Buttermilk cake doughnut holes scented with lemon zest and rolled in plenty of cinnamon-sugar.

Lemon Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes | completelydelicious.com

Swimsuit season be damned, I will never give up doughnuts. Not ever.

I love a great doughnut shop as much as the next gal, but to me there’s nothing like making them fresh in your own kitchen. Of course, it’s also extremely dangerous to be surrounded by a dozen or so fresh doughnuts. How can anyone be expected to eat just one? Make doughnut holes instead and the challenge becomes even harder. I think no less than 17 of these lemon cinnamon-sugar doughnut holes went straight into my mouth.

Lemon Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes | completelydelicious.com

Lemon Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes | completelydelicious.com

Cake doughnuts are so easy to make at home, no harder than a batch of cookies! The dough is basic, with ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. After a short chill in the fridge, simply roll out it out and cut into small rounds to make the holes. Or you could make these into traditional doughnuts if you like, though I like how pop-able doughnut holes are. Plus, they’re perfect for little ones.

The hardest part of making doughnuts is the frying, but using a thermometer makes it a whole lot easier (if you don’t have one, get one!). These doughnuts require just a few minutes in the hot oil until golden brown, then they get a roll in plenty of cinnamon-sugar. Enjoy them while they’re warm— there’s nothing like it.

The combo of lemon and cinnamon in these holes is inspired by my lemon cinnamon rolls. The flavors go so well together, bright and cozy all at the same time. I know you’re going to love them as much as I do!

Lemon Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes | completelydelicious.com

baking tip:Doughnut Frying Tips

  • A deep-fryer isn’t necessary, any heavy bottomed pot will do.
  • Fill the pot at least 3 inches deep with oil so that the doughnuts have enough room to float.
  • Use a thermometer (I use a candy/deep-fry combo thermometer like this one) and fry the doughnuts at 375 degrees F. If you try to fry doughnuts in oil that is too cool, it’ll take longer and your doughnuts will soak up more oil. If the oil is too hot, you risk burning the doughnuts.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, test the temperature with a single doughnut hole. If it immediately sizzles and rises to the surface, the oil is ready.
  • Adding the doughnuts to the hot oil will cause the oil temperature to drop. Fry in batches and adjust heat as needed to maintain 375 degrees while you fry the doughnuts.
  • Protect yourself! Wear an apron to protect your clothing from any splatters, and use a slotted spoon to gently ease the doughnuts into the hot oil, flip them over, and remove them.
  • When you are done, turn off the heat and let the oil cool to room temperature completely. Pour through a funnel into a container with a secure lid and discard (or save to use for frying later). Do not pour oil down the drain.

Lemon Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes | completelydelicious.com

Lemon Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes | completelydelicious.com

Lemon Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes

Servings: 36 doughnut holes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Buttermilk cake doughnut holes scented with lemon zest and rolled in plenty of cinnamon-sugar.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (240 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (80 ml)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter , melted and cooled (56 grams)
  • 1/2 cups granulated sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Vegetable oil , for frying

For rolling:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and melted butter. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, and lemon zest for several minutes until pale and thick. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture to form a thick, sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a floured 1 or 1 1/2 inch cutter.
  • Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot, add vegetable oil so that it's at least 2 inches deep. Insert thermometer and heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees F.
  • Add the doughnut rounds a few at a time to the hot oil and fry until golden, about 2 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer doughnut holes to a paper toweled-lined plate to drain. While still hot, roll in the cinnamon-sugar. Enjoy immediately.
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Annalise Sandberg
Have you tried this recipe?I’d love to hear about it! Leave a rating and review below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram @completelydelicious with #completelydelicious.

Tools for this recipe