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Breakfast & Brunch | March 18, 2023

Homemade Buttermilk Donuts

This recipe for Homemade Buttermilk Donuts (made without yeast) is surprisingly simple! The original recipe comes from the family of Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Homemade Buttermilk Donuts
Homemade Buttermilk Donuts

I grew up on raised, glazed donuts from a little bakery down the street from our home. Making donuts from scratch was never a thought to me until I went away to college! It was there, that I first learned how to make homemade donuts.

Homemade Buttermilk Donuts
buttermilk donuts

What is a donut?

Donuts are dough, fried in fat and sweetened with sugar, frosting or glaze. The shape of the dough is usually round, with the center shaped or cut out. The center piece of dough is referred to as the donut “hole”. The history of the donut or doughnut or “Oily cake” is fascinating.

buttermilk donut dough
donut dough

Where did donuts originate?

This article from the Smithsonian explains the humble donut Dutch origin, how it came to America, went back to France during wartime, and then exploded in popularity when a donut machine became available in the 1920’s. Such a fun history lesson!

rolling out donut dough to 1/2 inch thickness
roll out to just less than 1/2 inch thick…

Brigham Young’s favorite donut recipe, updated

As you can imagine, this buttermilk donut recipe (which originated in the late 1700’s from Abigail Young, Brigham’s mother) is made with simple ingredients. Flour, sugar, salt, buttermilk (most people had cows), eggs, spice and butter. The recipe has been modernized over the years. Baking soda was not used in the original recipe and I added baking powder to help give the donuts a lighter texture. Back then, the donuts were fried in lard as well. Vegetable or Canola oil takes the place of lard in this recipe.

The story goes that this donut was popular with Brigham Young and was sold in the department store ZCMI (Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution) in the bakery section in Salt Lake City for years.

If you have been hesitant to make donuts because yeast intimidates you, this is definitely a simple, beginner-level recipe. This recipe is guaranteed to make any gathering better in minutes!

Donuts cut out of dough
donuts ready for frying

What you need to make Homemade Buttermilk Donuts:

  • sugar- to sweeten donuts and also for coating finished donuts
  • buttermilk OR milk + plain Greek yogurt- secret ingredient to make donuts tender
  • eggs- helps give donuts rise and leavening
  • baking soda + powder- leavening
  • cinnamon + nutmeg- for flavor, similar to a spice donut
  • butter- serves two purposes, fat and flavor in donuts
  • all purpose flour-structure, protein and leavening
  • canola or vegetable oil- for frying donuts
donuts draining on paper towels
drain donuts on paper towels

Donuts are the ultimate pantry friendly treat! At any given time I have the ingredients on hand to make donuts. Simple ingredients, easy to make recipe. This results in a treat you can make almost any day of the year. This donut is not complicated, instead it is mixed together in minutes, shaped, fried and enjoyed while still warm!

sugar coating on donuts
buttermilk spice donuts

Tips (and tools) for making homemade buttermilk donuts:

  • When making the dough, I prefer using Greek yogurt mixed with milk (I use whatever is in the fridge skim to whole) instead of buttermilk.
  • If you have an electric fryer to control temperature of the oil, use it! I keep a thermometer next to the pan to frequently test the oil temperature.
  • I suggest doing about 5 minutes of prep before launching into making and frying the donuts. Set up a station to fry the shaped donuts with a place to drain the extra oil off of the hot donuts, then place the donuts on a paper towel lined platter or baking sheet. Next a place to toss the donuts in sugar and place on a cooling rack or platter to sit until ready to inhale eat.
  • Donuts can be made without any special tools, but a donut cutter definitely makes the job easier. I have a couple of donut cutters, this one is larger and cuts a bit easier, but is more difficult to store. and this one is more compact and can fit in most shallow drawers.

A few minutes of prep will make the process or assembly line more efficient. I know you are going to love this recipe!

donut holes in sugar
donut holes from buttermilk donuts

How to make Buttermilk Donuts at home:

  • Place sugar into a paper bag.
  • Mix buttermilk, eggs and sugar together.
  • Add soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. Incorporate with buttermilk mixture.
  • Add a portion of the flour mix until the flour is no longer visible. Mix in an additional flour
  • Flour a pastry mat or clean surface. Turn the dough onto the surface and knead 3-4 times.
  • Roll the dough out. Shape the donuts.
  • Heat oil, fry the donuts. Drain on a paper towel lined cookie sheet.
  • Let cool for about a minute. Toss the donuts 3-4 at a time in the bag of sugar.
plate of homemade donuts
no-yeast buttermilk donuts
5 from 4 votes

Homemade Buttermilk Donuts

This no-yeast buttermilk donut is easy to make and ready in minutes to feed a hungry crowd!

Course bread, Breakfast, Dessert, donuts
Cuisine American
Keyword buttermilk, donuts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 24 donuts


  • ¾ cup sugar for donut topping
  • 2 cups buttermilk OR 1 cup milk + 1 cup plain Greek yogurt mixed together, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 6 cups all purpose flour plus more for rolling out
  • 40 oz canola or vegetable oil for frying


  1. Place 3/4 cup of granulated sugar into a paper bag. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs and sugar. Mix until sugar is incorporated into buttermilk and eggs.

  3. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and melted butter. Mix again until incorporated with buttermilk mixture.

  4. Add 4 cups flour and mix on low with paddle attachment or using a large spoon or spatula until the flour is no longer visible. Mix in an additional 2 cups of flour, a half cup at a time, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl.

  5. Mix in additional flour if needed. The dough should take shape and not have a wet look. If the dough is still wet or sticky, add an additional tablespoon or two of flour. Turn the dough in the bowl until the dough is no longer sticky.

  6. Generously flour a pastry mat or clean surface. Turn the dough onto the surface and knead 3-4 times, folding the dough onto itself and gathering flour to make dough less sticky if needed. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

  7. Using a donut cutter, cut the donut shapes out. Let rest while the oil is being heated.

  8. Heat oil in a heavy pan to 375 degrees. Gently place the dough into the pan 3-4 at a time. Let cook on one side until golden, then turn with chopsticks to cook the other side. It takes about 1-2 minute per side to cook. Drain donuts on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Cook the donut holes in 2-3 batches.

  9. Let cool for about a minute. Toss the donuts 3-4 at a time in the bag of sugar.

  10. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

  • Do not roll the donuts out to less than 1/4 inch thick. The donuts are best when rolled to just between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick. 
  • To test the oil, place a donut hole into the oil. If the oil smokes, it is too hot, if the donut hole sits and the oil does not bubble, the oil is not hot enough. Use a thermometer to test the temperature of the oil throughout the cooking process. 
  • Don’t crowd the pan with too many donuts at once, this will decrease the temperature of the oil and result in greasy, undercooked donuts. 
  • For best results, let the donut cool for about 1 minute before tossing in sugar. 
  • Donuts are best when eaten within 8 hours of cooking. 

12 thoughts on “Homemade Buttermilk Donuts

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Recipe Rating

  1. Have you ever tried to cook doughnuts in the air fryer? Just wondering if they are any good (and how long at what temp).

    1. Hi Toni,
      I have not. But I think it is worth a try! I’d try brushing with a little melted butter or oil, then “frying” one at 375.
      Let us know if you try it!

  2. 5 stars
    We LOVE this recipe! They make for the most delicious doughnuts! A personal and family favorite!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for the first time before general conference and my adult kids begged to have these for general conference so I made them again. They all voted to have these as our new tradition. My 6 year old granddaughter said, “Grandma what did you put in these donuts?” I told her and then she said, ‘“Can you please write that down so I can give it to my mom. I didn’t like donuts but I love these!” I love the touch of nutmeg. It gives it so much flavor. Thank you!

  4. Your recipe is basically the standard American buttermilk donut recipe.
    Brigham Young’s Buttermilk Donuts do not contain cinnamon… It was just nutmeg. For this recipe it would be 1 1/2 teaspoons of nutmeg with no cinnamon.
    Also, there is no baking powder in the Brigham Young recipe.
    You said that baking soda was not used in the original recipe… Baking soda was used.. albeit, it wasn’t the same baking soda we used today. They used potassium bicarbonate in Utah back then… Our baking soda today is sodium bicarbonate. It was baking powder they did not havek then.

    1. Hi Elmer,
      Thank you for this clarification. As mentioned in the recipe post, this recipe has been updated using cinnamon in place of spice and also baking powder was added as well to give the donuts a lighter texture. Hope you enjoy!