Lemon Poppy Seed Bread


I’ve always loved poppy seed bread, but it always used to be almond poppy seed that I would crave the most. Since I’m now in love with lemon flavored everything that has changed. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors. It’s just so vibrant and refreshing. It’s bold and I love that.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread | Cooking Classy

The lemon flavor in this bread shines. It has a generous amount of zest layered throughout the batter, lemon juice mixed into the batter and a generous coating of a fresh lemon juice glaze brushed along the top.

With all that lemon you are going to love the scent this brings to your kitchen. No candle or air freshener could come close to this natural lemony aroma.


Lemon Poppy Seed Bread | Cooking Classy

My favorite part is definitely that sugar coated topping. You’ll be wanting to steal that portion from your kids or that guy sitting next to you (just do it while they aren’t looking, like I did :)).

Or you could just be like my 3 year old, she’ll eat her slice of bread as she’s sitting there watching a cartoon and when it’s over she’ll say, “hey! Who ate my bread?” when really it was her and she just forgot.

But it’s a great attempt at a seconds slice though, just pretend someone stole it so you need another.


Lemon Poppy Seed Bread | Cooking Classy

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Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

4.73 from 11 votes

My favorite lemon poppy seed bread! It's brimming with bright lemon flavor, perfectly sweetened and it has a deliciously soft texture.

Servings: 10
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs , at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Lemon Glaze

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 by 4-inch baking dish, set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 20 seconds, set aside. 
  3. Add sugar and lemon zest to the the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Rub lemon zest with sugar using your fingertips, until the mixture becomes moist and pale yellow. 
  4. Add butter to sugar mixture and whip on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time, adding in vanilla with last egg.

  5. In (microwave safe) liquid measuring cup used to measure milk, whisk together the milk with sour cream. Heat mixture in microwave just until no longer cold (about room temp).

  6. Working in three separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture (to the butter/sugar mixture) alternating with 1/2 of the milk mixture and 1 Tbsp lemon juice (each time), and mixing just until combined after each addition. 
  7. Bake in preheated oven 45 - 55 minutes, tenting with foil at 40 minutes (don't let foil touch loaf), until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (or with a few small crumbs). 
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes in loaf pan, then invert loaf onto a wire rack.

  9. Combine lemon juice and sugar in a bowl and heat in microwave on HIGH power and heat in 15 second intervals, whisking between intervals until sugar has dissolve and mixture is hot. 

  10. Brush top of bread with the lemon glaze (it will take several coats but use it all. Give it a second between coats to absorb as needed). 

  11. Let loaf cool on wire rack (I also recommend covering it with a extra large bowl if you have one to seal in some of the moisture), then cut into slices. Store in an airtight container.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemon poppy seed bread
Author: Jaclyn

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread | Cooking Classy

Start with that up there. End with this lemon, sugary glazed deliciousness down here.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread | Cooking Classy

Not to be confused with blueberries, these are poppy seeds – just up close and personal…

Poppy Seeds | Cooking Classy



  • Sami V: I made this bread today and it turned out gteat and delicious! Nice and moist. I didn’t do the lemon glaze on top so would like more lemon flavor inside. I think next time I’ll add lemon extract instead of vanilla. Oh and I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream and definitely baked it 55 mins or longer. Thanks for the recipe! December 11, 2018 at 5:40pm Reply

  • Reggie: hi this might only be me but your directions are very confusing! having such large paragraphs and nothing to say ‘in a separate bowl’ is very confusing! i would suggest splitting up your paragraph in smaller sections! it makes it easier to read (especially on small phones!) November 16, 2018 at 8:56am Reply

  • Jennya: Made this with gluten free flour it was delish..whoops forgot to take a photo. I’ll certainly make this again soon, will upload photo. October 30, 2018 at 3:52pm Reply

  • SPSmith: This is a wonderful recipe, full of lemon flavor as the author stated. I have made this recipe one of my go to recipes especially when we have company. At first I followed the instructions precise. However over time, I have learn that to focus more on quality ingredients than the exact method. I substitute Greek yogurt, almond milk, and lemon extract instead of the sour cream, milk and vanilla. I also will mix or substitute completely chia seeds instead of the poppyseed. The result is absolutely amazing and healthier. August 29, 2018 at 12:25pm Reply

  • Marianne in Mo.: I was looking for a pound cake loaf, but figured I could adapt this by using vanilla and leaving out the poppy seeds, zest and lemon juice. Baked it for the minimum time (45 mins.) and checked with a toothpick, which came out clean, but damp. So I removed it from the oven and let it cool in the pan. The center caved in, so I guess I should have continued baking it another 10 mins. Other than that, it’s a great cake! Served with strawberries and whipped cream. August 6, 2018 at 1:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the feedback! August 7, 2018 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Goitse Keretetse: Looks yummy.
    Can I use salted butter and not have to add salt as one of the ingredients? May 7, 2018 at 12:21pm Reply

  • Kate: Can this be made n a bread Maker? April 6, 2018 at 9:32pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m not familiar with bread machines (though I am considering getting one) but my knowledge on the subject is so limited. I don’t know the rules on sweet breads/quick breads with it. Sorry wish I could say for sure but this oven method is pretty simple so I’d probably stick with it. April 8, 2018 at 12:55am Reply

  • Lee: Hi Jaclyn,

    Your cake looks delicious & I’m eager to try baking it. Do you have the measurements in metrics?

    Lee April 6, 2018 at 3:54am Reply

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