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Chocolate Sourdough Discard Donuts

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Light, fluffy, and perfectly chocolaty, these chocolate sourdough discard donuts taste like they came from a corner bakery! This is a great, unique, recipe to use sourdough discard *and* get your chocolate doughnut fix. If you don’t have any sourdough, don’t fret, measurements included for sourdough starter-less donuts in the recipe notes.

chocolate sourdough discard donuts on a platter with a little pink bowl of donut holes in the background

Darlings, it’s time to make the donuts! Raise your hand if you got the reference. No? It’s okay. High fives to those of you with hands up, you may put them down now. Because it’s time to talk about one of our favorite subjects… homemade doughnuts. The fried kind that are impossibly light and fluffy, glazed to perfection, and more life-changing than engagement chicken!

Does engagement chicken actually work? I don’t know of anyone that’s baked a chicken for a proposal. With a name like that, I feel like we should hear stories. Send me your stories if you have them, or leave them in the comments because research is important.

Personally, I baked the Godfather a Snickers cake because chocolate trumps chicken every time.

top view of the glazed donuts setting on a baking sheet

Anyway, you are here to chat about donuts, as am I. So let’s.

Why use sourdough discard?

If you’re someone who keeps sourdough starter on hand, discard recipes are important! Feeding sourdough starter means you discard a good amount at each feeding if you want starter ready for baking at any time. Tossing the extra just feels wasteful. So finding unique ways to use up unfed sourdough starter prevents waste!

There are a lot of good recipes out there. I’m definitely a fan of the discard sourdough pecan sticky buns on this site and the original sourdough discard donuts – a longtime reader favorite! Not from my site, I like to make the KAB discard biscuits. They’re different from a buttermilk biscuit but taste great!

side view of the donuts to show how they puff and get fluffy after frying.

So basically, we find sourdough discard recipes to prevent kitchen waste. I had a reader ask me if they could use fed starter, and I promise it’s on my list, but I haven’t tried it just yet.

Can I still make chocolate sourdough discard donuts if I don’t have a sourdough starter?

Yes and no. No, because they won’t be sourdough donuts! Yes, because you can easily substitute flour and water for the starter and still have chocolate donuts. So, hooray!

Now, if you’re familiar with sourdough starter, you know we do everything by weight. But for the substitute, I’m going to give you volume measurements. Why? Because it’s simple. I’m just going to ask you for one teensy favor, the same favor I ask everyone baking anything.

Please don’t pack your flour into your measuring cup!

Please and thank you.

I’ve made these donuts without starter before, and as long as you fluff the flour before gently scooping with your measuring cup and leveling, you’re good.

Recipe notes for homemade chocolate donuts…

First of all, can we talk about this glorious texture? If you’ve never had chocolate dough doughnuts, lets talk about it for a second. The reason why chocolate dough donuts aren’t quite as popular with some people is because the texture, while still light and lovely, isn’t quite the same as a classic donut.

You see, the same cocoa powder that makes gloriously fudgy brownies, also changes our donut texture. Cocoa, because of its alkaline properties, tends to dry out baked goods and make them a little heavier.

In this recipe, that means that the donuts, while still light and lovely, will have a little more “chew” than my other sourdough discard doughnut recipe without the chocolate. It also means that the donuts are best enjoyed within 2 days of when you make them.

close up of a donut broken into 3 pieces so you can see the inside texture.

Doughnuts are always best fresh, but since we completely coat the doughnuts with a glaze, they don’t dry out for about 2 days. I tested this with some doughnuts on our counter, in a cake box.

A quick note about perfect donut glaze…

Since we’re on the subject, let’s have a learning moment thanks to a recent mistake I made.

You all know I’m a “from scratch but take shortcuts” baker, yes? I’m shamelessly putting it all out on the internet in my virtual baking classes, too. It happens when you learn by trial and error in your own kitchen.

Well, the other day I had a pretty solid error. I was making a test batch for this recipe and forgot about the glaze until I was ready to drop the first batch of donuts in the fryer. I quickly grabbed the cream out of the fridge, my powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and splash of vanilla and made a glaze. It felt like I used a little extra cream compared to what I’m used to, but didn’t think anything of it. Well, the glaze turned out too thin and started breaking down by the next day.

Know what happened? I didn’t read my own recipe and used cold milk/cream instead of warming it slightly.

If you want that professional doughnut shop glaze that stays perfect, learn from me and follow the recipe… use a warm glaze.

stacked donuts on a pink heart napkin

And for a fun modification… I tested some of these with an ESPRESSO glaze. Darlings, they were good. It was a very close vote between which glaze won out in the tester group. Classic edged out coffee by 2 votes. Check the recipe notes for how to make your own coffee glaze and choose your adventure. 😉

Happy baking, darlings! Time to make the donuts!

stacked donuts on a pink heart napkin

Chocolate Sourdough Discard Donuts

Yield: 16 doughnuts
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours

Light, fluffy, and perfectly chocolaty, these chocolate sourdough discard donuts taste like they came from a corner bakery! This is a great, unique, recipe to use sourdough discard *and* get your chocolate doughnut fix.


  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Glaze Recipe:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt


  1. Place the milk in a microwave-safe measuring glass and warm for 20 seconds so that it's fairly warm but not very hot. You don't want to burn the yeast!
  2. Pour the milk into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over top. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes until it looks a little foamy.
  4. Stir in the sourdough discard, eggs, butter, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder (if using), and salt.
  5. Add the flour in 3 batches and stir until combined. If you are using the stand mixer, knead on low speed for 4-5 minutes until smooth. Otherwise, knead as best you can by hand. Try not to add too much flour. The dough is on the soft and slightly wet side, but shouldn't be sticky.
  6. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Refrigerate for an hour or two, until cold, or overnight (about 8-10 hours).
  7. Once the dough is cold, remove it from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut the doughnuts out with a 3-inch doughnut cutter (see notes).
  8. Set the cut donuts on lightly floured parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Give them enough room to expand. Spray with a little nonstick spray and cover with plastic wrap. Allow them to rise 45 minutes at room temperature until they look puffy.
  9. Toward the end of the rising time, heat your oil to 350 F over medium heat. A thermometer is really helpful here to monitor the temperature.
  10. Line 2 baking sheets. One will have parchment paper and the other should have a double layer of paper towels for draining the fried donuts.
  11. Prepare the glaze by sifting the powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl.
  12. Slightly warm your heavy cream in the microwave for 10 seconds. A slightly warm glaze is thinner and will set better. If you are using instant espresso powder to make an espresso glaze, add it here.
  13. Stir the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt into the powdered sugar.
  14. Add doughnuts in batches to the hot oil and cook for about one minute per side. Donut holes take about a minute and a half total, just stir them to make sure they cook on all sides.
  15. Remove the cooked donuts from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towels briefly to drain. Add a new batch of donuts to the oil.
  16. While those donuts are cooking, dip the still-warm donuts on the paper towels into the glaze, turning once to fully coat. Remove and place on the parchment paper-lined sheet to set.
  17. Repeat this process until all the donuts and doughnut holes have been cooked and glazed. Enjoy!
  18. If you happen to have extra doughnuts, you can store them at room temperature in a box, or lightly covered for 1-2 days. As with all donuts, these are their very best the day they are made. Enjoy!


  • To make this recipe without sourdough starter: Add an additional 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. This is an easy swap since we are using yeast for the rise, not the starter.
  • If you use salted butter, cut down the salt in the recipe to 1/4 teaspoon.
  • The instant espresso powder is optional, and you don't taste it in the final product. It does, however, deepen the flavor of the chocolate so it's richer.
  • I use two circle cutters to cut out my donuts. I use a 3-inch circle cutter for the outer circle and one of the smaller cutters for the donut "hole". A wide-mouth jar or glass also works.
  • If you'd like to make filled doughnuts, don't cut out the center hole. The cook time will be slightly longer. Fill with something fun, like Irish cream caramel or pastry cream.
  • If you make the glaze with cold cream, it's going to look too thick for dipping. Place the cream in a microwave-safe container and heat for about 10 seconds until it's no longer fridge-cold. Room temperature works just fine since you are dipping hot donuts into the glaze. You need to use less liquid than you think to make sure the glaze sets properly
  • If you'd like to make an espresso glaze: Take 1 teaspoon of espresso powder and dissolve it in the heavy cream before adding it to the powdered sugar. It's like coffee and donuts you can hold in one hand!

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