Sourdough Donuts

How to make delicious sourdough donut discard donuts! Super fast, easy, and oh so tasty!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Print Recipe
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 12 donuts
Sourdough Donut recipe

Using sourdough discard in your baked goods can add so much depth of flavor and is a great way to use up that discard. From muffins and quickbreads to pikelets and pancakes, it can be used in almost any baked good. Sourdough discard isn’t used to give rise to the donuts in this case, just an ingredient to add flavor and texture. Try some of my other recipes like traditional cake donuts and pumpkin spice donuts. 

Sourdough Donut recipe

Sourdough Discard

sourdough discard in a glass measuring cup

Sourdough discard is what you have leftover after you feed your sourdough starter. There are a ton of great sourdough discard recipes out there like my sourdough pikelets or sourdough pancakes. They are great ways to use up that discard instead of throwing it away. Bonus points, they taste amazing! 

If you have no idea what sourdough starter is, check out my sourdough starter recipe. And while you’re at it, try out making my beginner sourdough bread too! 

 

Sourdough Donut Ingredients

sourdough donut ingredients

Nothing surprising here for the ingredients except I like to use buttermilk instead of regular milk in my sourdough donut recipe. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own buttermilk substitute. Of course, you will also need one cup of sourdough discard. 

Sourdough Donut Recipe Step-By-Step 

Make sure your eggs, milk, and butter are all room temperature so that the ingredients combine together well. If your eggs or milk are too cold, they will not mix with the butter and your donuts won’t rise properly. 

Step 1 – After you have fed your sourdough starter, save the discard in a separate bowl. You should have about a cup. If you have a little more or less, that’s fine. You can make up the difference with buttermilk. pouring sourdough discard into a measuring cup

Step 2 – In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. About 2 minutes using a hand mixer, or longer if you’re using a whisk. 

creaming butter and sugar with a hand mixer in a clear bowl

Step 3 – While mixing on low, add in the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until combined. Remember, make sure they are room temp or even a little warm or they won’t mix in properly.

mixing eggs with butter and sugar with a hand mixer in a glass bowl

Step 4 – While mixing on low, add in the sourdough discard, buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. 

mixing sourdough donut ingredients in a glass bowl

Step 5 – Sprinkle in the flour and combine on low until the dough comes together. It will be sticky. 

adding flour to the sourdough donut mixture

sourdough donut dough in a glass bowl

Step 6 – Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press it down with your hand to about 1″ tall. Fold the dough over onto itself 3-4 times until it looks a bit smoother but don’t overwork it or the dough will get tough. 

sourdough donut dough on a floured white table

Step 7 – Press the dough down to about 1/2″ thick and dust with a bit of flour. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Now is the perfect time to start heating up your oil. I’m using a frydaddy because it heats the temperature automatically but you can also use a large heavy pot like a dutch oven and 2″ of lard or shortening. Heat on medium heat until the temperature reaches 360º-375ºF. This should take about 15 minutes. 

close up of infrared gun in front of fry daddy

Bring the oil to a temperature between 360ºF-375ºF (182ºC-190ºC). You can save yourself a lot of headaches by using a candy thermometer or infrared heat thermometer to measure the temperature of your oil. 

Step 8 – Use a donut cutter or metal ring cutter to cut out the donuts. (You can also use a cup or a can if you don’t have a metal cutter.) Try to leave as little space as possible between the donuts. Set the holes aside to fry at the end. Press the leftover scraps together and continue cutting donuts. You should get 10-12 donuts with a 4″ cutter. More if you’re using a smaller cutter. 

uncooked donuts on a white table next to a cooling rack and frydaddy

Step 9 – Use a slotted spatula or skimmer to lower the donut into the hot oil. Do not drop the dough or it could splash up on you and burn you. The doughnut will start bubbling a ton at first then settle down as a crispy outer layer develops.

Temperature is very important when frying donuts. Too hot and the donuts will be very dark on the outside and raw in the middle. Too cold and the donut will absorb a lot of oil before it develops a crust on the outside which prevents oil from getting inside the donut.

donut frying in a frydaddy

Step 10 – Fry the donut for about 2 minutes on one side then flip over and fry for another 1 minute. Remove the donut from the oil with the slotted spoon and transfer to a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Fry your donut holes at the end for about 1 minute, stirring and pushing them down with your spoon until golden brown.

Don’t add too many donuts to the oil. It causes the heat of the oil to drop drastically and could make your donuts oily. Fry 2 or 3 donuts at a time depending on the size of your pot.

Step 11 – You can now glaze your donuts or roll them in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. See the recipes below. 

sourdough donuts on a cooling rack over a sheetpan

DONUT TOPPINGS

Sourdough donuts aren’t very sweet, so pairing them with a glaze adds the perfect amount of flavor. You can even jazz up the glaze a bit by adding some cinnamon, maple syrup, lemon, orange or even chai. 

Glaze – Simply combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar with 2 Tablespoons of milk (or water) and whisk until smooth. 

adding glaze to sourdough donut on a cooling rack

Powdered sugar – You can simply roll your donuts in powdered sugar for truly the simplest way to finish your donuts off.

Cinnamon sugar – Combine 1 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon and roll your donuts in the mixture.

WHAT OIL IS BEST FOR FRYING DONUTS?

The best oil to use for deep frying is one that has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor. In my research I found the best oils to use are peanut oil or vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, or lard. Here are the pros and cons of each. 

I prefer to use Lard because it is dairy-free, creates a very crisp outer layer on the donuts, and is minimally processed.

Lard – Neutral flavor, dairy-free, higher in saturated fat than Crisco. (See my cake donut recipe for more info.)

Crisco (vegetable shortening) – Neutral flavor but is made of soybean oil, fully hydrogenated palm oil, and other additives including trans fats in small amounts. 

Vegetable oil – least amount of saturated fat, leaves an unpleasant taste on fried foods and in the air.

block of lard in front of packaging on a white surface

WHAT POT IS BEST FOR FRYING DONUTS?

The best pot to use is a heavy pot like a dutch oven with high sides or a fry daddy which regulates the temperature for you. Never fill your pot more than half full of oil. You really only need about 2″ of oil to fry sourdough donuts. 

I used to use a FryDaddy as a kid, I feel like everyone growing up in the 80s and 90s had one! They are super inexpensive and make a great place to store the leftover oil after frying. Just pop the lid back on and store it away until the next use. 

WHAT TEMPERATURE IS BEST FOR FRYING DONUTS?

sourdough donut on a skimmer above frydaddy

Donuts of all kinds fry best at a temperature between 360ºF-375ºF (182ºC-190ºC). You can save yourself a lot of headaches by using a candy thermometer or infrared heat thermometer to measure the temperature of your oil. 

Remember, the oil temp will drop a few degrees every time you add donuts so don’t overcrowd the pot. 2-3 donuts at a time max for a large stockpot or fry daddy. 

glazed sourdough donuts on a plate

CAN I BAKE THESE DONUTS IN THE OVEN?

No, this sourdough donut recipe will only work with a deep fryer. I tried air frying them during my tests, and they turned out very dry and hard. Typically you can take almost any cake recipe and pipe them into a donut pan to make baked cake donuts. EASY! 

HOW LONG DO SOURDOUGH DONUTS LAST?

You can store your in a ziplock bag at room temperature for up to three days. The outer layer will soften after 24 hours. 

closeup of sourdough donut cut in half

 

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
Sourdough Donut recipe

Sourdough Donuts

How to make delicious sourdough donut discard donuts! Super fast, easy, and oh so tasty!
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 12 donuts
Calories: 315kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces (113 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 4 ounces (113 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 8 ounces (224 g) sourdough starter discard
  • 2 ounces (56 g) buttermilk room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 13 ounces (364 g) All-Purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 32 ounces (896 g) lard (or vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut oil or shortening) for frying

Glaze

  • 6 ounces (168 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or water

Equipment

  • Frydaddy (or heavy pot like a dutch oven)
  • Skimmer or slotted spoon
  • Cooling rack
  • Sheet pan

Instructions

The donut dough

  • After you have fed your sourdough starter, save the discard in a separate bowl. You should have about a cup. If you have a little more or less, that's fine. You can make up the difference with buttermilk.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. About 2 minutes using a hand mixer, or longer if you're using a whisk. 
  • While mixing on low, add in the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until combined. (Remember to make sure they are room temp or even a little warm or they won't mix in properly.)
  • While mixing on low, add in the sourdough discard, buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. 
  • Sprinkle in the flour and combine on low until the dough comes together. It will be sticky. 

Cutting and frying the donuts

  • Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press it down with your hand to about 1″ tall. Fold the dough over onto itself 3-4 times until it looks a bit smoother but don’t overwork it or the dough will get tough. 
  • Press the dough down to about 1/2″ thick and dust with a bit of flour. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Now is the perfect time to start heating up your oil. Use a large heavy pot like a dutch oven and 2" of oil. (About 4 cups.) Heat on medium heat until the temperature reaches 360º-375ºF. This should take about 15 minutes. 
  • Use a donut cutter or metal ring cutter to cut out the donuts. (Don't forget to cut out the centers.) Try to leave as little space as possible between the donuts. Set the holes aside to fry at the end. Press the leftover scraps together and continue cutting donuts. You should get 10-12 donuts with a 4″ cutter. More if you’re using a smaller cutter. 
  • Use a slotted spatula or skimmer to lower the donut into the hot oil. The doughnut will start bubbling a ton at first then settle down as a crispy outer layer develops. Fry for 2 minutes, flip the donut and fry for 1 more minute.
  • Remove the donut from the oil with the slotted spoon and transfer to a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Fry your donut holes at the end for about 1 minute, stirring and pushing them down with your spoon until golden brown. Let your donuts cool before using.

The glaze

  • In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar with 2 Tablespoons of water (or milk) and whisk until smooth. Add more water for a thinner glaze, or more powdered sugar for a thicker glaze. Grasp the sides of each donut and dunk the top into the glaze, or drizzle on the glaze.
  • Store your donuts in a plastic or paper bag at room temperature for about 3 days, the crispy outer layer will soften over time.

Notes

Sourdough Discard Donut Notes
  1. If you have no idea what sourdough starter is, check out my sourdough starter recipe.
  2. If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own buttermilk substitute.
  3. Make sure your eggs, buttermilk, and butter are all room temperature so that the ingredients combine together well. If your eggs or milk are too cold, they will not mix with the butter and your donuts won’t rise properly. 
  4. Bring the oil to a temperature between 360ºF-375ºF (182ºC-190ºC). You can save yourself a lot of headaches by using a candy thermometer or infrared heat thermometer to measure the temperature of your oil. 
  5. I use a FryDaddy to fry my donuts because it regulates the temperature while frying, but you can also use a deep heavy pot with high sides. Make sure to test the temperature of the oil frequently.
  6. Don't add too many donuts to the oil. It causes the heat of the oil to drop drastically and could make your donuts oily. Fry 2 or 3 donuts at a time depending on the size of your pot.
  7. The best oil to use for deep frying is one that has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor. In my research I found the best oils to use are peanut oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, vegetable shortening, or lard. I prefer to use Lard because it is dairy-free, creates a very crisp outer layer on the donuts, and is minimally processed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1donut | Calories: 315kcal (16%) | Carbohydrates: 52g (17%) | Protein: 7g (14%) | Fat: 9g (14%) | Saturated Fat: 5g (25%) | Cholesterol: 52mg (17%) | Sodium: 130mg (5%) | Potassium: 299mg (9%) | Fiber: 4g (16%) | Sugar: 24g (27%) | Vitamin A: 4083IU (82%) | Vitamin C: 27mg (33%) | Calcium: 231mg (23%) | Iron: 2mg (11%)

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