Sugar donuts

This easy sugar donut recipe comes from my grandmother and makes traditional baking powder donuts, so no yeast required to make these! You can coat these with cinnamon sugar to make sugar donuts, or a maple glaze to make maple glazed donuts. Up to you!

Frying donuts in a Le Creuset blue enamelware sauté pan then coating donuts in granulated sugar

My grandmother spelled these as “doughnuts” on her recipe card, but I think most of us would nowadays probably spell them as “donuts.” As you can tell from the photo, my grandmother wrote up this recipe years ago on a recipe card, like most of her other recipes. My mom estimates that the recipe is almost 100 years old. Almost all her recipe cards are contained in her metal recipe box that my mom has kept pretty much intact, perhaps with a few additions.

My mom has never made these doughnuts, and sadly, my grandmother is not here to coach me through my attempts to make her donuts. Her recipe card only has ingredients and amounts; no instructions or order of addition of the ingredients as you can see in the photo. I use the order of ingredients to know what order to combine the ingredients and what mixing method to use. Since all the wet ingredients are listed first, then all the dry, we can assume this uses the two bowl mixing method, also known as the muffin mixing method. 

Ingredients for baking powder donuts include milk, flour, vanilla, eggs, and spices like ground ginger shown here   

When you first mix the dough, it may seem like it’s too sticky to do anything with. But once you’ve chilled the dough for 1 hour, the dough rolls out nicely on a floured surface.

To cut out the donuts, you have two options:
  1. use a donut cutter
  2. use two round cookie cutters of different sizes.
Both work, but it might be easier to get the donuts out with two round cookie cutters because the dough can stick with some of the old donut cutters with handles and then it’s harder to extract after.
Cutting out donuts with an old-fashioned donut cutter with a wooden handle
To deep fry donuts, I have tested two options: a deep fryer and a fry pan heated on the stove to 350ºF. I find with the deep fryer, you can set it and forget it, and once the fryer hits the correct temperature, it’s quite stable. On the other hand, frying on the stove can be tricky because it takes so long to heat the oil, it’s very tempting to crank up the heat. But if you do so, you run the risk of overheating the oil, which would burn the donuts right away, or worse, a fire. You have to be VERY careful when you deep fry on the stove. And if there’s ever a fire, remember to smother it! Put the lid on the pan, turn off the heat, throw a cover over the fire. Sand also works and we should all have a bag of sand ready for any incidents….
Deep frying homemade donuts in a big deep frying appliance then dipping the fried donuts in sugar to coat them before serving

Maintaining the temperature of the oil can be difficult on a stovetop. That’s for sure. To avoid that the oil get too hot, I alternated between having the saucepan on the burner and off the burner. I found this worked better than lower the stove setting, which I set to 4 once the oil was heated to the right temperature.

By the way, a great trick for flipping donuts: use chopsticks!

Sugar coated donuts piled on a cake stand
If deep-frying truly scares you, remember that you can make baked donuts, like these baked sour cream donuts or these baked chocolate donuts, but you’ll need a donut pan to do so!
Here’s a half-recipe for my grandmother’s baking powder donuts. It makes about a dozen donuts. You can coat them in granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar to make sugar donuts. Or you can make a glaze like the optional maple glaze below. You can also try a dark chocolate ganache glaze, or this chocolate amaretto glaze.

I’ve updated the recipe to use butter instead of shortening. I don’t usually have shortening in my pantry, but feel free to use whatever fat you prefer.

Sugar donuts

These sugar donuts are made from an easy baking powder donuts recipe so you don't need any yeast to make these!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword baking powder donuts, Sugar donuts
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chill time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 donuts
Calories 125kcal
Author Janice


OXO whisk
Circle cutters


  • 1 large egg
  • 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 2.5 mL (½ tsp) pure vanilla extract
  • 22 grams ( tbsp) unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 125 mL (½ cup) milk (2 % fat)
  • 220 grams ( cups) all-purpose flour
  • 0.625 mL ( tsp) ground cloves
  • 10 mL (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 L (4 cups) canola oil for deep frying
  • 200 grams (1 cup) cinnamon sugar

Maple glaze (optional)

  • 125 grams (1 cup) icing sugar
  • 60 mL (¼ cup) maple syrup
  • milk (2 % fat) as much as needed for diluting the glaze


  • Whisk together the egg, sugar, vanilla, butter, and milk in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and ground cloves.
  • Combine the wet and the dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky dough.
  • Cover the bowl tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Roll out the dough to ½–¾ inches and cut out donuts with round cutters (use 1 big and 1 small cutter to make traditional ring donuts).
  • Heat a deep sauté pan (like this pan from Le Creuset) half-filled with oil to 350 ºF. Prepare a sheet pan with a wire rack set over it. Line with a little paper towel.
  • Fry the donuts, 3 or 4 at a time until golden brown, then flip and continue frying until the colour is fairly even.
  • Transfer the fried donuts to the prepared rack and let them cool slightly before tossing in cinnamon sugar to coat. Note that if you want to glaze the donuts, you would skip the sugar coating.

Maple glaze (optional)

  • Whisk together the icing sugar, maple syrup, and a splash of milk to form a thick glaze.
  • Dip the donuts on one size and twist to coat the surface. Then flip over and place back on the wire rack so that the glaze sets. Repeat with the other donuts.


Calories for 1 unglazed donut.
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenhealssoul or tag #kitchenhealssoul!


Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 82IU | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg

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11 Responses to Sugar donuts

  1. Heather October 27, 2010 at 1:36 PM #

    Old recipes are such a pain sometimes! They’re usually so vague in their descriptions, probably because the writer knew what they were doing. 🙂 Very frustrating!

    Anyway, I think that your doughnuts look beautiful! Great job.

  2. Sprinkled with Flour October 27, 2010 at 1:55 PM #

    Great job! I too have a donut recipe from my grandfather, who was a baker, but haven’t got it quite right yet:) These look yummy though, I would eat a whole box:) I enjoyed this month’s challenge, and ended up with halloween donuts. Fun:)

  3. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels October 27, 2010 at 2:01 PM #

    Great job on the challenge! Oh I have the same trouble with my grandmother’s recipes. Sometimes she’ll add a bit of this, a bit of that and has her own way of doing things. Your doughnuts turned out wonderful and look soooo tasty! I love the sprinkled powdered sugar and the glaze. YUM! I had lots of fun with this challenge, it was my first challenge and I LOVE doughnuts so I was super excited. I made Peanut Butter and Jelly Filled Doughnuts. 🙂

  4. Evan Thomas October 27, 2010 at 6:53 PM #

    Yum! the disection shot looks so cakey.

  5. [email protected] October 27, 2010 at 3:03 PM #

    great job on this months challenge! your donuts look lovely!

  6. Eileen October 27, 2010 at 9:19 PM #

    Great job! You are a doughnut making fool! LOL Two kinds – wow!

  7. [email protected] October 28, 2010 at 1:51 AM #

    Not sure if I said this before…but hey you are form Montreal like me….cool!

    I love the first one, your grandma’s recipe. That is so cool

  8. Heather October 30, 2010 at 10:56 AM #

    I love looking at old recipes, my Mum would be 89 if she were alive and my grandmother 110! I have their recipes. Many of my Mum’s recipe have only ingredients – they just knew what to do – I suppose less choice of ingredients and gadgets. Your doughnuts look delicious . Tres bon – from New Zealand.

  9. Chris October 18, 2019 at 5:55 PM #

    Given the age of the recipe, there is a good chance that “shortening” does not mean “vegetable shortening” like it does today (note that vegetable shortening is only about 100 years old). Shortening used to refer to any solid-at-room-temperature fat, including lard, beef tallow, or even butter.


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