One good thing to come out of 2020: these Chocolate Old-Fashioned Donuts. Homemade donuts are the real deal, and when you make them with a chocolate- and sour cream-based batter, deep-fry them in your own kitchen and dip them in a simple glaze, you’ll never want to go back to store-bought again. Breakfast, snack, dessert — heck, dinner — there’s never a wrong time to indulge in this delicious treat!

stacked chocolate old-fashioned donuts on a sheet of parchment paper
chocolate old-fashioned donuts on a cooling rack

I feel like I could just drop the mic here and let you get right to the kitchen to make these chocolaty donuts, BUT — there is so much to say about them that I wouldn’t do these delectable round treats the justice they are due if I just left you here. So, let’s grab some coffee, take a cozy seat and talk about DONUTS.

For the vanilla version, make these Baked Vanilla Donuts!

What Are Old-Fashioned Donuts?

First, a primer on all the types of donuts out there. There are yeast donuts, cake donuts, baked donuts, old-fashioned donuts, frosted donuts, fritters, bear claws, long johns, twists, crullers… you get it. How can we possibly differentiate them all from each other?? Apart from trying each kind (which I highly support), I’ll save my lessons on the other types of donuts and today focus solely on the old-fashioned donut — a tried-and-true variety loved by many.

An old-fashioned donut is, in short, a variety of cake donut with a sort-of tapered-edge round shape that’s usually made with sour cream or buttermilk and without yeast. You cook them in a deep fryer and usually coat them with a simple powdered sugar-based glaze (like the recipe below). Flavors range from something as simple as vanilla or chocolate to more adventurous ones like pumpkin, cherry and blueberry. Whenever I’m in the mood for donuts, old-fashioned donuts are my first choice. They’re moist and cakey but also delightfully dense and flavorful. My only issue with them is that I can’t stop eating them when they’re around.

chocolate old-fashioned donut on a surface with a bite taken out

The Best Ingredients for Chocolate Old-Fashioned Donuts

If you’re gonna go big and make donuts at home, you want to be sure you’ve got the best ingredients to make them. So! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Cocoa powder (you can use regular unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder in this recipe!)
  • Cornstarch, which gives these donuts their light texture without falling apart
  • Nutmeg — a surprising yet essential spice for donut recipes!
  • Sour cream, to give these donuts their classic sweetness with a tang

All of these ingredients, plus a few standards (such as salt, butter, eggs, etc.), combine to make the best donuts you’ve ever had — but be sure everything is fresh and of good quality, since every flavor shines through every tasty bite.

How to Make Homemade Donuts

When it comes to chocolate old-fashioned donuts, my first piece of advice is to plan ahead — that is to say, make sure you have all of the correct equipment on hand. For this recipe, two special tools are key:

Once you’ve got these tools in your baking collection, everything else is easy-peasy! Here’s how to make these yummy treats:

  • Step 1: Whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  • Step 2: Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs.
  • Step 3: Combine the dry ingredients with the butter mixture and sour cream.
  • Step 4: Refrigerate the batter for about 1 hour so it firms up a bit; this makes it easier to roll out before frying.
  • Step 5: Heat your oil in a pot to 325°F. Roll out the dough on a very well-floured surface, then cut into donuts.
  • Step 6: Fry donuts in batches until cooked through. Fry the donut holes, too!
  • Step 7: Make the simple powdered sugar glaze.
  • Step 8: Dunk the donuts into the glaze, then let them sit for a few minutes to allow the glaze to set.

With just 20 minutes of prep time, you can have more than a dozen fresh-fried donuts in your home ready to devour at a moment’s notice. WHAT BETTER NEWS COULD EXIST.

chocolate old-fashioned donut on a surface with a bite taken out and more in the background

Tips for Making Chocolate Old-Fashioned Donuts

I know that homemade donuts might seem intimidating (hot oil! rolling out dough! using a fancy donut cutter!) but trust me, they’re so very simple. Donuts are the kind of thing that get easier the more often you make them from scratch, and the batter is so quick to put together, you can whip them up on a whim. And, I have some pro tips below that make the process even less overwhelming, so you can power through right to the deliciousness:

  • To make sure the oil temperature stays roughly around 325°F at all times, keep an eye on the deep fry thermometer and adjust the heat on your stove top burner as needed. It’s really as easy as: if the oil is too hot, turn down the heat and if the oil is too cold, turn it up. You don’t need to keep the temperature EXACTLY at 325°F, but within 10 degrees either way is ideal. This keeps the donuts from burning (oil too hot) or getting soggy (oil too cold).
  • If you don’t have a donut cutter but you DO have two different sizes of round biscuit or cookie cutters, use those instead!
  • Be sure to liberally flour everything when you roll out and cut the dough. The dough is rather sticky at first and will firm up in the fridge, but you’ll still want to use enough flour on your surface, your rolling pin and your donut cutter to keep it from sticking as you go.

Fellow donut lovers, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can find joy in the little things — and these little donuts bring me so much joy (bonus points if served with a gallon of coffee, amiright). I hope you can find the joy in eating them, too.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
stacked chocolate old-fashioned donuts on parchment paper

Chocolate Old-Fashioned Donuts

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 16 to 18 donuts + donut holes 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: American


Soft, cakey, ridiculously chocolaty (and ridiculously easy) old-fashioned donuts with an irresistible sweet and simple glaze! Once you give these a try, you’ll always want to make them homemade.



For the donuts:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 quarts canola or vegetable oil, for frying

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. First, make the donuts: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and nutmeg until well combined.
  2. In a separate large bowl using an electric hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat granulated sugar and butter on medium speed just until mixture appears sandy, about 1 minute. Beat in egg yolks on medium speed until mixture is light and thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream, beating after each addition until batter is well-combined.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours, until batter is slightly firm.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot or deep saucepan with a deep-fry thermometer attached. Heat oil to 325°F.* On a very well-floured surface using a well-floured rolling pin, roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a well-floured donut cutter or two different-sized biscuit cutters to cut dough into approximately 16 to 18 donuts and donut holes (re-roll scraps once, if needed).
  5. Fry donuts in batches, about three at a time, 2 minutes each side or until puffed and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon or deep fry skimmer to transfer cooked donuts to a paper bag or paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. Repeat with remaining donuts and donut holes.
  6. Next, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over low heat, heat milk to just below a simmer (when it begins to steam). Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar, pinch salt and vanilla until smooth. Use a fork to carefully dunk donuts one at a time into glaze, coating both sides. Lift to allow excess glaze to drip off donut, then transfer to a cooling rack with parchment or paper towel underneath to catch excess glaze. Allow donuts to sit until glaze is fully set, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Donuts are best served the day they’re made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.


  • *If using a deep-fry thermometer, you’ll need to raise or lower the stove top burner temperature as needed to maintain 325°F as best as possible. Too hot, and the donuts might burn before they’re cooked through; too low, and they’ll end up soggy and dense.
  • Recipe adapted from Handle the Heat.

Keywords: dark chocolate donut batter, simple donut glaze, powdered sugar glaze, chocolate sour cream donuts

More Donut Recipes!