worry. Once the dough ball started to form, I kicked the speed up to medium-high and let it knead for 5 minutes.

Once the 5 minutes was up, I transferred the dough ball to a large mixing bowl that I had coated with nonstick spray oil and covered the bowl with plastic wrap. The dough needs to rise at room temp for 90 minutes or until it has doubled in size. I placed the bowl in a warm spot, set the timer, and walked away. Don’t look now, but we’re making donuts from scratch. Yahooo!!

Just before the 90 minutes was up, I pulled my two biggest baking sheets from the cabinet and covered them with sheets of parchment paper. I then gave the parchment paper a quick coat of nonstick cooking spray. Once you and I cut the donuts out of the dough, they’ll need to rise for another 15 minutes on those baking sheets.

After 90 minutes, my dough had indeed doubled in size. It was huge! I generously floured my countertop and turned the dough out onto it.

Using a rolling pin, I rolled the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and began to cut out the donuts. Unfortunately, when I attached the middle ring to my donut cutter, it didn’t press all the way to the countertop, thus leaving the donut holes intact. Not cool, donut cutter.

I took the middle ring off of the donut cutter and cut the outside of the donut with one hand and the donut hole with the other. It was an extra step, but I had my eyes on the prize. Nothing was going to dissuade me from making those sugary little treats.

I placed the donuts on the baking sheets, covered them with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes. Without re-rolling the extra dough, I was already at over 30 donuts, so if you have a large crowd who will be gobbling up your donuts, you’ll have plenty for everyone.

While the donuts were in the process of rising, I got the vegetable oil going. The recipe states that the oil needs to be at 350°, and you know how I am with heating up oil. I’m just not the best at it. I went low and slow to get it up to 350°, and then cut it down by half after it reached the correct temp. If you leave it at the same level of heat, the oil will continue to get hotter and hotter, and it’ll burn your donuts. And that would be a travesty.

Once the oil reached 350°, and the donuts were done rising, I dropped my first donut into the oil. The recipe said it would only take 1 to 2 minutes, and to be honest, I didn’t really believe it.

But it speaks the truth. One to two minutes on each side is all that is needed for these light and fluffy donuts to get beautifully golden brown.

Once they reached golden brown, I grabbed my scooper/strainer and lifted them out of the oil and placed them on a paper towel-covered plate to drain.

The rest of that lavender sugar sitting in the small mixing bowl on your counter? This is where it comes into play. Once your donuts cool just slightly, you and I get to run them through that sugar. Put as much or as little lavender sugar on those donuts as you like; you’re the boss here.

I opted for a more generous coating of lavender sugar, of course.

Dear friends. These donuts? Amazing. Light and fluffy and toasty with a slight chew on the outside and so, so good. Toasty, warm, slightly lavender-flavored and scented, sugary weekend Disney snack magic. Holy cow.

Of course, these donuts are best eaten warm. Pair them with a cup of coffee or a cup of tea, and you’ve got it made in the shade. It’s the perfect thing for a mid-March weekend.

Whether you lead a plant-based life or eat everything under the sun, when it comes to these donuts, it doesn’t matter. You are going to love them. Even if plant-based eating isn’t your jam, give these a try. They’re just delightful.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope that it’s a good one. You and I have two days to savor, and may we relish every single moment.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. I appreciate you so much.

If you’re ready to give California Grill’s Plant-Based Lavender Donuts a try, the recipe is below:

Plant-Based Lavender Sugar Donuts

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone that these donuts served at California Grill are vegan!

Makes 24-36 donuts


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender


  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup liquid from canned chickpeas
  • 5 teaspoons ground flaxseed
  • 1¼ cups coconut milk
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 6⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar, plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Toss sugar and dried culinary lavender in medium bowl. Cover and let rest for several hours or overnight.
2. Sift out lavender with a fine-mesh strainer. Set aside.

1. Combine water and yeast in bowl of electric mixer fitted with dough hook. Rest for 5 minutes until yeast is frothy.
2. Whisk chickpea liquid and ground flaxseed in medium bowl. Add to water and yeast.
3. Add coconut milk, coconut oil, flour, sugar, and salt to mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until soft dough ball forms. Increase to medium-high speed and knead for 5 minutes.
4. Transfer dough to large bowl coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
5. Place parchment paper on 2 baking pans and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
6. Place dough on large board covered with flour, roll to ¼-inch thickness, and cut with desired size donut cutter. Place cut donuts on prepared baking pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes or until doubled in size. 7. With caution, heat all to 350-F. Carefully add donuts and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned on both sides.
8. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
9. Toss with lavender sugar.

Deni loves all things Disney, and, in 2013, moved to the Magic from Maryland. Walt Disney World is her happy place, and she loves getting to share it with others. Deni and her husband of almost 26 years have 2 grown children. Her favorite WDW snack? A Mickey Bar, of course. Is there any other?!


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