Skip to Content

Sourdough Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar

These are true homemade Sourdough Donuts, made without any commercial yeast. A slow fermentation gives these donuts a spectacular flavor and texture. They’re like no donuts you’ve ever tasted.

a stack of sourdough donuts with cinnamon sugar against a white background

It’s official, you guys – these are my favorite donuts ever! I mean, who doesn’t love a good donut? What’s your favorite donut style; cake or yeast? Some folks like the cake style donuts and, sure, they’re tasty.  But, me? I’m partial to the airy/chewy texture of a good yeast donut.

What makes Sourdough Donuts taste so good?

Making donuts with the natural yeast of a sourdough starter takes them into another stratosphere. Seriously, these donuts are GOOD. The starter gives the donuts a special chewy texture and deep flavor.

If you don’t have one, check out my post to learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter. Then check out my system to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter.

I’ve been mulling over the idea of a sourdough donut for a while now. Being a huge baking geek, I’m always thinking of the possibilities beyond bread-baking for my starter. I just knew that sourdough starter would be a great base for a yeast donut–if I could create a well-balanced recipe.

a sourdough donut on a white plate and a plate full of more donuts

How I created this Homemade Donut Recipe:

To create this recipe I looked to my Whole Grain Sourdough Waffle recipe and my Rhubarb Fritters.  I wanted a donut with a texture somewhere between those two; the open crumb and chewy texture of the waffle, with the sweet, spicy, enriched flavor of the fritter.

Because the starter doesn’t get a boost with commercial yeast, the recipe is a 2 day process. Don’t worry though, the vast majority of time is hands-off.

About working with Sourdough Starter:

A night in the refrigerator is essential for the flavor and texture of the dough. Also, since this is a fairly sticky dough, it’s much easier to roll and cut while it’s still cold from the refrigerator.

A long kneading time and two-day fermentation allows the dough to retain lots of air without collapsing. You’ll see a great “poof” when you drop the donuts into the fryer.

Even though these donuts are really big, they’re light and airy and not at all heavy or greasy (and, seriously, what sane person is going to complain that a donut is too big?). A roll in cinnamon sugar gives these babies a perfectly crunchy bite.

I bake a lot, really way too much for two people to eat. I don’t need to crave sweets since they’re always around. But I have actually caught myself dreamily remembering the crunchy bite and lightly chewy texture of these Sourdough Donuts.

I can’t wait to make them again. They’re totally worth the time and effort–and calories. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump on the elliptical…

A broken in half sourdough donut showing the inside crumb

a stack of cinnamon sugar donuts and one on a plate

Watch the recipe video to see how-to make true Sourdough Donuts.

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star rating!

sourdough donuts
Print Recipe
4.64 from 363 reviews

Sourdough Donut Recipe

Start the day before to make a true Sourdough Donut without commercial yeast. The long fermentation of the dough gives these donuts fantastic flavor and texture.
Prep Time1 hour
Bake Time20 minutes
Rising Time12 hours
Total Time13 hours 20 minutes
12 large donuts


  • 8 oz whole milk (1 cup, warmed to about 110°F)
  • 1 large egg (room temp)
  • 2 oz unsalted butter (melted)
  • 8 oz active sourdough starter (1 cup)
  • 17 ½ oz unbleached all-purpose flour (3 ½ cups)
  • 4 oz granulated sugar (½ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Cinnamon Sugar for coating


Make the dough (day 1)

  • Combine 8 oz whole milk, 1 large egg and 2 oz unsalted butter with 8 oz active sourdough starter in a mixer bowl. With the mixer running, add 4 oz granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon table salt and 2.5 cups of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter.
  • Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour (amount of flour may vary based on the hydration of your starter). The dough will start out quite sticky. Knead on medium low speed for 15 minutes (speed 2 on my stand mixer) until the dough clings to the hook and clears the sides of the bowl.
  • Scrape the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and set the dough aside at room temperature for fermentation.
  • After 1 hour uncover the bowl, lift one edge of the dough over into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. Cover the bowl and set aside.
  • Every hour for another 2-3 hours repeat the folding as described above. After 3-4 hours of fermentation the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the Donuts (day 2)

  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator. While the dough is still cold, without kneading, roll to 1/2" thick on a lightly floured surface.
  • Use a 4" round cutter to cut donuts. Use a 1.5" cutter to cut center hole. Line the donuts on a well-oiled, parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, leaving space between the donuts for the dough to rise (I used 2 baking sheets). Reroll the scraps of dough and continue cutting donuts until all the dough is used up. Brush the tops of the donuts lightly with oil.
  • Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. The donuts are ready when you poke the dough and the dent slowly fills in. If the dough bounces right back it’s not quite ready. This rise should take about 1 1/2 hours. The time will vary based on the temperature of the room.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of oil to °350 °F in a large heavy pot. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.
  • As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat the entire donut. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts.
  • Best eaten warm or within a couple of hours of frying.


My Book
Kitchen Scale
KA Stand Mixer
Biscuit Cutters
Rolling Pin

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.



Serving: 1donut | Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 208mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

You might also like:

a stack of yeasted apple cider donuts
Cider Donuts
three apple filled cider donuts on a plate
Apple Filled Donuts
whole grain sourdough waffles
Sourdough Waffles
Rye Sourdough Crispbread
Rye Sourdough Crispbread
sourdough focaccia
Sourdough Focaccia
a hand holding a sourdough english muffin
Sourdough English Muffins
Recipe Rating


Friday 27th of October 2023

Hello! My daughter has Lyme and is unable to eat any sugar or yeast, so traditional cider donuts are not an option this year. We make sourdough bread every week, so I thought I might be able to try sourdough donuts. Do you have any thoughts about whether it would work to replace the sugar with either a Truvia sweetener or with honey or maple syrup? Thank you for your time. Your recipe looks amazing and I'm sorry I can't simply follow it as written. Blessings.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 28th of October 2023

Hi Jenny. You could replace the sugar with honey. You might need to reduce the liquid in the recipe. Try using 1/2 cup honey in place of the sugar. Reduce the milk by half a cup. Adjust the flour if needed.


Wednesday 9th of August 2023

I baked mine. And they are absolutely delicious! I doubled the batch, and made half with holes and half without. Top iced the ones with holes and filled and iced the full doughnuts. Baking was so much quicker, cleaner, easier, safer and hasn’t taken from the flavour. Best recipe


Sunday 9th of April 2023

For your sourdough donuts would it work to use coconut oil or would canola oil be better? Thank you for your great looking recipe!

Eileen Gray

Sunday 9th of April 2023

Yes, I would say either would be fine. As long as it has a high smoke point it's ok to fry.

Levi Huston

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

I have a household of 1 so would they do ok being frozen after the last rise so I could just thaw & fry a couple at a time later? Or would it be better to fry then freeze and just add topping as I thaw later?

Eileen Gray

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

I would fry then freeze. Defrost then rewarm in a low oven before topping. Alternately, if you want to freeze unbaked I would freeze the cut donuts before the final rise. Allow them to defrost and rise at room temperature before frying.

Amanda Stephens

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Can you place fridge for 2 nights?

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023