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Sourdough Discard Donuts Recipe

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Make the softest glazed doughnuts and use your sourdough discard with this delicious sourdough discard donuts recipe! Make the same day, or rest the donuts overnight to prepare in the morning. Either way, you’ll love the results!

sourdough discard donuts stacked on a white marble tray with a light grey background

“These are the best doughnuts I’ve ever tasted!” At least three of these messages, from three different people, lit up my phone after I delivered bags of donut deliciousness to some neighbors. And darlings, they aren’t exaggerating. I’ve made some really good doughnuts, but usually left the classic glazed doughnut to the pros. Armed with my sourdough starter, I can confidently say… not anymore!

I don’t know what it is about fresh doughnuts, but they’re really something magical. This recipe was just me playing around using my sourdough discard. We didn’t have any pecans on hand for sticky buns, and I’d come across a recipe for making glazed doughnuts I wanted to try. I posted on my personal social media and got several requests for the recipe! So here it is! Thank you for the wonderful excuse to make more donuts. 😉

Did you know that you can basically use your sourdough discard in any recipe that calls for flour and liquid? The substitution is made by weight! A cup of flour weighs 4.5 ounces, and a cup of water or milk is 8 ounces. So if your starter is equal parts water and flour, 6 ounces of starter will replace 2/3 cup of flour and a little over 1/3 cup of liquid. Easy!

Some of you who aren’t mathematically inclined just got that glazed look. Stay with me! We have donuts to make! That’s the only kind of glaze we want! Also, I did the math for you. You can just follow the recipe. Love you!

top view of the sourdough discard donuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet

This recipe makes about 16 standard donuts and 18 doughnut holes. Why the difference? Well, you get one donut hole per donut, and then I cut extra holes once I no longer have enough dough to make big doughnuts. You’ll want those extra doughnut holes, I promise. They’re so good! Fluffy and perfectly poppable!

sourdough donut holes in a bowl

A few sourdough discard donuts FAQs…

The first thing you may be wondering is, “why use sourdough discard?” Most of us with sourdough starters really hate to waste perfectly good ingredients every time we feed our starter. So we get creative and use it in recipes like this one. If you have a nice tangy sourdough, the starter also adds the tiniest hint of flavor. It’s delicious in savory recipes, but fabulous in sweet recipes! In this sourdough donut recipe, I think the tang of the starter cuts the sweetness slightly. And the fact that these donuts are sweet but not too sweet, even with the glaze, is what makes them taste straight from a shop!

sourdough doughnut held in a hand

Second, you might be curious about baking these doughnuts. Don’t do it. This recipe isn’t for baked donuts and you won’t end up with the best results. To get the light and airy texture, you need the quick hit of heat that oil provides. In this case, even the air fryer couldn’t come close. Donuts in the air fryer came out pretty dense by comparison. Doughnuts are a treat, so it’s okay to fry. As someone who really hates the smell of frying oil, you know the results are worth it if I’m telling you to deep fry. Promise.

top view of the doughnut holes

Third, and probably one of my favorite things about this recipe, you CAN prep the dough and let it rest overnight! Random side story… last year I hosted a “donut day” at my house. I like to have neighbors over for coffee and treats, sometimes with themes. I was up SO early that morning to get everything ready between frying and rising time. NOT required with this recipe! I can’t even tell you how nice it was to prep the dough the night before, leave it in the fridge to rise, then cut and fry the doughnuts the next day while making coffee. Less than an hour to fresh glazed doughnuts in the morning was amazing! Like, I could even possibly make these donuts for a holiday breakfast or weekend brunch kind amazing.

glazed sourdough doughnut on a plate with a stack of doughnuts and donut holes in the background

So bookmark this recipe, gather your extra sourdough starter, and get ready to make some of the best glazed donuts you’ve ever tried! Happy baking, darlings!

split open discard sourdough donut to show the airy texture
sourdough discard donuts stacked on a white marble tray with a light grey background

Sourdough Discard Donuts Recipe

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

Make the softest glazed donuts and use your sourdough discard with this delicious sourdough discard donuts recipe! Make the same day, or rest the donuts overnight to prepare in the morning. Either way, you'll love the results!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard (6 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting (15 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Glaze Recipe:

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

Instructions

  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. Stir in the sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over top. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes until it looks a little foamy. While this is happening, melt your butter and set it aside to cool a little.
  3. Stir in the sourdough discard, eggs, butter (which shouldn't be hot by now), and salt.
  4. 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.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Refrigerate for an hour or two, until cold, or overnight (about 8-10ish hours).
  6. Once the dough is cold, remove 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).
  7. 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 to rise 45-60 minutes at room temperature until they look puffy.
  8. Toward the end of the rising time, heat your oil to 350 F over medium heat. A thermometer is really helpful here to monitor temperature.
  9. 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.
  10. Prepare the glaze by sifting the powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. It should be a smooth glaze that's neither too thin or too thick. You can make it thicker by adding more sugar, and thinner by adding more cream.
  11. Add doughnuts in batches to the hot oil and cook for about one minute per side until the doughnuts are a golden brown. Donut holes will take a little less time.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Repeat this process until all the donuts and doughnut holes have been cooked and glazed. Enjoy immediately!
  15. If you happen to have extra doughnuts, you can store them at room temperature in a box, or lightly covered. They tend to sweat in airtight containers. As with all donuts, these are their very best the day they are made. Enjoy!

Notes

  • I don't own a donut cutter. I have a set of circle cookie cutters. 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 can also work just as well.
  • If you'd like to make filled doughnuts, don't cut out the center hole. The cook time will be slightly longer.
  • The glaze may look a little thick when you mix it, but since you are dipping a hot donut in there, you need this to be on the slightly thicker side so enough sticks. The donuts in the photos were only dipped once. Feel free to adjust glaze consistency to fit your preference.

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Posts on Goodie Godmother may contain affiliate links, meaning that, should you click through and purchase, Goodie Godmother will receive a small commission. There is no cost to you, and any commission earned goes right to work helping me continue to bring you delicious recipes! That being said, I would never recommend a product I wouldn't or don't use myself and any opinions are 100% my own, always.

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