Everyday Eats & Sweets / Recipes

Baked Lemon-Poppy Seed Donuts

Baked lemon-poppy seed donuts

Let’s get down to the business of donuts. Or doughnuts. Or do-nots, as I’ve been calling them lately as I sneak a guilty glance at my shiny new donut pan and ponder what flavor to make next.

But guilt no more. These babies are baked, not fried, and I tinkered with my base recipe at least a dozen times (and dozens of donuts later) until they finally came close to the confections from the corner donut shop.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t even much of a donut eater before I bought my pan. I was a cupcake person. But donuts make less of a mess in the kitchen and from the moment I think about baking donuts for breakfast, to when I actually pull them out of the oven, only 30 minutes have elapsed and my coffee is still nice and hot. Win-win all around.

For this and all future recipes, you’ll need a 6-count donut pan (this is the one I use, but any will do). It is the perfect size for a two-person household. I know you don’t think you’d ever eat three donuts at a time, but trust me, you will. If not all six. And that’s okay, because you surely don’t want a batch of freshly baked donuts to go stale the next day. (At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

Baked Lemon-Poppy Seed Donuts

Makes 6 donuts


For the Batter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
zest from 1 lemon

For the Glaze
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and poppy seeds.

Combine dry ingredients

In another bowl (I use a 2-cup Pyrex bowl for easy measuring), whisk together the buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract, egg, and lemon zest.

Whisk together wet ingredients

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. (An electric mixer isn’t necessary; by hand, this process only takes a few quick minutes.)

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients

Lemon-poppy seed donut batter

Grease your donut pan with a neutral oil (even with a nonstick pan, I find that a little oil helps release the donuts better).

Lightly oil donut pan

As an aside… Can we talk about this nifty brush first? It’s a Japanese oil brush, and I first found out about it when a friend whipped it out to grease her takoyaki grill. It’s basically a short, round brush housed inside a container with a lid. Inside the container is a thin platform, full of holes, on top of a spring. You fill the container with a small amount of oil, and each time you need some, you just “pump” the brush inside the container and it gets soaked with oil.

It’s brilliant. Besides oiling my donut pan and other baking dishes, I’ve also used it to season my cast iron pans after cleaning them and to grease my saute pans when I don’t want to use a lot of oil. It’s so convenient to not have to use a paper towel or wash a separate brush when I need a quick swipe of oil!

Japanese oil brush

Japanese oil brush

Once your pan is lightly greased, fill each mold about halfway full with batter. I find it easy enough to fill the molds with a spoon, but you can also pipe the batter into the molds with a piping bag, or make one by cutting the corner off a plastic zip-top bag.

Fill donuts molds with lemon-poppy seed batter

Donut molds filled with batter

Donut molds filled with batter

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the donut comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and — this is the hard part! — let it cool completely. Try to resist the urge to sample your donuts or glaze the tops until they’re cool to the touch.

Baked donuts fresh from the oven

To keep yourself occupied, make a glaze by whisking the lemon juice and powdered sugar together until they form a thin paste. I like to squeeze my lemon by hand to get some of the pulpy bits in my glaze, but yours can be as smooth or as pulpy as you want.

Whisk together lemon juice and powdered sugar to make a thin glaze

Place a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet. When the donuts have completely cooled, flip the pan upside-down onto the rack to release your six perfect donuts.

Remove donuts from pan

One by one, dip the donuts into the glaze and let them dry on the rack. I like to double-dip mine, letting the glaze harden between dippings.

Dip (or double-dip!) your donuts in the glaze

Baked donuts with lemon glaze

Freshly glazed donuts

Once you taste these things and find yourself inhaling the whole batch in one sitting, you’ll soon be calling them do-nots as well.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Rose McAvoy
    August 16, 2013 at 9:25 am

    These look incredible. I am not sure I can let myself have a doughnut pan but I would make these in a hot second if I did. Thanks for the oil brush tip. I’m going to add that to my list of gadgets to accquire.

  • Gord
    August 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Might want to add a bit of baking soda to allow the baking powder to do its job (given the buttermilk)

    • Linda Ly
      August 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      I’ve found no need to add baking soda to this recipe; there’s enough in the baking powder to leaven the batter.

  • Sarah
    July 30, 2013 at 11:38 am

    My god they look delicious. I’m not the hugest doughnut fan either, so maybe I’ll keep myself safe and not get into baking them. However, I will be returning to this recipe in the future I’m sure, in case I ever want a nice pastry snack!


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