Lemon Thyme Old Fashioned Donuts are made with lots of egg yolks and sour cream and fried at a lower temperature to help get that crackly donut top! They are tangy, herbaceous, slightly sweet, and so good with a strong cup of coffee!

Lemon Thyme Old Fashioned Donuts on a plate with a cup of coffee

I have to tell you, these donuts were quite the feat. The reason they were quite the feat is that the first time I made them was quite traumatic. Let me start at the beginning.

I am the kind of baker/chef/person-in-everyday-life that likes to just make it work. In my real world job, where I am a private chef for someone with many food allergies, I “make it work” every single day. I have very limited ingredients and I love figuring out how to create all kinds of things that I shouldn’t be able to create based on what I can cook with.

A Lemon Thyme Old Fashioned Donut on a plate with a cup of coffee

As a person who is highly self taught before ever going to culinary school, I have mostly tried to figure out ways to make it work without always having the proper tools.  A wine bottle can be a rolling pin, a ziplock bag is a piping bag, and a wine glass is a donut cutter. Except a wine glass is NOT a donut cutter anymore and let me tell you why.

It has been a while since I’ve been able to blog, but Mr. BB and I just moved and I have this beautiful new space to work in so the other day I had a whole blog day planned out. I developed this recipe for lemon and thyme old fashioned donuts. I had everything planned. I made the dough. I made candied thyme. I made the glaze. The only thing left was cutting out the donuts and frying them.

My apartment kitchen in Chicago

(I’ll preface by saying I’m totally fine, and also, the next paragraph is very very mildly graphic if that sort of thing bothers you…)

So here I am, in my beautiful new kitchen, with my dough rolled out and wine glass in hand, stamping out donuts. Then, in a flash, the stem of the glass snaps and goes into my hand. I’m left on the floor, with what looks like a baking murder scene around me, trying to stop my hand from bleeding and also trying not to pass out.

Frying donut in oil

The whole thing was a little traumatic. But actually the most traumatic part was that those gorgeous donuts I had worked so hard on were ruined! But I was damn determined to go at them again with proper tools this time.

They were worth it. These glorious lemon and thyme old fashioned donuts made me really work for it. But every bite of that crackly crust and sweet herbaceous cakey middle made the pain all worth it.

Lemon Thyme Old Fashioned Donuts on a plate with a cup of coffee

The moral of the story: Wine glasses are only for drinking wine. Lots and lots of wine. And you should have some proper ring cutters so you can make these donuts.

The end.

Lemon Thyme Old Fashioned Donuts on a cake stand
Yield: 12 donuts

Lemon & Thyme Old-Fashioned Donuts

Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours

Lemon Thyme Old Fashioned Donuts are made with lots of egg yolks and sour cream and fried at a lower temperature to help get that crackly donut top! They are tangy, herbaceous, slightly sweet, and so good with a strong cup of coffee!


For the donuts

  • 1 & 1/4 cup (247 gr, 8.75 oz) granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks (if making the candied thyme, save 1 or  of the whites)
  • 2 TBSP (28 gr, 1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cup (380 gr, 13.5 oz) sour cream
  • 1 TBSP (15gr, 0.5 oz) baking powder
  • 2 tsp (12 gr, 0.4 oz) kosher salt
  • 5 cups (600 gr, 21.25 oz) pastry flour, can sub for all-purpose flour (pastry flour will give you a lighter texture to the donuts)

for the lemon glaze

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • about 1/2 cup lemon juice

for the candied thyme (optional)

  • 1-2 egg whites
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • granulated sugar


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, egg yolks, butter, lemon zest, & thyme. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes until the volume increases.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the sour cream, and mix on medium speed again for 2 more minutes.
  3. With the mixer on slow speed, add the salt & the baking powder to the bowl. Then add the flour a little bit at a time until it is all incorporated. When measuring your flour, make sure you fluff the flour up and lightly spoon it into your measuring cup, leveling it off. Do not pack the flour down into the cups.
  4. As soon as the flour is just incorporated into the dough, shut the mixer off & scrape down the bowl.
  5. Set a piece of plastic wrap into a bowl big enough to hold the dough & spray the plastic with cooking spray. Place the dough into the bowl with the greased plastic wrap, cover it, and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, you can make the glaze and candied thyme if using. Recipes follow.
  6. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and lay it on a lightly floured surface. Work quickly so the dough does not warm up too much. Lightly dust flour over the top of the dough and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll it out to about 1/2" thick.
  7. Use about a 3" round cutter to cut out the donuts and 1 1/4" cutter to stamp out the middles (I actually used a small heart shaped cookie cutter)
  8. Brush off any excess flour from the donuts, and place them on the prepared sheet pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  9. Heat at least 2" of frying oil to 340F. The lower temperature is what helps the donuts get the crackly top so use a fry thermometer to monitor.
  10. Gently lower the donuts into the fry oil one-by-one. I pull up the stop watch on my phone for this part. As soon as the donuts come to the top of the oil, let them cook for about 40 seconds, then flip them. Let them cook for about 80-90 more seconds, until golden on the one side, then flip them again. Let them go for 80-90 more seconds.
  11. Remove the donuts from the oil once gold brown and crackly and set on paper towels or a metal wrack over a sheet pan to drain and cool slightly.
  12. Once the donuts have cooled slightly, dip in the glaze turning to coat each side.

For the glaze

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon zest and add enough lemon juice until it is the consistency of a glaze.

For the candied thyme (optional)

  1. Whisk together the egg whites with a little bit of water to thin out.
  2. Dip the thyme sprigs into the egg white and let the excess drip off then dip the sprigs into the sugar.
  3. Let the sugar coated sprigs sit on parchment paper for at least an hour to dry.