Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

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Fresh lemon poppy seed bread can be made with either Meyer lemons or regular lemons and is bursting with citrus flavor.

A loaf of lemon poppy seed bread is on a platter, a few pieces have been sliced. Sliced lemons are added as garnish.

Lemon poppy seed bread and muffins are always my top pick when I spot them at a local bakery or coffee shop.

I love that light, fresh citrus flavor with the crunchy poppy seeds added for color.

This easy lemon poppy seed quick bread takes just a few minutes to mix together and is an excellent addition to your weekend brunch or as a special treat for the family during the work week!

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Why This is the Best Recipe

I absolutely love baking quick breads because they are often mixed in just one bowl and are so easy to prep. I think this is the best lemon poppy seed bread recipe because:

  1. Fresh Lemons: My husband grows a Meyer lemon tree on our patio that I use to make this recipe but it works just as great with regular lemons from the grocery store. It's one of our very favorite ways to use his harvest.
  2. Perfect Texture: The lemon bread gets an awesome crispy top, especially when you use my sparkling sugar topping. The center is light and fluffy but slices neatly.
  3. Lots of Poppy Seeds: I love the texture and flavor poppy seeds add to a quick bread like this lemon bread or my almond poppy seed bread. The ratio of seeds to bread is just right.

Ingredients

The ingredients to make the lemon poppy seed bread are on the counter.

To make this easy lemon poppy seed quick bread recipe, all you need is:

  • Fresh Lemons: I strongly recommend using actual fresh lemons vs. bottled lemon juice. The flavor is brighter and cleaner and you can zest the lemons for an even bigger boost of that citrus taste.
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Baking Soda

Then you'll need to decide how you want to garnish your quick bread:

  1. Easy Sparkling Sugar: This lemon bread is so delicious, I personally do not think it needs a glaze. Just sprinkle some sparkling sugar over the top before baking for a pretty bread with a sparkle top. This is also the best option if you plan to bring your lemon bread to a potluck or party since it can be wrapped and travel well. I have this giant tub of sparkling sugar in my pantry and it has lasted me a couple years and always bakes up so pretty. This smaller bottle may fit your budget a little better.
  2. Simple Vanilla Glaze: If you want a lovely drizzled glaze over the top, you'll also need to have powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

Mix the Quick Bread Batter

Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with softened butter and dust with 1 tablespoon of flour, set aside.

Stir together the sour cream, poppy seeds, lemon zest and fresh lemon juice in a small bowl:

The lemon zest and poppy seeds are mixed into the sour cream in a separate small bowl.

Add the softened butter and sugar to a larger mixing bowl and beat them together.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla and blend them in.

The step by step photos show how to cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, add the egg, and then layer the sour cream mixture with the dry flour mixture to form the batter.

Add just half of the poppy seed mixture and beat it in.

Add the flour and baking soda and beat them in until well blended.

Finish by adding the remaining portion of sour cream and poppy seed mixture and mix until just blended.

Spread into your prepared bread pan.

NOTE: If you are using the sparkling sugar like I did, now is the time to spoon it over the top of the batter. I used about a tablespoon or so.

Baking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the lemon poppy seed bread for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

The lemon poppy seed bread is fresh from the oven and a pretty golden brown color all around. Sliced lemons have been added for garnish.

Vanilla Glaze for the Top

If you want to make the optional vanilla glaze for garnishing the top of the quick bread, wait until the bread has cooled or the glaze will run right off.

Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt to a small bowl and whisk them together with a fork.

Drizzle the glaze over the top of the bread.

You might want to garnish it with a little more grated lemon zest sprinkled over the top before the glaze sets.

Make Ahead Tips

My favorite time to eat this quick bread is while it is still warm from the oven but it will keep well for up to 3 days.

Our family loves to pop slices of quick bread in the toaster because it both warms them through but also helps freshen up the texture. Using this trick lets us enjoy a quick bread for up to 5 days.

You could also freeze the lemon bread for up to 6 months. Simply thaw it in the fridge overnight.

Serving Suggestions

The lemon poppy seed bread has now been sliced for serving.

My girls are always thrilled when I offer a fresh baked quick bread as a school morning breakfast treat along with some fresh fruit and yogurt.

This recipe would make an especially wonderful addition to a spring brunch, Easter brunch, or even a baby shower or wedding shower.

More Quick Bread Recipes

If you love the ease of no yeast quick breads, you will also enjoy:

More Lemon Recipes

And if you love the bright taste of fresh lemons, you will love these delicious lemon recipes including this easy lemon ricotta cake.

📖 Recipe

A loaf of lemon poppy seed bread is on a platter, a few pieces have been sliced. Sliced lemons are added as garnish.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

5 from 33 votes
Light and zesty lemon poppy seed bread can be made with sparkling sugar for an easy quick bread breakfast treat or you can prep a simple vanilla glaze for drizzling over the top for a stunning presentation.
TOTAL TIME 1 hour 10 minutes
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOK TIME 55 minutes
YIELD 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Vanilla Glaze (Optional)

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Scant pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with softened butter and dust with 1 tablespoon of flour, set aside.
  • Stir together the sour cream, poppy seeds, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  • Add the softened butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Beat them together with a hand mixer on medium-high speed until well incorporated.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined between each one. Beat in the vanilla.
  • Add just half of the prepared sour cream mixture and beat it in.
  • Add the flour and baking soda, beat them in just until well blended.
  • Finish with the remaining portion of sour cream and mix until just blended.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes in the baking pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • To make the vanilla glaze, add the powdered sugar to a small bowl and whisk in the milk and vanilla extract with a fork until smooth. Add the pinch of salt and whisk again. Pour very slowly over the bread to form a pretty drizzled top.
COURSEBread
CUISINEAmerican

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The photo collage shows the finished lemon poppy seed bread with lemon slices next to a photo of the ingredients needed to make it.

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