Home Culture Behind the Gluten-Free Doughnuts Taking Hoboken by Storm: Hayley’s Donut

Behind the Gluten-Free Doughnuts Taking Hoboken by Storm: Hayley’s Donut

by Jennifer Tripucka
Attain Medspa
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Celiac disease and gluten-intolerances are on the rise, but lucky for so many, finding delicious desserts and gluten-free items are becoming more easily accessible as of late. In Hoboken, one woman is fiercely making her way into the gluten-free doughnut space and wow-ing locals in Hoboken and Jersey City one bite at a time: Meet Liz Sperman of Hayley’s Donut, a local gluten-free and nut-free doughnut company specializing in artisanal doughnuts. If you attended The Hoboken Girl x Yoga Renew Women Entrepreneurs event in March or a Hayley’s Donut pop-up in the area, you know that these doughnuts are incredible — and it’s honestly hard to figure out how there isn’t gluten inside each bite. Yes, they’re that good. Read on for our chat with Liz Sperman, all about how she got started in the dessert field, as well as where to find Hayley’s Donut next in the Hoboken and Jersey City area.

liz sperman hayleys donut

Photo Credit: Courtney Collins, NonLinear Knitting

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How Hayley’s Donut Came to Be

Liz was working in corporate marketing and didn’t feel fully fulfilled in her career, so like many entrepreneurs, she was seeking something that would make better use of her creativity. “I had always loved the food industry, going back to my restaurant jobs after college. My niece Hayley had been diagnosed with Celiac a few years prior, and living in upstate NY her options were limited. Even here in Hoboken, there were no gluten-free bakeries at the time,” she shared.

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hayleys donuts gluten free hoboken

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In actuality, the idea just came on a whim to Liz, and it just seemed like such a no-brainer.

“At first I thought I would do a general GF bakery but then at some point, I realized that there were not a lot of gluten-free donut options, just a lot of doughnut-shaped cake being passed off as the real thing,” she explained.

Since deciding to start her own business, Liz spent over nine years gaining experience in various bakery and food service externships. Her resume has racked up positions that include barista, cake decorator, production supervisor for a gluten-free cake bites startup, supervisor on a doughnut food truck, as well as business manager for a top-12 allergen-free bakery in Connecticut — all to focus on her dessert company as the end goal.

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Read More: Where to Find Gluten-Free Baked Goods in Hoboken + Jersey City

Liz sold her first doughnut in the fall of 2022, and soft launched with private “drops’ on scheduled days and in small markets locally.

More recently, she’s been doing pop-ups at local businesses, including selling out at Mojo Coffee in uptown Hoboken last weekend in just two hours, and an Easter pop-up at Cork Wines in Hoboken this Saturday from 3PM-7PM.

The Doughnuts, or Donuts (— both are correct, btw)

hayleys donuts gluten free hoboken

The flavors and quality of Hayley’s Donut are truly what sets it apart from many gluten-free doughnut options (and trust us, we’ve tried a lot — not that those aren’t great as well).

Author’s note: This is absolutely my *own* opinion, but it’s hard to tell you’re even eating a gluten-free doughnut, it’s that delicious.

As far as the process, Liz explains that it is “lots of research and lots of trial and error! It’s not always a straight line, that’s for sure.”

hayleys donuts gluten free hoboken

Often, Liz shares, there is an upcoming event or holiday, or something that is currently ‘in season’ that gets her thinking. “I also rely on personal taste.” Some of the flavors recently rising to the top are the Not Quite Cheesecake flavor and the chocolate doughnut holes.

“Some people are fruit people and others are chocolate people, so it depends! I get a lot of LOVE for the chocolate, and the apple cider doughnuts are really delicious and popular in the fall.”

hayleys donuts gluten free hoboken

Her inspiration comes from various sources, with a unique spin. “I don’t love every flavor combination, so I try to allow myself to be open to creating things that other people like even if it’s not my favorite, but it’s while you’ll find less fruit and chocolate or sweet and salty combinations on the menu.”



In Her Own Words:

hayleys donuts hoboken liz sperman

^ The doughnut holes are a MUST when you order. We bought some last weekend at the Mojo pop-up!

We asked Liz to share a bit more about the ups and downs of the business journey that she’s taken to get here. Here’s what she said:

“Balancing my creativity with my productivity, and not letting perfection slow me down [has been hard]. I see making doughnuts as an art form and sometimes I spend a lot of time focused on delivering a product that meets my high standards. Having a background in corporate marketing I feel it’s incumbent on me to not only put out a good product but also present it well, and when you’re a business owner doing ALL the things this can sometimes be at odds with getting your product out there. But, I see every situation as an opportunity to learn and grow and I know that my long-term success is based on this just as much as it is based on having an amazing product.”

And on what people don’t know, that they should, about doughnuts:

“Making doughnuts is a science!! Not just having the right recipe, but frying in the right temperature all impact the rise and consistency. But the toppings too! Heat impacts the viscosity of the glaze or icing. And the PH impacts natural colors. Sometimes I wonder if I make doughnuts or teach chemistry!”

hayleys donuts gluten free hoboken

One her biggest inspiration:

“This is a hard one because I am inspired by niece Hayley of course, as well as all the countless individuals who haven’t had a good donut in years. But throughout the journey, I have also gotten a ton of inspiration through music. There are a few musicians in particular whose influence in my life has helped me overcome insecurities and made me feel capable of doing anything! I have big dreams and one of them is to make donuts for them one day (hint: one is secretly GF and another is vegan).”

What’s Next?

As for future dreams of her business, Liz says, “I hope to ultimately grow the business so I can afford to have a dedicated kitchen and retail space. She currently works out of Bellamy Kitchen, a commercial kitchen space in Union City, to create the treats.

There’s also a vegan doughnut, coming soon (as those with dairy allergies or vegans should note — the gluten-free doughnuts are not dairy-free).

“I am inspired to give people the opportunity to experience great tasting food, specifically doughnuts, despite their special dietary requirements,” said Liz. And she’s certainly making a lot of gluten-free doughnut dreams come true.

See More: Celiac? Here’s a List of Fully Gluten-Free Bakeries in New Jersey

Where to Find Hayley’s Donut

Hayley’s Donut will also be at Cork Wines, located at 1450 Washington Street, on March 30th from 3PM-7PM, though we can’t guarantee that the treats won’t sell out. A few additional pop-ups in April and May are listed on the site’s homepage, plus a few others are in the works, according to Liz.

“Last year we were regulars at the Handmade Market at Grove Sreet in Jersey City and the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Hoboken, and we’ll be finalizing our market schedule in the coming weeks with hopes to be returning to both as well as expanding further geographically,” she told The Hoboken Girl team.

Custom orders are the way to go if you’re looking to get some doughnuts on your own schedule, which you can reach out via email to orders@hayleysdonut.com. Follow Liz and her journey with Hayley’s Donut here and here.

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