Sweet and tangy lemon cake in donut form! These Lemon Cake Donuts are topped with a simple (and equally tangy!) Lemon Icing. They’re quick and easy to make, and they’re a perfect treat any day of the week. Donuts on a Wednesday, anyone?
Lemon Cake Donuts with Lemon Icing
These lemon donuts are everything you want in a lemon dessert: tangy, light, and perfectly sweetened, and I love them. You all know how much I love chocolate (see here), but these donuts are irresistible – even for a chocolate lover like me! If you like lemon, then I have a feeling you will love these and also find them hard to resist!
These donuts come together by mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately and then combining them. If you’ve made baked donuts before, then you may be used to a thick, pipe-able batter. This batter, however, is thin enough to easily pour into your greased donut pan. I promise these donuts couldn’t get easier! And if you’re wondering, yes, these donuts are basically cake, which makes them totally delicious (and more fun to eat!).
Some of the ingredients + substitutes to make Lemon Cake Donuts:
All-purpose flour is the only flour I’ve tried for these donuts. If you’re wondering how to make them gluten-free then I recommend a GF all-purpose flour blend.
Cornstarch creates a more tender, cake-like donut. Instead of looking or feeling like a muffin, these donuts really are like cake!
Eggs bring fluffiness to these donuts. I haven’t tried any egg alternatives in this recipe, but I recommend using flax eggs if you’re looking for a vegan/egg-less recipe. 2 flax eggs = 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp water; mix and allow to thicken for five minutes.
Oil adds much needed moisture. I’ve tested this recipe with melted coconut oil and olive oil. Feel free to use your favorite vegetable oil. If you decide to use melted coconut oil, it’s important that the rest of your ingredients be room temperature, including the eggs and milk.
Agave adds both moisture and sweetness. It’s sweeter than cane sugar and has a low GI. It’s better for you than honey or maple syrup, though either of those liquid sweeteners would be a fine replacement.
Sugar adds necessary sweetness. Feel free to use your favorite granulated sugar – raw cane, refined white cane, coconut, etc.
Lemon juice + zest add lots of natural lemon flavor! I recommend buying 5 or 6 lemons to juice and zest for this recipe. Zesting involves using a microplane or fine grater to grate/zest the yellow lemon peel, avoiding the bitter white underneath. Feel free to add as little or much as you’d like – you can even add it to the icing.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup plant-based milk
- 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup agave
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest from 2-3 lemons
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 Tbsp lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
- Bring your eggs to room temperature by placing them in a glass of warm water for around 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F and spray your donut pan(s) with nonstick spray (I used olive oil spray).
- In a large bowl (I like to use a large glass bowl with a pour spout for easy transfer of the batter to the donut pan), sift the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix together with a large whisk and then set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar. Whisk in the milk, oil, agave, lemon juice, and vanilla until well combined. Add liquid ingredients to the dry and gently mix with a large spoon or spatula until no flour pockets remain; stir in the lemon zest.
- Pour the batter into the donut pan wells, filling them nearly to the top. Bake donuts at 350°F for 8-9 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out with a few crumbs.
- Let donuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn the pan over onto a cooling rack, banging the pan lightly on the rack (or in the air) until all of the donuts release. Turn donuts right side up and allow them to cool. If you have more batter, bake the rest of the donuts now.
- Once your donuts are totally cool, you can make the icing. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar with 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Mix until no sugar lumps remain, adding more lemon juice 1/2 tsp at a time until you have a thick but pourable icing. When you lift your spoon up, the icing "ribbons" should take around 3 full seconds to disappear.
- Dip the top of each donut into the icing, submerging it until the icing fills the hole. Lift up, shake the excess icing off, and then flip the donut right side up to set on the cooling rack. Alternatively, you can spoon the icing over the tops of each donut (this method is definitely easier!).
- Top your donuts with lemon zest (I used dried lemon zest that had been zested the day before), sprinkles, or coconut flakes and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.