This easy lemon poppy seed bread recipe takes only 10 minutes to prep and less than an hour to bake! It’s incredibly moist, full of bright lemon flavor, and you can make it with or without glaze.

Sliced lemon poppy seed bread with slices of lemons and white pitcher in background

Ultra-Moist Lemon Loaf with Poppy Seeds

There is just something about lemon poppy seed bread. It’s moist, sweet, just a little bit tart, and absolutely worth the annoyance of getting some seeds stuck in your teeth.

A few years ago I was making this recipe and I purposely didn’t put any poppy seeds in the batter, but the bread just wasn’t the same! Even though they don’t add any flavor to the loaf, I missed that element of crunch that they bring to the table.

On the subject of texture, you’ll appreciate that this lemon loaf has a moist, tender crumb. You can thank the buttermilk for that—it adds moisture! The natural tanginess of buttermilk also plays up the tartness of the lemon, resulting in a lemon bread with the perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors.

Loaf of lemon poppy seed bread with slice cut to show inside

Total Time Required

  • 5-10 minutes to prep the batter
  • Bake for 55-65 minutes at 350ºF
  • 20 minutes to cool

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Eggs – Let the eggs come to room temperature, too. Warmer eggs will hold more air when beaten, resulting in a lighter texture.
  • Buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil
  • Lemon zest – You’ll need zest from about 3 lemons. 
  • Lemon juice – Zest the lemons before you juice them.
  • Poppy seeds

How to Zest a Lemon Without a Zester

A microplane zester is absolutely worth the investment if you cook or bake often, but you can still zest a lemon without one. If you have a box grater, simply use the smallest holes on there to zest your lemon. Otherwise, use a paring knife to cut a thin slice of peel from the lemon; scrape off the white pith, then finely mince the peel with a chef’s knife to create zest.

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

As with most quick bread recipes, this lemon poppy seed bread is a cinch to make.

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and coat a loaf pan with non-stick spray.

Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients. In a larger mixing bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. Stir to combine with a spatula for 30 seconds. 

Lemon poppy seed batter in mixing bowl with rubber spatula

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring gently with a spatula until just combined.

Two photos of Lemon Poppy Seed Bread in loaf pan; one unbaked and one baked

Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool. Let the bread cool in the pan, then carefully remove it.

Glaze the bread. This is optional. If you’re going to add the glaze, do so after the bread has cooled completely. Then whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Use a spoon to spread it over the cooled bread.

Sliced loaf of lemon poppy seed bread with slices of lemon for garnish

Expert Tips

Here are some hints and tips for perfect lemon poppy seed bread:

  • Know what size loaf pan you have. There’s two popular loaf pan sizes – 9×5 and 8.5×4.5. Even though the numbers are similar, the pans actually differ in size by 15%. The 8.5×4.5 pan will yield a tall, more domed bread and will take 5-10 minutes longer when baking. The total suggested bake time for a 8.5×4.5 inch pan is 55-65 minutes and 9×5 inch pan is 45-60 minutes.
  • Add more poppy seeds. If you like your lemon poppy seed bread loaded with poppy seeds, go ahead and up the amount of seeds from 2 to 3 tablespoons.
  • Making muffins. Rather than tweaking this recipe, follow my recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins!
Sliced loaf of glazed lemon poppy seed bread

Serving Suggestions

Lemon poppy seed bread is one of those versatile recipes that can go from breakfast to snack to dessert depending on how you dress it up.

A warm slice of lemon bread is fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or Cheesecake Whipped Cream. If you’re serving it for breakfast, you can pair it with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries.

How to Store Extras

The lemon poppy seed loaf can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 4 days. You can also store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Does Lemon Bread Freeze Well?

Yes, this lemon bread freezes beautifully! Wrap it in plastic wrap, then either place it in a freezer bag or wrap it in a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months and let it thaw at room temperature before serving.

Slice of glazed lemon poppy seed bread on plate with bite taken out of corner

More Zesty Lemon Recipes

Sliced loaf of lemon poppy seed bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

5 from 4 ratings
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Yield: 12 servings
This easy lemon poppy seed bread is tender, moist, and full of bright citrus flavor!

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest, about 3 lemons
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 
  • In a mixing bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir with a spoon to combine and set aside.
  • In a larger mixing bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. Stir to combine with a spatula for 30 seconds. 
  • Gradually mix in the dry ingredients, mixing by hand just until combined. The batter will be very thick!
  • Spray a loaf pan (either 9×5 or 8.5×4.5) with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer the batter to the pan and spread even with a spatula.
  • Place in the center of the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total suggested bake time for a 8.5×4.5 inch pan is 55-65 minutes and 9×5 inch pan is 45-60 minutes. Be sure to know what size your pan is. 

Glaze

  • Allow the bread to cool before adding the glaze. Mix the sifted powdered sugar and lemon juice together with a spatula. You may possibly need more lemon juice, it just depends on how thin or thick you like your glaze. Use a spoon to spread the glaze over the bread.

Notes

To store: Lemon poppy seed loaf can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 4 days. To freeze, wrap the bread in plastic wrap, then either place it in a freezer bag or wrap it in a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months and let it thaw at room temperature before serving.
Know what size loaf pan you have. There’s two popular loaf pan sizes – 9×5 and 8.5×4.5. Even though the numbers are similar, the pans actually differ in size by 15%. The 8.5×4.5 pan will yield a tall, more domed bread and will take 5-10 minutes longer when baking. The total suggested bake time for a 8.5×4.5 inch pan is 55-65 minutes and 9×5 inch pan is 45-60 minutes.
Cuisine: American
Course: Bread
Author: Beth
Calories: 295kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 255mg, Potassium: 71mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 31g, Vitamin A: 62IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 93mg, Iron: 2mg
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