Easy and delicious, this lemon poppy seed bread is bursting with citrus flavor! The poppy seeds bring a subtle nutty aroma while the glaze on top makes each bite sweet. You will love the fluffy and moist texture too!

lemon poppyseed bread on parchment paper and baking sheet. end cut off showing inside of loaf.

I love a good quick bread. The batter takes minutes to make and often times the recipe is a crowd pleaser. This homemade lemon poppy seed loaf is no different! The tangy, citrus flavor is complemented by the poppy seeds and sweet lemon glaze. This classic recipe will soon become one of your favorites!

Why you will love this recipe

  • The best texture. It’s tender, moist and fluffy. The poppy seeds are soaked in milk to soften them up a bit too (I use this trick for my poppy seed scones).
  • Delicious flavor. There is plenty of lemon juice and zest to provide a citrus taste in every bite. The poppy seeds add a subtle nutty aroma that is irresistible!
  • Easy to make. The recipe uses basic ingredients and simple steps. No electric mixer required!
  • Serve any time of day. You can enjoy this loaf at breakfast, as an afternoon snack or even dessert.
  • Tested to perfection. I did a few rounds of testing and found that sour cream helps the texture of this bread. It makes it moist without being dense. Also, soaking the poppy seeds in milk yields more flavor while softening the seeds a bit.

Ingredient notes

lemon poppyseed bread ingredients in bowls labeled with text.
  • Poppy seeds: These are easy to find in your local grocery store. Make sure they are not expired for the best taste.
  • Lemon juice and zest: Use fresh juice and zest from the lemon. This guarantees plenty of citrus flavor.
  • Almond extract: This unique flavor complements lemon desserts well (I use it in my lemon ricotta cake). If you do not like the taste, use vanilla instead.
  • Butter: Melt the butter and let is cool slightly before using. Unsalted butter is a must since salt is added separately to activate the baking powder.
  • Milk: Whole milk or low-fat works for this recipe. Make sure it is room temperature.
  • Sour cream: To make a moist texture, use full-fat sour cream. Greek yogurt is a good substitute. Again, make sure it is room temperature.

Recipe Variations

Add some mix-ins. About 3/4 cup fresh berries such as raspberries or blueberries complement the citrus flavor wonderfully. You can also mix in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds or walnuts. Shredded coconut or raisins are also good mix ins.

Make muffins instead. Divide batter among a 12-cup muffin tin. Bake at 400° F for 16 to 18 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin to cool completely.

Make mini loaves. Use two 5×3 inch mini loaf pans. Divide batter between two pans and bake for about 30 minutes.

Adjust for dietary restrictions. This recipe also works with dairy-free milk and sour cream (or yogurt). Keep in mind this may affect the flavor slightly. Cup for cup gluten-free flour may also be substituted (do not use almond flour or other nut flours).

How to make lemon poppy seed bread

photo collage demonstrating how to make lemon poppy seed bread in a mixing bowl.
  1. Soak the poppy seeds in milk for about 15 minutes. During this time, preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 8×4 loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Combine wet ingredients: In a large bowl, rub sugar and lemon zest together. Add the eggs, butter, lemon juice and almond extract. Mix to combine, then add sour cream and popy seed milk mixture. Mix again until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Avoid over mixing. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
photo collage demonstrating how to make lemon poppy seed bread in a loaf pan and glaze in a small mixing bowl.
  1. Bake at 350 F for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool completely.
  2. Make the glaze: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Pour over cooled bread and wait a 5 minutes for the glaze to set. Slice and serve.

Expert Tips

Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature. This helps the batter have a smooth and consistent texture without any lumps. I find the sour cream can be a little lumpy if it is not room temperature. It also helps to weigh your ingredients for accurate measuring.

Soak the poppy seeds in milk. This improves the poppy seed flavor while softening the seeds up a bit. Also, rub the lemon zest into the sugar. I do this for many of my citrus recipes to increase the citrus flavor.

Finally, use fresh lemon juice and zest. Freshly squeezed juice has significantly more flavor than store-bought juice does so I do not recommend the latter.

lemon poppy seed loaf with glaze and lemon slices on top.

Storage Tips

Store bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Make sure the loaf is completely cooled before storing otherwise it will get soggy.

To freeze, let the loaf cool completely. Wrap the bread in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag (remove any air). Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature, adding the glaze and serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you serve with lemon poppy seed bread?

I prefer a simple glaze on top, but a sprinkle of powdered sugar or dollop of whipped cream works too! You can also serve the slices with a fresh cup of coffee or tea.

Can I make the bread without poppy seeds?

Yes, but it will lose the nutty flavor. The bread will still be delicious and citrusy! You can also substitute with an equal amount of chia seeds.

Why do you soak the poppy seeds in milk?

The seeds have a tough outer shell. Soaking them in the milk not only does it softens the seeds, but it also helps release some of the flavor. As a result, the bread is more tender and flavorful.

Why is my bread dense?

Most likely the batter was over-mixed causing it to lose air. If the bread didn’t rise, it’s possible the baking powder was expired.

Why is there a crack in the center of my bread?

This is a sign that your bread baked properly. The bread rises and expands as it bakes. Air from the center is escaping through the top causing a crack down the center. This is a good sign and you can expect a tender moist texture.

slice of lemon poppy seed bread cut off the end of a loaf.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

lemon poppyseed bread on parchment paper and baking sheet. end cut off showing inside of loaf.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Poppy Seed Bread with Glaze

Lemon poppy seed bread has a tart citrus flavor and subtle poppy seed taste. This quick bread is easy to make and topped with a sweet glaze!
5 (7 ratings)


Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

  • ¼ cup (60 mL) whole or low-fat milk, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup (120 g) sour cream, room temperature

Lemon Glaze

  • ¼ cup (30 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  • In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together milk and poppyseeds. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub between fingers to make lemon sugar. Add eggs, melted butter, lemon juice and almond extract. Mix until combined. Add sour cream and milk poppyseed mixture. Whisk again until ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir with a silicone spatula until combined (avoid over mixing).
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake at 350° F for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Allow bread to cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely. Shortly before serving, prepare the glaze.
  • Whisk together confectioners' sugar and lemon juice. Start with 1 tablespoon to achieve a thick icing consistency. If you'd like a thinner consistency, add another tablespoon of lemon juice. Pour icing over the top of the loaf, cut and serve.


Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. I do not recommend store-bought or bottled juice.
Almond extract: This flavor complements the lemon, but if you prefer you can use vanilla extract instead.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Let bread cool completely and do not add the glaze. Wrap loaf in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe bag (remove the air). Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature, adding the glaze and serving.
Muffins: Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Divide batter evenly among liners. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
High altitude adjustments (Denver 5,280 ft): To make this recipe at high altitude, decrease baking powder by 1/2 teaspoon. Decrease sugar by 2 teaspoons. Add an extra teaspoon of milk.
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 300kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 150mg, Potassium: 171mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 436IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 96mg, Iron: 2mg

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