Perfect Lemon Muffins

Unwrapping a lemon streusel muffin

Lemon Muffins are a little mid winter treat from me to you. They’re my way of saying hang in there, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and in the meantime, there are plenty of juicy ripe lemons  just waiting to be baked up into these sunny streusel topped muffins. 

a partially unwrapped lemon muffin on a cupcake stand

just the thought of a lemon muffin fresh from the oven

gets my heart to pumping. It’s just about paradise. Luckily these muffins are a snap to whip up, and you can do it one bowl. They’re perfect for breakfast, brunch, or all day snacking. And if your diet doesn’t allow for cakes and cupcakes right now, a lemon streusel muffin is always acceptable 🙂

lemon muffin with pat of butter

 

let’s make lemon muffins!

  • 2 lemons ~ for the zest and the juice*
  • all purpose flour
  • granulated sugar
  • unsalted butter
  • large eggs
  • vegetable oil
  • buttermilk
  • baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • lemon extract ~ optional

*We know from science that one of the main ways we experience flavor in our food is through our nose, and these muffins don’t skimp in the aroma department. Lemons are famous for the heady oils in their peels, and we’re using lots of it in this recipe. While I do use the juice of those lemons (mostly not to waste it!) the real lemony punch comes from that zest. Take your time and get all you can off your 2 lemons, it will pay back in true lemon flavor.

Scooping lemon muffin batter into muffin cups

How to zest a lemon for baking

  • The zest of the lemon is the yellow part of the peel. The trick is to remove it without getting any of the white underneath part, which is bitter.
  • Start with a clean, dry lemon. I wash mine, and then towel dry really well. It’s a bit of a no brainer, but remember to zest first, juice second!
  • A microplane grater made for zesting citrus works best, and is much better and easier to use than the old knuckle buster box grater. A microplane grater will give you a fine zest, which works well for baking cakes, cookies, and muffins because it melts right into your batter.
  • I usually give 3 quick back and forth motions to every little section of my lemon to insure I get all the good stuff.
  • Plan to zest your fruit right before you need it for a recipe. It will dry out quickly and those essential oils won’t be as potent if you do it ahead of time.
  • An alternative technique is to make lemon sugar, which is simply processing sugar and lemon peels together in a food processor. The resulting pale yellow aromatic sugar is amazing.

lemon with grated zest

have you tried lemon extract?

When it comes to infusing lemon flavor into baked goods, I want to use every tool at my disposal. Lemon extract is just a little extra insurance that I’ll get a bright lemon flavor in my muffins, and I happen to have it in my pantry.

If you don’t have it, no worries, just skip it. (Make sure you use that zest!) But if you love lemon you might consider buying a bottle, it will keep a good long time

Look for actual lemon extract, not flavoring, for the best quality and truest lemon flavor. You want flavor from lemons, not a chemically synthesized product.

I’ve recently found a new product I love, lemon paste, which has a thicker consistency but does the same job.

lemon streusel muffins, ready to bake

some of you ask me ~

Sue, why do so many of your muffins recipes make 10 or 11 muffins instead of 12?

The answer is I like muffins on the bigger side, and so the batter that goes into that 11th or 12th muffin gets sacrificed for the greater good of the other 10. That’s just the way I roll. If you like, fill your cups a little lighter and you’ll get an even dozen.

lemon streusel muffins in a muffin tin with lemons

What makes this lemon muffin recipe worth your time?

It’s a simple one bowl recipe.

They have a subtle, aromatic, real lemon flavor that you just don’t find in commercial baked goods.

The light streusel adds texture and makes these muffins even more tempting.

Muffins have healthy portion control built right in, and makes them an easy grab and go snack during the day.

You should take any chance you can get to bake with seasonal lemon in winter, it’s an instant burst of sunshine.

lemon streusel muffins in a muffin pan with fresh lemons

kind of obsessed with muffins these days…

lemon streusel muffin in paper liner

Unwrapping a lemon streusel muffin
Print
4.87 from 45 votes

Lemon Streusel Muffins

Lemony muffins with a light streusel topping ~ they're like a burst of sunshine!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Yield 11 -12 muffins
Calories 188kcal
Author Sue Moran

Equipment

  • 12 cup muffin pan
  • muffins liners (optional)

Ingredients

streusel topping

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (30 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

muffins

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (125 ml)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp lemon extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (125 ml)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (63)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, using the fluff, scoop, and level method (250 grams)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Make the streusel first: combine the ingredients and rub together with your fingers until the butter is incorporated and the mixture has a dry crunmbly texture. Set aside.
    streusel topping in a small bowl
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, and sugar, and zest until well combined.
    making lemon streusel muffins
  • Whisk in the extract, buttermilk and lemon juice.
    whisking together lemon muffin batter with buttermilk and lemon extract
  • Whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then fold in the flour. Mix just until combined and no dry flour remains, the batter will be somewhat lumpy.
    Folding flour into lemon muffin batter
  • Fill 11-12 muffins cups nice and full with the batter, and then top with the streusel.
    lemon muffin batter in a muffin pan
  • Bake for 20-23 minutes (mine took 23 minutes) until risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter on it. Muffins are small and cook fast, so keep alert.
    streusel topped muffins, ready to bake
  • Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a cooling rack. I like to enjoy one warm with butter...yum!
    lemon muffins cooling in the pan
  • Be sure to store the cooled muffins in an airtight container to keep them fresh. They're best eaten the same day.
    Unwrapping a lemon streusel muffin

Cook's notes

Notes:

  • for the perfect day old muffin, pop it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, then enjoy with a pat of butter!

Nutrition

Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 99IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

lemon muffins on a cooling rack

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35 Comments

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    Please rate this recipe!




  • Reply
    Brenna
    October 17, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    5 stars
    I made these with Bobs Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour, I used avocado oil, and I added 1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries. They were amazing!!

  • Reply
    Mary Jo Schwartz
    July 14, 2021 at 11:47 pm

    If I do not have any buttermilk, can I substitute with real regular milk?

  • Reply
    jeana ferrara
    June 10, 2021 at 8:05 am

    1 star
    This recipe turned out very dry for me.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 10, 2021 at 9:23 am

      Sorry to hear that Jeana, could be you got a little extra flour in your mix, or possibly they cooked a tad too long. Ovens vary so much, and even a little discrepancy in temperature can make small muffins dry.

  • Reply
    Tracy
    April 20, 2021 at 9:39 am

    4 stars
    Very nice recipe!! I’ve been testing out different lemon (poppy seed) muffin recipes and so far have been underwhelmed. I did add a few things to your recipe to make it absolutely perfect for what I was looking to achieve. First, I added a combination of chia and poppy seeds to the batter – delicious! Second, in addition to lemon zest and juice, I used pure lemon oil (it’s stronger than extract) to the batter. I also mixed in a bit of zest and lemon oil to the streusel topping (and used salted butter to balance the sweetness). Third, as I was debating between streusel and icing for the top, I simply thought, “why not both?” Genius! Icing is a mix of confectioners sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon oil and a pinch of vanilla salt. After the muffins cooled for 5 minutes in the pan and then removed to the cooling rack, I drizzled the icing over the top and added a sprinkle of poppy seeds. The resulting muffins are divine – not too sweet, nice moist crumb with good lemon flavor and added texture from the chia/poppy seeds along with a crunchy lemony top with a nice pop of tart sweetness from the icing drizzle. Just perfect!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 20, 2021 at 10:32 am

      Sounds delish Tracey, I do like lemon oil ~ and it sounds like you’ve made quadruple lemon muffins!!

  • Reply
    Maria
    March 18, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    5 stars
    Just finished baking these yummy looking muffins & I think mind was a tad dry. Overall, a very successful bake ! Can’t wait to try your Lemon Pound Cake ! 😀

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 18, 2021 at 5:36 pm

      These muffins have an old fashioned muffin texture, not as rich and moist as our modern muffins we get from the supermarket, etc. The lemon pound cake will be a little moister for you, for sure.

  • Reply
    Rose
    March 13, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve just made these and they have turned out just lovely. I didn’t have any lemons so I used oranges.
    Very easy recipe for everyone to follow

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 13, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      I want to try these as orange muffins Rose, thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    Urooba
    February 9, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    5 stars
    These were unbelievably good straight out of the oven. Easy enough for kids to make, and they smell and taste divine. The kids sprinkled in cinnamon as well, which elevated their awesomeness. We are now going to be making these over and over again. Thanks for posting!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 10, 2021 at 6:28 am

      We all need easy baking projects these days, glad you liked them 🙂

    • Reply
      ??? ?????
      March 12, 2021 at 2:16 am

      4 stars
      I find there is too much baking powder (influences the taste) and even though I made twice as much streusel as written it was still not enough. otherwise they are vey crunchy

  • Reply
    Amy
    February 8, 2021 at 5:35 am

    5 stars
    Oh boy the crunchy top and lemon flavour is delish. I didn’t have vegetable oil so used apple sauce and they ended up sticking to the paper cases, will try again without paper cases, so tasty 5*

  • Reply
    Chris
    February 6, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    Sue the recipe looks amazing lemon is the best thing in my home and friends can’t wait to try them. In one of the pictures looks like yellow cream/curd filling. What is in this and how is it done. Can’t wait to try them.chri

  • Reply
    Gillian Hall
    February 6, 2021 at 12:14 am

    I tried the lemon muffins and a excellent choice as good as my lemon ? ones xthank you x

  • Reply
    Kristin
    February 4, 2021 at 3:00 am

    5 stars
    I make at least one batch of muffins every week and these looked liked a nice change from my current rotation of chocolate chip, pumpkin and cranberry orange. I was a little concerned as the batter appeared thin and they seemed to brown quickly and I was worried that the tops might burn. No need to worry at all! These have a perfectly delicious lemon flavor, wonderful texture and come out with nicely browned tops. I made jumbo muffins (I got 5 out of the batch) and added about 3/4 cup white chocolate chips! Delicious, thank you!

  • Reply
    Michele
    February 3, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Hi! Glad to have found your blog by looking for a lemon dessert. Wondering if I could make this into a pound cake by adjusting baking times? (Long story, but only have toaster oven right now and pound cakes are a constant in my life now.)

  • Reply
    Christie
    February 2, 2021 at 1:24 am

    5 stars
    Delicious! My first time to use a View From Great Island recipe and will surely try more!
    You had me giggling on the monstrosities they call muffins these days!
    I did however added some poppy seeds as well. What I like about them, they are not overly sweet and punchy with flavour.
    Thank you for sharing such a lovely recipe!

  • Reply
    Nora
    February 1, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Hi Sue, I would prefer to comment after making these but I have a question about measuring the flour. Do you ever list your measurements by weight? I’ve made a lot of bread this last year and weighing the ingredients helps to assure me of accurate results. I’ve never heard of fluff, scoop and level before, but it sounds obvious. I’ve checked the lemon poppyseed recipe and now have to decide which to make……I love texture!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 1, 2021 at 10:13 am

      Eventually I want to get to the point where all my recipes have both measurements, but the automatic tools are so glitchy and unreliable that I’d have to do it all by hand, for each recipe. I’ll try to pay more attention to it going forward.

      • Reply
        Sue Moran
        February 1, 2021 at 10:23 am

        ps just added them here for you 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanda
    February 1, 2021 at 8:04 am

    5 stars
    Lemon muffins are one of our favourite splurges in the mornings! Now I have a recipe so I’m making them as soon as I have the ingredients!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 1, 2021 at 8:06 am

      I always keep a bowl of lemons on the counter for baking emergencies.

  • Reply
    Angela
    February 1, 2021 at 7:29 am

    5 stars
    Wow! Love these muffins. Lemon is my favorite and that streusel!!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 1, 2021 at 7:37 am

      A little streusel is a good thing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Erika
    February 1, 2021 at 7:21 am

    5 stars
    These lemon muffins do look perfect! I love lemon baked goods.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 1, 2021 at 7:29 am

      Lemon is probably my favorite flavor in baking <3

  • Reply
    Jen
    February 1, 2021 at 7:06 am

    5 stars
    I prefer bigger muffins too and these were like rays of sunshine on today’s gloomy weathered day. Loved it!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 1, 2021 at 7:29 am

      They need to redesign the muffin pan 😉

      • Reply
        Alicia
        February 1, 2021 at 8:57 am

        Jumbo muffin tins are available. They can also be used for individual cakes.

        • Reply
          Sue Moran
          February 1, 2021 at 9:13 am

          I’m super picky…I don’t like jumbo muffins, just big regular muffins 😉

  • Reply
    Lauren Vavala
    February 1, 2021 at 7:02 am

    5 stars
    Lemon desserts are my favorite anytime of the year. These muffins look so moist and delicious – definitely a nice bright little treat!

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