Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Simple and classic, Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are the perfect sweet-tart treat for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, or a light dessert.  Perfect in winter, spring, or year-round, the bright flavor and light crumb are a perfect break from heavy, sugar-overloaded bakery muffins.

freshly baked lemon poppy seed muffins in the muffin tin.

The sun is shining.  The daffodils are starting to bloom.  I walked into work this morning without a jacket (quilted vests forever).

And yet, last week we had 8″ of snow dumped on us.

What can I say – March weather is nothing if not unpredictable.  Good thing these glazed lemon poppy seed muffins are the perfect bridge between winter and spring.

Bright and sunshiny to perk up the cold, snowy, winter days… fresh and light to enjoy with the windows open and the birds chirping.

(And really, delicious all year round.  While I tend to think of lemony desserts as winter and spring, we can get them year-round.  California lemons are usually harvested late winter through early summer, while Arizona lemon groves harvest fall through early winter.)

Lemon poppy seed is a classic combination and one of my personal favorites!  I love these muffins because they’re not too sweet on their own, and topped with a tangy lemon glaze.

These are muffins, not cupcakes – sweet, yes, but not overly sweet.  A perfect little morning pick-me-up, or a mid-afternoon snack, or a laid back after dinner treat.

Tart and sweet, crumbly with just a little crunch from the poppy seeds.  And packed full of lemon, thanks to grated lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

side view of a domed lemon poppy seed muffin covered with a lemon glaze

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Butter: Make sure your butter comes to cool room temperature – around 65°F – before starting the recipe.
  • Brown Sugar
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Lemon Zest: Use freshly grated lemon zest.
  • Eggs: The eggs should also come to room temperature.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour for regular muffins, or swap in a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose baking mix to keep the muffins gluten-free.
  • Lemon Juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not bottled!
  • Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk, mix together 1 1/4 cups buttermilk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the batter.
  • Powdered Sugar
side view of domed golden yellow muffins still in the muffin tin.

Easy to Make Lemon Muffins

Making these muffins is so easy! Because these muffins start with creamed butter and sugar, rather than oil or melted butter (creaming the butter gives extra lift and contributes a lighter crumb), you will need to pull out a mixer, but trust me when I say it’s well worth it.

  1. Preheat and Prepare: Preheat your oven to 425°F (218°C). Line your muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Cream Butter: Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugars, and lemon zest until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. Wet and Dry Ingredients: Add the baking powder, salt, poppy seeds, and half. the flour. Mix until just combined. Add in the buttermilk, mix to combine, and add in the rest of the flour. Mix until no large streaks of flour remain. Don’t overmix; a few lumps are okay.
  4. Fill Muffin Cups: Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling nearly to the top.
  5. Bake: Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake an additional 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top of the muffin springs back when touched. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  6. Prepare Glaze: While the muffins cool, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled muffins.
overhead view of a glazed lemon muffin on a blue dessert plate.

Fresh Lemon + Zest for the Best Flavor

Yes, it takes an extra minute or two to juice and zest fresh lemons. But is it worth it? Absolutely! Freshly squeezed lemon juice and using freshly grated lemon zest make a huge difference in flavor when it comes to these muffins!

Freshly squeezed lemon juice has a more complex and vibrant flavor compared to bottled, as bottled lemon juices undergo processing that strip away some of the natural compounds found in fresh lemon juice. Furthermore, the preservatives and additives in bottled lemon juice impart a slightly different taste and alter the acidity level.

Will you notice this in a recipe that calls for a dash of lemon juice to add a little brightness? Probably not – and if it’s a soup or sauce, you can always add in a little extra to make up for this. Will you notice this in a baking recipe for lemon muffins? Definitely!

Don’t skip out on the lemon zest, either – it’s responsible for the most lemon flavor! Why is it so important? It’s time for my favorite subject – kitchen chemistry!

Kitchen Chemistry

Limonene is a terpene, a class of chemical compounds responsible for citrus aroma. Zesting lemon peels releases tiny oil droplets containing limonene, which are packed with volatile organic compounds contributing to the fresh scent of lemon. When we eat lemon zest, the limonene interacts with taste receptors, intensifying the perception of lemon flavor.

To extract the most flavor from your lemon zest, use a fine microplane grater. This finely shreds the zest, releasing more aromatic compounds without including the bitter white pith.

lemon poppy muffins with a thick squiggle of glaze on the top.
  • Stand Mixer: My trusty stand mixer has been going strong for over 15 years!
  • Beater Blade: Whenever I use the paddle attachment on my stand mixer, I swap it out for a Beater Blade, which scrapes down the side of the bowl for you.
  • Microplane Grater: The best way to zest citrus.
  • Citrus Juicer: A handheld juicer is a great way to extract extra juice from your lemons.
  • Muffin Tin: Use a light-colored standard size muffin tin for this recipe.
  • Muffin Liners: These parchment paper liners never stick to your muffins or cupcakes.
lemon poppy seed muffins covered with a thick glaze next to wedges of fresh lemon.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

  1. Fresh Lemons: Start with fresh lemons for the zest and juice for the best citrusy punch.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: Bring your eggs, buttermilk, and butter to room temperature before mixing. This results in a smoother batter.
  3. Don’t Overmix!: Mix the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. Overmixing leads to dense muffins – a few lumps in the batter are okay!
  4. Zest Carefully: Use a microplane grater for finely grated zest, avoiding the bitter white pith.
  5. Buttermilk Substitute: No buttermilk? No problem! Combine whole milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice, let it sit for a few minutes, and proceed with the recipe.
  6. Extra Lemon Flavor: For an even bigger lemon boost for you lemon lovers, add a teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter in addition to the vanilla extract.
  7. Cool Completely: Allow the muffins to cool completely before adding the glaze – if the muffins are still warm, the glaze will melt and run off the muffins.
  8. Freeze Leftovers: Leftover muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.

More Lemon Treats:

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins: the perfect sweet-tart treat for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, or a light dessert. {Bunsen Burner Bakery} #muffins #lemon #lemonpoppyseed #glazed

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Glazed lemon poppy seed muffins are the perfect sweet-tart treat for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, or a light dessert.


For the Muffins:

  • 10 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (106 grams) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups (284 grams) buttermilk, room temperature

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup (113 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 °F.  Grease a muffin 12-well muffin tin with melted butter or non-stick spray or line with paper liners.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract.
  3. Turn the mixer speed down to low.  Add in the baking powder, salt, poppy seeds, and half the flour.  Mix until just combined.  Slowly pour in the buttermilk, followed by the remaining flour, mixing just until no dry streaks of flour remain. Rest the batter at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, if time allows.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among 12 muffin tins, filling to the top.  Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 °F without opening the oven door.  Bake an additional 15 to 18 minutes, until muffins are brown on top and springy when touched (a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean).  Let the muffins rest in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove Remove muffins from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Once cool, glaze muffins,  Whisk together confectioners' sugar and lemon juice to form a thick glaze.  Drizzle over muffins, then set aside until glaze firms.


  1. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest for the best bright citrus flavor.
  2. For extra lemon flavor, add a teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter.
  3. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to 1 1/4 cups whole or 2% milk, let the mixture sit for a few minutes, and then add to the batter.
  4. Leftover muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Did you make this recipe?

Don't forget to leave a rating or a comment and share your recipe photos on Instagram - tag @bunsenburnerbakery!

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins: the perfect sweet-tart treat for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, or a light dessert.