My Chocolate Old Fashioned Donut recipe strikes the perfect balance between the timeless charm of old-fashioned sour cream donuts and a serious penchant for all things chocolate. These irresistible chocolate cake donuts feature a rich cocoa-infused batter that’s fried until it achieves crispy edges and tender middles, plus a crown of glossy chocolate glaze that's sure to have you reaching for seconds (or thirds!).
When I was little, a trip to the donut shop was tantamount to getting a brand new toy. As I’ve gotten older and more invested in my kitchen skills, making my own delicious doughnuts has become a serious hobby. From fluffy cream-filled donuts to cakey baked donuts, mini sprinkle donuts to old-fashioned sour cream donuts, I’m obsessed with these uniquely American breakfast pastries.
If you, too, love the idea of turning your kitchen into your own donut shop replete with cheerful pink boxes, you’ve come to the right place. Join me on a delicious weekend baking adventure as we whip up a batch of these heavenly fried chocolate donuts that are perfect for breakfast, brunch, or anytime you need a sweet pick-me-up!
⭐ Why You’ll Love This Chocolate Old Fashioned Donut Recipe
Aside from yielding a big platter full of the best homemade chocolate donuts you’ve ever tried, this old-fashioned doughnut recipe is:
- Made With Just 13 Simple Ingredients - If you’re someone who bakes often, I’d venture a bet that you have nearly everything you need on hand already.
- Moist, Tender, & Oh-So-Chocolatey - Between the fat from the sour cream and the egg yolks, the double whammy of cocoa in the batter and the glaze, and the lower gluten content from the cake flour, these old-fashioned cake donuts are the epitome of pure chocolate bliss.
- The Perfect Weekend Baking Project - If you’re anything like me, the best way to celebrate the end of the work week is by whipping up a batch of something delicious. If you’re anything like me, the best way to celebrate the end of the work week is by whipping up a batch of some sweet treats. This fried chocolate donut recipe is just challenging enough to stretch your skills, but not so difficult that you’ll need to invest more than about 2 hours total. Perfect for my fellow chocolate lover!
As promised, you only need a few easy-to-find ingredients to make the best old-fashioned chocolate donuts you’ve ever tried. Here’s what to grab:
- Cake Flour - Cake flour is preferred over all-purpose flour because it has a lower protein content, resulting in a finer and more delicate crumb texture in the donuts. To make a cup of cake flour, you can thoroughly whisk together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch + [¾ cup + 2 tablespoons] all-purpose flour.
- Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder - Dutch-processed cocoa powder (e.g. Droste) has been treated with an alkali to neutralize its acidity, resulting in a milder and smoother chocolate flavor. That said, you can use conventional cocoa powder, black cocoa powder, or even raw cacao powder if that’s what you have on hand.
- Sugar - Plain white sugar is neutral in taste and pH, making it ideal for old-fashioned cake donut batter. If you need to make a swap, organic cane sugar is your best bet. Don’t use brown sugar though; it has too much moisture and acidity.
- Egg Yolks - Using egg yolks instead of whole eggs in this chocolate doughnut recipe provides a more tender and delicate crumb texture to the donuts while imparting a richer, custard-like flavor. Save the whites (they can be frozen for up to 3 months!) to make macarons or white chocolate mousse in the future.
- Sour Cream - To impart moisture, tenderness, and a subtle tangy flavor. In a pinch, you can use full-fat plain Greek yogurt.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
⏲️ Substitutions & Variations
As much as I love these chocolate dipped donuts just the way they’re written, there is still some room for you to make them your own. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Different Glaze - While I love chocolate-dipped donuts, you have plenty of other options. Vanilla icing, plain sugar glaze, coconut icing, or pumpkin icing would all be fun flavor variations. Alternatively, try rolling them in cinnamon sugar for a simple, glaze-free option.
- Chocolate Donut Holes - If you’re trying to feed a crowd or just want a more manageable-sized donut experience, make a batch of exclusively donut holes.
- Add Sprinkles or Mini Chocolate Chips - Before the chocolate glaze sets, sprinkle on your favorite jimmies or some mini chocolate chips for added texture and visual interest.
- Dairy-Free - Swap in your favorite vegan sour cream and milk alternatives for some deliciously dairy-free donuts.
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!
🛠️ Key Equipment & Tools
- Candy Thermometer: This is crucial for monitoring your hot oil's temperature, ensuring it stays consistent for perfectly fried donuts.
- Dutch Oven or Deep Fryer: A large pot or dedicated deep fryer provides the space and heat retention necessary for frying multiple donuts at a time.
- Slotted Spoon: Essential for safely lowering your donuts into the hot oil and removing them once they're golden brown and gorgeous.
- Cooling Rack: After frying, transfer your donuts to a wire rack set over a baking sheet or sheet tray to allow excess oil to drip off and the donuts to cool slightly before glazing. This ensures your sweet glaze adheres beautifully without getting too runny.
- Doughnut or Biscuit Cutters: These are perfect for achieving the classic donut shape, and different-sized biscuit cutters allow for customizing your donut and doughnut hole sizes.
📖 How To Make Old Fashioned Chocolate Donuts: Step-by-Step Instructions
Mix Dough: Place the sugar and Crisco in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for about 2 minutes.
Add the wet ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients until mixed.
Roll Doughnuts: Dust the top of the dough with flour, and roll out your dough to be ½ inch thick.
Cut as many doughnuts and holes as possible using a doughnut cutter or circular cookie cutters of various sizes.
Fry Donuts: Fry for 15 seconds on the first side, then flip to cook for 75 seconds.
Glaze Donuts: Dip the doughnuts in chocolate glaze and allow the glaze to set for a few minutes before enjoying!
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Give it a rest! The dough/batter needs a minimum of 1 hour to chill out to properly rehydrate. I like to make my dough in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge overnight before continuing on.
- Make sure to dip your donut cutter in flour before each cut otherwise it will stick!
- Invest in a deep-fry thermometer. Make sure to continually monitor the temperature of your oil and only add doughnuts when the oil reads approximately 330 degrees Fahrenheit.
💭 Recipe FAQs
What is the difference between cake donuts vs old fashioned donuts? What’s the difference between old fashioned donuts and crullers?
Cake donuts are little pillows of breakfasty joy, made from a cake-like batter that's leavened with baking powder. They're fluffy, tender, and often have a wide range of flavors and toppings.
Old-fashioned donuts are a special kind of cake donut. They're known for their rustic, crackly edges and a dense, almost crumbly texture.
Crullers, on the other hand, are a whole different donut story. They're twisted, lacy, and fluted, usually made from choux pastry, the same stuff used for éclairs and cream puffs. Crullers have a light, airy interior and a delightful crunch on the outside.
What’s the best way to store old-fashioned chocolate donuts?
Allow the donuts to cool completely at room temperature before storing them in an airtight container, using pieces of parchment to separate the layers and keep the donuts from sticking together.
They're best served fresh on the day they're made, but they'll keep for 1-2 days at room temperature. For a longer shelf life, you can refrigerate them for up to 5 days, though refrigeration can affect the texture, making them slightly denser.
For longer storage, wrap each donut individually in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container or a freezer bag. Label with the date to keep track. Frozen donuts can be stored for up to 2-3 months. When you're ready to enjoy a frozen donut, let it thaw at room temperature for a few hours or microwave it for a short time to warm it up.
More Donut Recipes You’ll Love
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Chocolate Old Fashioned Donuts
- Air Tight Container
- Doughnut Cutter or Cookie Cutters
- Slotted Spoon
Chocolate Old Fashioned Doughnuts
- 2 Cups (255 g) Cake Flour
- ½ Cup (50 g) Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- ½ Cup (100 g) Sugar
- 2 tablespoon Crisco or Shortening
- 2 Large Egg Yolks
- 1 Cup (230 g) Sour Cream
- Canola Oil for Frying
Chocolate Doughnut Glaze
- 4 Cups (480 g) Powdered Sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon Corn Syrup
- ¾ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ Cup (80 g) Hot Water plus more if needed
- ⅔ Cup (115 g) Semisweet Chocolate, melted
Mixing & Frying Doughnuts
- Whisk together the dry ingredients – cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and sea salt in a medium bowl.2 Cups Cake Flour, 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, ½ Cup Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
- Place the Sugar and Crisco in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for about 2 minutes. Then add the egg yolks and mix for an additional two minutes before adding the sour cream.½ Cup Sugar, 2 tablespoon Crisco or Shortening, 2 Large Egg Yolks, 1 Cup Sour Cream
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two separate parts, mixing until just combined.
- Place the dough in an air-tight container in the fridge for an hour – I like to make my dough in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge overnight before continuing on.
- Place enough oil in a cast-iron pot so that you have at least 3 inches of oil in height from the base of the pot. Heat the oil to 330 degrees Fahrenheit.Canola Oil for Frying
- Meanwhile, dust your work surface with flour and place the dough on top. Dust the top of the dough with flour, and roll out your dough to be ½ inch thick. Cut as many doughnuts and holes as possible using a doughnut cutter or circular cookie cutters of various sizes. Make sure to dip the cutter in flour before each cut otherwise it will stick!
- Feel free to re-roll your dough and continue to cut more doughnuts and doughnut holes until you have barely any scraps left.
- Before you start the process of frying, I like to prepare my space by setting a cooling rack or a large plate near my cast iron pot and line with paper towels.
- To test that your oil is ready to go, I like to use a doughnut hole and drop it into our preheated oil. To fry your doughnuts, you’ll fry for 15 seconds on the first side, then flip to cook for 75 seconds. Then, finally flip the doughnut to cook for an additional 75 seconds until golden brown before removing from oil and set them on your prepared paper towels.
- Continue cooking doughnuts and doughnut holes in this fashion until there are none left! Make sure to continually monitor the temperature of your oil and only add doughnuts when the oil reads approximately 330 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add all ingredients (other than the melted chocolate) into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk everything until properly combined. Add the melted chocolate and stir - adding more hot water to the glaze if you prefer a thinner glaze.4 Cups Powdered Sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon Corn Syrup, ¾ teaspoon Vanilla Extract, ¼ teaspoon Salt, ⅓ Cup Hot Water plus more if needed, ⅔ Cup Semisweet Chocolate
- Dip the tops of the freshly fried doughnuts straight into the glaze before setting them on a cooling rack to set.