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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

Sourdough Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar

Yield: 12 large donuts
Prep Time: 1 hour
Rising Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 20 minutes

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.


  • 1 cup (8 oz, 235 ml) whole milk, warmed to about 120°F (slightly warmer than body temp)
  • 1 large egg (room temp)
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz, 55g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) active sourdough starter  (100% hydration)
  • 3.5 cups (18 oz, 504g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 112g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Cinnamon Sugar for coating


Make the dough (day 1)

  1. Combine the warm milk, butter and egg with the starter in a mixer bowl. With the mixer running, add sugar, spices, salt and 2.5 cups of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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)

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. While the dough is still cold, without kneading, roll to 1/2" thick on a lightly floured surface.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350F° in a large heavy pot. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.
  5. 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.
  6. Best eaten warm or within a couple of hours of frying.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Saturday 12th of November 2022

Hi there I have a donut baking. Would it be ok if I bake them instead of frying? And the sprinkle the sugar when they are hot.

Eileen Gray

Sunday 13th of November 2022

Sure, that would work. They wouldn't be as crisp, but they would still be tasty.


Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Wondering if you could use coconut oil to fry these?


Tuesday 30th of August 2022

@Terri, i did and they taste amazing Best recipe ever

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

I don't really use coconut oil, but I don't see why not. As long as the smoke point is high enough for frying.


Sunday 3rd of July 2022

The first two times I made these they turned out perfect! The most recent time my poor dough took ages to rise to the top, any idea why this may have happened? I did half the recipe but did everything to weight measurements so should have been ok.

Also, Would I need more proving time for the 2nd rise if I am making filled donuts as opposed to ring donuts?

Thank you!

Eileen Gray

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

As with all things sourdough, the condition of your starter is likely the reason this dough was different. If it was less active or needed a feeding that could definitely make the rise take longer. Also, ambient temp and temp of the dough affects the rise time. Halving the recipe shouldn't be a problem. If you want to make filled donuts (assuming you are filling after they're fried) you shouldn't need extra rising time. See my apple filled donut recipe to see how I do it.


Friday 18th of February 2022

After you had the last cup of flour and mix with the dough hook….do you allow it come to window pane?


Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Oh I meant fry! Not bake! I may be a good wife and time them out so I fry them up before he goes to work.


Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

@Eileen Gray, thanks! I tried these and they were absolutely delicious. My husband wants to bring some to work. I wonder if I baked them the night before if they would still taste good the next morning.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 19th of February 2022

Honestly, I'm not that fussy. I knead until the dough comes together and let the fermentation do the rest.


Tuesday 25th of January 2022

Can´t wait to make these! Can they be used with regular donut glaze?

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 26th of January 2022

Sure. Glaze them while there still a little warm for the best crackly finish.

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