Old Fashioned Donuts Taste Test

on the left is the buttermilk, sour cream is on the right

On Presidents day this year, we found ourselves with a quiet day at home and a desire for something fun to eat. My middle kid is somewhat of a donut connoisseur, having received a gift card to a supermarket with an impressive baking department for his birthday, he has been working his way through their case of goodies. Lately, he has been enamored with old fashioned donuts, and I can’t say that I blame him! The nooks and crannies give it some crunch with the soft, and they just plain taste awesome!

Of course, that lead me to wanting to make my own. Now let me preface this by saying, I love to make yeast donuts at home. I have made the recipe in my Joy of Cooking many, many times, but it is a bit of an undertaking because they have several raises, plus the recipe makes a ton. Also, they aren’t good the day after you make them, so you need to eat them all right away (an admittedly good problem to have).

I felt that old fashioned donuts could be easier for me to make at home, and lets be honest, easier is essential some days! But when I went to Pinterest to look at recipes, I wasn’t sure what to do. Most of my searches showed that there were two different ways to make them: one with sour cream, the other with buttermilk. And it seemed to be an even split down the middle. What to do!!

Oh, make both? I guess I can make that sacrifice. Luckily, my kids are older and know there way around a recipe, so I enlisted two of them to whip up dough. We made it a bit of a competition.

The sour cream versions bubbled more when frying

The winner in our house were the sour cream versions. They were more delicate, they did rip a couple times when putting them into the oil, but the taste was fantastic, as well as the texture. It was softer (hence the occasional tearing) and we couldn’t believe the difference with just one ingredient!

Old Fashioned Donuts Base Recipe

we used this base recipe and then chose either buttermilk or sour cream additions.  
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 donuts


For the donuts

  • 2.25 cup cake flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp nutmeg
  • .5 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • .5 cup sour cream OR
  • .3 cup buttermilk
  • canola oil for frying

For the glaze

  • 3.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1.5 tsp corn syrup
  • .25 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp vanilla
  • .3 cup hot water


For the donuts

  • In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until it looks like sand.  Add the yolks and mix until pale and yellow in color (3-4 minutes).
    Sift the dry ingredients together, and add to the mixing bowl, alternating with the sour cream OR buttermilk.  Make sure to scrape down the bowl as needed.  The dough will be sticky when done.  Put in a ziploc bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
    On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough to 1/2′ thickness.  Use donut cutters (or a big and little circle cutter to mimic a donut) to cut out all of the dough.  
    Pour the oil about 2″ deep into a heavy bottomed pot and heat to 350 degrees F.  Add the donuts one at a time, careful not to crowd the pot.  Cook for about 2 minutes per side, making sure not to let them burn.  Donut holes fry about a minute a side.  
    Remove with slotted spoon and let cool on a rack lined with paper towels underneath. 

For the glaze

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth.  


My notes, if you choose to make these, are the following:

  • go thicker when rolling the dough than you think. I didn’t measure mine, so I may have not done the recommended 1/2′, but they weren’t as thick as I would have liked. You don’t want to go too thick, so really shoot for the 1/2′, otherwise they won’t cook all the way through. Just something to consider.
  • use cake flour. These can lose there tenderness, since you do have to re-roll the dough a couple times and the cake flour helps keep that smooth donut texture.
  • Feel free to sub the glaze or try your own/something you love. The glaze in these recipes was fine, but nothing crazy. Charlie likes maple flavored donuts, so I would maybe try subbing that next time or trying a different glaze altogether. It does set very nicely (thanks to corn syrup, which I would love to find a sub for but is necessary until I do) and these store beautifully and taste just as good the next day.

I used recipes from and, if you want to go and check out their original posts.

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