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Sourdough Donuts

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Sourdough donuts made with leftover sourdough discard are an easy and delicious breakfast treat your family won’t soon forget! With incredible texture and great sourdough flavor, you will want to make these again and again!

This easy and quick sourdough donut recipe is the perfect way to use sourdough discard. Delicious donuts with a slight sourdough tang, these will become the favorite weekend breakfast for the sourdough lover!
shallow bowl stacked with homemade sourdough donuts
plate with half a sourdough donut in front of other donuts

These donuts are an awesome way to use sourdough starter, especially when you are just starting out and getting to know your starter’s flavor. These homemade donuts are actually fairly simple and easy to make, and don’t require a lot of time or technical skill.

This recipe uses unfed sourdough discard, so we will be adding baking soda and baking powder to help give these donuts their lift. In this recipe, the sourdough starter gives the donuts a great texture and a deep sourdough flavor that isn’t too sour.

Other quick sourdough discard recipes:

child's hand taking sourdough donut off of small plate

Sourdough donuts are a delicious breakfast treat that are fairly quick and easy to make! You can have these special homemade donuts ready in under an hour, which makes them perfect for special mornings and weekend brunches!

These sourdough donuts are quick and easy to make, and give outstanding results!!!! They taste A-Maze-Ing!

I love that this sourdough doughnuts recipe doesn’t require proofing, so you can make these easy donuts anytime you have sourdough discard ready to use!

shallow bowl stacked with homemade sourdough donuts

What kind of starter does this recipe use?

This recipe works great with unfed sourdough discard that is room temperature. The best results come from starters that have been sitting on your counter and fed often, within the last day or two.

If your starter has been resting in the fridge and hasn’t been fed for a week or more, you can still use it to make this recipe, but know that you will have a lot more sourdough tang to the flavor, and the texture of your donuts will be more dense.

You can also use fed, active sourdough starter in this recipe. That will give you a really mild sourdough flavor and a little bit of a softer, more fluffy texture to the donuts (but not much more rise since this recipe does not require any fermentation time).

girl holding sourdough donut while wearing colorful dress

How to make sourdough donuts batter:

These donuts are quick and easy to make. For the full recipe, make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below – but here is an overview of how to make them!

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sourdough discard, milk, egg, and vegetable oil. 
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt,  and cinnamon.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Sprinkle some flour on your counter and dump the dough out of the bowl. 
  5. Knead 3 or 4 times, just until the dough comes together nicely. You aren’t trying to develop any gluten here, just make a nice dough.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a tiny bit of flour and gently roll the dough out until it is about 1 to 1.5” thick.
  7. Using a 3” circle biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. Make sure you use the cutter straight up and straight down, do not twist the cutter into the dough.
  8. You can gently reform the dough back together and roll out until you get 1 dozen donuts. 
  9. Use a small 1” biscuit cutter to cut a small hole in the center of each donut. 
  10. Continue cutting small circles out of any remaining donut dough to get as many donut holes as you can! 
collage showing steps to make sourdough donuts

Can I make this an overnight recipe? 

You bet! If you want to rest this dough in the fridge overnight, simply omit the baking soda and baking powder from the dough, cover the bowl with the dough and place it in the fridge overnight. Then in the morning, simply pat out your dough, cut, and fry them up!

Can I use this recipe to make filled donuts?

Of course! Simply skip the step where you cut the hole out of the center. Fry them up, let them cool, and then use a piping back to insert the filling of your choice into the center of each donut.

You can easily just make donut holes out of this recipe, too!

freshly cut sourdough donuts waiting to be fried

How to fry sourdough donuts:

To fry the donuts, you will need vegetable oil and a good heavy cast iron skillet.

  1. Fill the cast iron skillet with about 2” of vegetable oil. You want to make sure that there is enough oil to go up about half way your donuts plus a little extra so they can float on top. Don’t skimp on the oil. You need enough so that the donuts can float and cook properly.
  2. Heat the pan and the oil to about 360 F. This way the oil is hot enough to fry your doughnuts without them becoming overly greasy.
  3. While the oil is heating, you will need to prepare a place for the cooked donuts to cool and drain. My favorite way to do this is to place a cooling rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet, and then place paper towels on top of the cooling rack.
  4. When the oil is hot, place a few donuts into the oil. Do not crowd the pan – you want to make sure there is plenty of space between each donut so they cook right.
  5. Fry for just a minute or two, until the underside is golden brown.
  6. With a pair of tongs, carefully turn the donut over and allow to cook for a minute or two on the other side.
  7. Remove the donuts to the cooling pan and repeat until all the donuts and donut holes are cooked.
  8. While the donuts are still warm, coat them as you wish. See below for ideas on how to coat them.

*Note: Please remember that the oil and the pan are HOT and could cause injury. It is important to have everything set up and ready to go so you don’t feel rushed or crowded. It is also really important to be distraction free while you fry the donut so you can pay attenton to what you are doing.

collage showing steps to fry sourdough donuts

How to top sourdough donuts:

These donuts are great because there are so many ways to coat them. Your imagination is the only limit, but here are a few of my favorite ways:

  • Roll them in powdered sugar
  • Roll them in cinnamon sugar
  • Dunk them in a glaze made from powdered sugar and a little milk or water
  • Frost them with chocolate ganache or vanilla icing and add your favorite sprinkles
No matter how you choose to top them, they will all be delicious!!
sourdough donut holes covered in powdered sugar on patterned plate

How to serve these donuts:

These donuts are best when served slightly warmed after cooking. They are also good at room temperature, too. For a complete meal, serve these with an easy make ahead protein like breakfast egg muffins.

How to store homemade donuts:

These donuts are best right after they have been made, but you can save leftovers, too. Store them in a covered container with a lid. You want the lid to fit almost air-tight, but not quite. If the container is totally airtight, the donuts and glaze will become gummy. But if the container is totally open, the donuts will dry out. Try for a nice in between. Store them for up to 2 days.

stack of three sourdough donuts on stack of small plates

Kids in the kitchen: How your kids can help you cook

Getting your kids in the kitchen is an amazing way to help them be more interested in trying new foods and confident in their own abilities. 

This sourdough donut recipe is great because it helps them learn about rolling and using cutters and they get to practice their kneading. 

This recipe is perfect for beginner cooks because it is so easy! And it is a great recipe for kids to experiment and become more comfortable with new flavors and techniques – which means they are more likely to eat it!

  • Kids aged 1-3 can help you measure all the ingredients and add them to the mixing bowls.
  • Kids aged 4-6 can do everything above, plus help you whisk the ingredients together, knead the dough, and use the cutters to cut the donuts. They can also help you top the finished donuts.
  • Kids aged 7-10+ can help you do everything above, plus help you fry the donuts, with close supervision and direction. Make sure you go over oven safety rules and wear a thick apron to protect clothing, and tie back longer hair. Use longer tons or spatulas (ones meant for the grill are great), and make sure you are supervision and assisting with every single step. 

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.

three sourdough donuts on small plates beside filled bowl

Check out 10 more easy sourdough discard recipes!

shallow bowl stacked with homemade sourdough donuts

Sourdough Donuts

This easy and quick sourdough donut recipe is the perfect way to use sourdough discard. Delicious donuts with a slight sourdough tang, these will become the favorite weekend breakfast for the sourdough lover!
4.44 from 79 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Family Breakfast Recipes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 dozen
Calories: 166kcal
Author: Jenni – The Gingered Whisk

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sourdough starter
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • cup buttermilk regular milk will do, too!
  • oil for frying.

Instructions

Making the donut batter

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sourdough discard, milk, egg, and vegetable oil.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Sprinkle some flour on your counter and dump the dough out of the bowl.
  • Knead 3 or 4 times, just until the dough comes together nicely. You aren’t trying to develop any gluten here, just make a nice dough.
  • Sprinkle the top of the dough with a tiny bit of flour and gently roll the dough out until it is about 1 to 1.5” thick.
  • Using a 3” circle biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. Make sure you use the cutter straight up and straight down, do not twist the cutter into the dough. You can gently reform the dough back together and roll out until you get 1 dozen donuts.
  • Use a small 1” biscuit cutter to cut a small hole in the center of each donut.
    Continue cutting small circles out of any remaining donut dough to get as many donut holes as you can!

Frying the donuts

  • Fill the cast iron skillet with about 2” of vegetable oil. You want to make sure that there is enough oil to go up about half way your donuts plus a little extra so they can float on top. Don’t skimp on the oil. You need enough so that the donuts can float and cook properly.
  • Heat the pan and the oil to about 360 F. This way the oil is hot enough to fry your doughnuts without them becoming overly greasy.
  • While the oil is heating, you will need to prepare a place for the cooked donuts to cool and drain. My favorite way to do this is to place a cooling rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet (affiliate link), and then place paper towels on top of the cooling rack.
  • When the oil is hot, place a few donuts into the oil. Do not crowd the pan – you want to make sure there is plenty of space between each donut so they cook right.
  • Fry for just a minute or two, until the underside is golden brown. With a pair of tongs, carefully turn the donut over and allow to cook for a minute or two on the other side.
  • Remove the donuts to the cooling pan and repeat until all the donuts and donut holes are cooked.
  • While the donuts are still warm, coat them as you wish. See below for ideas on how to coat them.

Notes

These donuts are great because there are so many ways to coat them. Your imagination is the only limit, but here are a few of my favorite ways:
  • Roll them in powdered sugar
  • Roll them in cinnamon sugar
  • Dunk them in a glaze made from powdered sugar and a little milk or water
  • Frost them with chocolate ganache or vanilla icing and add your favorite sprinkles

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 210mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g
This easy and quick sourdough donut recipe is the perfect way to use sourdough discard. Delicious donuts with a slight sourdough tang, these will become the favorite weekend breakfast for the sourdough lover!
a close up of a sourdough donut with bite taken out of it next to cup of coffee
three donuts stacked
close up image of sourdough donut holes
close up of three donuts with glaze, cinnamon sugar, and powdered sugar toppings
table spread with donuts and donut holes

44 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, I am so craving a donut and a cup of coffee right now after that first picture… I LOVE that you glazed some of your donuts – I bet they were AMAZING!!! Yum.

    1. How long would you bake these for and at what temp, instead of frying?

      1. Hi Stacey! I have not tried baking these, so I can only guess. I would start at 350 for about 15 minutes. You might have to adjust the time – could be anywhere from 12-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them! If you try this, report back and let me know how it goes!

  2. Lisa Taylor says:

    Now I'm even more bummed I killed Herbie at the worst time. Your donuts look amazing! These need a tweet..all of them do! Love the website and the name!

    1. Dang Lisa, good thing the police don’t usually check baking blogs for murder confessions. RIP Herbie, she can’t hurt you now.

  3. Those doughnuts look great!

    I was wondering, was the starter you used active (i.e. 4-5 hours after feeding) or not?

  4. Those doughnuts look great!

    I was wondering, was the starter you used active (i.e. 4-5 hours after feeding) or not?

    1. Hi David! I almost always use my starter without feeding it. I usually take it out of the fridge for 30 minutes or so, divide it in half, feed half and put it back in the fridge and then use the other half (the "discard") for a recipe. Technically speaking, that's not the proper way to do it, but I'm lazy, haha, so that's how I do it!

  5. I have made these everyday since I found this recipe on Pinterest! Out-of-this world! My kids are sooo happy. I do change the recipe a bit – I use spelt flour and rapadura in place of the sugar! WE LOVE THEM! And ready in 15 minutes! Thank you! I love your blog!

  6. We have made these everyday since finding you recipe! It is soooo easy, and only takes 15 minutes! I altered the recipe a bit to fit our dietary needs I use spelt flour , and I use Rapadura instead of sugar. They are heavenly! Thank you!

  7. Ima Purnomo says:

    So good that I found myself keep grabbing for more. Thanks for the recipe. It’s awesome

    1. So glad you enjoyed it!!

  8. These donuts are PERFECTION!! I tasted one without the glaze and thought, hmm, taste a little healthy. But then I put glaze on and realized they were actually perfect!!! Not too sweet, just right. I’m going to link them on a sourdough recipe roundup, if you don’t mind.

  9. can non dairy milk, like almond milk, replace the milk in this recipe?

    1. I haven’t tried it this way, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! If you give it a try, come back and let me know how it goes!

  10. Do you know if you can make this in air fryer?

    1. Hi Carlie! I haven’t tried them in the air fryer, but I bet you could! If you test it out, report back with how it goes! I will update my post with any information you have to add!

    2. I commented below, but I did them for around 9 minutes (I kept checking, they probably could have stayed in a minute or 2 longer) at 325, flipping halfway through. 🙂 another recipe said 7 min total at 350. Hopefully that helps someone else decide to try this recipe because it was great!

  11. these are so good! I ate 2 as soon as I got them finished. LOLOL. Thank you for sharing the recipe! Is there a way to adapt them to make them apple? what would I substitute for what? maybe applesauce instead of oil?

    1. Hi Lisa! I am so glad you enjoyed them! You could try substituting the oil for applesauce. You could also try adding in some finely shredded peeled apple for extra flavor, too. That will change the texture a little bit, but I bet they would still be great!

  12. Hi! Thank you so much for the recipe! I made a slightly modified version (basically I wanted to make a half batch but use an entire egg – just lowered the oil/milk) and put them in an air fryer (after spraying with oil) at 325 for a total of around 9 minutes, flipping halfway through, and they were great! (The instructions I saw on another recipe for non-sourdoigh air fryer donuts said total of 7 at 350 but the “baking” setting on mine is 325 so I just went with it). Im sure they would be even more delicious actually fried though 😉 All came together in around 30 minutes which was awesome! I will definitely make these again 🙂

  13. Hi! Its my first time making donuts— and everything sourdough in general! 🙂 What is the required day/age of the starter discard to use for this recipe? Mine is at day 7. Would that be good enough for this recipe even if it doesn’t pass float test? Than you!!

    1. Hi! I bet day 7 would work just fine!

  14. Hi! Can I swap the oil for butter (ingredients)? Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you!

    1. I have not tried using butter in place of the olive oil in the donuts. It would probably work fine. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  15. Hi,
    Not sure why but my dough is so wet & i added more flour & ended up the doughnut is hard…
    I think mayb my starter discard is abit more watery

    1. Hi Carine! Sorry you had trouble with this! Do you keep your starter at a 100% hydration rate? How long was it since you fed your starter when you made this recipe?

  16. I am an Iowa girl as well! I’m fairly new to sourdough starter, but I’m enjoying trying new recipes. My question is: should your dough be rolled out to 2 inches thick before cutting out your doughnuts? This seems really thick, but since I’ve never made them before, I wanted to double check the instructions before I get started. Thank you.

    1. Yes! Roll it nice and thick! It will help your donuts be great!

  17. Hi, we’ve made these donuts twice and loved them! This time I want to mix them up the night before and fry them in the morning. I saw you said to leave out the baking soda and powder. Do you add those in the morning, or does the leavening effect of the sourdough take their place? Thanks for this great recipe!

    1. Yes, you can just totally leave them out if you do an overnight rise!

  18. Have you ever made these ahead and put them in the freezer? If yes, did they taste just as good after thawing ?

    1. Hi Jessica! I have not tried freezing these, so I am not sure how that would work. If you try it, let me know!

  19. HC Spaulding says:

    Isn’t 2 inch thick dough a little thick for a donut?

    1. I think 2″ is a great thickness, however if you want them thinner, roll them thinner!

      1. H Spaulding says:

        I’ll give it a try. May need to raise the roof first tho’

  20. I made these last night but vegan, replaced the egg with a flax egg (applesauce would work too) and almond milk. They came out great! I also used my sourdough discard instead of super fresh starter:)

  21. What kind of flour do you use? All purpose? Thanks!

    1. Yes, all purpose flour!

  22. Fabulous! Thanks for this keeper.

  23. Tried these for national doughnut day. The dough was way too soft and hard to handle.That batch soaked up too much oil. They look like dog turds but are wonderfully crispy! I added quite a bit of flour to the remaining dough and that batch looks like doughnuts, but are a little tough. It may be the humidity here in Florida. I’ll add more flour to start next time so I only have to roll out the dough once. Great recipe overall!

    1. Hi Patty! Yeah, humidity can play an affect, as well as the consistency of your starter and how recently it has been fed or if you used active starter. Also how you scoop and measure flour affects it, too! The dough is supposed to be soft but also easy to work with. Make sure your oil is nice and hot in between batches, that will help the donuts not soak up too much oil! Glad you enjoyed the donuts!

  24. New to sour dough baking and every week I try a new recipe using the discard. This recipe worked great! Perfect texture and taste. Another recipe to add to my collection. I tried baking and frying, frying wins, hands down!

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