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!

  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.

  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!

    • 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.

  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. 🙂

  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.

  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!


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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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