Old-fashioned sour cream doughnuts are basically everything you want in a fried treat – they’re cakey, tender and coated in a sweet vanilla glaze. They’re easy to make and packed with the kind of flavor that makes you feel like you’re at your favorite bakery. Best of all, there’s no yeast, which means you’ll have doughnuts on your table in less than an hour!
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Deep fried or baked. Dipped in glaze or rolled in sugar. Topped with sprinkles or left unadorned. I don’t discriminate when it comes to my favorite food.
I have such a love for the golden brown rings of glory that I once walked more than five miles around New York City sampling nine different doughnuts in a single day. It was a Tour de Glaze that led me to crown the city’s best doughnut in the first ever Just a Taste Doughnuthon.
I’ve made doughnuts in the past. They were a semi-store bought insanely easy excuse for doughnuts, but they were delicious doughnuts nonetheless. But ever since my mom gave me Lara Ferroni’s Doughnuts cookbook, I knew I had to do both of us proud by making the real deal. And since I’m of the camp that thinks sour cream is the single greatest secret ingredient ever for baking (think lemon pound cake, blueberry muffins and strawberry scones), I figured there was no better starting point than Glazed Sour Cream Doughnuts. I could not have been more right.
What’s to Love
- No yeast required.
- Ready in less than 1 hour.
- Cakey texture that’s soft and tender.
- Flavored with a touch of cinnamon.
- Perfectly moist from the first bite to the last. Just like my doughnut muffins, sour cream brings moisture to the dough, ensuring each doughnut is moist.
- Coated in a simple vanilla glaze that’s made with just 3 ingredients.
At the end of the day, the primary reason you’ll love this recipe is that it delivers simply delicious doughnuts that are homemade, comforting and bursting with flavor!
The straightforward lineup of ingredients means you probably have everything you need in your pantry—no fancy or hard-to-find items.
FOR THE DOUGHNUTS
- All-purpose flour: Acts as the main dry ingredient, providing structure and stability to the doughnuts. Measure the flour accurately using the spoon and level method to avoid dense doughnuts.
- Baking soda: Unlike my recipe for doughnut holes, which calls for baking powder, this recipe requires baking soda to achieve a denser and more cake-like texture. It’s what sets this recipe apart from other recipes!
- Cinnamon: Enhances the overall flavor profile with its sweet and spicy notes. For a twist, try using nutmeg!
- Sugar: Good ol’ granulated sugar adds sweetness and helps the doughnuts achieve that perfect golden-brown color during frying.
- Salt: You’ll only need ⅛ teaspoon, but don’t skip it! Salt is a crucial flavor enhancer in baking, balancing the sweetness and enhancing all of the other flavors.
- Sour cream: Just like my favorite raspberry coffee cake, sour cream adds moisture and richness to the dough, creating a soft and tender interior. I recommend using full-fat sour cream for the best texture and flavor.
- Egg: Binds the ingredients together, providing stability and structure.
- Butter: Adds richness and flavor to the dough, contributing to its tender and melt-in-the-mouth quality.
- Oil for frying: I recommend using vegetable oil for frying because it has a high smoke point and neutral flavor. Canola oil or peanut oil works, too.
FOR THE VANILLA GLAZE
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, is finely ground sugar mixed with cornstarch. I recommend sifting it first to remove any clumps, which guarantees your sweet glaze will be silky smooth.
- Whole milk: I like using whole milk because it adds richness, but any type of milk will do the job.
- Vanilla extract: Opt for homemade vanilla extract if you have it—it’s a fantastic choice!
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Making doughnuts from scratch may seem intimidating but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Just like when making any fried food, like onion rings or banana fritters, it’s essential to use a deep-fry thermometer. Follow all of the steps below and you’ll have perfect homemade doughnuts on your table in no time!
- Prepare the dough. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, sour cream, egg and softened butter until smooth. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture until a soft dough forms.
Kelly’s Note: The dough should be pliable and easy to handle, similar to a biscuit or pastry dough. If it’s too sticky, you can add a little more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Chill the batter for 20 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Shape the dough. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is approximately ½-inch thick. Use a cookie or doughnut cutter to cut out doughnuts that are 2½ inches in diameter. Re-roll scrap dough until all doughnuts have been cut out. Reserve the centers of each doughnut to make doughnut holes.
- Make the sugar glaze. Before frying the doughnuts, prepare the glaze by combining the sifted sugar, whole milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
- Now, it’s time to fry the doughnuts! Heat at least 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches 360ºF. Carefully fry the doughnuts in batches until golden brown, ensuring they cook evenly on both sides.
- Dip and glaze. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to a cooling rack to drain. Let them cool just slightly before dipping them in the vanilla glaze.
Pro Tip: Doughnuts are like the perfect cup of coffee—best enjoyed fresh. So, savor them on the same day you make them.
- Maintain Consistent Oil Temperature: Use a deep-fry thermometer to ensure your oil stays at a steady 360°F for even and golden frying.
- Fry In Batches: Only fry a few doughnuts at a time. Overcrowding the pot lowers the oil temperature. If you fry too many together, the oil takes longer to heat up again, resulting in greasy doughnuts.
- Timing is Key: Keep an eye on the frying time. Doughnuts should turn golden brown within 1-2 minutes per side. Adjust as needed to prevent overcooking.
- Use a Spider Strainer or Slotted Spoon: A spider or slotted spoon makes it easy to carefully lower and lift the doughnuts in and out of the hot oil.
- Oil Level: Keep an eye on the oil level; having enough ensures a good submersion for even frying.
While I love a classic glazed doughnut, the possibilities for other toppings are practically endless! Here are some delicious ideas to inspire your creativity:
- Chocolate glaze – follow the chocolate glaze recipe I use to coat these chocolate doughnut holes. Add a sprinkle of chopped nuts or sea salt for extra flavor.
- Maple glaze – blend confectioners’ sugar and pure maple syrup to give your doughnuts an autumnal touch
- Cinnamon sugar – give warm doughnuts the churro treatment by dipping or rolling them in a mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar for a classic and comforting coating
- Nutella glaze – grab everyone’s favorite creamy chocolate hazelnut spread and use the same instructions from my favorite baked mini doughnuts to make this glaze
- Powdered sugar – a generous dusting of powdered sugar gives a simple yet elegant finish (it’s my favorite way to elevate apple fritters, too!)
- Sprinkles – with four kids ages 7 and under, sprinkles are a food group in my house
- Coffee glaze – combine coffee (or espresso) with confectioners’ sugar for a coffee-flavored glaze
- Butterscotch drizzle – drizzle warm butterscotch sauce over your doughnuts for a truly decadent treat
- Cream cheese glaze – use the same glaze instructions from my monkey bread recipe to dip and dunk to your heart’s desire
Frequently Asked Questions
This specific recipe is designed for traditional frying, and the texture may not be the same if you attempt to make these doughnuts in an air fryer. Instead, I recommend trying my recipe for shortcut air fryer doughnuts made with store-bought biscuit dough.
This dough is best prepared and fried immediately for the best freshness and texture.
Homemade doughnuts are best enjoyed fresh on the day they are made. However, they can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two.
The main culprit for greasy doughnuts is oil that’s too cool. Use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure your oil is at the right temp and frying in small batches will help. I also recommend placing the doughnuts on a paper towel-lined plate briefly before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.
The best oil for frying is one with a high smoke point and a neutral flavor. I prefer to fry my doughnuts with vegetable oil but canola oil and peanut oil work, too. These oils can withstand high temperatures without affecting the flavor of your doughnuts.
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Vegetable oil, for frying
For sugar glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- First make the doughnuts by sifting together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, sour cream, egg and butter.
- Add the flour mixture in batches to the sour cream mixture, folding it in with a spatula until fully incorporated into a smooth dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for 20 minutes.
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is approximately ½-inch thick.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out doughnuts that are 2½ inches in diameter. Re-roll scrap dough until all doughnuts have been cut out. Optional: Reserve the centers of each doughnut to make doughnut holes.
- Prior to frying the doughnuts, prepare the sugar glaze by combining the sifted sugar, whole milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
- When ready to fry doughnuts, heat at least 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches 360ºF.
- Fry the doughnuts and doughnut holes in batches until they are golden brown.
- Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the doughnuts to a cooling rack to drain. Let them cool just slightly before dipping them in the prepared glaze.
- Use a deep-fry thermometer to ensure your oil stays at a steady 360°F for even and golden frying.
- Only fry a few doughnuts at a time. Overcrowding the pot lowers the oil temperature. If you fry too many together, the oil takes longer to heat up again, resulting in greasy doughnuts.
- Keep an eye on the frying time. Doughnuts should turn golden brown within 1-2 minutes per side. Adjust as needed to prevent overcooking.
- A spider or slotted spoon makes it easy to carefully lower and lift the doughnuts in and out of the hot oil.
- ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
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Recipe adapted from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni.