Sourdough donuts

Like donuts but don’t like their intense sweetness and stickiness? Feel like eating a sturdier donut that has a good bite and flavour of itself? Try making sourdough donuts! They are still light dough balls, but have a ton of flavour by themselves and feel a bit more substantial.


Donuts probably don’t need an introduction, do they? Most of you will be familiar with the circles of fried dough, covered with shiny sweet glazing. The dough tends to be very soft, not crispy at all.

Let’s dive a little deeper though, a little bit of donut science. The bread dough of a donut remains very soft and not as dry as for instance a bread dough would. In order to maintain this softness several adjustments have to be done. Donut doughs tend to contain a lot of water and working with them can be a tricky business. Another trick is to use a water roux to keep the dough even more moist and soft.

That said, donuts do require development of gluten, so have to be kneaded quite well. They also contain yeast and thus have to be risen before being fried. This is important to make a light and fluffy donut. The yeast produces air bubbles and those aerate the dough during rising but also during frying.

Sourdough donuts

That said though, I don’t really like normale donuts that much. And since I’ve been baking a lot with sourdough recently, I wanted to try and see whether I could use it for something else. I’ve got my own starter, which I’ve managed to keep alive for months without any trouble so far. About time to use it for making sourdough donuts.

When baking with sourdough I like the fact that it’s easy to do a very long but gentle rise of the dough. All you need really is patience and time, the micro organisms do the work for you. During these long rising periods flavours get developed and even though sourdough might suggest a sour dough, it’s not. The sourdough starter might smell sour but the final product really isn’t. As a results, these donuts aren’t sour at all, nor are they highly sweet. On the contrary, it does have a depth of flavour that my other donut recipe didn’t.

If you’re like me and like a sturdier, firmer donut, instead of a very light and fluffy one, this is the one to try.

Sourdough donuts with brown sugar

Sourdough donut recipe

Sourdough donuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 donut balls
  • 150g sourdough starter
  • 75g flour
  • 25g sugar
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 90g milk
  • 25g butter
  1. Knead the flour, starter, sugar, salt and milk into a dough. Add the softened butter and mix it in well. It'll be a pretty sticky dough so it's by far easiest to do this with a standd mixer or even a proper whisk. With your hands will be challenging.
  2. Leave the dough to settle for about 30 minutes and knead another 5 minutes in a stand mixer. You will notice the dough is a lot more stretchy this second time around.
  3. Cover the dough and leave the dough to rest for 1-2 hours. If you don't want to use it immediately you can now also put it in the fridge and come back to it the next day.
  4. Take the dough from the container/bowl and lightly knead it through. Use ample flour, the dough is still sticky.
  5. In the meantime, pre-heat a pan with oil (at least 2 cm deep) to 160C. Form 12 balls of the dough. The balls might not keep their shape while resting, so just before throwing them into the oil, re-shape gently into a ball.
  6. Fry until both sides are a nice golden brown. It tends to take 4-8 minutes, try to keep the temperature of the oil between 150-160C. Too high and they will burn, too low and it will take very long for them to bake.
  7. Enjoy with some sugar sprinkled over or make an icing. It's best to eat them with a little bit of sweetness, but feel free to make it to your liking. You could even fill them.

If you’re looking for proper instructions on how to make the sourdough starter to make this recipe, have a look at the post fully dedicated on the topic of sourdough starters.

Want to learn more on how to fry foods best? Have a look at my post on frying, in which we use ‘oliebollen’ as an example, but it also goes up for donuts.

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