Kid-friendly Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

Recipe: Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

by Erin Fletter
Photo by IvannaPavliuk/Shutterstock
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
12 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

What does the Sticky Fingers Cooking Chef say? "THYME to TURNIP the BEET on what kids EAT!" Who does not love a good doughnut?… Beet Doughnuts, anyone? Anyone? Hello? Before you ask yourself, "Why the heck is Sticky Fingers Cooking adding beets to our breakfast?" Let's learn about the wonders of beets. First, puréed beets make incredible all-natural food coloring. No artificial dyes or chemicals are needed here. And secondly, it's a great way to sneak some extra vegetables into you and your family's diet. Beets are high in fiber, a great source of iron and folic acid, and are rich in antioxidants. Beets are one vegetable that we definitely should be eating more of.

I adore red velvet cakes. I loathe artificial red food dyes. Turning Red Velvet cakes into doughnut holes calls for beets to the recipe rescue. These beauties are such a breeze to whip up with your kids. Everything goes into the blender, then a quick fry or bake. These doughnut holes are definitely going to be at the top of your families' breakfast favorites not only because of their delicious combination of flavors but also for their stunning (natural) beauty. I love pretty food. I also love dessert for breakfast. Rich, crisp, and fluffy, these mint-dusted red velvet doughnut holes are the sweetest way to wake up! Let's start this week right with something satisfyingly sweet yet chock-full of veggies!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • massage :

    to rub or knead a food to tenderize (e.g., raw beef) or one food into another to infuse flavors (e.g., mint leaves into sugar or oil and salt into kale leaves).

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • wet vs dry :

    to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining them: dry ingredients are flours, leavening agents, salt, and spices; wet ingredients are those that dissolve or can be dissolved (sugar, eggs, butter, oils, honey, vanilla, milk, and juices).

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Large mixing bowls
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Handheld electric mixer
  • Mini-muffin pan
  • Chopstick (optional)


Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour (sub gluten-free)
  • 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 T chocolate chips (use Enjoy Life Brand if nut, dairy, soy allergy present)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C white sugar
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 T white vinegar (reacts to the baking powder + baking soda for a light + fluffy doughnut)
  • 1 C cooked or canned beets (no pickled beets!)
  • 2 T or 1/4 stick salted butter, softened
  • oil for cooking

Food Allergen Substitutions

Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free flour.
  • Dairy: Follow Vegan Beet-Red Velvet Doughnut Holes recipe.
  • Egg: Follow Vegan Beet-Red Velvet Doughnut Holes recipe.
  • Soy: Use soy-free chocolate chips.


Just Beet It! Red Velvet Doughnut Holes

preheat + measure + whisk

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Have your kids measure your dry ingredients into a large bowl: 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons chocolate chips, and 1 pinch of salt. Whisk to combine.

crack + measure + blend

Have your kids crack 2 eggs and combine with 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 1/2 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 tablespoons soft butter in a separate large bowl. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Add 1 cup of beets and blend again until smooth.

well + add

Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and have your kids slowly whisk in the wet ingredients. Add a little more milk if the batter appears to be too thick.

pour + pop + turn

Put about 1/4 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the bottom of each well in a mini-muffin pan and heat the empty pan until hot. Carefully pour about 1 tablespoon of the batter into each cup. Pop them into the oven and bake for about 6 to 8 minutes. As soon as they get bubbly and brown around the edge, pull the muffin pan out of the oven and turn the doughnut holes quickly and carefully (a chopstick works great!). Continue baking for 3 to 4 more minutes and until cooked through. Remove and cool. Roll in Mint Dust (see recipe) and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Beets!

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Photo by Tatevosian Yana/

Hi! I’m Beet!

"Hi! I'm a bit 'red' with embarrassment—I don't know your name, but you know mine—Beet! I'm a root vegetable with a beautiful, red color (some of my cousins are yellow). You may have seen me served either whole, quartered, sliced, julienned, shredded, or mashed. You can grow me in your garden or buy me fresh or canned in the store. Did you know that my pretty green leaves (or greens), with red stems, can also be eaten, and you can drink my juice, too?" 


  • Around 800 BCE, an Assyrian text describes beets growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world.
  • Modern beets are derived from their wild ancestors, sea beets, that grew along the coasts of Europe, southern Asia, and northern Africa. Beets from the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans were white and black rather than red! 
  • The Romans used the leaves of beets as an herb and medicine. They also considered beet juice to be a love potion.
  • People have used beet juice as a natural red dye since the 16th century, and Victorians in England in the 19th century used it to dye their hair. 
  • Sugar beets were first cultivated for their sugar in the middle of the 18th century in Germany and then in France in the early 19th century. The United States started growing sugar beets commercially in 1879 in California. Sugar beets have at least twice the amount of sugar as regular beets.
  • The world's heaviest beetroot weighed 52.88 pounds and was grown by a group of people in the United Kingdom in 2019. The longest beetroot was 28 feet, also produced in the UK, by Joe Atherton, in 2020.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • A beet, or beetroot, is the edible taproot of the beet plant. The taproot is the dominant, central root of a plant. Beet leaves are also good to eat. 
  • Beets are a member of the order of flowering plants called Caryophyllales, which includes bougainvillea, cacti, amaranth, carnations, spinach, chard, quinoa, and even Venus flytraps! 
  • Red beets get their color from betalain, a natural pigment. Betalain comes from the Latin name for beet, Beta vulgaris, and it's also responsible for the red color of bougainvillea flowers.
  • The word "beet" is from the Old English "bete," from the Latin "beta." 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Beets are ready to be picked about seven to eight weeks after planting. The beet or root will be golf ball size or larger. To harvest, grab the plant's leaves or greens, down by the root, and pull. 
  • If you plan to cook the beet greens, cut them off from the root, wash them, and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge for one to two days. The beetroots will keep refrigerated for one to two weeks in a plastic bag.
  • Today there are several varieties of commercially-grown beets. The most common type in the United States is the Red Ace.
  • You can use beet juice to measure the PH level or acidity in a substance. When you add it to an acidic solution, it turns pink, but it turns yellow when you add it to an alkali.
  • To remove the inevitable pink stains from working with beets, rub your fingers with lemon juice and salt and wash with soap and water. There are several suggestions for removing fabric stains, but when rinsing, it's best to use lukewarm or cold water rather than hot to avoid making the stains permanent. 
  • You can boil, steam, roast, or pickle beets and add them to salads, soups, dips, sauces, sandwiches, and even desserts, like red velvet cake!
  • A soup made from beets, "borscht," originated in Ukraine in the late 17th or early 18th century and is considered a staple in Russian and Polish cuisine.
  • In Australia, they often put pickled beets on their hamburgers.


  • Beets are loaded with manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, many other minerals, and vitamins, especially folate. Folate is a B vitamin vital for the growth and function of cells in our body and helps DNA and RNA production.
  • Beets are a good source of betaine, which is associated with proper liver function and cellular reproduction, and it helps the body metabolize homocysteine, an amino acid.
  • One cup of beets contains less than 60 calories.


History of Red Velvet Cake!

Photo by Regina Ferraz
  • In the Victorian era, if a host wanted to serve a 'luxury' cake, it would be a Velvet cake, known for its smooth, soft texture. This type of cake would be a nice departure from the denser, chewier cakes served at that time. Typical ingredients may have included baking soda, buttermilk, butter, vinegar, eggs, vanilla, and flour. The result of the acids in the buttermilk and vinegar reacting with the baking soda would have helped to create that velvety mouthfeel. 
  • Adding cocoa to a velvet cake produced the Red Velvet Cake, as the cocoa combined with the acidic buttermilk or vinegar created a faint red color. With the later addition of beetroot and, much later, red food dye, the cake became even redder. 
  • Although the cake is considered a Southern recipe, in the 1920s, New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel created a Red Velvet Cake, also called the Waldorf-Astoria cake. And, in Canada, in the 1940s and 50s, Eaton's department store chain restaurants sold a Red Velvet Cake they promoted as their exclusive recipe. 
  • The original frosting used on the cake was "ermine" icing, a white frosting also called "cooked flour" or "boiled milk" icing, made with flour, milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla. The name "ermine" came from the white, winter fur of the ermine, a member of the weasel family.

Let's Learn About New York + New York City!

Photo by William Perugini/Shutterstock
  • New York is both a state and a city in the United States. New York City, nicknamed "The Big Apple," comprises five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx, with over 8 million people.  
  • In 1626, Dutch colonists acquired Manhattan Island from its native owners by trading various trinkets and goods worth 60 Dutch guilders, or about 24 dollars!
  • The indigenous Haudenosaunee and Algonquian peoples, consisting of several different tribes, originally inhabited the state. An Algonquian tribe, the Lenape, made their home on the land where New York City is now. In the 1500s, an Italian explorer first made contact with them, and then in the 1600s, they had further exposure to Europeans while trading with Dutch fur traders. Dutch colonists had a settlement there called New Amsterdam. When the British claimed it, they renamed it New York in honor of the Duke of York. The city was the US capital from 1785 until 1790, and since then it has been the largest city in the country. New York City prospered and, with the building of the Erie canal and the railroads, it became the center of trade and finance in the United States.
  • New York City is also a great tourist magnet. Some of the most popular visitor attractions, apart from shopping, are Central Park, Chinatown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), Broadway, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Coney Island, and Carnegie Hall. The list of tourist spots also includes Grant's Tomb, the Bronx Zoo, the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center, the 9/11 memorial, and One World Trade Center.
  • The United Nations headquarters is in New York City.
  • The subway in New York City is the most extensive subway system worldwide. It has 665 miles of track. 
  • Taxi cabs are prevalent in New York City, and cab drivers communicate with other drivers primarily by honking their car horns. The taxis are yellow because the man who started the Yellow Cab company read that yellow is the easiest color to spot.
  • New Yorkers love their pizza! They opened the first pizzeria in the US in 1895.
  • At 1,776 feet tall, the One World Trade Center building is the tallest in the US.
  • The Empire State Building in New York City is 1,454 feet tall at its tip. Its name comes from New York state's nickname, the Empire State. It once was the world's tallest building and was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
  • The Statue of Liberty, a copper statue designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, sits on Liberty Island in New York City. Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel tower fame) built its metal framework. It was a gift by the French people to the people of the United States in 1886 in honor of 100 years of US independence. Lady Liberty is 151 feet high, but the statue is just over 305 feet from the ground. Did you know that the index finger of the Statue of Liberty is 8-feet long?

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the Red Velvet Cake say to the artificial red food dye? 

"Just BEET it!"

THYME for a Laugh

"Knock, knock."

"Who’s there?"


"Beets who?"

"Beets me!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the angry Red Velvet Cake say to the doughnut? 

“Do you want a piece of me?”

THYME for a Laugh

Why did the doughnut go to the dentist?

He needed a filling!

Lettuce Joke Around

"Knock, knock!"

"Who’s there?" 


"Doughnut who?"

"Doughnut forget to let me in!"

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