Mom’s Buttermilk Doughnuts are an old-fashioned, deep fried doughnut recipe that are also known as fry cakes. This cake like doughnut is deep fried until golden brown. The vanilla flavored cake encased in the crispy brown exterior is melt in your mouth delicious. They are extra delicious eaten fresh out of the fryer dipped in a sugar coating.

Deep Fried Buttermilk Doughnuts are a great way to treat your family on the weekend. They are a little time intensive, but so worth the end result. If you have never tried a homemade buttermilk doughnut, then you need to read on, because it an experience that everyone needs to have!

Mom standing in her kitchen with a tray of homemade buttermilk doughnuts on the counter beside her.

Documenting Mom’s Homemade Buttermilk Doughnuts

My mom has always been an amazing maker of all things bread-like. Three things she would make regularly in the home were biscuits, bread, and doughnuts. I remember as a young girl, I would watch her make her doughnuts, and anxiously wait until they would come out of the hot grease. We loved to eat them warm, either shaken up with a little powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, or dipped in some pure maple syrup.

If you have never eaten a freshly made fry cake, then you are certainly missing out. There is nothing else like it. I felt this method of making an old-fashioned doughnut should not disappear. Because of this, I decided to document my Mom’s method of making homemade buttermilk doughnuts.

Mom holding the deep fried doughnut recipe card

Is it donut or doughnuts?

All of my life a Doughnut was a doughnut! The spelling of donut was always around, but spelling of donut became the more popular version when Dunkin’ Donuts came into existence. Neither one of these spellings are incorrect and actually, if you search either word on the internet, you get recipes with both spellings!

A tray of golden brown homemade buttermilk doughnuts with one deep fried doughnut broken in half to show the inside

What you need to know about deep fried doughnuts

What is an old-fashioned doughnut?

An old fashioned doughnut is a cake like ring of fried dough that has been leavened with baking powder. It has a tender interior with a crispy exterior.

Is a yeast donut the same thing as a fry cake?

No, a yeast donut is a doughnut made with active yeast. The interior will be more like a sweet yeast bread and exterior is smooth and golden brown.

What is the difference between deep fried donuts and a baked donuts?

Deep fried donuts will have a crispy exterior with a soft interior. A baked donut will have more of a cake like texture all around.

Tips for making Homemade Buttermilk Doughnuts

  • Use a blender to combine the sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, and lemon juice. This will completely mix all the wet ingredients together well.
  • Measure dry ingredients and add together with flour in sifter, then sift into a large bowl.
  • Start the mixing with a hand mixer, then move to a spoon as the dough becomes stiffer.
  • The dough should be pliable when your turn it out onto a floured board. Finish mixing by hand until you have a stiff and workable dough.
  • Make sure you refrigerate the dough at least 30 minutes.
  • Once the doughnuts are cut, set them aside to rest for 30 minutes.

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Cutting the donut shape

When you remove the dough from fridge, gently pat out and shape the dough until about 1 inch thickness.

Use a donut cutter or a biscuit cutter. My mom uses a round biscuit cookie cutter for a bigger donut. Then she will cut out the donut holes using the removable center of the doughnut hole cutter.

Deep frying buttermilk doughnuts

Keep in mind when deep frying doughnuts, you will need to keep the heat at a steady temperature. I recommend using a heavy bottomed stock pot or electric deep fryer to fry your doughnuts. I also recommend using a deep fry thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil.

Mom’s handwritten recipe card for Lucille Brewer’s Doughnuts

The recipe card shown below does not show the recipe the way my mom makes it. She has made this deep fried doughnut recipe for longer than I have been around, and the recipe has evolved with her over the years.

Mom's tattered deep fried doughnut recipe card

The card is the original recipe my Nanny used and she passed it on to mom. I shared this card with you so you could see the original version. Mom’s version is in my recipe card below.

How to repurpose a homemade buttermilk doughnut

It is very rare you will need to find a way to use doughnuts, other than just eating them. However, there are a couple of different ways to enjoy a doughnut that I thought I would share with you.

Try making Doughnut Bread Pudding! Or, I find this grilled cheese donut intriguing. I’m not sure I would want it with a glazed donut, but a cake donut maybe?

This is a donut sandwich I would eat in a heartbeat! A Maple Donut Breakfast Sandwich would be hard to resist with the sweet maple icing and bacon! Another sweet and savory treat to try is this Donut Monte Cristo Sandwich. A little spicy jam with that sandwich would add another layer of flavor that would make it a killer sandwich!

More doughnut recipes you may enjoy

We love our homemade donuts! My favorite yeast donut is this recipe for Apple Cider Glazed Doughnuts. When I make this recipe, I often will save a few doughnuts to glaze with a maple frosting.

collage of deep fried doughnut recipe

I prefer deep fried doughnut recipes. However, I do bake them often too! Some of my favorite baked donut recipes are for Baked Banana Doughnuts with Browned Butter Rum Glaze, Raspberry Lemon Baked Donuts, and Baked Chocolate Mocha Doughnuts.

Raspberry Lemon Baked Donuts
Raspberry Lemon Baked Doughnuts

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A tray of golden brown homemade buttermilk doughnuts with one deep fried doughnut broken in half to show the inside
Yield: 3 dozen doughnuts

Homemade Buttermilk Doughnuts

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Mom's tried and true recipe over 50 years old, this vintage recipe will have your family begging for you to make them every weekend!


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg or cinnamon
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a blender, combine the sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift 2 cups of flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
  3. Using a hand mixer, blend the wet and dry ingredients together until a sticky dough forms.
  4. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of flour to the dough until it becomes stiff and pliable.
  5. Cover dough and place in refrigerator to chill up to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator and pat down and out with floured hands until round and approximately 1" thick.
  7. Cut out doughnuts with cutter and set aside on floured board.
  8. Once doughnuts are cut, let rest while you prepare the vegetable shortening for frying.
  9. Add shortening to a large frying pot and heat until 375 degrees.
  10. Gently place doughnuts in hot grease. Once they go into the grease, they will sink, then float up to the top, with the hot oil bubbling around them.
  11. Cook for approximately 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  12. Be sure oil does not get too cool or too hot. Temperature should be maintained at 375 degrees.
  13. Remove fried doughnuts from hot grease and transfer to a paper towel lined cookie sheet.
  14. Let any excess oil drain from doughnut and cool at least 5 minutes before handling.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

1 doughnut

Amount Per Serving Calories 194Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 11mgSodium 276mgCarbohydrates 17gFiber 0gSugar 6gProtein 2g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy, but will vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients you use. Please consult with your doctor regarding specific health needs.

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