Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread




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Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread ~ everybody’s favorite quick bread gets an upgrade with crunchy poppy seeds and fresh lemon. It’s the perfect light and breezy summertime bake!

A stack of lemon poppy seed zucchini bread slices.

Lemon poppy seed zucchini bread is a delicious change of pace

A classic zucchini bread is always right, but I adore this lemon poppy seed version for when you’ve STILL got zucchini coming out of the garden, or your neighbor’s gardens, or the CSA, and you need to shake things up a bit. This moist quick bread is easy to make and combines the bright flavor of lemon with crunchy poppy seeds and plenty of zucchini. It feels so fresh and summery.

Mixing the batter for lemon poppy seed zucchini bread.

One-bowl baking ~

One bowl baking is the best, isn’t it? Less to clean up, of course, and it just makes the whole thing feels so much more doable.  A surprising number of basic baking recipes can be easily converted to the one-bowl method:

  • Often the only reason you need the extra bowl is to sift dry ingredients together. The solution is to add your leaveners (baking powder and/or soda and salt) to your wet ingredients before folding in flour. Adding the leaveners first allows them to get evenly distributed into the batter without having to sift them with the flour first.
  • Recipes that aren’t good candidates for one bowl baking include any recipes where eggs are separated and the whites whipped on their own,

Glazed loaf cake on a baking rack.

How to make a lemony quick bread glaze ~

A lemon glaze is one of my favorite secret weapons when it comes to loaf cakes and quick breads. Just a simple mix of lemon juice and powdered sugar makes an intense sweet/tart topping that also helps seal in moisture.

  • For a glaze that’s thick enough to be noticed but still coats the top of your loaf cake nice and evenly, I use 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, and about 2 tablespoons of liquid.  If you want a lighter, translucent glaze, add a little bit more liquid.
  • Sifting your sugar first helps avoid lumps, but if you do get them, let the glaze settle for a few minutes and whisk again, most lumps will dissolve on their own.
  • When I’m not sure about how the consistency of my glaze is going to look on the finished cake, I’ll do a little test on the edge of the cake. You should be able to wipe off the glaze quickly and adjust to make it a little thicker or a little thinner if needed.
  • You can add a little vanilla extract to your glaze, or scatter some more poppy seeds on top of the wet glaze for a nice pop of contrast and extra crunch.

Slices of lemon poppy seed zucchini bread.

The texture of this bread (or is it cake?) is just perfect in my book.

It’s moist but light and fluffy ~ not oily like some loaf cakes can be, and perfectly sweetened without being too over the top for breakfast or an afternoon snack. The cake has that lovely mellow lemon flavor from plenty of zest added to the batter, and the glaze provides the perfect sweet-tart contrast.

Sliced loaf of lemon poppy seed zucchini bread with lemons and zucchini blossoms.

For the prettiest presentation with loaf cakes, I always line my pan with a long sheet of parchment paper.

Grease the pan first, so the paper will stick and not slide around.  You can lift the bread out after baking to let it cool completely.  You’ll be able to glaze and slice it so much easier, and this is especially nice if you want a pretty presentation.

Slices of lemon poppy seed zucchini bread.

Remember, don’t peel or squeeze your zucchini for perfect zucchini bread!

You definitely don’t want to peel your zucchini, the peel is where all the flavor, color, and texture is.  I love to see those little green flecks in my bread, yum!  And there’s no need to drain or squeeze the zucchini, either.  I formulate the recipe to take zucchini’s natural moisture into account, and it helps make this bread deliciously moist and tender.

A slice of lemon poppy seed zucchini bread with a fork.

Lemon poppy seed everything!

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4.93 from 27 votes

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread

Course Breakfast, brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, lightly packed
  • 3 Tbsp poppy seeds

For the glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (approximately) lemon juice, or a mixture of lemon juice and milk or cream to thin

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9x5 loaf pan. I also line mine with parchment paper for easy removal after baking.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar until well combined.
  • Whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Fold in the flour, and mix just until everything is well incorporated and there are no dry pockets of flour left.
  • Gently fold in the shredded zucchini and poppy seeds.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and smooth it out a little bit so that it fills the pan evenly. Bake for about 60-65 minutes until risen, turning golden on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
  • Allow the bread to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool fully on a baking rack.
  • Once the bread is cool, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar with the lemon juice until pourable, but still relatively thick. You can use all lemon juice for a nice tart glaze, or a mixture of lemon juice and milk or cream to your taste for a slightly less tart glaze.
  • Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and use the back of a spoon or a butter knife to gently spread it over the top of the cake. Allow the glaze to harden before slicing.

Lemon poppy seed zucchini bread pin.

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36 Comments

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  • Reply
    Kathi
    October 11, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    5 stars
    Today, I made two batches of this delicious recipe. And I decided to change it up on both batches. First I left off all the poppyseeds as I really don’t care for them that much. On the fourth batch I changed it up and used an orange instead of a lemon. I zested the orange and then squeezed out it’s fresh juice and used that in lieu of the lemon. It just came out of the oven and my house smells absolutely delicious. I cannot wait For it to cool so that I can cut a slice of it.

  • Reply
    Ilynem
    September 27, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    4 stars
    I would have given it 4.5 stars but that isn’t an option. The outcome of my bread was a bit mushy. I thought it was under-baked but it wasn’t as I followed the recipe. I will definitely do this again but would wring the zucchini a bit before mixing to get rid of the excess water and I’ll also add more sugar. Other than that, this is a great recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 27, 2020 at 6:37 pm

      Different zucchini can vary quite a bit in moisture, so that could have been the issue. And keep in mind, it might have been slightly under-baked, it’s impossible to set an exact time for recipes since there are so many variables.

      • Reply
        Ilynem
        September 27, 2020 at 8:29 pm

        Thanks Sue! I will adjust the baking time too.

  • Reply
    Lara Dupont
    September 6, 2020 at 11:15 am

    4 stars
    Can I substitute SPLENDA for sugar? and also what about 1/2 cup apple sauce for 1/2 cup oil?

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 6, 2020 at 3:22 pm

      Both should work, although I don’t have experience with splenda…it will be best if it’s granulated and can be substituted in the same amount, so a 1:1 ration.

  • Reply
    Heather
    September 2, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Hello…I am making this for the family for the first time this weekend and I was wondering…1) how far in advance could this be made? and 2) what would be the proper way to store it? Cannot wait to try it!! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Absolutely delicious! Because of a need to control sugar, I used 1/2 sugar and 1/2 monkfruit. Also used 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 oil. Wonderful texture and taste and eaten up quickly!

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 30, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks Susan, that will help others.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    August 26, 2020 at 7:10 pm

    5 stars
    I made great bread! The lemon flavor is very nice. I would recommend using half the amount of poppy seeds called for.

  • Reply
    Renee
    August 24, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Hello

    Do you remove the excess water from the zucchini?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 24, 2020 at 11:46 am

      No, there’s no need to do that with this recipe.

    • Reply
      EllaMarie Walker
      August 26, 2020 at 7:39 am

      5 stars
      This is absolutely a delicious bread/cake. I think this is my new favorite zucchini bread recipe! Couldn’t wait to have it with my tea this morning!

  • Reply
    BonnieB
    August 23, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Can you use grated zucchini that has been frozen and thawed?

  • Reply
    Meghan
    August 23, 2020 at 9:33 am

    I’m going to divide mine into smaller loaf pans, would you recommend keeping the name time the same? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 23, 2020 at 9:58 am

      No, they’ll cook a little quicker, the general rule of thumb is to reduce the baking time by 1/4, which would bring this to about 45 minutes. I would definitely check them earlier than that, though.

  • Reply
    June
    August 23, 2020 at 4:51 am

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday and followed the recipe but used RYZE gluten free multi-purpose flour mix (yellow bag), because I am eating gluten free. It is absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 23, 2020 at 6:45 am

      That’s great to know, thanks June 🙂

  • Reply
    Patty
    August 22, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    5 stars
    What do you mean by shred the zucchini?? I’m a little new to the baking game but I can’t pass up this delicious sounding recipe!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 22, 2020 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Patty ~ you’re going to grate the whole zucchini either with a metal grater, or in a food processor with the shredding blade. You don’t need to peel the zucchini, just rinse and dry it, and then grate or shred it.

      • Reply
        Patty
        August 22, 2020 at 8:49 pm

        Thank you so much! I can’t wait!

  • Reply
    Judith Tobin
    August 14, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    5 stars
    I did not have any poppyseed so put 1 Tablespoon of celery seed in instead…….
    Miraculously, it was perfect .Moist texture and I also added some chopped walnuts.
    Thank you Sue. You never fail.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 15, 2020 at 5:34 am

      Wow, I would never have thought of that Judith!

  • Reply
    Nan
    August 13, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Would making this into muffins be successful? If so, how long would you bake regular sized muffins?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 13, 2020 at 11:09 am

      Personally I think this bread is a little denser than muffins usually are, so expect that, but you could try it, for sure. I’d check the muffins at 12-15 minutes.

  • Reply
    Julie
    August 12, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    5 stars
    Made this tonight, very delicious…. usually zucchini bread has a tendency to be gummy. This was delicious,

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 13, 2020 at 5:43 am

      Great point, this isn’t at all gummy, the texture is one of my favorite things about it, thanks Julie 🙂

  • Reply
    Pamela
    August 10, 2020 at 4:29 am

    5 stars
    I stumbled upon this recipe because many others had ingredients I didn’t have, and I must say I am so glad I did! This is the most amazing bread with such a moist texture and the taste….Mmmm. If this is anything like your other recipes, I am subscribing. Simply scrumptious!! Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 10, 2020 at 5:19 am

      Glad to have you in the family Pamela, there’s lots to explore 🙂

  • Reply
    Paula M Walter
    August 6, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    5 stars
    This is so excellent – as is all of your recipes. I divided the batter into two 7 3/8 X 3 5/8 in order to gift one loaf – one pound in each pan.

  • Reply
    Jayne
    August 4, 2020 at 5:38 am

    5 stars
    I made this at the weekend. It’s easy to make and sooo delicious. Many thanks for another great recipe.

  • Reply
    Lin
    August 2, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    5 stars
    I made this bread tonight and I have to say this is the best poppy seed bread that I have ever made. And I made it gluten free using King Arthur flour 1 to 1 ratio. I followed the recipe otherwise using the amounts for all other ingredients. It was moist and lemony. I did peel the zucchini but didn’t squeeze it dry. My one trick for gluten free is to use a thermometer because someone once told me all gluten free baked goods need to come to 205 to 210 degrees and ever since then I have no more gumminess in my cakes. Also if a recipe gives you the grams use those measurements and your baked goods will be perfect. Thanks again for a great recipe.

  • Reply
    AV
    August 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    This sounds delicious! I have an overabundance of limes at the moment though, and 0 lemons. Do you think swapping lemons for limes would work out?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 2, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      You absolutely can do that, I’ve done it and it’s a really nice flavor.

  • Reply
    Candice
    August 1, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Love the sound of this! Another way to use up zucchini. I do not have poppy seeds and wanted to know if I omit them from the bread, will it have an effect on the final loaf? Thank you.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 1, 2020 at 7:28 pm

      Leave out the poppy seeds if you need to, the bread will still be delish.