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Simple Glazed Sourdough Starter Doughnuts Recipe

If you’re looking for a simple recipe for glazed sourdough donuts that uses up some of your starter, look no further! Made without commercial yeast, these doughnuts come together quickly and easily.

Sourdough donuts  piled together that are glazed, dipped in powdered sugar, and covered with chocolate icing.

I’m on a mission to make anything and everything I can out of my sourdough starter, and my brain is constantly turning over ways to give the depth of flavor and texture that sourdough lends to pretty much any and every baked good.  And given my undying love for donuts, they were one of the first things to be given the sourdough treatment once my starter was proven to be hearty.

Some sourdough baked goods have a reputation for being time consuming and temperamental. These glazed sourdough donuts definitely don’t fall into that category–the dough comes together in minutes.

After a short rise you can choose your own adventure by either cutting out donuts then and there or chill the dough overnight. After another rise of about an hour, you’re ready to fry, glaze, and eat those beauties.

What Makes Sourdough Donuts Taste so Good?

The short answer is the fermentation in the sourdough starter. It adds a depth of flavor to the donuts, and gives them a slightly glutenous texture that’s both light and fluffy, with a hint of chewiness.

Sourdough donuts on a tray.

A Simple, Glazed Sourdough Starter Doughnuts Recipe

Glazed Sourdough Donut Ingredients

The ingredients in this recipe are straightforward and simple. You’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour is the glue that holds it all together
  • White sugar — any granulated white sugar works well, but I like to use organic sugar for a less-processed option
  • Salt — fine ground sea salt works best, but you could substitute table salt in a pinch
  • Nutmeg — it gives your donuts that subtle, classic donut shop flavor.
  • Milk — as always, I recommend whole milk, because fat = more flavor and better textures. But any kind of milk will work in this donut recipe.
  • Canola or Avocado oil — Any flavorless oil will work in this recipe. Avocado is the healthier choice but vegetable or canola will work well also.
  • Egg — a large egg adds so much to the texture of these donuts!
  • Active sourdough starter — Your starter should have visible bubbles, but it’s ok if it’s starting to deflate.

For the Glaze:

  • Milk –I bet you’d never guess I was going to say whole milk is best.
  • Powdered sugar — sift it before making your glaze to avoid the lumpies
  • Vanilla extract — the vanilla’s really going to shine here, so use the good stuff

Making the Dough

  1. Start by mixing the dry ingredients–flour, sugar, and salt– together.
  2. Next, add in all of the wet ingredients -sourdough starter, milk, oil, and egg-into the same bowl.
  3. Stir until they come together into a dough. It will be sticky and rough looking.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead it with floured hands for two to three minutes, or until it looks smooth. You’re not going for a lot of gluten development, rather a well combined dough.
  5. Tuck your ball of dough into a clean bowl and cover with a towel. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. At this point, you can put the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Cutting out the Donuts

After the resting period roll the dough out on a floured surface to 3/8″-1/2″ thick. Cut out your donuts (see the section below on donut shapes) and move them to a baking sheet that’s lined with lightly floured parchment paper.

Cover the donuts lightly with a clean kitchen towel. Let them rest and rise for at least and hour. They won’t rise dramatically, but the dough should look puffed and give easily when you touch it with a gentle finger.

How to Make Overnight Sourdough Doughnuts

If you want to make the donut dough the night before frying, you absolutely can! After kneading and letting the dough rest, cover it with plastic wrap or something that won’t let it dry out. Place it in the refrigerator.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator 1.5-2 hours before frying to give it a chance to come to room temperature.

Roll, cut, and fry the donuts once they’ve risen.

Frying the Sourdough Donuts

  1. Before frying, set out a large baking sheet with a cooling rack over it and make sure that everything is ready for you to fry the donuts without being distracted. You are working with very hot oil, and need to avoid distractions while frying.
  2. Heat at 3-4″ of oil to 350° in a medium sized, heavy-bottomed pan. Use an instant read or fry thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil. It will seem to heat slowly at first, but then more quickly as it gets hotter.
  3. Use a slotted metal spoon or spatula to carefully set 2 or 3 of the donuts in and fry for about 90 seconds on each side, or until each side is golden brown. They will sink to the bottom at first, but should rise to the top of the oil after a few seconds.
  4. With the same metal spatula, lift the donuts out onto the cooling rack.
  5. Allow the donuts to cool, then glaze, frost, or decorate however you’d like.


Dipping a donut in the chocolate ganache glaze.

Tips on How to Make the Best Sourdough Donuts

  • These donuts don’t really have a sour flavor. Standard sourdough breads have a long fermentation period that gives that classic tangy taste. But sourdough donuts don’t spend that much time fermenting, so they don’t develop a sour flavor
  • Allowing the dough to rest overnight does yield a lighter crumb because the gluten has had more time to relax and the starter will be more active in the dough. However, if you need your donuts STAT (don’t we all?) you’ll still get great donuts if you do it all in one day.
  • After the donuts are cut, they won’t really rise dramatically. They’ll puff and rise very nicely as soon as they hit the hot oil, so don’t be scared of seemingly flat donuts after the proving portion.
A pile of sourdough donuts covered in chocolate ganache and white sprinkles, powdered sugar, or glaze.

Glazing the Sourdough Donuts

  1. To make the glaze, heat the milk in a small pot until it’s steaming but not boiling.
  2. Add the vanilla extract to the milk.
  3. Whisk in the sifted powdered sugar into the milk, a bit at the time, until it’s all incorporated and is smooth.
  4. Dip one side of the donut into the glaze, then flip it over with a fork.
  5. Using the fork, lift the donut out of the glaze and allow the excess to drip off.
  6. Set the glazed sourdough donuts on a cooling rack until the glaze has dried. You can see an example of the glazing in this instagram reel I made for my pumpkin donut recipe.
A powdered sugar coated sourdough donut, torn open to show a light, tender crumb inside.

How long do sourdough donuts last? How should I store sourdough doughnuts?

Glazed sourdough donuts are best fresh, and aren’t really that good leftover. Not to mention, it would be impressive if the batch doesn’t disappear in one sitting!

But if you do manage to have leftovers, store them in an airtight container, preferably lined with parchment paper. Keep the donuts in a cool place, but not the refrigerator. If you want to warm them up, 5-7 seconds in the microwave will heat them beautifully without melting off the glaze.

Can you freeze sourdough donuts?

Yes, you can freeze your sourdough donuts! They freeze best when they are unglazed. Flash freeze them on a baking sheet for a couple of hours, then store in an airtight container or bag for up to two months.

Donut Shape Ideas

Though I made classic round donuts with a hole in the center, there are multiple shapes and sizes you can create! I would recommend doubling these sourdough donuts if you want to use them for any of the recipes linked below.

  • For the rings, I like to use a large circle cutter, at least 3.5″ across. If you don’t have one, a large mouth canning jar lid works nicely too! For the centers, use a very small circle cutter.
  • If you want to make filled donuts, like these apple pie donuts, cut the large circle and just don’t cut the small center from the middle.
  • A donut twist is a great option for rolled donuts or dough with mix ins, like these cinnamon roll donuts.
  • If you want to just make donut holes, instead of rolling the dough out, it would be easier to divide the dough into half, then quarters, then eighths, etc., until you have 12 portions. Roll each between your palms gently to create a round shape. Let them rise and fry for about 90 seconds total. Glaze, frost, decorate, or dip to your heart’s content!

Donut Topping Ideas

  • Chocolate ganache is an easy, rich treat. Simply pour 3/4 cup of simmering whipping cream over a cup of chopped chocolate or high quality chocolate chips, let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until it becomes a smooth, chocolate glaze.
  • Immediately after frying, dip the donuts in either sugar, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar.
Dipping the hot donut into powdered sugar helps create a more even, thick coating.

Other Donut Recipes You May Like:

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Sourdough donuts

Raised Sourdough Donuts

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.6 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 68 donuts and donut holes 1x


Raised Sourdough Donuts get all of their rise from natural leavening and are a great way to use your sourdough starter discard! They’re easy to make with a low-maintenance dough that comes together quickly.


  • 2 cups (284 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) white sugar
  • 1 tsp. (6 g) salt
  • 1/4 tsp. (2 g) nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) milk
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz.) canola oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) active sourdough starter (it should have visible bubbles)

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead briefly, about 2-3 minutes. The dough should be soft and supple, but not sticky. Cover it with plastic wrap to prevent drying out and allow it to rest for 30 minutes to an hour. After the dough has rested you can either put it in the fridge to rest for up to 24 hours or make the donuts right away.

To make the donuts, reflour your surface, then roll it out to 1/2″ thick. Cut them into large circles (I like to use a wide mouth jar lid), then use a smaller circle cutter to cut a hole in the middle. {If you want to make donut holes, I recommend skipping the rolling and simply divide the dough into 24 equal sized portions by cutting it into half, then quarters, then eighths, etc., until you have 24 donut holes.}

After the donuts are all cut, lay them out on a tray lined with parchment paper and lay a towel over them. Allow them to rise for an hour to an hour and a half. The rise will not be dramatic, but never fear! They will puff up beautifully once they hit the hot oil.

When you are ready to fry the donuts, lay out a tray lined with paper towels and have a pair of metal tongs ready. Pour about 2″ of canola oil into the bottom of a 3 quart pan. Heat it over medium heat until it reaches 350°, using a fry thermometer or instant read to monitor it. If it overheats, remove from the heat until it comes back down. Monitoring and controlling the heat will vary based on your stove top, so be patient as you figure it out! Also, BE CAREFUL!!! You are working with hot oil, and I don’t think I need to tell you that this is not a time to be distracted.

Drop 2-3 donuts into the hot oil at a time. They will sink to the bottom at first, then rise to the top as they begin to cook through. If they don’t, give them a little nudge with the tongs. Cook for about two minutes on the first side, then flip them with the tongs and fry on the second side for two minutes more, or until the donut is golden brown.

Make sure that the oil temperature is back up to 350° before cooking more donuts. This temperature is ideal, since it is hot enough that the donuts will cook quickly but not absorb much oil, and not so hot that the outside will burn before the inside is done.Remove to the lined tray and allow to cool. Fill, frost, and decorate to your hearts content! If you want to cover them with sugar, place them in the sugar and toss immediately after removing them from the frying oil.

For the Glaze:

Heat the milk in the bottom of a small pot until it’s simmering, then whisk in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract, then dip the donuts in it. Allow them to set and the glaze to harden, then enjoy!


  • The nutmeg in the recipe is technically optional, but adding it will give you a classic donut shop flavor.
  • Allowing the dough to rest overnight does yield a lighter crumb because the gluten has had more time to relax. However, if you need your donuts STAT (don’t we all?) you’ll still get great donuts if you do it all in one day.
  • When you’re making these beauties, don’t worry if the don’t look like they’ve risen very much when it’s time to fry.  All those lovely bits of wild yeast are inside your dough, just waiting to explode into action as soon as they hit the hot oil.  They’ll puff and rise very nicely once you begin frying, so don’t be scared of seemingly flat donuts after the proving portion. 
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes, divided, +at least 2 hours rising time
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: donuts
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Breakfast & Brunch
Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Mashed Potato Donuts - stetted

Saturday 13th of January 2024

[…] glazed sourdough donuts are perfect for using your sourdough […]


Wednesday 18th of October 2023

How long should they be out of the fridge before frying? Can't wait to try these!


Saturday 9th of September 2023

This dough was way too sticky. I added more flour and it was still hard to work with. I ended up frying them up but honestly I won’t use this recipe again.


Thursday 20th of May 2021

I'm a little confused because you say it's a good sourdough discard recipe, but then the recipe calls for bubbling active sourdough. Which is it?

Rebecca Neidhart

Thursday 20th of May 2021

Hi Taylor,

Sorry for the confusion! You can use either your discard or active starter, but active starter will give you fluffier donuts. I wouldn't recommend using very old discard (like if it's been sitting in the fridge for several days).


Monday 14th of December 2020

Sensational! These are legitimately some of the best doughnuts I've ever tasted, commercial or homemade, to say nothing of sourdough! They were really effortless to make, thanks for the tip on not over-kneading so as to not develop too much gluten and tough dough. As several commented, the dough was too moist and sticky, looked kind of like cookie dough, so I added a decent amount of flour while kneading it. Then I left it out for close to two hours and then refrigerated it for about 4+1/2 more. I'm fortunate to have a very powerful sourdough starter, so the dough just bloomed in the hot oil. They look amazing, and taste even better. No sour flavor, really legitimate clean doughnut taste. And don't skip the nutmeg, that's an incredible trick! For health reasons I only eat wheat flour if it's been sourdough fermented, so these doughnuts were a real treat after a long time. Thanks so much!