Bear Claw Donuts: Are They Really A Donut?

bear claw donut

Who doesn’t love a good donut?  Boston cream, jelly filled, crullers, glazed, powdered sugar or even donut holes.  But have you ever dug your teeth into a bear claw donut? Getting in between all of those toes into the yummy gooeyness is just heaven!  

What is a Bear Claw?

A bear claw donut is a glazed or powdered sugared rectangular donut with slices along one side to resemble a bear’s toes.  While a bear claw is sometimes considered a donut, it is common to be an almond flavored pastry more similar to fritters in texture.  

Is a Bear Claw a Donut?

There is much debate to whether or not a bear claw is actually a donut.  A donut is a small deep fried cake of sweetened dough, typically in the shape of a ball or ring.  While a bear claw donut isn’t in the shape of a ball or a ring. A bear claw is deep fried so it is in fact a donut when it is made in this fashion.  Often times, it is very similar in taste to a glazed donut but differs in the shape and texture in between the toes.

Bear Claw Donut Recipe

For a delicious bear claw donut that isn’t your average glazed donut, check out this recipe!

bear claw donut

Almond Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Donut Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups whole milk (12 1/2 ounces)
  • ⅓ cup water (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (2 ounces)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (25 ounces)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar (2 ounces)
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups Vegetable oil, for frying (use more if needed)


  1. Make the filling: In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the almond paste, powdered sugar, and lemon zest to combine, 20 to 30 seconds.
  2. Add the egg and mix until well combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine. Set the filling aside.
  3. Make the donuts: Heat 3-4 inches of oil over medium-high heat until it reaches around 350°F on a thermometer (or throw a scrap piece of dough in as a tester—if the dough bubbles and rises to the surface, the oil is good to go).
  4. While the oil heats, roll out the doughnut dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into rectangles.
  5. Place a heaping tablespoon of almond filling on each piece of dough, and use an offset spatula to spread into an even layer.
  6. Starting with one of the longer sides, roll the dough into a tight log. Use a knife to cut five incisions into the dough. Cut the dough into 5 segments, but don’t cut all the way through—leave them attached on one side. (this creates the toes of the paw)
  7. Separate the cut pieces a little bit, then curl the doughnut into a half circle. Use your thumb to press each cut piece to make a “toe” look.
  8. Let the donuts rise, covered, on a lightly floured surface for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When the oil is hot, gently add the donuts to the pot in batches, frying until they’re golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. (Note: some of the filling may leech out)
  9. Drain the donuts on several layers of absorbent paper towels. Let cool for 5 minutes before dusting generously with powdered sugar. Serve immediately and enjoy!


Bear Claw Pastries

A sweet, yeast-raised pastry, similar to a Danish usually filled with almond paste and sometimes with raisins or apples. There are even recipes to make cinnamon roll bear claws.  The delicate dough will melt in your mouth. Unlike a donut, these pastries are baked and not fried.

Almond Bear Claw Pastry Recipe

Want to make your own bear claw pastry treats? Check out this recipe!  

bear claw pastry


  • 1-1/2 cups cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, divided use
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond paste, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Sugar or coarse sugar
  • Sliced almonds


  1. In a bowl, toss butter with 3 cups flour until well coated; refrigerate. In a large bowl, combine yeast and remaining flour.
  2. In a saucepan, heat cream, sugar and salt to 120°-130°. Add to yeast mixture with 1 egg. Beat until smooth. Stir in butter mixture just until moistened.
  3. Place dough onto a well-floured surface; roll into a 21” x 12” rectangle. Starting at a short side, fold dough in thirds, forming a 12” x 7”. rectangle. Give the dough a quarter turn; roll into a 21” x 12” rectangle. Fold into thirds, starting with a short side. Repeat, flouring surface as needed. (Do not chill dough between each rolling and folding.) Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours or until firm.
  4. For filling, in a bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and almond paste; beat until smooth. Cut dough in half widthwise. Roll each portion into a 12” square; cut each square into three 12” x 4” strips. Spread about 2 tablespoons filling down the center of each strip. Fold long edges together over filling; seal edges and ends. Cut into three pieces.
  5. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets with folded edge facing away from you. With scissors, cut strips four times to within ½” of folded edge; separate slightly. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Lightly beat water and remaining egg; brush over dough. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.


Tell us in the comments below if you’d like to try a delicious bear claw donut and how your recipes turn out!  

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Corinne Evans
Avid blogger, go-to maid of honor, self-proclaimed fashionista, and not-so-secret watcher of reality television.

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