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close up of fried cake donut on a cooling rack

Classic Cake Donut Recipe

A classic fried cake donut recipe that makes the most delicious old fashioned donuts ever! Light and crispy on the outside, tender, moist, and cakey on the inside.
4.94 from 33 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves: 12 donuts
Calories: 342kcal


Cake Donut Recipe

  • 4 ounces (112 g) unsalted butter softened but not melted
  • 5 ounces (140 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 6 ounces (168 g) buttermilk room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 15 ounces (420 g) All-Purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 32 ounces (896 g) lard or oil for frying (4 cups)

Classic Donut Glaze Recipe

  • 5 ounces (140 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or water

Chocolate Donut Glaze

  • 4 ounces (112 g) chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup or glucose/honey
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon


  • FryDaddy Deep fryer or heavy pot with thermometer
  • Slotted spoon or spatula
  • Sheet pan with cooling rack


For The Donuts

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle or the whisk attachment, cream the softened butter and the sugar on medium high speed until the mixture is light in color and fluffy.
  • While mixing on low, add in one egg, let it mix in and then add in the second egg and mix on medium speed until everything is smooth and combined
  • Add in the buttermilk and the vanilla and mix until combined
  • While mixing on low, add in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg and mix until the dough is combined. Do not over-mix. The dough will be sticky.
  • Lightly flour your work surface and transfer the sticky dough to the floured surface.
  • Press the dough down lightly until its about 1" thick.
  • Fold the dough over onto itself 3-4 times until the dough is smooth.
  • Flatten the dough down to about 1/2" or use a rolling pin. Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes while your oil is heating up.
  • Turn on your FryDaddy or begin heating your oil to 360ºF-375ºF (182ºC -190ºC). Set up a draining station for the donuts by placing a cooling rack over a sheet pan to catch the oil.
  • Use a donut cutter or ring cutter to cut out the donuts. You can press together the scraps and roll them out again to get as many donuts as you can. Just keep in mind the more you work the dough, the tougher the donuts will get.
  • Add the donut to the hot oil using your slotted spoon to lower it gently. Fry the donut for 2 minutes then flip it over and fry it for 1 more minute.
  • Fry your donut holes for about 1 minute, stirring and pushing them down with your spoon until golden brown on the outsides. 
  • Transfer the dough to a cooling rack over a sheet pan to let the oil drain away from the donut
  • Once your donuts are cooked you can roll them in powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, glaze them with donut glaze or chocolate glaze!
  • Store donuts in a paper bag at room temperature for up to two days. They are best eaten fresh! Do not refrigerate.

Classic Donut Glaze Recipe

  • Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl and add the milk (or water). Whisk together to combine, add more powdered sugar to make it thicker or more milk to make it thinner.

Chocolate Donut Glaze

  • In a medium sized bowl, add the heavy cream, butter and corn syrup to the chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir together until the chocolate is melted. Microwave for another 15 seconds if needed.


Common mistakes when making cake donuts

1. Using the wrong pot
Donuts expand much more than you think while frying, so you want to be sure to use a big enough (and tall enough) pot. To avoid a crazy messy kitchen. I like to use a really tall pot or a fry daddy that could hold at least double the oil that I need.
2. Overmixing/undermixing
Cake donuts only need to be mixed until combined, while yeast donuts require much more mixing. Make sure to follow the directions carefully to avoid having a really tough cake donut. 
3. Use a thermometer 
A good thermometer is easy to find at most grocery stores or online and is only about $10-15. Seriously, if you're going to make donuts it's best to just buy one. There are other tricks out there about how to test your oil, but if you're putting the effort in to make donuts you don't want them to be under/over fried. Make sure to continue to test the temperature of your oil before putting in new donuts, as the degree can fluctuate easily. 
4. Frying at too low or high of a temperature
The temperature you fry your donuts at is very important. Fry too low and it will take too long for the donuts to cook, letting the oil seep into the dough and making for soggy donuts. Fry too high and it could burn the sides of the donuts too quickly, resulting in an undercooked center. 
5. Draining your donuts incorrectly
A common misconception is that donuts should be drained directly on paper towels. I recently learned that it's actually best to drain them on a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch the oil. This keeps the donuts from sitting in their own oil on the paper towels, making them extra crispy! 


Serving: 1donut | Calories: 342kcal (17%) | Carbohydrates: 53g (18%) | Protein: 5g (10%) | Fat: 12g (18%) | Saturated Fat: 7g (35%) | Cholesterol: 62mg (21%) | Sodium: 237mg (10%) | Potassium: 139mg (4%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 26g (29%) | Vitamin A: 400IU (8%) | Calcium: 62mg (6%) | Iron: 2mg (11%)