Buttermilk Donuts: The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Own

Buttermilk Donuts: The Ultimate Guide

Introduction to Buttermilk donuts


Buttermilk donuts are celebrated for their distinctively tangy flavor and tender, airy texture. They are a beloved choice among donut aficionados. These treats combine traditional donut-making techniques with the rich, acidic properties of buttermilk. This enhances the taste and contributes to their unique mouthfeel. This article explores the charming world of buttermilk donuts, delving into their preparation, variations, and the reasons behind their enduring popularity.


The inclusion of buttermilk in baking is not just a preference—it’s a strategic culinary choice. It enhances the moisture and tenderness of baked goods, including donuts. The acidity of buttermilk breaks down tough gluten strands, softening the dough. This makes it easier to bite into. Its subtle tanginess also complements the sweetness of the donuts, creating a complex flavor profile. This article will highlight the unique characteristics of buttermilk donuts, discuss their widespread appeal, and provide insights into making your own at home.

Key Ingredients and Recipe Overview


Creating the perfect buttermilk donut starts with gathering the right ingredients. These are the essentials:

  • Buttermilk: The key ingredient that adds moisture and a slight tanginess to the dough.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour works best for a light, airy texture.
  • Sugar: Essential for sweetness and helps in browning the donuts.
  • Eggs: Bind the ingredients together and contribute to the richness.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: These leavening agents are crucial for creating the perfect rise in the dough.
  • Butter: Adds flavor and tenderizes the dough by creating flaky layers.
  • Spices: Nutmeg or cinnamon can be added for a warm, inviting flavor.

Preparation Steps

The preparation process is as important as the ingredients themselves. Here’s how to make buttermilk donuts:

  1. Mixing Ingredients: Begin by sifting the dry ingredients together to ensure they are evenly distributed. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients, including the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.
  2. Combining the Mixtures: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring until just combined. It’s crucial not to overmix to avoid developing too much gluten, which can make the donuts tough.
  3. Kneading the Dough: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
  4. Shaping the Donuts: Roll out the dough to about a half-inch thickness. Use a donut cutter to cut out the donut shapes. If you don’t have a donut cutter, a large and a small round cutter will work.
  5. Resting: Let the shaped dough rest for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax and makes the donuts lighter and fluffier.
  6. Cooking: Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large heavy-bottomed pot to 375°F (190°C). Fry the donuts in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry each side until golden brown, about one minute per side.
  7. Cooling and Glazing: Transfer the fried donuts to a cooling rack. While still warm, dip them into a glaze or sprinkle with sugar if desired.
Following these steps will help you create delicious, tender buttermilk donuts that are perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re serving them at a morning gathering or as a sweet treat for your family, buttermilk donuts are sure to delight. Let’s move on to explore the various ways you can finish these delectable treats with glazes and toppings.

Glazing and Flavor Variations

Classic Glazes

Buttermilk donuts offer a versatile canvas for a variety of glazes, each providing a different burst of flavor and texture. Here are a few classic options:

  • Simple Sugar Glaze: A straightforward yet delightful choice, this glaze consists of powdered sugar dissolved in a bit of milk or water. For an extra hint of flavor, a dash of vanilla extract can be added.
  • Chocolate Glaze: Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips with a small amount of butter and heavy cream to create a rich, glossy topping that’s perfect for chocolate lovers.
  • Buttermilk Vanilla Glaze: Incorporate a small amount of buttermilk into your traditional vanilla glaze for a slightly tangy flavor that complements the donut’s taste.

Flavor Variations

 Buttermilk Donuts

Personalizing your buttermilk donuts with various flavor additions can make them truly unique. Consider these enticing variations:

  • Spices: Mix spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom directly into the dough for a warm, spicy note that enhances the buttermilk’s tangy profile.
  • Citrus Zest: Adding lemon, orange, or lime zest to the dough or the glaze introduces a bright, zesty flavor that cuts through the sweetness and enriches the overall taste.
  • Coconut Flakes: For a tropical twist, add shredded coconut to the dough or sprinkle it atop the glaze. Toasting the coconut first can add an extra layer of crunch and nuttiness.
  • Cocoa Powder: Integrating cocoa powder into the dough creates a chocolatey version that can be intensified with a matching chocolate glaze.

By experimenting with these glazes and flavor additions, you can cater to a variety of tastes and occasions, making your buttermilk donuts a customizable treat for all to enjoy.

Tips and Techniques

Successful donut making hinges not just on the recipe but also on the technique. Here are some crucial tips and techniques for making the best buttermilk donuts:

Dough Handling

  • Keep the Dough Chilled: Handle the dough as little as possible and keep it chilled until ready to roll and cut. This prevents the butter from melting and ensures the donuts are flaky and light.
  • Lightly Floured Surface: When rolling out the dough, use just enough flour to prevent sticking without over-flouring, which can make the dough tough.
  • Avoid Over-Kneading: Over-kneading the dough can lead to tough donuts. Mix just until the ingredients are combined, and handle the dough gently.

Frying Tips

  • Correct Oil Temperature: Maintaining the correct temperature of the oil (375°F or 190°C) is crucial. Use a thermometer to check the temperature, as too hot oil will cook the outside too quickly while leaving the inside raw, and too cool oil will make the donuts greasy.
  • Fry in Small Batches: Don’t overcrowd the frying pan, as this can cause the oil temperature to drop and result in soggy donuts. Fry in small batches for consistent, even cooking.

By mastering these tips and techniques, you can ensure that your buttermilk donuts will be perfectly cooked with a delicious flavor and texture. Next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions to help clarify any doubts and provide additional insights into making exceptional buttermilk donuts.

Additional Insights on Buttermilk Donuts

Buttermilk donuts are particularly valued for their distinct flavor and texture, which comes from the use of buttermilk in the batter. Furthermore, the acid in buttermilk reacts with the baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide and causing the dough to rise effectively when fried. Consequently, this not only creates a lighter texture but also ensures a moist interior, which is a hallmark of a good buttermilk donut. Moreover, the slight tang of buttermilk balances the sweetness of the donut, thereby adding depth to its flavor profile.

Health Considerations

When considering the calorie content of various donuts, be aware of portion sizes and the impact of toppings like glazes and sugars. For those monitoring their calorie intake, a plain buttermilk donut is a better option than a glazed or topped one. Additionally, baking donuts instead of frying them reduces their fat content. However, this alters their texture and flavor compared to traditional fried buttermilk donuts.

Culinary Variations: Jamaican Fried Dumplings

Jamaican Fried Dumplings, or Johnny Cakes, while not traditional donuts, share some similarities with them in terms of their dough-based nature and cooking method. They are a versatile component of Jamaican cuisine and can be enjoyed with both sweet and savory accompaniments. The simplicity of their ingredients makes them a staple in many households.

Caloric Content Awareness

Understanding the caloric impact of treats like buttermilk bar donuts is essential for maintaining a balanced diet. These treats, while delicious, are often high in sugars and fats, making them more suitable for occasional indulgence rather than daily consumption. For those looking for a lighter option, smaller portions or alternatives with reduced sugar content might be worth exploring.


Are buttermilk and old-fashioned donuts the same?

No, buttermilk and old-fashioned donuts are not the same, although they can be similar. Specifically, buttermilk donuts use buttermilk in their dough, which gives them a distinct tangy flavor and tender texture. On the other hand, old-fashioned donuts may or may not contain buttermilk. The term ‘old-fashioned’ generally refers to a method of making donuts that results in a craggy, rough texture that absorbs glazes particularly well. Additionally, both types of donuts are typically deep-fried and can be similarly shaped, yet the ingredients and texture might differ.

How many calories are in an old-fashioned buttermilk donut?

The calorie content of an old-fashioned buttermilk donut can vary depending on the size and specific ingredients used, but on average, a medium-sized old-fashioned buttermilk donut contains about 290 to 350 calories. This can vary based on additional toppings or glazes, which can add more calories.

What are Jamaican donuts called?

People often refer to Jamaican donuts as ‘Fried Dumplings’ or ‘Johnny Cakes.’ These treats differ from traditional donuts as they are fried dough commonly enjoyed in Jamaica. Cooks prepare them using a dough that includes flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. They mix this with water and sometimes milk, then fry the mixture until golden brown. You can serve them as a breakfast item or as a side dish with savory meals.

How many calories are in a buttermilk bar donut?

A buttermilk bar donut, known for its rectangular shape and dense texture, typically contains around 420 to 480 calories. This number can vary based on the size of the donut and the types of toppings or glazes used. Buttermilk bar donuts are rich and have a more pronounced buttermilk flavor, making them a hearty treat.

Why use buttermilk instead of regular milk in donuts?

Buttermilk is preferred in donut recipes for several reasons. Its acidity activates the baking soda, which helps the donuts rise better and become fluffier. Additionally, the tangy flavor of buttermilk enhances the overall taste of the donuts, giving them a distinctively rich and subtle sourness that balances the sweetness. Buttermilk also contributes to a more tender texture by breaking down gluten strands, making the donuts softer.

How can I avoid dense or dry buttermilk donuts?

To prevent your buttermilk donuts from becoming dense or dry, follow these tips:

  • Do not overmix the dough: Overmixing develops the gluten too much, leading to tough donuts. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
  • Proper measuring of ingredients: Use a scale or precise measuring tools to ensure the correct balance of ingredients, as too much flour can dry out the dough.
  • Fry at the right temperature: Keeping the oil at a consistent 375°F (190°C) ensures quick cooking that doesn’t allow the oil to penetrate deeply into the donuts, which can make them oily and heavy.
What are the best toppings or glazes for buttermilk donuts?

The best toppings or glazes for buttermilk donuts depend on personal preference, but here are some popular choices:

  • Classic sugar glaze: Mix powdered sugar with milk or water to a smooth consistency for a simple, sweet coating.
  • Chocolate glaze: Melt chocolate with a bit of cream for a rich and indulgent topping.
  • Maple syrup glaze: Combine maple syrup with powdered sugar for a distinctively autumnal flavor.
  • Fruit glazes: Pureed strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries make for vibrant, flavorful glazes that add a fruity note.
  • Cinnamon sugar: A dry topping that’s perfect for those who prefer a less sweet option. Roll the warm donuts in a mix of cinnamon and granulated sugar for a spicy-sweet finish.

These toppings and glazes can be mixed and matched or customized with additional ingredients like nuts, sprinkles, or candied citrus peel for added texture and flavor.


Buttermilk donuts are a delightful treat that offer versatility in both flavor and preparation. Whether you are making them from scratch for a family breakfast or a special occasion, understanding the role of buttermilk, the importance of ingredient measurements, and the techniques for handling dough and frying can make all the difference. Experiment with different glazes and toppings to personalize your buttermilk donuts and make each batch uniquely delicious. Encourage creativity in your baking endeavors, and most importantly, have fun as you explore the various possibilities that buttermilk donuts present!

Leave a Comment