This easy Baked Lemon Donuts Recipe is made with simple pantry ingredients and is packed with bright lemon flavor. You can top these homemade lemon donuts with lemon sugar, a lemon glaze or even powdered sugar!
If you adore lemon, you’re sure to love these Lemon Baked Donuts rolled in lemon sugar and/or topped with a zesty homemade lemon glaze.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know how much I crave lemon desserts.
It’s not just a want—it’s a need. (Yes, I know 100% how dramatic that is.)
I’ve shared my favorite Lemon Bundt Cake (which you have GOT to try, if you haven’t already), tangy Lemon Bars (and even a coconut lemon bar!), the best Lemon Zucchini Bread (one of my most popular recipes of all time!) and quite a few other lemon centric recipes.
I’ve had this Lemon Donuts recipe in the works for a while. I wanted these lemon baked donuts to be the perfect combination of bright lemon flavor while not being too tart and at least for my tastes, I think I discovered the perfect blend.
If you’re thinking about making donuts at home, you’ll first need these ingredients for these lemon donuts:
- lemon juice and lemon zest (the zest is really important in this recipe)
- all purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- baking powder and salt
- vanilla extract
- melted butter
For the lemon glaze:
- powdered sugar
- lemon juice
- lemon zest
For the lemon sugar:
- granulated sugar
- lemon zest
Let’s talk about some common questions I’ve had when it comes to making homemade baked Lemon donuts:
Do I have to make these baked donuts with buttermilk, or can I substitute regular milk for buttermilk instead?
Okay, this is a two-part answer. The first answer is yes, you can use regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk. I prefer buttermilk baked donuts because the rich flavor and consistency of buttermilk makes these donuts taste more like donut shop cake donuts (without having to fry them). But in a pinch, you can use milk.
However, the second part of this answer is that you can easily make homemade buttermilk with lemon juice! And, since you’re already using lemon juice to make these lemon baked donuts, you have all you need to make buttermilk at home.
Homemade Buttermilk Recipe:
- 1/2 cup milk (or just a touch under 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice (1 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
Squeeze lemon juice on top of milk and allow to sit ideally for about 10 minutes (but if in a time crunch, it can sit for 1-3 minutes—basically, you just want the milk to curdle). Whisk milk together before pouring into this lemon donut batter.
I don’t have a donut pan. Can I use anything else instead?
Yes! It took me a long time to finally buy a donut pan. While they are not that expensive, it was something I didn’t necessary need to have. Why? Because you can make homemade donuts in a muffin tin.
You can use either a mini muffin tin for smaller ‘donut hole’ type baked donuts, or you can use a regular sized muffin tin for bigger lemon donut muffins of sorts.
Just note that the baking time will differ if you use anything besides a donut pan. If you’re using a mini muffin tin, you will need to cut down the baking time by 2-3 minutes. If you’re using a regular sized muffin tin, you might need to add 1-2 minutes to the bake time. You will need to keep a close eye on them.
You mention using lemon sugar or a lemon glaze (or both) for these donuts, but can I leave them plain? Can I make these lemon powdered donuts instead?
Absolutely to both questions. Leaving them plain will result in a slightly less lemony, less sweet donut.
If you want to coat these lemon donuts in powdered sugar, when the donuts are cool enough to touch but still warm, coat them in powdered sugar.
For me, I’ve had the best success making powdered sugar donuts by either putting powdered sugar in a big bowl and dunking each side of the donut until it’s coated or by putting powdered sugar in a brown bag (like a lunch brown bag sack) or ziplock bag, adding in 1-2 donuts at a time, sealing it up and shaking until coated.
Tips and Tricks for these Baked Glazed Lemon Donuts:
- Whether you are using a donut pan, a mini muffin tin or a regular sized muffin tin, make sure you grease the pan well. I have found that using baking spray to coat my donut pan works the best.
- As mentioned above, if you use something other than a donut pan to make baked donuts, the bake time listed in the recipe will differ (2-3 minutes less for a mini muffin tin and 1-2 minutes more for a regular muffin tin).
- Also, these baked lemon donuts can go from ‘perfect’ to ‘overdone’ very quickly. Keep a close eye on them as they bake.
- These are best when eaten fresh, but they an be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two, or stored in the fridge for 4-5 days.
I’ll take them all, please and thank you.
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest (the zest of about 2 lemons)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh)
- 2 tsp lemon zest, optional
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 5 Tbsp butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 6-count donut pan with baking spray well. Set aside (the recipe makes about 6-7 donuts).
- In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- Pour the lemon juice, buttermilk and egg in the center. Whisk the mixture until combined.
- Add in the vanilla extract and melted butter. Mix.
- Using a spoon or a piping bag, fill each donut cavity about 2/3-3/4 of the way full.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of each donut ‘spring’ back when lightly touched.
- Allow to cool for 4-5 minutes in the pan before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Once the donuts have cooled, make your topping of choice.*
- Whisk powdered sugar, lemon zest (if using), and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice together in a bowl wide enough to dip each donut in. If the glaze is too thick, add in the remaining Tbsp of lemon juice to thin it out.
- Dip each donut into the glaze and the glaze allow to set before eating.
- Mix lemon zest and granulated sugar in a bowl wide enough to dip each donut in.
- Melt butter in a separate bowl (also wide enough to dip a donut in).
- Dip each donut in the melted butter, then dip in the lemon sugar (the butter helps the lemon sugar stick to each donut).
*If you want to glaze the donuts and sprinkle with lemon sugar, I would suggest making a much smaller batch of lemon sugar. Also, you do not need the butter. The lemon sugar will stick to the glaze.
Here are some other recipes you might love: