Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts

Old-fashioned Sour Cream Donuts are a classic doughnut, with a soft, cakey crumb and a crackly outside that’s perfect for catching glaze.

Donut or doughnut? Either way, old-fashioned donuts are a perennial favorite, and I’m sharing the recipe as well as tips for the best donuts you’ve ever had!

A plate of old-fashioned sour cream donuts.

There are generally two types of donuts–old-fashioned and yeast donuts. The main difference is in the rising agent, which gives the donuts different flavor and texture profiles. Yeast donuts are (obviously!) made with traditional yeast, which gives them the texture of a very light, sweet bread.

Old-fashioned donuts get their rise from baking powder, which gives them more of a cake-like consistency. In fact, they are sometimes called cake donuts.

And while there are variations of cake donuts, with some being very light, these old-fashioned sour cream donuts are moist and dense. The inside crumb is soft, lightly sweet, and tender. The outside is crackly, with lots of nooks and crannies perfect for catching the glaze.

An old-fashioned donut in a pan of glaze.

Ingredients for Old-Fashioned Donuts

The ingredients for old-fashioned sour cream donuts are pretty simple. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, see the section at the bottom of the post on how to make your own (and why you shouldn’t just substitute all-purpose!). Also, fat plays a significant role in the texture of these donuts. It’s the secret component for making them soft and tender! So don’t shy away from full-fat sour cream, or use a whole egg instead of just the yolks.

  • 3 Tbsp. (42 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup  (132 g) sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks–the yolks have more fat than the whites, so using yolks means a softer, more tender finished product.
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 g) sour cream–use full-fat.
  • 3 1/4 cups (364 g) cake flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

How to Make Old-Fashioned Donuts

Add egg yolks to the butter and sugar creamed together.
  • Begin by melting the butter in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add the sugar and mix until they are combined, then stir in the 2 egg yolks.
  • Mix in the vanilla extract and sour cream until they are well-mixed and the mixture is smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, stir the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together.
The wet and dry ingredients ready to be mixed together.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the donut dough is mixed thoroughly. It should fairly stiff but not dry–like a soft cookie dough.
  • Wrap the dough in a sheet of plastic wrap, patting it out into a disc so that it’s easier to roll out.
  • Chill the dough for at least an hour, or up to two days if you’ve used double-acting baking powder.
The bowl of finished donut dough.
  • When you are ready to fry the donuts, remove the donut dough from the refrigerator.
  • On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough until it’s 3/8″ thick.
  • Cut as many circles as you can out of the dough with a 3.5″ cutter, then use a small cirle (about 1″) to cut another hole in the center. Alternatively, you can use a donut cutter.
  • Press the remaining edges together, then reroll the dough and cut out the rest of the donuts.
Cutting donuts out of the rolled out donut dough.

How to Fry Donuts Without a Deep Fryer

  • Pour a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point (see recipe notes below) into fairly deep pot. This protects your hands and kitchen from a lot of hot oil splatter. I add about 2 quarts of oil (about 3-4 inches deep in a 6 quart pot.
  • Heat your oil to 350°F-375°F over medium heat. It may take a while to get to temperature, but be patient! Once oil gets hot, it stays that way for a while and you don’t want to have to wait for it to cool down again. Adjust the temperature of your burner if it seems like the oil is getting hot too fast or if it’s getting too cool when you start adding donuts.
  • Once the oil is up to temperature, use a metal slotted spoon to carefully lower 2-3 donuts into the oil–if you add more, it’ll lower the oil temperature too dramatically. They may sink at first, but should float after a few seconds.
  • Cook the donuts for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown.
  • Flip them over, and allow it the donuts to cook for the same amount of time on the other side.
  • When the donuts are finished cooking, place them on a cooling rack with a baking tray underneat to catch any oil that might drip off.

Glazing the Old-Fashioned Donuts

  • In a small pot, heat the milk until it’s steaming but not boiling.
  • Whisk in the sifted powdered sugar, a little at a time.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Dip each donut in the glaze, then use a fork to flip it.
  • Remove the donut from the glaze, allowing the excess to drip off. Set it on a cooling rack until the glaze has hardened.
Glazing the old-fashioned sour cream donuts.

Helpful Tools for Making Donuts

As an Amazon Associate, Good Things Baking Co. earns from qualifying purchases.

  • While you can mix the doughnut dough by hand, a hand mixer will make it much easier!
  • If you don’t have a deep fryer, a frying thermometer is a must-have since successfully frying donuts requires monitoring and controlling the temperature of your frying oil.
  • You can use pretty much any circular cutters you have, or try a donut cutter to make it easy.
Glazed old-fashioned sour cream donuts.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • When deep-frying, you need to use a flavor that is a) neutrally flavored, and b) has a high smoke point. Some good examples of this are peanut, canola, or vegetable oil. Some oils to avoid are olive oil (it has a low smoke point and strong flavor) and coconut oil (for it’s flavor), and grapeseed oil (it has a high smoke point, but is low in unsaturated fat which makes it break down when used at high heat).
  • Store the glazed donuts in an airtight bag or container at room temperature. Storing them in the refrigerator will make them dry out.
  • If you want to freeze the donuts, you can do it before glazing them. Freeze them in an airtight container and thaw them completely before glazing.

Other Donut Recipes You May Enjoy:

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts


  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes + 1 hour of chilling time
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 donuts 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Old-fashioned Sour Cream Donuts are a classic doughnut, with a soft, cakey crumb and a crackly outside that’s perfect for catching glaze.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 Tbsp. (42 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup  (132 g) sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 g) sour cream
  • 3 1/4 cups (364 g) cake flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Instructions

Begin by melting the butter in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mix until they are combined, then stir in the 2 egg yolks.

Mix in the vanilla extract and sour cream until they are well-mixed and the mixture is smooth.

In a separate bowl, stir the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the donut dough is mixed thoroughly. It should fairly stiff but not dry–like a soft cookie dough. Wrap the dough in a sheet of plastic wrap, patting it out into a disc so that it’s easier to roll out.

Chill the dough for at least an hour, or up to two days if you’ve used double-acting baking powder. When you are ready to fry the donuts, remove the donut dough from the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough until it’s 3/8″ thick. Cut as many circles as you can out of the dough with a 3.5″ cutter, then use a small cirle (about 1″) to cut another hole in the center. Alternatively, you can use a donut cutter.

Press the remaining edges together, then reroll the dough and cut out the rest of the donuts.

Frying the Donuts

Pour a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point (see recipe notes below) into a fairly deep pot. This protects your hands and kitchen from a lot of hot oil splatter. I add about 2 quarts of oil (about 3-4 inches deep in a 6-quart pot.

Heat your oil to 350°F-375°F over medium heat. It may take a while to get to temperature, but be patient! Once the oil gets hot, it stays that way for a while and you don’t want to have to wait for it to cool down again. Adjust the temperature of your burner if it seems like the oil is getting hot too fast or if it’s getting too cool when you start adding donuts.

Once the oil is up to temperature, use a metal slotted spoon to carefully lower 2-3 donuts into the oil–if you add more, it’ll lower the oil temperature too dramatically. They may sink at first but should float after a few seconds.

Cook the donuts for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown.  Flip them over, and allow the donuts to cook for the same amount of time on the other side.

When the donuts are finished cooking, place them on a cooling rack with a baking tray underneath to catch any oil that might drip off.

Glazing the Donuts

In a small pot, heat the milk until it’s steaming but not boiling. Whisk in the sifted powdered sugar, a little at a time.

Stir in the vanilla extract. Dip each donut in the glaze, then use a fork to flip it.

Remove the donut from the glaze, allowing the excess to drip off. Set it on a cooling rack until the glaze has hardened.

Keywords: old-fashioned, donuts, doughnuts, sour cream

Share This Recipe With The World!

Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on print
Print
Share on email
Email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

Scroll to Top
Rebecca Instagram

Follow Me On Instagram!

I post luscious food photos and new recipes on a weekly basis.