Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts

Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts are light, citrusy, and generously coated in a crunchy, lemon-zest infused sugar...the perfect sunny treat for breakfast or dessert!

Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts Recipe with text overlay.


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If you enjoy baked donuts, you'll also love Baked Banana Donuts and Baked Banana Donuts!

The food blogger side of me is a little embarrassed to admit that I’m decidedly late to the baked donut recipe craze, having only bought my first donut pans a month or so ago. But now that I've had a bit of time to bake and experiment, I can confidently tell you...baked donuts are where it's at, y'all.

Stack of baked donuts.

Why Baked Donuts?

Nobody is going to argue that any type of fried donut is delicious. But let's face it...anything shaped like a donut is just going to be fun to eat! On top of that, baked donuts are much less guilt-inducing than their fried counterparts, with a soft, delicate texture that's more akin to a muffin than a true cake donut, but delicious nonetheless. As an added bonus, you can whip out a batch quickly and with minimal mess...no popping, splattering oil to worry about!

Aerial view of Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts on white plate.

Flavor Options

And have I mentioned all of the different flavor possibilities?

Of course you can make them plain with a simple glaze or powdered sugar coating.

You can infuse the batter with chocolate or flavor the glaze with berries.

Close-up of baked donuts on plate.

How to Make Lemon Baked Donuts

But since I hail from a family of citrus lovers, I decided to go this lemon route for my inaugural run, taking the basic baked donut recipe that came with my pans and adapting it to include lemon juice and lemon zest in the batter.

I also combined some regular granulated sugar and fresh lemon zest in the food processor and ground them together to make a sweet and tangy lemon-sugar coating.

The resulting treats are bursting with lemon, inside and out!

Enjoying Them

Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts would be a special addition to a weekend breakfast or celebratory brunch…without the guilt of greasy fried donuts. Now don’t get me wrong, we occasionally (and happily) indulge in those as well! But these delights provide that sweet donut fix in a slightly lightened up form, so why not have the best of both worlds?

Now go forth and bake some donuts!

Close-up of missing bite.

More Lemon Treats

Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts on plate.

Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts

Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts are light, citrusy, and generously coated in a crunchy, lemon-zest infused sugar...the perfect sunny treat for breakfast or dessert!
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 donuts
Calories: 246kcal
Print Pin Rate


  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted


  • Adjust oven racks to center position and preheat oven to 425°F. Spray two 6-cavity donut pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour and cornstarch. Whisk in sugar, baking powder, and salt until well blended. Stir in buttermilk, eggs, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest until batter is smooth and combined, but do not over-mix. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared donut pans.
  • Bake for 7 to 9 minutes until the edges of the donuts begin to turn a light golden brown and the tops of the donuts spring back when lightly touched. Allow donuts to cool for 5 minutes in pans before turning them out onto a cooling rack.
  • In a mini food processor, combine the sugar and lemon zest and pulse until finely ground (you may simply stir together the sugar and zest if you don't have a food processor). Place the melted butter in a shallow bowl. Dip one side of each donut in the butter, and then press into the sugar/zest mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Equipment Needed



The cornstarch lightens up the texture of the donuts, akin to using cake flour. If you prefer, you may omit the cornstarch and increase the flour to 2 cups.


Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 288mg | Potassium: 117mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

Recipe originally shared at Belle of the Kitchen
Post originally published on July 18, 2016.



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4.84 from 24 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 1 star
    The donuts will not brown. Just take them out of the oven even if they look wet. The lemon flavor is very light. I would go with a lemon glaze. The sugar only mildly sticks and isn't very flavorful. We threw them away, but the glaze might have saved them.

    1. Hi Mary Jo! I haven't tried it myself, but I've seen people "make" their own donut pan by forming cylinders of foil, putting one in the center of each cup in a muffin pan, spraying everything with nonstick cooking spray, and then spooning the batter around each cylinder. Hope that helps and please let us know if you decide to give it a try! 🙂

  2. This is amazing! I've never seen a lemon donut recipe like this before. I'm anxious to try it out. Thanks!

  3. I LOVE lemon flavored items.My first time making these.I didnt have buttermilk on hand,did the milk/vinegar substitute.Only thing is my new Wilton dark donut pan,my donuts were really brown on only one side,what did I do wrong?.Please let me know.Thank you.

    1. It sounds like you just baked a bit too long, Lynn. Baked donuts do get darker on the pan side, but it should be a light golden rather than a dark brown. Hope that helps! 🙂

  4. I made these donuts twice...two separate times and they came out the same... they were gross too me. left a weird aftertaste in my mouth. I thought maybe the first time I mis-measured or something... but the second time I was super vigilant about double checking everything and they still came out the same.... to say I'm disappointed is an understatement 🙁

  5. Here I was all ready to make these donuts but I don't have a donut pan...oh well, I need to buy one and get baking donuts. They look heavenly and I'm sure they taste the same. 🙂

  6. Hello, these look very good. In your note about cornstarch, if you just use flour and increase it to 2 cups should it be cake flour? Thank you.

    1. Hi Connie! Great question. I was actually referring to regular all-purpose flour in that note (for people who don't have cornstarch on hand or don't want to use it). But yes, you could definitely use 2 cups cake flour instead if you wish!

    1. Hi Sabene! These donuts are best enjoyed pretty soon after you make them, but you can keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 or 5 days. And no, I haven't tried freezing them...they never last that long! 😉

  7. 5 stars
    These donuts are off the hook. I rarely have buttermilk in the house, so went the milk/white vinegar route. Also, I separated the eggs, whipped the whites and folded in last. It made the crumb just a little lighter. And now my head is spinning with all the possibile flavor combinations. Great recipe, makes a perfect dozen, this one is a keeper. Thanks!

    1. Yay, Joy! I'm happy to hear that this recipe was such a hit that you're going to experiment with other flavor combinations. 🙂

    2. @Joy They sell powdered buttermilk at the supermarket. Once open keep in the fridge. Last four a good while and you willbe surprised how much you will use it. Great in banana bread.

  8. Can I make a suggestion?
    Love all your photos - BUT - too many of the finished product. Would LOVE to see the progression of the process.

  9. These look fantastic! I love all things lemon- my mom makes this lemon dessert with a rice krispie crust and lemon pudding with cool whip. It's so tasty, I could eat the whole pan.

    1. That sounds delicious, Amy...I've never combined lemon with rice krispie treats, but how could it be anything but yummy?! 😉

    1. There's no such thing as being too late for donuts, Susan! 😉 Hope you enjoyed these if you had a chance to try them. 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    These are cooling right now! They smell delicious. My son loves donuts. He is 6 and said his day at school was horrible. So I hope these brighten it up!

    1. Awww, I'm sorry your son had a bad day, Miranda! Sometimes being 6 is rough. But I hope these donuts cheered him right up! 🙂