This Chocolate Old-Fashioned Donut recipe yields intensely chocolatey sour cream old-fashioned donuts with a crusting vanilla glaze. For Texans, these are an H-E-B chocolate old-fashioned copycat recipe, to non-Texans these are just the best sour cream old-fashioned donuts you’ll ever try.
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When I was a kid, my dad would take me to H-E-B to get donuts. H-E-B is a Texas grocery chain, or as I scream about to anyone who will listen, the BEST grocery store on Earth. And like the rest of their offerings, their donuts are also the best. So naturally after moving to Nebraska, the one thing I miss most about Texas is my grocery store, and these donuts are a close second. Oddly, not every H-E-B carries these donuts. I’ve found they are unique to San Antonio (where I grew up) all the way down to Laredo. Not north of that area and definitely not east or west. If you find these donuts, consider yourself lucky — and maybe buy an extra pack.
Every once in a while I try to recreate these, without success. But not this time. I was making treats for Halloween with black cocoa, when I realized that was THE missing ingredient. Sure enough, I swapped regular cocoa for black and they came out perfect. I adapted the base recipe from Handle the Heat and took technique tips from Chef Steps.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This recipe tastes exactly like the H-E-B old fashioned donuts.
- These have a hard set glaze.
- The black cocoa makes these extra chocolatey.
- These are no yeast donuts.
- Cake flour provides these with a tender crumb.
- Unsalted butter and egg yolks provide richness.
- Vanilla extract (not pictured) and kosher salt balance the overall flavor profile.
- Sour cream provides flavor and moistness to these donuts.
- Black cocoa powder provides a deep, rich chocolate flavor.
- The leavening agent is baking powder.
- Granulated sugar sweetens the donuts and powdered sugar sweetens the glaze.
- Corn syrup helps the glaze stay shiny.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and variations
Here’s how to customize these donuts to your liking:
- All holes — punch just donut holes or another shape.
- No corn syrup — replace with glucose, honey or omit completely.
- No black cocoa — I highly recommend using black cocoa, but if you can’t then try dutch process or regular cocoa powder as a last resort.
- Table salt — if using table salt, reduce the amount by half.
This recipe has not been tested with any substitutions or variations. If you try any, please let me know how it turned out by commenting below!
How to make old-fashioned donuts
Step 1: Beat together granulated sugar and butter. Add the egg yolks and beat until lighter in color and thicker in texture. Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream, and ending with the dry ingredients. Chill dough in a greased bowl for one hour.
Step 2: Roll out dough to ½-inch thick on a floured surface. Flour a 3-inch round cutter and a 1 ¼-inch round cutter to punch the hole. Cut out as many donuts as you can using these cutters and cleaning off and flouring the cutters in between as best you can. Place each punched out donut on a prepared parchment square on the prepared sheet pan.
Step 3: Fry on the first side for 2 minutes, then flip. Fry on the second side for 1 minute and 30 seconds, then remove from the oil to the prepared draining pan. Fry the donut holes for less time. Only 1 minute per side.
Step 4: In a large bowl, whisk together all of the glaze ingredients until smooth. Dunk the donuts into the glaze and use two chopsticks or a fork to help turn the donuts and drain off the excess before placing on a wire rack to drain completely and let the glaze harden.
- I like to keep a paper towel or wet rag nearby to clean the round cutters in between.
- I prefer peanut oil for frying, but canola or vegetable oil will work here too. Do not use a flavored oil like olive oil.
- I like to heat the oil while I am punching out the donuts. Heating a large amount of oil like this takes longer than you would think.
- Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush before re-rolling scraps.
Store in a container, not necessarily airtight, at room temperature for 3-4 days. I like to store mine on a cake stand with a glass dome.
Yes, but the flavor will not be the same. Black cocoa powder is highly recommended. Dutch process cocoa is the next best substitute.
Make rectangle donut sticks or use a jar lid.
More recipes you’ll love
Lastly, if you make this Chocolate Old-Fashioned Donuts recipe be sure to leave a comment or give it a rating. I love to see when people make my recipes, so please tag me @youthsweets on Instagram if you post!
Chocolate Old-Fashioned Donuts
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 3 tablespoons butter room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cups cake flour (226g)
- ½ cup black cocoa powder (40g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sour cream (230g)
- Canola or peanut oil for frying
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar (350g)
- ⅓ cup hot water (78g)
- 1 ½ teaspoon corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Unlike most donuts, these are actually better the next day. These can be made a couple days ahead of time. I find they get better as the outside crust of the glaze hardens and the interior pulls the moisture in the glaze into the cake, acting as a simple syrup soak to keep it moist.
- Get out the butter to come to room temperature if you haven't already.
- Cut sheets of parchment paper into 4-inch by 4-inch squares. Place on baking sheets.
- Prepare another large baking sheet with layers of paper towels and a wire cooling rack on top to catch grease after frying.
Make the donut dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with beaters, combine the granulated sugar and butter. Beat together until sandy. Add the egg yolks and beat until lighter in color and thicker in texture.
- In a medium bowl combine the cake flour, black cocoa powder, baking powder and kosher salt. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream, and ending with the dry ingredients. Dough will be sticky.
- Optional, but recommended: Grease a large bowl and place long pieces of plastic wrap into it, alternating directions. Grease the pieces. Pour the dough on top. Wrap gently with the overhang of the plastic.
- Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to overnight.
Punch out the donuts
- Generously flour a clean work surface. Unwrap the chilled dough and dump out onto the floured surface. Generously flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin. Roll out dough to ½-inch thick.
- Flour a round 3 inch cutter and a round 1 ¼-inch cutter to punch the hole. Cut out as many donuts as you can using these cutters and cleaning off and flouring the cutters in between as best you can. Re-roll scraps, as needed.
- Place each punched out donut on a prepared parchment square on the prepared sheet pan.
- 4-5 donut holes can sit on one square of parchment.
Fry the donuts
- Prepare a dutch oven (or another pot with a heavy bottom) with two inches of frying oil. Heat to 325°F-340°F. Anywhere around that range is good for frying these donuts. Keep your thermometer handy throughout frying as the temperature of the oil can vary as you introduce more donuts to it.
- Lift a donut up by the parchment and gently lower it into the oil. Fry a few at a time, but do not overcrowd the pot.
- Fry on the first side for 2 minutes, then flip. Fry on the second side for 1 minute and 30 seconds, then remove from the oil to the prepared draining pan. Fry the donut holes for less time. Only 1 minute per side.
Make the glaze
- In a large bowl combine, whisk together all of the glaze ingredients until smooth. Dunk the donuts into the glaze and use two chopsticks or a fork to help turn the donuts and drain off the excess before placing on a wire rack to drain completely and let the glaze harden.