This quick & easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread is the best recipe for lemon lovers! Not only is it simple to make by hand (no mixer needed), it uses protein-rich Greek yogurt & generous amounts of fresh lemon juice (not extract) for bright, tangy flavor in every bite. Enjoy for breakfast, snack time or even dessert.
Why this recipe works
- Perfect for lemon lovers! This loaf gets its super lemony flavor from ample amounts of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for vibrant flavor in every bite - without using lemon extract.
- No mixer is required for quick breads like this. It's easily made by stirring everything together in a bowl.
- Protein-rich Greek yogurt is a key player in this recipe. It is acidic, so it naturally activates the baking soda (an ingredient in baking powder) to give the bread a light, tender texture.
- But 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!
Simple pantry items are all that you need to make this quick bread.
- 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.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must with this recipe. The bottled stuff contains preservatives and often has a more bitter flavor. Use real lemons!
You can make this recipe completely by hand:
Steps 1-4: Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl. Fold in dry ingredients. The batter will look lumpy.
Steps 5-8: Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake. While bread is baking, make the lemon syrup by bringing lemon juice and granulated sugar to a boil. Keep warm.
Steps 9-12: Pour warm syrup over bread immediately after it comes out of the oven. Allow bread to cool in pan and syrup to soak completely into the loaf. Once cooled, remove loaf from pan, whisk together lemon juice and powdered sugar and drizzle over loaf.
Poppy seeds offer more crunch than flavor so chia seeds can easily be swapped in for a similar texture in baked goods. You can also make this quick bread with no poppy seeds at all and it will still taste delicious!
Because they have a high oil content, poppy seeds lose flavor and can go rancid over time. Store them in the fridge for up to six months or in the freezer for one year.
Yes, you can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it. Add the warm syrup and allow the loaf to cool completely. Wrap the bread tightly in two layers of foil or plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. I recommend adding the powdered sugar glaze after defrosting or it might be absorbed into the loaf during the freezing/defrosting process.
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:
- 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.
- Use a metal pan. Glass pans take longer to heat up and once retain heat for longer than metal pans. That's great for keeping casseroles warm but not great if you want to avoid overbaking your bread. 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 ½ x 4 ½-inch pan for this Lemon Poppy Seed Bread.
- 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.
- 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.
- Store loosely wrapped. If you wrap the loaf too tightly, the lack of air will cause the glaze to absorb completely into the bread. It will still taste fine but won't look as pretty. I usually slice my entire 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!
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Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly grated zest of 2 large lemons
- ¾ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ⅓ cup oil (vegetable, canola or olive)
- 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 ½ tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup powdered sugar
To make the bread:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½-inch loaf pan.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- 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.)
- 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:
- While the bread is baking, combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
- Immediately pour warm syrup over hot bread after it has been removed from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan.
To make the glaze:
- Once bread has cooled, 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.
- Use whole milk plain Greek yogurt for best flavor.
- Fresh lemon juice is a MUST in this recipe. Bottled juice does not have the same flavor.
- Not a poppy seed fan? You can easily leave them out and this bread will still taste delicious.
- Metal pans are better for baking than glass pans as they do not retain their heat as long and possibly overbake the bread.
- Check your bread five minutes before the recommended minimum baking time as oven temperatures vary. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. If your baked goods are consistently over or undercooked, consider buying an inexpensive oven thermometer to check your oven temperature.
- Loosely wrap bread and store on the counter for 1-2 days. If the bread is wrapped too tightly, the powdered sugar glaze will be absorbed into the bread. I like to slice my bread using a serrated knife and store it in a larger plastic container with a lidded top that is not completely sealed shut.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.