Sweet and tender lemon donuts are filled with bright and sunny citrus aroma that will keep you coming back for more. Topped with a fresh lemon glaze, these baked lemon doughnuts are easy to make from scratch and need just 7 ingredients.

lemon donuts

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Baked lemon donuts

The donuts are delicate + fluffy and made with real lemon juice and zest from fresh lemons. Not only is this lemon donuts recipe easy to throw together, but it’s sweet and zesty in all the right places and will satisfy your lemon cravings.

Ever since I got my first donut pan, I’ve become a huge fan of baked donuts. I still love muffins, like these pistachio muffins, but baked donuts are so light and airy and lots of fun to eat. Plus, you don’t have to deal with hot oil and deep-frying, making the whole process much more manageable.

If you love donuts, be sure to try our chocolate donuts, sticky caramel donuts, or applesauce donuts next!

Why you’ll love this lemon donut recipe

  • These lemon donuts are light and fluffy!
  • The lemon flavor is vibrant and delicious.
  • The texture is super soft and fluffy.
  • These baked donuts are NOT dense or dry!
  • This recipe requires only 7 pantry staples and 20 minutes prep.
  • Baked lemon donuts are great for breakfast, teatime, and dessert.
  • Check out these lemon squares and lemon chocolate chip cookies for more lemon recipes!
lemon donut ingredients

Lemon donut ingredients

Even though they may seem intricate, these homemade lemon donuts actually don’t require all that many ingredients. Here’s your grocery list if you’re ready to make the best lemon cake donuts:

  • Lemon juice and lemon zest infuse the donut recipe with a refreshing citrus flavor. I always squeeze my own lemon juice and prefer freshly grated lemon zest for the best taste. Be sure to use organic lemons and rinse them under warm water before zesting.
  • Buttermilk highlights the lemon flavor and gives the donuts a tender, soft crumb.
  • Powdered sugar adds sweetness and makes the donuts extra light. We also need powdered sugar for the glaze.
  • Butter: Use room temperature butter for the best results. Cold butter won’t cream well with the sugar. I prepared the donuts with salted butter. However, unsalted butter with 1/8 tsp fine salt works as well.
  • Egg: An egg is needed to bind the dough together. Again, make sure the egg is at room temperature.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Be sure to level and spoon the flour into your measuring cup or use a digital scale to get exact measurements. Adding too much flour will make the donuts tough and dry.
  • Baking powder gives the donuts a rise and makes the texture light and fluffy.

Lemon glaze for donuts

This simple lemon donut glaze is the perfect blend of sweet and sour. It features 3 of the same ingredients as the donut batter. You’ll need:

  • Powdered sugar: Be sure to sift the powdered sugar. We don’t want lumps in our lemon glaze!
  • Lemon juice gives the glaze a tart flavor and balances out the sweetness.
  • Lemon zest: I sprinkled my donuts with grated lemon zest for a quick decoration.

Scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post to see the ingredient measurements and complete instructions.

lemon donuts recipe

How to make lemon donuts

Preheat the oven and grab your ingredients because it’s baking time! Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Preheat oven

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180° / gas mark 4.

Step 2: Prep donut tin

  • Grease the donut pan with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • I also recommend dusting the pan with a light coat of flour to allow for easy removal.

Step 3: Mix batter

  • In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in the buttermilk, egg, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well incorporated.

Step 4: Add dry ingredients

  • Add the flour and baking powder.
  • Stir by hand until the wet and dry ingredients are combined, and a thick batter is formed.

Step 5: Fill pan

  • Transfer the dough into a pastry bag equipped with a large round tip.
  • Pipe the batter into the greased donut tin. Fill each mold 2/3 with batter.

Step 6: Bake donuts

  • Bake the donuts for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Let the donuts cool in the pan for 10 minutes. The donuts need to set before removing them from the tin. Then invert the pan and release the donuts onto a wire rack.

Step 7: Make glaze

  • While they cool, prepare the glaze. Put the powdered sugar into a shallow, medium-sized mixing bowl.
  • Add the lemon juice, starting with 2 tbsp, whisk until a smooth glaze forms. If necessary, add more lemon juice for a thinner texture.

Step 8: Glaze donuts

  • Dip the top of each donut in the glaze.
  • Flip the donuts over and put them back on the wire rack.
  • Sprinkle each donut with lemon zest if desired. Allow the glaze to set.
lemon glazed donuts

Tips for the best lemon cake donuts

Follow my tried-and-true tips to guarantee fluffy and moist lemon donuts!

  • Don’t beat the batter once you add the flour. Overmixing the dough activates the gluten and will lead to dense doughnuts. Instead, stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture by hand. Mix only until the flour are incorporated.
  • Grease the donut pan well to ensure the donuts release easily. Either wipe each cavity with butter or spray the pan with nonstick spray. I also like to sprinkle each mold with flour.
  • Piping the batter into the mold works best. Since the batter is relatively thick, it’s easier (and less messy) to pipe the batter into pan than trying to spoon it in the mold.
  • Fill the pan 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full to get plump and thick donuts.
  • Watch the baking time to avoid overbaking the donuts. Check the donuts at the 10-minute mark to see if they’re done by inserting a toothpick or cake tester in the center of a donut. They are done when the toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs remaining.
baked lemon donuts

FAQs

How many lemon donuts does the recipe yield?

The recipe makes approximately 14 to 18 baked lemon donuts depending on the size of your pan.

Can I use lemon extract instead of lemon juice?

Yes, you can replace the lemon juice in the donut batter with 1 to 2 tsp lemon extract.

Can I substitute buttermilk with yogurt or sour cream?

Of course! Plain Greek yogurt is a great swap-in for buttermilk in this recipe. Sour cream works too, but the donuts will turn out a tad bit denser. Use the same amount as buttermilk.

Can I skip the glaze?

Sure! My baked lemon donuts taste delicious on their own, and you can omit the glaze if preferred. It’s also possible to dust them with powdered sugar or coat them in lemon sugar.

To make lemon sugar, combine 3/4 cup / 150 g / oz granulated sugar with 1 tsp finely zested lemon peel. Brush each donut with melted butter and then dip in lemon sugar. Easy!

lemon glaze donuts

Variations

  • Lemon poppy seed donuts: Lemon poppy seed is a classic flavor combo and tastes so delicious! Fold 3 tbsp poppy seeds into the donut batter and bake as indicated in the recipe.
  • Blueberry lemon donuts: Lemon and blueberries are the perfect pairing. Prepare the batter and fill the donut mold as described. Then press a few blueberries into the batter in each mold.
  • Lemon ricotta donuts: Simply swap the buttermilk with ricotta and make tasty lemon ricotta donuts.
  • Lemon-filled donuts: Fill them with lemon curd for more lemony deliciousness. Fit a pastry bag with a small, round piping nozzle and fill with lemon curd. Pipe lemon curd into the bottom of a donut, circling the entire donut.

Storage and shelf life

How to store lemon donuts

If you’re not serving the lemon donuts right away or have leftovers, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

I don’t recommend refrigerating the recipe because the donuts will become dense in the fridge.

Can you freeze lemon donuts?

Yes! If you want to store donuts longer, freeze them in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Ideally, you want to freeze unglazed donuts because the glaze doesn’t maintain well in the freezer. Allow to defrost in the fridge.

Tools to make lemon glazed donuts

Yield: 18 lemon donuts

Lemon Donuts Recipe

lemon donuts

Sweet and tender lemon donuts are filled with bright and sunny citrus aroma that will keep you coming back for more. Topped with a fresh lemon glaze, these baked lemon doughnuts are easy to make from scratch and need just 7 ingredients.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup / 1 stick / 115 g / 4 oz butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup / 100 g / 3.5 oz powdered (confectioners’/icing) sugar
  • 1 egg (US, CA, AUS, NZ: L / UK & Europe: M)
  • 1 1/4 cups / 300 g / 10.6 oz buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • freshly grated lemon zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 2 cups / 250 g / 8.8 oz all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups / 170 g / 6 oz powdered (confectioners’/icing) sugar, sifted
  • 2 – 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • freshly grated lemon zest for decorating (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180° / gas mark 4.
  2. Prep donut tin. Grease the donut pan with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray. I also recommend dusting the pan with a light coat of flour to allow for easy removal.
  3. Mix batter. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy for 2 minutes. Wish in the buttermilk, egg, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well incorporated.
  4. Add dry ingredients. Add the flour and baking powder. Stir by hand until the wet and dry ingredients are combined, and a thick batter is formed.
  5. Fill pan. Transfer the dough into a pastry bag equipped with a large round tip. Pipe the batter into the greased donut tin. Fill each mold 2/3 with batter.
  6. Bake donuts. Bake the donuts for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let the donuts cool in the pan for 10 minutes. The donuts need to set before removing them from the tin. Then invert the pan and release the donuts onto a wire rack.
  7. Make glaze. While they cool, prepare the glaze. Put the powdered sugar into a shallow, medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, starting with 2 tbsp, whisk until a smooth glaze forms. If necessary, add more lemon juice for a thinner texture.
  8. Glaze donuts. Dip the top of each donut in the glaze. Flip the donuts over and put them back on the wire rack. Sprinkle each donut with lemon zest if desired. Allow the glaze to set.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

18

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 76Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 118mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

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