Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread (made with Greek Yogurt)

by | Mar 17, 2016 | All, Breakfast & Brunch

Craving comfort food? This quick & easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread recipe hits the spot! It’s made with Greek yogurt & a fresh lemon juice glaze for bright, tangy flavor in every bite. 

The post was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2020.

Loaf of lemon poppy seed bread drizzled with glaze  on a cooling rack

Bread in any form will always and forever be my comfort food of choice, and this moist and flavorful Lemon Poppy Seed Bread made with Greek yogurt ranks pretty high on the list when stress eating hits. This family favorite is super easy to make and is the perfect nibble for breakfast, snack time or even dessert! 

Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread recipe

What makes this quick bread so irresistible is the extra lemony syrup that is poured over the bread right after it comes out of the oven. The hot bread soaks up the syrup and the result is a super moist loaf with just the right balance of tangy sweetness. It’s hard to eat just one slice! 

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread in a loaf pan on a cooling rack

Ingredients

Simple pantry items are all that you need to make this quick bread: 

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Oil (vegetable, canola, olive)
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemons (for juice and zest)
  • Poppy seeds
  • Powdered sugar
Loaf of lemon poppy seed bread on a white wooden cutting board

Quick bread defined

No yeast? No problem! Quick breads are just that; a fast and easy bread (can be sweet or savory) that is leavened without yeast

Baking powder is what gives this bread recipe lift, but you might also see recipes that call for baking powder AND baking soda. (Baking powder actually contains a bit of baking soda so no need to double dip here.) 

Without yeast, there is no rising or proofing time involved, so you can pull a steaming loaf of fresh quick bread from the oven in just about an hour from start to finish. 

Slices of lemon poppy seed bread on white plates. Loaf on lemon poppy seed bread on a white wooden cutting board.

Quick bread baking tips

Quick breads are so popular because their ingredients are simply stirred together (no mixer required). But there are still a handful of tips to follow to make sure your Lemon Poppy Seed Bread is the best it can be: 

  1. Mix the wet and dry ingredients just until combined. The batter will look lumpy and that’s OK. If you overmix everything, you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and toughen up the bread. 
  2. Use a metal pan. It might be tempting to reach for a glass pan but I prefer metal when making quick breads. Glass pans take longer to heat up, but once they do, they retain their heat for longer than metal pans. This is advantageous if you want to keep a casserole warm after you’ve removed it from the oven but not when you are trying to prevent your quick bread from being overbaked. NOTE: This is my favorite metal loaf pan. It releases everything I make in it easily and is a snap to clean. I have several sizes but I use the 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pan for this Lemon Poppy Seed Bread.
  3. Check your bread five minutes before the recipe’s suggested baking time. Why? Ovens temperatures are notoriously fickle. The perfect baking time in my oven might be just a few minutes too long in yours. You can always add more baking time but you can’t take it away. It’s also a good idea to keep an inexpensive oven thermometer in your oven to verify the temperature. A toothpick inserted in the center of the bread should come out clean when the bread is done. 
  4. Use a sawing motion to slice quick bread. This prevents it from being smooshed by using too much force. A serrated knife is best for this job. 
  5. Store loosely wrapped if glazed. If you’re adding the powdered sugar glaze, you’ll want to make sure you wrap the bread loosely in either plastic wrap or foil. If you wrap it too tightly, the lack of air will cause the glaze to absorb completely into the bread. Quick breads don’t usually last long at my house, so I usually slice the loaf, put it in a larger container and then loosely cover the container with the lid (but not completely seal it). This also makes it easy to grab a slice of bread and go! 
A loaf of lemon poppy seed bread drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze.

Baking with Greek yogurt

Have you ever baked with Greek yogurt? Simply swapping in Greek yogurt for some of the sour cream, butter or oil called for in many recipes produces moist, tender cakes with less fat.

Greek yogurt is acidic, so it naturally activates the baking soda (an ingredient in baking powder) to give Greek yogurt baked goods a light texture.

That said, I usually don’t do a one-to-one substitution of Greek yogurt for an ingredient like butter or sour cream. I keep some of the fat in the recipe and then thin the yogurt with a bit of liquid (milk and lemon juice in this recipe) to keep the bread from becoming too dense. Some fat is necessary to keep an airy crumb.

Tip: Use whole milk Greek yogurt for best flavor. Low fat or fat free yogurts have stabilizers and other additives that are not as reliable when baked.

Loaf of lemon poppy seed bread drizzled with glaze on a wire cooling rack

Extra lemony Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Love lemon? We do, too! This Lemon Poppy Seed Bread gets a boost from fresh lemon juice in three different places: in the batter itself, in the simple syrup and in the powdered sugar glaze. Fresh lemon juice plus lemon zest ensures there is a burst of bright, tangy lemon flavor in every bite – no lemon extract required! 

The powdered sugar glaze is optional, of course, but no one here has ever refused a glazed slice. It’s homemade comfort food, pure and simple. And we can all use a bite of that from time to time. 

Glazed loaf of lemon poppy seed bread on a white cutting board

Here are some of our other favorite quick bread recipes:

  • This easy zucchini bread recipe is studded with dried cranberries and topped with a luscious vanilla bean glaze.
  • Our chocolate banana bread is half chocolate and half regular banana bread. It’s the best of both worlds!

Muffins and coffee cakes are considered quick breads, too!

  • Add fresh or frozen rhubarb to these strawberry muffins for the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
  • A fresh orange juice glaze gives a sweet finish to every bite of these cranberry orange muffins.
  • Why pick just one flavor? Add a pint of blueberries to these lemon poppy seed muffins for the perfect muffin mashup!
  • Everyone will eat their veggies when you serve these decadent chocolate zucchini muffins.
  • My Grandma’s delicious sour cream coffee cake has been a staple in our house for generations.
  • The breakfast of champions: a mug of coffee and a slice of this citrusy breakfast cake.

Don’t miss all of our best Breakfast Recipes and make ahead Brunch ideas

Yield: 8 servings

Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread (w/Greek Yogurt)

Loaf of lemon poppy seed bread drizzled with glaze on a cooling rack

Craving comfort food? This easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread recipe is made with Greek yogurt for extra moistness and fresh lemon juice and zest for an extra tangy flavor!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 47 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 2 minutes

Ingredients

Bread

  • 1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly grated zest of 2 large lemons
  • 3/4 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup oil (vegetable, canola or olive) 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon syrup

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

Lemon glaze

  • 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

To make the bread:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place lemon zest, yogurt, sugar, eggs, poppy seeds, oil, lemon juice, milk and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Gently fold flour mixture into yogurt mixture until just combined. (Batter will look lumpy.)
  4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 42 - 47 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

To make the syrup:

  1. While the bread is baking, combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Immediately pour warm syrup over hot bread after it has been removed from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then invert onto cooling rack that has been placed on a baking sheet. (The syrup will be fully absorbed by the bread while it is cooling in the pan.)

To make the glaze:

  1. Whisk together 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with powdered sugar, adding more to achieve a smooth consistency. Drizzle glaze over top of bread. Slice and serve.

Notes

Storage:


Loosely wrap bread and store on the counter for 1-2 days.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 294mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 2gSugar: 41gProtein: 8g

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This quick & easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread recipe is just like mom used to make – but with a little less fat thanks to protein-rich Greek yogurt. Topped with a tangy lemon glaze, this moist and flavorful quick bread recipe will satisfy any comfort food craving – morning, noon or night! 

We're the creative juices behind Garnish with Lemon. In the past 8 years, millions of people have sipped & snacked on our recipes. Need easy, delicious party food and drinks for your next shindig? You’ve come to the right place.

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34 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Spring is here! Finally great spring light meals!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Couldn’t agree more, John. The change of seasons is always so invigorating, especially when it comes to food.

      Reply
    • Avatar

      5* recipe thank you for sharing. We are enjoying with a pot of Earl Grey Tea kindest regards Nat ps will try send our pics

      Reply
      • Avatar

        That sounds like a perfect way to enjoy a slice of this bread!

        Reply
        • Avatar

          Oh my goodness! These are not only delicious but beautiful! Thanks for sharing the recipe! *Quarantine baking*

          Reply
  2. Avatar

    I’ve always had such bad luck baking breads… but I love love LOVE the lemon and poppy seed combination (I’ve even used it with madeleines on my blog!), so I think I’m going to have to suck it up and give this recipe a go!

    Wish me luck!

    Riz

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Good luck! This recipe is a keeper! Full of fresh lemon flavor. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    I made this tonight!
    OMGosh!!! It is so YUMMY!!!
    I hope my girl like it.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      It’s hard to stop with just one slice, isn’t it? Thanks for your note!

      Reply
    • Avatar

      Thanks, Bethany! We’re quick bread fans, too.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    Any substitute for yogurt?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Penelope, I’ve only made this particular recipe with Greek yogurt, so I don’t have any additional insights for you. You could try sour cream, but it is a bit more tart and would probably change the consistency of the bread. Happy experimenting!

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Thanks! I will pass that on to a friend who cannot tolerate yogurt!

        Reply
  5. Avatar

    Hey! I love this recipe, do you mind if i share the recipe on my blog? I’ll mention you and set a link to your site!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Julia, Yes, you may link back to us. Thanks for checking!

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    This looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it. I love anything lemon. ?

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    Can’t seem to find the nutritional information on this recipe. Says it’s high protein and healthy but doesn’t mention nutritional information. Odd.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      All fixed!

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    I don’t see where the rest of the lemon juice should be used. Does it go into the batter?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      You can add it to the powdered sugar glaze in step 6, if desired. Happy baking!

      Reply
  9. Avatar

    This recipe was so bad. no mention of the lemon juice until 4TB in the glaze. the cake batter was acidic and flavorless, and bitter. Really terrible.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hmmm, something clearly went wrong here as I’ve never received feedback that the bread was acidic. Did you change/omit any ingredients?

      Reply
  10. Avatar

    Can I substitute whole wheat flour?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Michelle, it will definitely be a denser loaf with the whole wheat flour, though I’ve never tried it myself. If you give it a go, please stop back and let us know how it turned out!

      Reply
  11. Avatar

    does any lemon juice go in the cake batter. Want to make it this morning and confused????

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Pam, the lemon juice is actually divided between the lemon “syrup” that is spooned over the warm bread after it comes out of the oven and the optional glaze that can be drizzled over the cooled bread. The only lemon added to the batter is the zest. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  12. Avatar

    Hi!! Looking forward to making this. Can I substitute the regular sugar for stevia, coconut, or raw cane sugar? Looking to substitute with whole wheat flour as well. Will these changes alter the taste too much? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Cecilia, I’m no baking expert and haven’t tried making this bread with any of these substitutions, but I do think you’ll notice a difference in the flavor and texture of the final product. A quick Google search might help you decide if you need to make adjustments to the ingredient amounts based on your specific substitutions (example: less flour or sugar). Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

      Reply
  13. Avatar

    I made this using King Arthur’s GF flour instead and it turned out great. Certainly it’s a little dense, as most breads/cakes are when replacing flour with GF flour, but delicious and oh so lemony! (I baked for just the 47 minutes)

    Reply
  14. Avatar

    Doubled this recipe to make two loaves! Very moist and the lemon flavors are perfect not too sweet used exact ingredients olive oil and Fage 5% Greek plain yogurt
    Delicious 😋

    Reply
  15. Avatar

    My family and I were looking for a good lemon poppyseed bread during the quarantine and your recipe was the lucky winner. It was absolutely delicious and moist. Your recipe is added to my favorites list. Thank you so much for sharing and two thumbs up!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      So glad you found a new family favorite, Lisa! Thanks for stopping back to let us know how much you enjoyed it.

      Reply

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