Old Fashion Farmhouse Doughnut Recipe

Apr 6, 2019 | Farmhouse Food

These homemade old fashioned doughnuts are classic and delicious! Learn how to make your own homemade doughnuts with this 100 year old farmhouse doughnut recipe.

There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly fried doughnuts filling a farmhouse kitchen.  My family loves having homemade doughnuts, store bought are just not the same. 

This is a recipe that has been in my family for a century and is by far our favorite.  I know that your family will enjoy them just as much as mine does. 

In my family this is known as Gram’s Doughnut recipe, and these doughnuts are as old fashion as they get. I learned to make them from my Great Grammy Cora who was born in 1911. She lived to be over 100, with many of her years spent cooking and baking on the farm. When I was a little girl I would stand on a chair and watch her drop the doughnuts into the sizzling lard. As Gram got older (over 95) she wasn’t up to standing in the kitchen, so my mother would do the mixing and bring the bowl to Gram for inspection.  She would tell us what ingredients to add and say, “a pinch more of this” and “it feels almost right”.

Of course, there was no recipe for these doughnuts, Gram just knew what to add.  Before she passed my mother decided to write down the ingredients and steps so that we could continue to make these century old doughnuts for generations to come.  

Old Fashioned Farmhouse Doughnut Ingredients


Wet ingredients:


1 ½ cups white sugar 

¼ cup butter

2 eggs

1 cup sour milk (can be made with vinegar and milk)

1 ½ tsp vanilla 

Dry ingredients:

3 ½ cups flour (may need more, but just enough to handle the dough)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt 


Shorting or lard (enough for doughnuts to float in pan)


Old Fashioned Farmhouse Doughnut Directions

Dough Directions:

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.

2. Beat the eggs and add them to butter and sugar.

3. Add the sour milk and vanilla. You can make sour milk by adding a tsp of vinegar to milk and letting it set until you see the milk start to curdle. For this I use white vinegar. 

4. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.

5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet. Once you have added all of the ingredients the dough will seem very wet, and that is good. The dough should be just firm enough to handle but still very soft. *If the dough is too wet to handle add more flour until a very soft dough has formed. 

6. Turn the dough onto a flowered surface and lightly sprinkle some flower on top.

7. Pat out the dough with your hands so it is ½ inch thick.

8. Cut out the doughnuts with doughnut cutter. I use my great grandmother’s doughnut cutter; if you don’t have one you can use two circle cookie cutters, a knife, empty soup cans, or find one online.

Once you have cut out the doughnuts let them set for a minute so they are easier to handle when frying.

Frying Directions:

1. Melt the shortening or lard in a frying pan, so that there is 1 to 2 inches of grease, or enough for the doughnuts to float in. I use an electric frying pan because it has high sides, you can use a regular frying pan but make sure it has high enough (2 inch) sides. 

2. Let the grease get hot, around 375°F/190°C.

3. To see if the grease is ready I test it with a doughnut hole. Drop in a doughnut piece when you think the grease is hot enough. If the grease around the dough sizzles and bubbles the grease is ready, if there is no sizzle let the grease get hotter.

4. Drop in the doughnuts. Lay them into the grease away from you so it doesn’t splash.

5. When the doughnuts rise and start to turn brown around the edges flip them over. To flip the doughnuts I like using wooden chopsticks. I find they work good for picking up the doughnuts and they do not get hot, but you can use anything you have on hand. Try your best to only flip the doughnuts once.

6. When the other sides are brown take the doughnuts out and put them on a tea towel to get off some grease.

7. Finally, while they are still hot, toss the doughnuts in white sugar and set them on a rack to cool.

Store the doughnuts in a sealed container. They should keep for a week or two, but in our house they never last that long. If you won’t eat them up quickly they can be put in the freezer for later.



  1. Dillon Jim

    I so enjoyed you blog Maggie, looking forward to more recipes. I love looking at them and sometimes I do try some out. I loved looking at your goats and chicken coop. I will show Jim. He lived on a small farm and a young boy. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anonymous

      Self rise or all purpose flour?

      • Maggie

        I use all purpose flour. Happy Baking!

      • Elsie

        Can this Recipe be Baked instead of frying donuts,?
        Thank you!

  2. Mary

    Could I bake these instead of fry?

    • Maggie

      I have never tried to bake them myself. I think the cooking times would be longer and the dough may be a little thin for baked doughnuts.

      • Rahima

        This sounds lovely, just the fact that it’s a hundred years old! I am unclear about the baking soda? Is that baking powder or bicarbonate of soda? Thank you.

        • Anonymous

          Bicarbonate soda

  3. Jan

    Can you fry these in an air fryer?

    • Maggie

      I have never tried them in the air fryer. If you do I would recommend testing one first to see if it turns out. I am not familiar with air fryers but have be interested in trying them out!

      • Donna M

        These doughnuts are delicious! The dough was heck to work with though. I had to use way more flour. This recipe is still a keeper!!!

    • Ginger Meeder

      Why is there no printable option?
      I would like to try this but need to have a printable version. Please & thank you.

      • Anonymous

        Write it down…….we older folks remember doing that.

        • Rude police!

          Wow KAREN ..she was being polite when asking. Perhaps you need a little ‘Barney’ in your life to teach you some manners.

          Most OLD people have them.

          • Mary

            Lmao respect your elders. I am younger and found your comment to be the rude one. Sit back down Karen 2.0

            You’re the real Karen. Oh p.s. thanks for the 100 year old recipe that was made before printers were invented.

          • Élise

            Nothing impolite about writing “write it down “ as a senior I thought the same think.

      • Anonymous

        When a recipe doesn’t offer a print option, I take screen shots and print those. That’s what I’ll do for this one. Can’t wait to try making these donuts!

      • Homer


  4. Ashleigh

    Can these be fried in canola oil

    • Maggie

      Yes canola oil should work fine for frying them.

  5. Cindy

    I’ve was a donut maker for 37 years and although you can use oil for frying them if you use shortening or lard they will absorb less oil and come out with a lighter texture and a crisper exterior. Just a little hint. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      This is a great piece of advice! Thank you!

    • Ivbh

      +OK l oo 58″😄😄😄 fr)hlf.) ill l p(pop pk l

    • Theresa

      Wow! That’s interesting! I didn’t know that about Lard & cooking oil! That is a great tip!!

  6. Maria

    Hi..can i use buttermilk instead?

    • Maggie

      I have not tried making them with buttermilk, but I think it would work. It might affect the flavour a little and you may need to adjust the flour slightly.

    • Kelly

      The old terms for buttermilk and regular milk were sour milk and sweet milk, respectively. “Souring” the milk with vinegar is just a substitution for buttermilk.

  7. Nini2008

    The shortening tip is a good one! Lard is a big, fat nope in my house. Also…isn’t buttermilk the same as sour milk? Can’t wait to make these with my 13 year old granddaughter next week during Spring Break at our vacation home!

    • Kelly

      You should read up on Lard… it actually is not the evil monster it has been made out to be. Lard made from pasture raised animals is an option worth exploring. Healthier than oil or shortening!

      • Theresa

        Thank you for the Lard tip!
        I personally thought both Lard & Shortening were equally as bad for you! I will look for that at Natural Grocers next time!

    • Dolores

      Since I am finally informed about lard, it will be my fat of choice for making doughnuts.

      Having studied nutrition for 19 years, shortening (Crisco, etc) is by far the greater evil due to hydrogenation, which modifies the fatty acid chain.
      The oil industry spent millions spreading misinformation, touting shortening as “healthier” (claiming animal fats caused high cholesterol). This bogus claim was an effort to profit on their product! It was all about SHELF LIFE, not health.

      Lard is natural and has not been modified, unlike Crisco Shortening, et al.
      TRUTH: Animal fat (or any saturated fat) does not convert into more body fat as everything we eat is broken down into glucose/sugar first…whether we eat meat containing fat, sweeteners, grains, vegetables, nuts, etc.

      Fats take the longest to convert into sugar providing more consistent energy. Coconut, avocado, peanut, almond, safflower, sunflower, et al are the oils that are healthier. Lard is absolutely not detrimental to our bodies…the oil industry misinformed you.

      Refined sugar is by far the greater evil for it’s high glycemic profile raising blood sugar (and as a result contributes to greater fat stores) and should be limited.

      • Marie Lawson

        Dolores….you are spot on with your comment!

  8. Debi

    Could you use coconut oil? First time making them. Wish me luck😜

  9. Susan

    Tried this recipe. It was a miserable dough to work with. When made according to directions batter was like a cake batter. Had to keep adding flour (about two additional cups ) and it was still too sticky. After cutting out doughnuts after the first five were in the fryer l went to pick up some more and they were too sticky to even scrape off the Matt with a thin spatula. I scraped up all of it and have it in the refrigerator hoping it will be workable otherwise it’s going in the trash

    • B. Jackson

      Everyone else seemed to manage, why even bother to comment? You’re welcome for her Gramma’s 100 year old recipe, sorry you failed.

  10. Raquel

    Hi! I am homeschooling my kiddos and we are going to make this for our class time. I am excited to try this. We are going to be studying the letter D so this works great for our letter study

  11. ann.egeler.rogers@gmail.com

    When I saw these donuts I saw Grandma’s. Since I am 72 and I remember these from when I was a little girl, there’s no doubt they were her donuts. The reason they taste like none we get today is the magic ingredient – the lard. The donuts will never taste like these if you decide to use Canola or Vegetable oil instead of lard! That’s a promise! Can hardly wait to try these!


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Hey, I’m Maggie. I hope you will join me and my family in getting back to the land.  Here you will learn about making things yourself, cooking homegrown food, and beginning a homesteading journey.


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