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Pile of glazed lemon poppy seed doughnuts on cooling rack.

Lemon Poppy Seed Old Fashioned Doughnuts

  • Author: Joy the Baker
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 doughnuts 1x
  • Category: breakfast, brunch


A classic recipe made even brighter with lemon and poppy seeds.



For the doughnuts:

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (totally optional if you don’t have any)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • Peanut, vegetable, or canola oil for frying

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted until browned and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 12 tablespoons whole milk
  • 11 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds plus more for topping


  1. In a small bowl rub together lemon zest and granulated sugar until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, using electric hand beaters, cream together softened butter and granulated sugar. Whip until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon extract, if using.
  4. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until almost combined, but flour streaks still remain. Add all of the sour cream and bet on low speed to combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low just until no flour streaks remain. Use a rubber spatula to finish incorporating the batter and to clean the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  5. When you’re ready to roll out and fry the dough, first set yourself up for success. Generously flour a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Flour a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper. Turn the chilled dough out onto the floured paper. It will be sticky! Flour the top of the dough and place a second piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of the dough. Roll into a 3/4-inch thickness. Carefully peel off the top piece of paper.
  6. Flour a 3-inch round cutter and a 1-inch round cutter. Cut as many doughnut shapes as you can, flouring the cutter between each cut. Use an offset (or any) spatula to carefully transfer the doughnut shapes to the prepared baking sheet, separating the doughnuts from the doughnut holes. Gently gather and re-roll the scraps to create as many doughnuts as possible. Refrigerate while you heat the oil.
  7. Place 2-inches of oil in a large shallow pan or a Dutch oven. Clip a fry or candy thermometer on the edge of the pan and bring oil to 340-350 degrees F.
  8. While the oil comes to temperature, whisk together the glaze ingredients until you have a thick but pourable glaze.
  9. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a cooling rack over the paper towels.
  10. Remove the doughnuts from the refrigerator and place 2 or 3 doughnuts in the hot oil. They will sink but begin to float after 10-15 seconds. As soon as the float, flip each doughnut and fry for 2 – 2 minutes 30 seconds. Flip and fry for another 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from the oil and place on the cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1 or 2 minutes until cool enough to handle, before dipping in the prepared glaze and lightly sprinkling with more poppy seeds.
  11. Bring the oil back up to temperature before frying more doughnuts in batches. Fry the doughnut holes for 3 minutes total.
  12. Enjoy immediately though these doughnuts are also good the day after they’re fried. Store in an airtight container at room temp and toast leftovers in a toaster oven for a few minutes before serving