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
4.87 from 83 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


  • 12 cup muffin pan
  • muffins liners (optional)


streusel topping

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


  • 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)


  • 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


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


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 tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
lemon muffins on a cooling rack

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Debbi Manders
    September 23, 2022 at 9:18 am

    Have you tried to put a dollop of lemon curd inside each muffin?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      September 23, 2022 at 9:28 am

      No, that might be nice!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2022 at 7:34 am

    For the recipe. Came out really good great crumb not too lemony but not too little and I did use the extract. I will continue to use these thank you

  • Reply
    June 23, 2022 at 11:46 am

    5 stars
    I made this just as the recipe calls, expect I didn’t add any lemon extract. I was trying to use up some frozen lemon zest so I used about 1.5-2 tbsp of lemon zest, 1/4c of lemon juice from a bottle, and 1/2c buttermilk using the powered stuff that can be kept in the fridge. I baked at 365 deg (my oven is a little hot) for 15 minutes and they came out perfect!

    • Reply
      June 23, 2022 at 4:56 pm

      5 stars
      I just made it a second time, with some minor adjustments:
      I added 1 tsp of cooking lavender with the lemon zest
      I used 1/2 c of sugar with the muffins
      I used 1/4c of flour for the streusel topping, but doubled the sugar and butter. I found this ratio to be better.

      Still a great original recipe, and easy to customize to preference!

      • Reply
        Sue Moran
        June 25, 2022 at 10:20 am

        lemon lavender sounds amazing!

  • Reply
    April 30, 2022 at 10:13 am

    4 stars
    These are very yummy! I subbed vanilla for the lemon extract and I thought they were perfectly lemony! This recipe yields a very tender crumb, which I like! I missed the butter flavor by adding the oil to the recipe, but they had a great texture! Thanks for the yummy recipe!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2022 at 4:56 am

    3 stars
    Tasty, but I like a thicker batter, yielding a denser muffin. If I make them again, I will cut the lemon juice in half and skip the streusel, which I found dry.

  • Reply
    April 9, 2022 at 9:38 am

    5 stars
    SO good — I ate a full batch by myself (over the course of 3 days). I have a dairy allergy, so to make vegan buttermilk I just added the lemon juice to almond milk and let it curdle for a few minutes before adding it in. I also added a tiny bit of vanilla extract and some poppy seeds to the mix. For the streusel I used country crock avocado oil butter. I love how I didn’t have to use a mixer, the hardest part was just zesting/juicing the lemons. A touch dry, but I’ll bake them less next time.

  • Reply
    February 19, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    5 stars
    Just made these and they came out delightful! Loved the suggestion of processing the sugar with lemon peel – so aromatic and pretty! Mine came out just a smidge dry, but I will take your suggestion of shaving a minute or two off the baking time.

  • Reply
    Karen Austin
    February 5, 2022 at 12:37 am

    I was wondering how well do your lemon muffins freeze? Karen Austin

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 5, 2022 at 1:41 pm

      Muffins in general freeze well, so you should have no problems freezing these.

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