Lemony, buttery, and pillowy-soft, these Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are loaded with natural lemon flavoring, peppered with poppy seeds, and then finally drizzled with a sweet lemony glaze. No mixer required and ready in 30 minutes, this recipe is super simple and includes a how-to video!
Today I’m sharing a perfected version of my lemon poppy seed muffins. I’ve been going back through some of my oldest recipes and re-testing and tweaking them to perfection (remember my strawberry cake!), and this recipe was originally shared over four years ago. While the original muffins were tasty, a little tweaking was in order and I’m seriously so excited about these super soft, fluffy, and lemony muffins.
Also, who couldn’t go for something bright sunny and cheerful right now? This recipe is low maintenance and ready in 30 minutes, which is especially nice if your 6 month old isn’t sleeping very well and you’re as sleep deprived as I am (I tried to put the toaster away in the refrigerator this morning). I think you’re going to love this recipe, whether you currently have as many bags under your eyes as I do or not.
Oh, and if you watch the video (in the recipe card), let me just apologize in advance for my extreme over-use of the word “super”. I’m going to blame that one on being tired, too 😅
What You Need:
- Flour. Use all-purpose (often called “plain” flour outside of the US). Self rising flour will not work with this recipe.
- Sugar. Just granulated. Since I wanted light and fluffy muffins, I opted to avoid brown sugar, which would not only bully the lemon flavor a bit but would also weigh down the muffins.
- Baking powder & baking soda. We’re using these two leaveners in conjunction for tall, fluffy muffins with big muffin tops. The baking powder helps the muffins to puff and the baking soda reacts with the sour cream to also give these beautiful lemon poppy seed muffins a nice lift.
- Corn starch. A secret ingredient that I love using in many of my recipes (like my “worst” chocolate chip cookies!), this helps keep the muffins soft and fluffy and gives them structure for those tall round muffin tops. If you don’t have it, you can substitute with an equal amount of additional flour (2 tablespoons), but the muffins won’t be as fluffy.
- Butter. As with so many of my muffin recipes we melt the butter rather than cream it. This imparts a nicer, more buttery flavor, and as a bonus there’s no need for an electric mixer.
- Sour cream. This adds to the tart flavor of the muffins and also helps to make them extra moist. We’re not using milk or buttermilk in the recipe so much of the moisture comes from the sour cream. You could substitute plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream if you’re out!
- Poppy seeds. Or else these would just be classic lemon muffins.
- Egg. One large or extra large egg. Room temperature is preferred to encourage the ingredients to combine as nicely as possible.
- Lemon. We’ll use the zest and the juice.
- Lemon extract. The lemon itself doesn’t provide as much flavor as I would like, so to really help the lemon flavor pop I use a bit of extract
- Vanilla extract. Just a tiny bit for some depth of flavor.
We’re also going to make a simple lemon glaze. This is optional but it really makes the lemon flavor really pop and adds some extra zing. You’ll need lemon juice, powdered sugar, and a splash of water.
Note: This is just an overview of the ingredients chosen and why they are used. For full recipe with amounts and instructions, please scroll down to the video below.
- Fresh lemon juice is best. You can squeeze the lemon juice from the lemons that you use for the zest, just zest your lemons before squeezing!
- When zesting your lemons, avoid the white papery layer just above the flesh of the fruit. This layer is known as the “pith” and it’s quite bitter (not sour/tart, which is the desirable flavor you’ll get from the zest). Zest just until you see the pith and no further. You might remember that we discussed the importance of avoiding the pith in my lemon curd recipe.
- This lemon poppy seed muffin batter is very, very thick. Don’t panic! It’s supposed to be this way.
- Use an ice cream scoop with a lever to easily portion and distribute the muffin batter.
- This recipe can make 12 muffins, but for BIG muffin tops I like to divide the batter into just 10 or 11 muffin cups. I have baking instructions in the recipe for ten or twelve muffins.
- If you don’t have paper liners, you can make homemade muffin liners using my tutorial or you can grease and flour the muffin cups or use a baking spray (make sure it’s one that is made with flour).
Bake at Two Temperatures
As with my chocolate chip muffins and banana muffins, I bake these lemon poppy seed muffins on two temperatures. This is one of my favorite techniques for soft muffins with big fluffy muffin tops.
We start baking on a high temperature (425F) to help give the muffins a nice lift, then drop the temperature so the muffins can finish baking through without becoming dry or crumbly. Do not open the oven door when you drop the temperature. It’s embarrassing, but I have to put a post-it note on my oven to remind me not to do this, especially in my current sleep-deprived state.
Store lemon poppy seed muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. They may also be frozen in an airtight container for several months.
More Recipes You Might Like:
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour (220g)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150g)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup sour cream (180g)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (113g)
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest¹
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract optional
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar (160g)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons water plus more as needed
- Preheat oven to 425F (220C) and line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners (or make your own parchment paper liners).
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, poppy seeds, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, melted butter, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon extract (if using).
- Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and use a spatula to gently stir together until just combined (don’t over-mix or your muffins will be dense and dry). The muffin batter will be very thick, this is normal!
- Evenly divide batter into prepared muffin tin (for tall muffins with big muffin tops like in the photos, only divide into 10 or 11 cavities rather than all 12) and transfer to 425F (220C) preheated oven. Bake for 8 minutes and then, without opening the oven door or removing the muffins, reduce heat to 350F (175C) and bake another 5-6 minutes if baking twelve muffins and 7-8 minutes if baking ten muffins, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow to cool before drizzling with glaze.
- To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until proper consistency is reached (not too runny, stiff but thin enough to drizzle). Drizzle over cooled muffins. Allow glaze to harden a bit before serving.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
This post was originally published March of 2016. I have improved and updated the recipe and the photos and added a video. One of the original photos can be seen below.
Made these today and as usual, a perfect recipe!! I did however substitute a thick, full fat buttermilk for the sour cream as I found NO SOUR CREAM in my fridge!! I used a bit less than 3/4 cup. I was scared but it worked beautifully!! Grandson gave two thumbs up!!!!❤️❤️
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so glad the substitution worked out for you, Kathy! Thanks so much for trying our recipe ❤️
Made these in mini muffins and so delicious!!!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy you enjoyed them, Dani! 🥰
Can I use blueberries in place of poppy seeds? To make a lemon blueberry muffin?
Hi Dani! That should work. 🙂
These are outstanding! I was intending to make these and stick some in the freezer for later but i dont think they are going to make it there
🤣 I’m so glad you enjoy them so much! 🙂
LeAnn J Field
I am wanting to make these, but want to make jumbo ones. Would you use the same temperatures? I am wanting to do this for these and the Blueberry ones.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi LeAnn! We would suspect the bake time and technique would be similar to what we use for our jumbo chocolate chip muffins. If you try it, we’d love to know how long it ends up taking 🙂