Mother’s Day Donuts with Jill from HelloSugar

Where do we begin to commemorate the women who brought us into this world? Why with these Mother’s Day Donuts of course!

Today I’m bringing a new bit to the blog called “Small Business Spotlight” where I interview local producers and entrepreneurs and how they are shaping the handmade sector of Omaha. In these posts I will share my interviews with the founders of these businesses as well as a recipe inspired by their craft (found far below).  I’m starting off with Hello Sugar and in today’s interview I get to know a little more about Jill Grabow and her interesting donut business.

How a doughnut shop went vegan

How it all started

Hello Sugar was started back in 2015, which feels like yesterday, But not for Jill Grabow who has been  crafting scratch-made doughnuts for the past three years. And where did the idea come from? Charleston, South Carolina where Jill fell in love with pillow-y soft artisan doughnuts.

Jill had always dreamt of opening a bakery of her own, so when the idea of bringing handmade doughnuts to the Omaha community popped into her mind, she ran with it.


Why Omaha?

She noticed a deficit of doughnut variety in Omaha. We have doughnut shops by the half dozen with the hum drum offerings of chocolate, vanilla, glazed, maple-nothing like the one from Charleston. So with a need for more variety and a talent for creating flavors, Jill knew Omaha was the place for Hello Sugar.

But still, what was gonna make her stand out? What was gonna be the ish that set her doughnuts apart from the other shops who use frosting out of a can and premade dough mixes?

What’s your ish? (what makes Hello Sugar special)

Make everything and anything from scratch was Jill’s answer. That means the dough starts with flour and yeast, the jams start with berries and sugar, and the caramel starts with cream and butter. Good doughnuts aren’t made from canned ingredients and shortcuts. Jill prides her business on being top quality, farm fresh, seasonally appropriate, and local whenever possible.

Not only is every doughnut well thought and flavorful, but the amount of flavors is surreal. She starts with a light brioche dough and designs her canvas. Her menu mixes classic with clever like in the cinnamon and cardamom sugar twists and the not-only-strawberry but strawberry and rhubarb jelly doughnut.

When did the business get vegan?

I personally have been following Jill’s doughnut stand for the last couple years. Before I went vegan her doughnuts were a great complement to my farmer’s market experience.

But, as a newly minted vegan I was so glad to hear that Hello Sugar had vegan offerings. I am pretty confident that Omaha has no vegan doughnut offerings. So this was great news to me, but it made me wonder why a well-performing doughnut business would want to start offering vegan items.

Jill’s reasoning was demand. So many people reached out requesting a vegan menu. From mother’s with kids who had dairy allergies to vegans who were tired of traveling out of Omaha for a good vegan raised doughnut.

So Jill once again put her flavor creating skills to use and came up with five  vegan favors. Yes five. These include Raspberry filled, Vanilla Chai, Chocolate Caramel Coconut, and Lemon Toasted Pistachio.

And the doughnuts did not go unnoticed. The response was quick and Jill even attracted regulars  coming just for the vegan doughnuts.

The hardest part about creating vegan doughnuts was the ratio. Jill’s go to for developing flavors is using dairy to “round out” the flavor and avoid being cloyingly sweet. So finding ways for the doughnuts to have full-bodied flavor while staying true to vegan ingredients was a challenge.

Any advice for other small business entrepreneurs?

So you may be wondering why I chose Jill to interview for this Mother’s Day feature. Lets be truthful though, what mom doesn’t love a good doughnut every now and then. But my real motivation was because in addition to being an entrepreneur, self starter, small business owner, farmer’s market vendor, and doughnut designer she is also a mother. And I think any mother who can host their own business and be doing such a great job as Jill has is worth celebrating.

Jill’s advice for small business entrepreneurs is to find something you absolutely love and go for it! There may be a time when you’re balancing a full time job and a passion job. But it’s important to take the leap to the unknown to find incredible rewards.

Future plans?

When I asked what the future holds for Jill and Hello Sugar her response was “Eloise”. The name of her food truck in progress. That’s right! This lovely doughnut vendor is going mobile. Jill plans to take the doughnut wagon around Omaha to offer doughnuts and other breakfast items with coffee. She even wants to open the menu up to mimosa’s and start a “truck side brunch bar” to private parties.

Could you imagine?! I’m totally on board with a mobile brunch bar and would be the first customer for that. I find what Jill is doing and her endless creativity inspiring as a fellow entrepreneur. Self-starting requires a degree of initiative and energy that Jill encompasses fully.

It was a pleasure to have Jill on for my first interview and stay tuned for plenty more to come by subscribing to my newsletter. Never miss a post from yours truly with the latest food porn and lifestyle tips.

Now onto the recipe

Let me clear things up a bit. These aren’t Jill’s doughnuts and although they are delicious and so easy, they don’t amount to a good yeasted vegan doughnut. Ill leave that for Jill to keep on doing.

These babies are baked donuts in three different options so you can have a healthier donut shop at your fingertips. You got your powdered, your cinnamon sugar, your pink iced with sprinkles that vaguely represent the favorite food of a certain yellow adult cartoon character.

Nonetheless, you should have all your fancies tickled with this assortment of baked donuts. They are fluffy, light, and sweet but not SWEET.

Baked Donuts Three Ways

makes: 8 donuts per recipe

recipe inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction


cinnamon donuts:

  • 1 egg replacer (ener-G egg prepared egg replacer or 1/4 c applesauce)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T vegan butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 T cinnamon

lemon powdered:

  • 1 egg replacer (ener-G egg prepared egg replacer or 1/4 c applesauce)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T vegan butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t lemon zest

iced vanilla:

  • 1 egg replacer (ener-G egg prepared egg replacer or 1/4 c applesauce)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T vegan butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 2 T almond milk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • natural food coloring



  1. Start by making your vegan buttermilk. Combine the almond milk with either the vinegar or lemon juice. Whisk together and let sit until thickened.
  2. Combine the buttermilk, vegan egg replacer, 1/3 c sugar, melted vegan butter, and 2 t vanilla extract.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the wet to the dry and mix well. Do not overmix.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F and start greasing your donut pans. Spoon the batter about 2/3 high into each doughnut well. Tap the pan onto the counter a few times until the bubbles rise from the batter. Place in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. If they don’t pass the toothpick test then bake three minutes longer.
  5. Let cool until firmed up in pans then invert onto a wire rack.
  6. Dip the slightly still warm donut into either the cinnamon sugar (1/2 c sugar + 1 1/2 T cinnamon) or the lemon powdered sugar (1 c powdered sugar + lemon zest). If the sugar doesn’t stick feel free to brush the donut with additional vegan butter.
  7. If making the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and milk. Only add a little milk at a time until its runny but won’t completely slide off the donut. Color your icing and dunk your donuts. Sprinkle before the icing crusts and devour!

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