Lemon Love Buns

star rating (18) rate this recipe »
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 16 buns

Recipe photo

We originally printed a version of this recipe, Lemon Buns, in our May-June, 1996 Baking Sheet newsletter. Since then, we've amended it to use either lemon oil or Fiori di Sicilia flavor, an Italian citrus-vanilla flavoring that we use in place of vanilla in all kinds of treats, from sugar cookies to pound cake.

These are quintessential hot yeast buns -- but with an unexpected and refreshing jolt of citrus. The citrus essence elevates them beyond ordinary dinner rolls to something special: tea or breakfast rolls, perfect for spreading with homemade preserves (we recommend raspberry highly).

Tender and buttery, with a crunchy sugar crust, they're distinctly and assertively citrus, but not inherently sweet: a new and interesting concept in baked goods. Read our blog about these buns, with additional photos, at Flourish.

Lemon Love Buns

star rating (18) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 16 buns
Published: 01/01/2010




  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/3 cup coarse white sparkling sugar or Swedish pearl sugar

Tips from our bakers

  • Can you replace the lemon oil with grated lemon peel? Of course. Use the grated peel from 1 medium-to-large lemon.


1) Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to form a cohesive dough.

2) Knead the dough, by hand, mixer, or bread machine, for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's smooth, soft and supple; avoid adding too much flour, as this will make the buns tough and dry. If you're using a stand mixer, knead for 2 minutes with the flat beater, then switch to the dough hook and knead for an additional 5 minutes.

3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it's puffy, though it probably won't have doubled in bulk.

4) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and divide it into 16 pieces (about 1 1/2 ounces or 43g each).

5) To make round buns, simply round the pieces into balls. To make hearts or knots, see our illustrated blog post for complete instructions.

6) For soft-sided round buns, place them in a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. For knots or hearts, space the shaped buns on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.

7) Cover the buns, and allow them to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until they're nice and puffy; when you press a finger gently into a bun, the resulting indentation shouldn't spring back.

8) While the buns are rising, combine the egg white and water, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

9) Brush the risen buns with the egg white mixture, and sprinkle with coarse or pearl sugar.

10) Bake the buns for 20 minutes, or until they're a light golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Serve warm, or store in an airtight container (a plastic bag is fine) until ready to serve.


1 2  All  
  • star rating 02/09/2015
  • Tricia from Hudson, MA
  • These little lemon love buns are a delicious accompaniment for chicken soup or just by themselves! I used lemon zest because I didn't have the oil, and while not overpowering, there is a bit of lemon flavor. The water I added was room temp and I was afraid that would not help the dough rise, but in this case it didn't matter (and the recipe does not call for warm 105 degree water). This will become something I make for home and bring to friends' houses for dinners.
  • star rating 02/09/2015
  • bina from KAF Community
  • These are ethereal and delicious. I added 1/2 tsp. lemon oil at the recommendation you made to another baker who didn't find them lemony enough. I also used about 90 grams of whole wheat flour as I don't like to bake with only white flour. I also added a tiny amount of citric acid. I like very lemony baked goods. The dough was VERY tacky and I had lots of difficulty forming it into rolls, but other bakers writing that you shouldn't add too much flour made me persevere. I should also say that the Craftsy course with Peter Reinhart (that you so generously directed me to and provided a discount for) gave me the confidence to deal with this sticky dough. They turned out wonderful. Thank you and thanks to all the bakers who write in.
  • star rating 11/27/2013
  • sdp from KAF Community
  • I would appreciate a video so I am sure what the dough texture should look like.
  • star rating 07/15/2013
  • Sylvia from Biloxi, MS
  • I made these buns today and they turned out AWESOME! I made 2 batches, 1 with lemon oil, and 1 with Fiori di Sicilia . Both were equally good. Going to try lime oil and orange oil next!!!
  • star rating 02/24/2013
  • JEM from
  • I made these for the first time today. They turned out great! I used lemon zest in them and pearl sugar on top. The dough smelled wonderfully lemony while I was working with it. Taste wise, they're subtly lemony and the pearl sugar gives a great crunch with just enough sweet. Definitely a keeper recipe.
  • star rating 06/28/2010
  • luv2cknbk from charlotte,nc
  • These rolls are awesome and so easy to make. I made 15 (instead of 16) round rolls just for easier fitting into 9 x 13 pan. The (grown) kids thought the Fiori di Sicilia citrus flavor rolls tasted more like dessert than dinner rolls so I decided to make them into peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches and they were probably one of the most delicious PBJ sandwiches ever.
  • star rating 06/21/2010
  • Linda from Missouri
  • My husband loves lime--especially Key lime. I baked a batch of these buns on Father's Day, using Key Lime oil and grated lime zest. I filled them with lime curd. A huge hit! Scrumptious. This dough makes the best, lightest buns and is so easy to work with.
  • star rating 04/03/2010
  • Linda from Missouri
  • I baked these today. I wanted a hot cross bun for Easter, so I added currants and chopped candied lemon peel. I only had about 3 T of peel and 3/4 cup of currants, but it seems to have been a perfect amount. I made round rolls and weighed them at 2 oz. each--got 18. I brushed on the egg white wash but did not top with sugar. When the shiny brown rolls came out of the oven, I cooled them briefly, then piped on a cross, made with an icing of powdered sugar and lemon juice. These are the most delicious hot cross buns, ever! Very light texture. The lemon flavor is quite apparent (I used lemon oil) and I could even smell lemon, while they baked. Next time I bake these (and I will!) I think I'll try Fiori di Sicilia and candied orange peel. This dough will be very versatile. Scrumptious!
  • star rating 03/27/2010
  • from
  • star rating 03/09/2010
  • Jason from Waterloo IA
  • Made these for the college students who work for me at night. Gone in seconds! Two changes I made: 1) substituted buttermilk for 4 oz of the water and omitted the dry milk powder; 2) replaced 1.5 oz of the AP flour with pastry flour. Super silky dough. The new ingredients added both richness and lightness to the final product, I think. I have a feeling sour cream or whipping cream would be good in these, too.
1 2  All  

Related recipes