Serves a Crowd

Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Puffs

November 19, 2011
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes 12 puffs
Author Notes

This is a recipe I got from my childhood best friend, college roommate, and partner in all things related to having tea parties, bingeing on whipped cream and scones, building snow forts, trying to find the source of creeks, spiking hot chocolate, climbing mountains, and other adventures of all sorts. I think she got it from her godmother, who is the ultimate hostess (she has one of those giant houses with stone lions out front, which basically means you're required to be a good hostess).

My friend had these at a brunch hosted by her godmother, and became unbelievably obsessed with them. She was generous enough to share the recipe with me too. I made some little tweaks and changes because I can't help it, like spicing them up, and using browned butter (because butter should almost always be browned in these types of cases). They're kind of a hybrid of spice cake, muffins, and cinnamon sugar donut what's not to love?! Plus they're remarkably quick and easy. And, I must admit, I take odd enjoyment in eating anything called a puff. —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

These puffs are like the best doughnut holes you've ever eaten. Cakey and light, with crisp edges and a crunchy blanket of cinnamon sugar, they're gently spiced, with a murmur of orange zest in the background. Brown butter gives them an especially rich, nutty flavor. Don't skip the quick dip in melted butter before you roll them in the sugar—and make sure to enjoy these while they're still warm! - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Puffs
  • Breakfast puffs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • Cinnamon-sugar coating
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the 1/3 cup butter, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and nutty smelling. Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool completely to room temperature.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 12 cup muffin tin.
  3. Add the sugar and egg to the cooled butter. Beat with an electric mixer until all creamed together, lightened in color, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  4. In a separate little bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and zest. Add the dry ingredients in increments to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with the milk and beating until fully combined after each addition.
  5. Divide the batter evenly into the cups of the muffin tin. Pop into the oven and bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. While the puffs are puffing, put the melted butter in one shallow bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another one. When the puffs come out of the oven, use a knife to gently pop them all out of the muffin tin.
  7. One by one, dip each puff in the melted butter—get it all over it—then roll it in the cinnamon sugar. Transfer it to some lovely, festive serving platter, and continue until you have rolled all of the puffs. Serve warm—they are by faaaaar the best when they are still warm—with coffee, and mimosas, and other goodies.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Andrea Young
    Andrea Young
  • Melanie
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    Little Piggy
  • Laura Edgerton
    Laura Edgerton
  • sarisa

316 Reviews

Andrea Y. May 8, 2021
I just made these after having the recipe saved for years - they did NOT disappoint! Really delicious little things. Keeper! Followed the directions except for bringing up everything to room temp - didn't want to wait an extra hour in the morning to make my milk room temp.
Liz W. January 31, 2021
I grew up with these and heard stories of my aunt bribing my dad and my uncles with these as kids. Even as teenagers that liked sleeping in, my brother and I would drag ourselves out of bed early for these delightful treats. We always called them French Breakfast Puffs and they didn't have orange zest, but that is an interesting idea!
Melanie April 19, 2020
I've been wanting to make these for ages, and finally did so this morning. The key to the "puff" is the full five minutes of beating the cooled butter, sugar, and room temperature egg. On a Sunday morning, it's tempting to rush through the process, but don't. These did not disappoint. I ate the first one I dipped and rolled in cinnamon sugar - sublime! Added extra cinnamon to the batter and rolling sugar and increased the other spices a bit as well. Can't wait for my sweetie to wake up and try these; he loves cinnamon! I like other reviewer's ideas about preparing these the night before; I'll try that next time. Thanks for resurrecting this lovely recipe.
Little P. September 7, 2019
I just made these. They were DELICIOUS!! I made double the recipe in order to get 24 but I ended up with only 16. That made me sad. Other than that.. I will definitely make again!!
Joanne February 3, 2019
This is an old recipe from the Betty Crocker Cook Book called French Breakfast Puffs. It’s a fabulous treat that can be enjoyed both warm or at room temperature. The best is to reheat in microwave with a little butter. Yummy!
Laura E. November 4, 2018
My youngest daughter helped me make these puffs this morning (after talking about the recipe for the last two days), and they were great - tender, cakey, and light. The crisp, sugary exterior made us think of the best homemade doughnut holes. These may just be our new weekend standby.
Emily H. October 15, 2018
Absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing.
margaret July 1, 2018
I smiled when I saw this recipe! I discovered these French Breakfast Puffs from a Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step by Step cookbook i bought at a garage sale in LA in the mid 80s - and I've been making them to everyone's delight since! One suggestion, add a 1/4 tsp of cocoa powder to the cinnamon -sugar topping - it's perfect!
sarisa February 13, 2018
I just made these and they were perfect!! Definitely a keeper.
ReneP. January 28, 2018
I've been making a variation of this recipe since the early 80's, when I learned the recipe in a jr. high cooking class. They were called "French doughnuts" then. That recipe didn't call for the orange zest, but just about everything else is the same. These wonderfully buttery, cinnamon-encrusted, spiced muffins have always been a favorite of mine! I'll have to try them with the orange zest, and see if I like this updated version more than my tried-and-true recipe.
Brigitte H. January 20, 2018
Threw out the whole batch. No one liked them. The allspice, cloves and nutmeg overpowered the taste. If I made these again I’d only add the orange zest. These really are just muffins.
lsm January 12, 2018
I was very surprised at how flavorful these little puffs are. I didn't have nutmeg and cloves, so I used cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Still turned out wonderfully. Nice change from making yeasted breads. Thank you very much.
bitememore May 16, 2017
I love little bites of cinnamon like this one! My favorite is this Mini Chai Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake recipe:
eileen March 5, 2017
First batch rocked!!! Before I start the second batch, has anyone tried putting some chopped fruit in (that last handful of blueberries or last apple in the fridge)?
Mary-Helen S. July 28, 2016
These were so delicious! I decided to make them in a mini-muffin pan, and they made 24 adorable, 2-bite treats. I baked them for 15 minutes and almost doubled the butter/cinnamon/sugar mixture.... Perfect! I also browned the butter for the cinnamon/sugar mixture, which was delicious, but it may not have made that much difference. Also, I had no oranges, so I added 1/2 teaspoon orange oil to the batter, and it was yummy. Definite keeper recipe, especially if I can reheat them, as some of the commenters have suggested.
Sauertea July 28, 2016
I love the idea of the orange oil. I think these are fine even not reheated!
Zanzinger November 11, 2017
Was this orange essential oil?
Debbie July 28, 2016
I made these for guests and they loved them. I froze the extra, yes hard to believe there were left overs. I toss a couple in a 350 degree oven for a couple of minutes and then roll them in the butter and sugar/cinnamon and they are still wonderful.
JIN July 11, 2016
This was my first proper baking project and it came out beautifully. My husband and I absolutely loved it. I forgot to buy an orange so used a lemon instead and it was still delicious. Thank you!
Annabelle C. July 5, 2016
Yum! This looks like a decadent breakfast. Thank you :-)
sherry May 15, 2016
First time trying these and I love them! Added vanilla essence and less allspice....
Terri April 15, 2016
I've been wanting to try these for a while and got my chance today when a friend came for coffee. Yum! I changed the spices, used only a pinch of ginger and 1/2 tsp of fresh ground cardamom. Brilliant. Simple to make, too.