Mornings are much sweeter when you get to wake up to my Lemon Poppyseed Old Fashioned Sour Cream Glazed Donuts! With a tender, cakey crumb and a bright, lemony glaze, this fried doughnut recipe yields 10 crisp-edged, crackly topped wonders that your Grandma would be proud of.
⭐ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
As a lifelong baker and someone with a pronounced sweet tooth, sweet breakfast pastries are one of my favorite reasons to get out of bed. These delightfully tart poppyseed & lemon donuts are like a bright ray of sunshine, perfect for pepping me up on even the darkest, chilliest, and sleepiest of mornings.
While I love all kinds of donuts - like baked cake doughnuts or fluffy filled brioche doughnuts - my heart holds a special place for old fashioned fried sour cream donuts. There’s simply nothing like them!
With a rich, cakey inside, a lightly crisp exterior, crunchy poppyseeds, and a tart glaze that sinks into all the craggy edges, these old fashioned lemon donuts are at least as tasty as the pastries you’d get from your favorite bakery.
While they do take a little time to make, anything worthwhile is worth waiting for! The process truly isn’t very difficult. You can also break this donut recipe into two steps; I like to make the dough the day before I intend to fry them.
If the method of making old fashioned donuts is too much to handle, start by making one of my baked doughnut recipes instead!
Most of the ingredients for these Lemon Poppyseed Old Fashioned Sour Cream Glazed Donuts are pretty self-explanatory. Here are a few notes to keep in mind, though:
- Cake Flour - With a lower protein content than all purpose flour, cake flour donuts have a tender-crumbed consistency that mimic bakery versions. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own using AP flour and cornstarch. For 1 cup of cake flour, simply measure out a cup of AP flour, remove 2 tablespoons worth, then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch before sifting.
- Crisco or Shortening - Shortening provides the best texture in donuts, while butter yields more of a chewy result. I don’t recommend swapping them.
- Lemon Zest & Juice - Fresh lemon gives these lemon donuts a bright, tart flavor. Since you will be using the zest, be sure to wash the lemons thoroughly. Also, use only the outer yellow part of the zest; the white pith is quite bitter.
- Poppyseeds - With a titilating crunch and a savory flavor, poppyseeds are a lovely addition to these lemon donuts. In a pinch, you can swap in black sesame seeds, or you can feel free to omit them.
- Sour Cream - There’s no two ways about it - good donuts have a lot of fat. Be sure to use real, full-fat sour cream for the best results.
- Corn Syrup - Corn syrup helps to prevent sugar crystals from forming, which is important in something like this lemon glaze for donuts. In a pinch, try swapping in honey.
Making old fashioned sour cream donuts is a bit of a production. Here are the essential pieces of equipment you’ll need:
- Cast Iron, Dutch Oven or Countertop Fryer - If you have a deep fryer at home, now is a great time to pull it out. If not, be sure to use a deep cast iron pan or heavy Dutch oven for the best results.
- Rolling Pin - If you don’t have one on hand, I’ve always found that a (clean) wine bottle will do the trick!
- Doughnut Cutter, Cookie Cutters or Biscuit Cutters - To shape your sour cream donuts, you’re going to need two round cutters - one large and one small. No donut pan needed here!
- Paper Towels - Anytime you deep fry anything - including these donuts - you should keep paper towels on hand. They do a great job of sopping up any excess oil.
- Slotted Spoon or Spider - Fishing fried donuts out of hot oil is no laughing matter! Invest in a large slotted spoon or a spider to leave the majority of the oil in the pan.
- Thermometer - Frying temperature is everything when it comes to making old-fashioned doughnuts. Don’t wing it - use a candy thermometer for perfect, consistent results!
📖 Step by Step Instructions
Making these homemade old-fashioned donuts with sour cream might seem a little intimidating at first, but with a bit of time and a little practice, you’re sure to succeed! Here’s how it’s done:
Mix Dough: Place the sugar and Crisco in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for about 2 minutes. Then add the wet ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients until mixed.
Rest Dough: Place the dough in an air-tight container in the fridge for an hour – I like to make my dough in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge overnight before continuing on.
Roll Doughnuts: Dust the top of the dough with flour, and roll out your chilled dough to be ½ inch thick. Cut as many doughnuts and holes as possible using a doughnut cutter or circular cookie cutters of various sizes.
Fry Donuts: Fry for 15 seconds on the first side, then flip to cook for 75 seconds. Then, finally, flip the doughnut to cook for an additional 75 seconds until golden brown before removing from oil and set on your prepared paper towels.
Glaze Donuts: Dip the tops of the freshly fried doughnuts straight into the glaze before setting on a cooling rack or wire rack to let the excess glaze drip off and the remaining lemon glaze to set on the donuts.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Chill & Rest the dough. Before you roll and fry your sour cream doughnuts, it is important to let the dough rest for at least an hour.
- Work quickly! It's incredibly important to glaze your old-fashioned doughnuts within moments of removing them from the oil. By dipping the doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, the glaze does not seize, trapping a large amount of icing into the crevices of the doughnut. The glaze will instead evenly coat the doughnuts, creating a thin glazed crust.
- Don’t forget your mise en place! Before you start frying your doughnuts, it's important to make sure that you have properly prepared your space to prevent overcooking! Make sure to have your thermometer close by to monitor the oil's temperature, a plate lined with paper towels to place the fried doughnuts on, and your glaze ready for dipping.
- Make sure to consistently check your oil's temperature! It can rise above the target temperature that you should be frying at quite quickly. It also will decrease in temperature after frying a batch of doughnuts. Between each batch of doughnuts, check the temperature of your oil before adding more dough to ensure even and consistent results.
- Head on over to my guide for choosing the right oil to fry donuts for more information!
💭 Recipe FAQs
When it comes to donuts of any sort, they are best eaten super fresh. In fact, I find that they are at their tastiest as soon as the glaze just *barely* sets! All that said, feel free to make the dough up to a day in advance of frying. Any leftover glazed donuts will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
The distinguished craggy top, the sour cream tang, dense crumb structure, and the light coating of glaze are some of the defining characteristics of a quality old-fashioned doughnut! This particular style of making sour cream doughnuts and frying them has been around since about 1830 - so the “old fashioned” moniker makes sense!
While lemon poppyseed is a classic combination, there’s nothing stopping you from trading in tart lime, grapefruit, blood orange, or pomelo instead!
More Delicious Doughnut Recipes
Whether you like them fried or baked, filled or not, spelled doughnut or donut, one thing is certain: they’re delicious! Here are more recipes to set you up for sweet morning success.
If you try the recipe for these Lemon Poppyseed Old Fashioned Sour Cream Glazed Doughnuts, please leave a 🌟 review and share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest - for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter! 📧
Lemon Poppyseed Old Fashioned Sour Cream Glazed Donuts
- Air Tight Container
- Doughnut Cutter or Cookie Cutters
- Slotted Spoon
Lemon Poppyseed Old Fashioned Doughnuts
- 2 ¼ Cups (255 g) Cake Flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- ½ Cup (100 g) Sugar
- 2 tablespoon Crisco or Shortening
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Zest
- 1 tablespoon Poppyseeds
- 2 Large Egg Yolks
- ⅔ Cup (165 g) Sour Cream
- Palm Oil for Frying, or Canola, read notes before using canola
Lemon Doughnut Glaze
- 3 Cups (360 g) Powdered Sugar, sifted
- 1 ½ teaspoon Corn Syrup
- ¾ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ Cup (61 g) Lemon Juice
- 1 tablespoon (20 g) Hot Water plus more if needed
- 1 teaspoon Poppyseeds
Mixing & Frying Doughnuts
- Whisk together the dry ingredients – cake flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a medium bowl.2 ¼ Cups Cake Flour, 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- Place the Sugar and Crisco in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for about 2 minutes. Then add the lemon zest, poppy seeds, and egg yolks and mix for an additional two minutes before adding the sour cream.½ Cup Sugar, 2 tablespoon Crisco or Shortening, 2 tablespoon Lemon Zest, 1 tablespoon Poppyseeds, 2 Large Egg Yolks, ⅔ Cup Sour Cream
- Add the dry ingredients in two separate parts, mixing until just combined.
- Place the dough in an air-tight container in the fridge for an hour – I like to make my dough in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge overnight before continuing on.
- Place enough oil in a cast-iron pot so that you have at least 3 inches of oil in height from the base of the pot. Heat the oil to 330 degrees Fahrenheit.Palm Oil for Frying
- Meanwhile, dust your work surface with flour and place the dough on top. Dust the top of the dough with flour, and roll out your dough to be ½ inch thick. Cut as many doughnuts and holes as possible using a doughnut cutter or circular cookie cutters of various sizes. Make sure to dip the cutter in flour before each cut otherwise it will stick!
- Feel free to re-roll your dough and continue to cut more doughnuts and doughnut holes until you have barely any scraps left.
- Before you start the process of frying, I like to prepare my space by setting a cooling rack or a large plate near my cast iron pot and line with paper towels.
- To test that your oil is ready to go, I like to use a doughnut hole and drop it into our preheated oil. To fry your doughnuts, you’ll fry for 15 seconds on the first side, then flip to cook for 75 seconds. Then, finally, flip the doughnut to cook for an additional 75 seconds until golden brown before removing from oil and set on your prepared paper towels.
- Continue cooking doughnuts and doughnut holes in this fashion until there are none left! Make sure to continually monitor the temperature of your oil and only add doughnuts when the oil reads approximately 330 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk everything until properly combined. Add more hot water to the glaze if you prefer a thinner glaze.3 Cups Powdered Sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon Corn Syrup, ¾ teaspoon Vanilla Extract, ½ teaspoon Salt, ¼ Cup Lemon Juice, 1 tablespoon Hot Water plus more if needed, 1 teaspoon Poppyseeds
- Dip the tops of the freshly fried doughnuts straight into the glaze before setting on a cooling rack to set.
- Can I make these ahead of time? When it comes to donuts of any sort, they are best eaten super fresh. In fact, I find that they are at their tastiest as soon as the glaze just *barely* sets! All that said, feel free to make the dough up to a day in advance of frying. Any leftover glazed donuts will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- Why are they called “old fashioned” donuts? The distinguished craggy top, the sour cream tang, dense crumb structure, and the light coating of glaze are some of the defining characteristics of a quality old-fashioned doughnut! This particular style of making sour cream doughnuts and frying them has been around since about 1830 - so the “old fashioned” moniker makes sense!
- Can I swap in another type of citrus? While lemon poppyseed is a classic combination, there’s nothing stopping you from trading in tart lime, grapefruit, or pomelo instead!