Grandma’s Old Fashioned Donuts!

You’ve met my grandfather on my dad’s side when he showed you how to make his delicious cornbread.  Now, you’re going to meet my grandma on my mom’s side who has a recipe for donuts passed down through her family for generations since the 1800s!

Funny story, my grandfather is KNOWN for his cornbread.  When you think, “What does Pop cook?”  The first thing that would come to any of our minds would be cornbread.  Grandma?  The first thing I would think is cookies.  She is the best at making various types of Greek cookies and classic sugar cookies.  We were decided on making Kaloudia for the video, an amazing Greek cookie, when at the last minute, she decided she didn’t want her Greek friends to find out her tricks.  Ach!  Don’t worry, I’ll convince her to do it eventually.

I was skeptical about making the donuts because she hasn’t made them in so long.  I haven’t had them since I was little and I only vaguely remember that.  She convinced me that it was easy and I liked the fact that it’s been in her family for so long.  I like tradition.  We are estimating it’s from the early 1800s, if not earlier!  How cool is that?

So we did it and it worked out great!  AND – they were delicious!  Plain and simple, not too sweet, perfect for dipping in coffee, tea or just good old cold milk!

Wondering about the gag with the Bailey’s?  Well, she’s not a wine drinker, so we decided since she was the guest, we should drink what she likes!  She loves her Bailey’s!  And usually I don’t drink my wine during a shoot, (if you notice, the glass always stays the same level) but she kept sippin’ on hers AND mine!  She can’t be trusted!

*By the way, 10 points to the first person who knows what the sound effect is when my wine magically turns into Bailey’s!*

Here’s what you need to run to the grocery store and get right now so you can make these awesome donuts:

2 eggs

1 cup + 1 tbl of sugar

1 cup buttermilk (you can easily find it at the grocery.  I saw 3 different brands where you buy regular milk.)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 tbl butter, melted

1/2 tsp salt

Approx 4-5 cups of flour

3 lbs crisco

1. You’ll want to use a large saucepan, not too deep, because if it’s too deep, you’re essentially just melting all that extra crisco for no reason.  If you have one that is wider than what we used, go for it.  But grandma likes that size that way she only puts in a few at a time so she can really keep track of them.  Me with my young eyes, would probably rather use a wider, larger sauce pan to get them done faster.  But, of course, this is up to your own discretion.  Fill your pot with crisco, as it melts, add more, but you’ll only need about 3 pounds in total.  Keep it on a low flame while you are preparing your donuts.  You’ll need a thermometer to test the temperature.  It needs to be between 350 and 375.  If you don’t have a thermometer, I have another solution for you when we get there!

2. In a large mixing bowl, add your eggs and sugar.  Mix together with a blender.  Now add your nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.  Mix again.

3. Add the melted butter and 1 cup of flour.  Mix.  Continuously add a cup of flour, then mix.  Stop after 4 and evaluate.  Is your dough still sticky?  Would you be able to take it out and roll it like dough as if you were going to make cookies?  If not, add another half of a cup.  We ended up using 5 total cups.  We may have been okay with just 4 and a 1/2.   At 3:00 minutes, you can see what the dough should look like when there is enough flour in it.

If you don’t own a donut cutter, you can easily find one in a grocery store or any type of cooking/baking store.  Maybe even a Bed Bath and Beyond.  If you don’t have one and don’t feel like finding one, use a can.  Using a can opener, take the top off and poke holes on the bottom to let the air release.  You’ll just be making donuts without the hole in the middle, and really, they taste just as awesome!  If you do have a donut cutter though, save some of the round insides and fry up munchkins like I did in the video!

4. Flour the surface you’ll be rolling and cutting on.  Take your dough out of your bowl and flour your rolling pin.  Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick.  Cut one donut out.  Make sure the crisco is at the right temperature and place it (gently!) in your pot.  Do NOT throw in, avoid splashing!  Hot oil with burn you!  If by chance, you do get a small splash, stick whatever body part it hit in the flour!! Roll on the countertop if you have to 😉

If your test donut sinks to the bottom, rises within a minute and begins turning a light brown, then your oil is ready!  If it turns a terrible dark color and looks burned, your flame is too high.  Wait til it cools off for a minute and try again.  This is why it’s easier with a thermometer, but you can always do it by testing donuts to find the right temperature!

5. Cut out the rest of your donuts and fry!  When one side is brown, flip over and brown the other side.  Take out and place on a brown paper bag or a paper towel.  We used a brown paper grocery bag.  It worked just as well as the paper towels.

6.  While they are still warm you can coat with powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar, or whatever tickles your fancy!  You can probably melt chocolate and dip them in that, too! Yum.  Now I’m getting hungry.


That’s it!  Let me know if you try them and love them!! Also, let me know if you run into any difficulties and I will happily pass along the question to grandma! Or, you can just leave a comment for grandma to let her know you think she’s pretty awesome for 84 years old! 🙂 Every day she calls and asks if anyone left a new comment on her video!




This is the recipe card my great grandmother typed up sometime between the 1920s and 30s!  I highly recommend preserving family members recipes on a video tape!  Do it.

Keep it classy folks,

Chef Stef




2 thoughts on “Grandma’s Old Fashioned Donuts!

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