Add a little sunshine to your day with these bright and zesty lemon and poppy seed muffins. Easy to make, and just packed with the flavor of lemon, these are the perfect not-too-sweet addition to your lunchtime meal. Add a quick lemon drizzle and you instantly have lemon poppy seed cupcakes that come together in no time at all.
Before jumping to the recipe please note that the below information contains HOT TIPS for this recipe. We try and answer all your questions to guarantee a perfect lunchbox recipe every time.
Love citrus in your baking? Try these Dark Chocolate Orange Muffins with Orange Glaze next!
🧁 Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
These lemon poppy seeds muffins (or you could totally classify them as lemon poppy seed cupcakes if you add the quick glaze at the end) are bright, citrusy and just bursting with flavor.
Perfect with a cup of tea, they will last all week in the fridge, and are freezer friendly to boot, making them perfect for batch baking and storing for a busy week ahead.
They are also:
- Easy on the wallet: fridge and pantry basics are required for this recipe, meaning you can make a whole batch for the price it would cost to buy one muffin from the bakery.
- Freezer-friendly: These muffins freeze really well, so are just perfect for batch prepping and freezing for a busy week. Freeze the cooled muffins on a baking sheet and once frozen simply transfer them to a ziplock bag or freezer bag. This way it is easy to remove one muffin at a time without them sticking together. If you remove them from the freezer in the morning and pop them into lunchboxes when you are packing them they should be thawed by the afternoon. I suggest freezing without the glaze as it can get a little sticky when thawed.
- Made from simple ingredients you are likely to have in the pantry. A perfect way to use up that lonely lemon starting to get wrinkly in the fruit basket.
- Easy to double in volume making them just perfect for batch prepping and freezing for when life gets busy.
🧂 Ingredients You Need
Nothing fancy is needed for these delicious little lemon muffins, except maybe poppy seeds, which people probably won't have on hand unless it's for making cakes or muffins like these.
So pop out and grab some poppy seeds from the grocery store if you need to.
You can find them with all the dried herbs and spices.
While you are there you may as well pick up the lemon extract if you don't tend to have that on hand.
You can either use lemon extract which can be found in the baking section of most well-stocked grocery stores, or a food-grade lemon essential oil.
I have used both and prefer the flavor of the essential oil, but I know some people are a bit dubious about using essential oils in baking and cooking, so have opted to list lemon extract here.
You do you.
You will also need the basics like flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla.
Grab a lemon for lemon juice and lemon zest and we are good to go.
Tip: if you want more of a lemon seed cupcake than a muffin, make a simple glaze with powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla drizzle on top once cooled.
📋 How To Make Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins
As far as muffin recipes go, this one is pretty simple with no overly complicated steps.
Start by gathering all of your ingredients.
I cannot stress how much easier cooking is once you have everything you need sitting right in front of you ready to go.
You will also want to prepare the muffin pan.
You can either grease the holes of the muffin pan with butter or cooking oil of choice, or you can line it with silicone or paper muffin cups.
TIP: always be sure to preheat the oven. It should be nice and hot before you add the muffins, otherwise, you risk them not rising properly. No one likes a muffin that sinks in the middle, we want these little bites to be nice and fluffy.
Now we can start baking.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda to a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
Next, we are going to beat the softened butter, sugar, and eggs until it has doubled in volume and is smooth with no lumps.
I do this in a KitchenAid with the whisk attachment, but you could also do it with a handheld electric beater or with a whisk by hand if that is all you have.
By hand will take a lot longer and your wrist will be bloody sore by the end of it, but if that's all you have got then that's all you've got!
Your muffins will likely turn out a lot more dense, rather than light and fluffy as they would using an electric mixer, but they will still taste good.
We are then going to slowly incorporate all of the other ingredients.
It is important to do this slowly and gently so as to not knock all of the air out of the butter mixture.
Keeping the air in there is important for ending up with a really light and airy muffin.
Now it is time to pop the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.
Use a large spoon or cookie scoop to scoop even amounts of batter into the prepared muffin holes, pop into the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
Try not to overfill the muffin holes. They should only be filled about ¾ of the way, as they will rise while baking, and we don't want them to rise over the edges and stick to the top of the pan and to each other.
The muffins should be golden on top and a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean, with no wet batter on it.
TIP: Bake time can vary between ovens, so always test for doneness before removing the muffins from the oven and allowing them to cool.
Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
This step is completely optional.
If you are adding the vanilla glaze to the top then prepare this whilst the muffins are cooling.
Simply whisk all of the glaze ingredients together until it is super smooth. I recommend using a sieve to add the powdered sugar to the mixing bowl to remove any lumps.
Once the muffins are completely cool, then dip them in the vanilla glaze and pop them back on the wire rack, giving the glaze about 5 minutes to set before serving.
♨️ HOW TO MAKE THESE IN THE AIR FRYER
To make lemon poppy seed muffins in the air fryer simply follow the instructions as stated in the recipe card below, but replace the oven instructions with these air fryer instructions instead.
The muffins should be air fried at 320F (160C) for about 15 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
I always recommend using silicone muffin liners (affiliate link) and placing them directly on the rack inside the air fryer, which will mean you will have to do them in batches unless you have an air fryer large enough to hold an entire muffin pan.
Baking muffins in the air fryer tends to result in them having a slightly odd shape on top, rather than being flat, or slighlty rounded like in the photos on this post.
That is completely fine, and won't affect the flavor of the muffin at all.
💭 Important Teaching Tips
If you do not have muffin liners or nonstick cooking spray you can make your own muffin liners using regular parchment paper.
Simply cut the parchment into squares large enough for the muffin pann and then press them into the muffin tin and fill them with the muffin batter.
Some of the muffin batter will likely stick to the parchment paper.
This is completely normal, and will simply give the look of a bakery style muffin.
If you would prefer to make mini muffins instead of regular-sized muffins then simply fill the cups of a mini muffin pan about ¾ of the way full and reduce the cooking time to about 9 minutes.
This will obviously make a lot more muffins, anywhere from 30-40, so be prepared to store and freeze them if they aren't likely to be eaten within about 3 days.
You will still need to use a mini muffin pan liner or spray the muffin holes with a non-stick cooking spray before adding the batter to prevent sticking.
Lemon poppy seed muffins should be cooled completely before they are stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
If they are not completely cooled they will sweat when the lid is put on the container, which will cause them to become soggy.
Leftover muffins will keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3-4 days.
These muffins can also be kept in the fridge but they will become more cake-like in texture and may not be as light and fluffy.
They can also be frozen for about 3 months if they are stored correctly.
To store correctly, freeze the muffins in a single layer, and once par-frozen transfer them to a freezer-friendly container or a Ziplock bag and keep them stored in the freezer until needed.
I would recommend freezing them without the vanilla glaze, as this can become quite sticky on thawing.
When needed, simply pull the frozen muffins from the freezer and allow them to thaw for a couple of hours.
I tend to pull them out in the morning and let them thaw in the lunchbox until lunchtime when they are perfect (unless it is very cold out obviously).
🥢 Useful Products
I always recommend using silicone muffin liners (affiliate link) to prevent homemade muffins from sticking to the muffin pan.
They are also great for using in lunchboxes to separate out smaller snacks.
We fill ours with homemade trail mix, chopped veggies, steamed edamame beans, or crackers.
If you do not have silicone liners then use a good quality non-stick cooking spray and make sure the cups in the muffin pan are sprayed very well to prevent sticking.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
These muffins pair beautifully with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
Packing them in a lunchbox I would pair them with some Mediterranean Chickpea Pasta Salad, 3 Ingredient Air Fryer Homemade Bagel Chips with some dip, and a blis ball like these Brown Rice and Banana Energy Balls.
👪 Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. They can be frozen for about 3 months in an airtight container. Allow the muffins to cool completely before freezing.
Yes. They will last about 3 days at room temperature stored in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.
Bakery Style Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- ½ tablespoon lemon extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest about 2 lemons
- 1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 cup powdered sugar sieved
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°c. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper muffin liners and set aside.
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda to a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined and set aside.1 ¾ cups all purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- In a separate bowl beat the softened butter, sugar, and eggs until it has doubled in voume and is smooth with no lumps. Add the vanilla and lemon extract along with half of the flour mixture and half of the milk. Mix on low until just combined. Add the rest of the flour and milk and mix on low to combine.¾ cup unsalted butter, 2 large eggs, ½ tablespoon lemon extract, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the lemon zest and poppy seeds and fold in until well incorporated. You will need to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure you don't miss any ingredients. Do not overmix.1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Using a large spoon, spoon evenly-sized amounts of batter into the prepared muffin pan.
- Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are slightly golden, and a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the glaze mix the powdered sugar, lemon extract and vanilla in a small bowl until it is smooth with no lumps.1 cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon lemon extract, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Once the muffins have cooled, dip the tops into the vanilla glze, and transfer back to the wire rack. Allow the glaze to set for about 5 minutes before serving.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.