Artisan Sourdough and Ricotta Spiced Donuts

Soft two-bite donuts with hints of spice make this easy recipe a hit at parties and brunch for adults and kids.
This recipe is a handy way to use your sourdough discard.
Sourdough discard makes great donuts and you know as soon as you take a bite!
Sourdough discard makes great donuts and you know as soon as you take a bite!
Prepare to serve
Sourdough ricotta donuts are soft yet light and airy

Why making homemade donuts is healthier

Hands up, who doesn’t love two-bite donuts made from scratch that taste amazing and are far healthier than store-bought!?
Using a blend of seven spices, ricotta cheese, and sourdough you’ll have extra-special, soft, donuts made in no time at home, and you don’t need a donut pan.

These small, soft Sourdough Ricotta Spice Donuts are low in sugar, delicious and a quick and easy snack to make.

Pop a donut in the lunchbox, grab one to go, or make a coffee and take a donut break.

If you already have a sourdough starter, this donut recipe is so tasty you’ll be making them for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, picnics, baby showers, and birthday parties.

Where did the idea of a hole in donuts come from?

According to the New England Historical Society, donuts with a hole was the idea of Captain Hansen Gregory.

When he was 16-years-old and out at sea on a schooner, fried cakes were a staple. Except they were hard to digest squares, triangles or twists. They were also cooked on the outside and raw on the inside. 

One day Gregory took the cover off a tin pepper box, cut a hole in the soon-to-fried cakes, and the next batch was delicious.

When Gregory returned home he showed his mom his quick and easy tip.
Then he asked a tinsmith to design a donut cutter, making donuts with a hole, history. 

Ricotta cheese is light, soft, and fresh, perfect for donuts

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What is ricotta cheese?

Fresh ricotta cheese is a light, creamy, moist cheese that is used as a spread or dip and often added with other ingredients and baked in lasagna and cheesecake.

Made from whole milk, usually cow, and heavy cream, the liquid is brought to a boil, forced to curdle with lemon juice until the milk separates into liquid and solids, then strained through a cheesecloth.
As it’s a fresh cheese, it should be consumed within two days.

You can also buy ricotta cheese pre-made at your local cheese store or supermarket.

What is a speculaas spice blend?

Speculaas spice is a DIY gentle blend of mixed spices.
It usually has seven pantry spices with dehydrated orange peel which you measure out, shake up, then store in an airtight, labeled container.

I use my own Speculaas spice blend for, making french toast, in cookies and cakes, hot cocoa, and even added to mashed squash!

You could also try the Pumpkin spice blend which is another pantry staple everyone should have because it too is versatile.

Sourdough starter is used like yeast in bread to help the dough rise

What is sourdough discard?

If you haven’t heard of or tasted, sourdough bread before, it has a slightly sour, tangy taste. This is because natural bacteria in the air and bacteria in the flour come alive when you add water. To survive, they breakdown the flour which generates carbon dioxide and bubbles. 
Now, instead of using traditional yeast to help the dough rise, a sourdough starter brew is used. 
Your sourdough starter can live for many, many years

Keeping a sourdough starter healthy and active takes no more than 3-5 minutes a day because all it needs is a little more flour and water. However, to keep the amounts manageable you must first remove half of the wet mixture.

Most people struggle with this sense of waste on a daily basis because that half is tossed out or discarded.
Hence the name, sourdough discard.

My 30-day Donut Journal mixes colouring with lined pages and is a donut theme

Why use sourdough discard to make donuts?

Why not!?
Because tossing out half of the sourdough starter feels wasteful when it is still active and useable, many recipes include that discard.
These include waffles, pancakes, crackers, and donuts.
Since I’ve had a sourdough starter, I’ve not bought crackers in a store because homemade means they’re fresh,  often have better ingredients, and are never boring.

So the next time you need to remove half the sourdough starter from your brew, your heart won’t plummet to your ankles as you imagine all that waste.
Instead, you are going to make delicious, somewhat healthy, spongy donuts!

If you have a sourdough starter, I hope you’re inspired to also make waffles, pretzels, pizza, and cookies! 

Sourdough ricotta donuts are soft yet light and airy
You can see hints of spice without the donut being overpowering

Why I love this recipe

Because you are using sourdough discard, there’s no food waste and everyone loves a spongy, out-of-the-ordinary, two-bite donut every now and then.

This recipe uses ricotta cheese, so you are sneaking in a little extra protein while giving each donut soft, fluffy texture on the inside.

You can make them as spicy tasting as you like!
For this recipe, I used my own Speculaas spice blend and used vanilla bean paste as I’d run out of vanilla essence.
Pumpkin Spice blend is just delicious if that’s what you have!

Speculaas spice on a tablespoon in a white bowl

Recipe ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard at room temperature
  • 1 cup (125g) whole milk ricotta cheese at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or paste
  • 1 teaspoon Speculaas spice blend
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4 – 6 cups vegetable oil 
Without a thermometer you need to test a sample of donut to find out of the oil is hot enough
TIP: if you don't have a thermometer, drop a SMALL spoonful of dough into the oil and watch how it cooks.

Recipe equipment

  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • A tablespoon or cookie scoop
  • Medium 8″ pot
  • Large plate
  • Paper towels
  • Slotted spoon, small sieve or skimmer, or tongs
  • Serving bowl or platter *

    Optional: thermometer designed for candy and deep-frying.
    I like this one as it gets great reviews, is not expensive and clips to the side of the pot so it won’t accidentally slip into hot water or oil.

Small shallow walled bowls make the best serving dishes for hot doughnuts - keeping them hot yet not allowing them to roll away
Olive wood bowls are unique, adding to the charm of homemade doughnuts

* An ideal bowl for serving hot doughnuts has shallow walls to keep the heat in and not let small round doughnuts roll away!
Plus this allows young helpers to help carry items to the table with confidence.

ricotta cheese and 2 eggs on a wood board
Ricotta cheese and eggs at room temperature
sour dough starter eggs and ricotta cheese on a wood board
Sourdough discard at room temperature

Recipe instructions

  • Crack open 2 room-temperature large eggs and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
    Check for, and remove any broken shells.
  • Add vanilla essence or vanilla paste, room-temperature ricotta cheese, and room-temperature sourdough discard.
  • Whisk until all ingredients are well blended. 
whisk in a bowl with ingredients
sugar and speculaas spice added to the mix
  • Remove the whisk and add flour, spice, and baking powder.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are evenly mixed and the dough has balled up.
donut mixture in a ball in the bowl
  • Pour enough vegetable oil into a medium pot to reach just past half-way.
    Turn heat to MEDIUM and wait 2-3 minutes.
    Unlike water, it may appear as if the oil is NOT hot, but please be careful!
  • If you don’t own a thermometer, drop a teaspoon-size of batter in the hot oil and if the temperature is hot enough, the batter will form bubbles.
donut mixture in hot oil

As the donut sample begins to cook, the oil will bubble even more.

donut mix cooking in hot oil
  • Place absorbent paper on a plate near the stovetop.
  • Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the doughnut and place on paper towel.
  • Cook remaining donuts.
two donuts in hot oil

Things to consider when making donuts

  • Be mindful of the oil as it bubbles up.
    (This is why you only fill the pot with oil to just past half-way.)
  • Donuts float on the surface so are easy to flip and remove when golden brown.
    Check you have a strainer or sieve handy.
  • Think about the overall look and shape of your donuts before you drop them in the oil.

    I made mine rugged and chunky looking, but have made them even smaller and rounder as well. 

Using sourdough discard to make homemade spicy donuts have just been cooked

TIP: I highly recommend a taste test early on so you know how golden brown the outside should look for the inside to be cooked.
As you can see, these are quite a rich brown.

Doing a taste-test on a donut
Deliciously soft with a hint of spice!

Serve your donuts plain or sprinkle with a light dusting of icing sugar pre-mixed with your Speculaas spice blend.

Eat while still warm for the best-ever donut experience!

Prepare to serve

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I’ve curated inspirational brunch-related ideas for you that are inspirational and unique for any celebration on your horizon.

One of a kind coffee tables to go with your one of a kind donuts!

Brunch is often for a special occasion so I added this gift idea.
This pack comes in 8 different scents and you will get a soy candle, Himalayan salt scrub, body butter, massage oil, and scented sachet.

Imagine a necklace that could spell your name in donuts!
Perfect for someone who appreciates a little humour.

Adding to the donut theme . . .

This is a fun, non-traditional way to serve donuts!
As this recipe isn’t for a hole donut, you could stab them onto the pegs instead. Then add a drizzling and sprinkle station for DIY donut decorating.

Then, combine with donut confetti for a wow-theme!

Another novel way to manage single-serve donuts at a party! These donuts are 1″ x 4″ so you can see just how many donuts will fit. What I LOVE about this idea is the live wood large platter and matching live wood single plates  complete with rods, so you won’t lose your donut!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
You may know how much of a fan I am with Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen supplies because they last.
This multi-purpose strainer is deep enough to catch most food items in hot water or oil and the bamboo handles won’t get hot.

I have even used my Helen Chen bamboo steamer to transport hot, freshly-baked muffins in a test and it was a huge success.

The Polder thermometer is a brilliant idea – especially if you also make candy.
Just clip it to the inside of your pot and slide the thermometer down until it is submerged in the liquid.

Sourdough discard makes great donuts and you know as soon as you take a bite!

Sourdough and Ricotta Spiced Donuts

Soft two-bite donuts with hints of spice make this easy recipe a hit at parties and brunch for adults and kids.
This recipe is a handy way to use your sourdough discard.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Brunch, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people
Calories 217 kcal


  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • Tablespoon or cookie scoop
  • Medium-sized pot
  • Large plate
  • Absorbant towels
  • Slotted spoon or tongs
  • Serving bowl or platter
  • Optional: frying thermometer


  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese room temperature
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp Speculaas Spice Blend
  • 1 cup flour all-purpose
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch sea salt


  • 6 cups vegetable oil


  • Add eggs, vanilla essence, ricotta cheese and sourdough discard to a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk until ingredients are well blended.
  • Add flour, spice, and baking powder. Stir until the mixture has balled up.
  • Pour vegetable oil to half-way in a medium-sized pot and turn heat to MEDIUM.
    Once the oil is hot, drop 2 small spoonfulls of dough in the oil and cook until golden brown.
    Flip donuts over and cook the other side.
    Remove and allow to drain on absorbent paper.
  • Serve dusted with icing sugar, icing sugar and spice, or leave as they are.
  • Eat immediately or freeze leftovers. Donuts do not store well.


Calories: 217kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 5gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 33mgPotassium: 134mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 136IUCalcium: 87mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Ricotta cheese, Sourdough
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