These delicious vegan lemon poppy seed muffins are an explosion of citrusy flavor that will surely put a smile on everyone’s face! Made with fresh lemon zest and nutty poppy seeds, these melt-in-your-mouth muffins are a breeze to whip up and even easier to demolish. The best part is that you can enjoy these tangy treats anytime: For breakfast, an afternoon snack, or a post-dinner dessert!
If you love the taste of lemon as much as we do, you will want to try our other lemon-flavored desserts, such as our vegan blueberry lemon muffins, lemon blueberry crumble pie, and vegan lemon shortbread cookies!
What to expect?
This vegan lemon poppy seed muffin recipe combines poppy seed, fresh lemon zest, salt, baking powder, and vegan buttermilk. Next, flax seed is mixed with water and olive oil to create a vegan egg substitute. Once the muffins are baked to golden perfection, they are topped with a delicious and creamy lemon glaze.
This recipe is packed with citrusy flavor and has a soft, tender texture that your teeth will easily sink into. They may not be the tallest muffins you will ever see, but one thing for sure is that they will be the most delicious!
Here is why you will love this recipe:
- It is easy to make – You do not need much time, any special ingredients, or special equipment to make these muffins. All you need is one bowl, 10 minutes of prep time, and 30 minutes of baking time.
- It is versatile – You can easily customize these vegan lemon blueberry muffins with different flavors, fillings, and toppings. Check the variations section for more ideas!
- It is the most delicious – Before making this recipe, I researched what people like and do not like when it comes to lemon poppy seed muffins. These are the freshest, most flavorful, and most tender vegan muffins you will ever try!
- Dairy-free butter – The butter needs to be at room temperature before use. Do not use cold butter.
- Cane sugar – Other dry sugars such as coconut, brown, or white sugar are also acceptable.
- Flax egg – The combination of finely milled ground flax seeds and water is an easy vegan egg substitute to bind the ingredients together. Do not use ground flax flakes.
- Olive oil – You can also use other neutral oils such as sunflower oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- All-purpose flour – You can also use whole wheat flour. For gluten-free muffins, you can use any gluten-free flour blend.
- Baking powder
- Lemon zest (grated)
- Poppy seeds
- Apple cider vinegar – Combining the apple cider vinegar and the baking powder creates a foam that leavens the batter.
- Dairy-free milk – I use oat milk for this recipe, but any non-dairy milk, such as cashew milk, rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk, will do! Like the butter, the milk needs to be at room temperature.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice + powdered sugar (optional for the final glaze)
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making vegan lemon poppy seed muffins
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (ca. 177 °C) and position an oven rack in the center. In the meantime, line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spray the muffin pan and liners, if desired.
- Mix the dry ingredients (lemon zest, flour, salt, and baking powder) in a small bowl.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the room-temperature milk to make your vegan “buttermilk.”
- Then, add the soft, room-temperature vegan butter and cane sugar to the bowl.
- Use an electric mixer to whisk the mixture for only two minutes. The sugar will not melt during this step.
- Add in the ground flax egg and olive oil and mix them well.
- Add half of the dry ingredient mixture using a spatula or spoon and mix well.
- Next, add half of the vegan buttermilk to the batter and mix again.
- Lastly, stir in the second half of the dry and wet ingredients and mix well. Stop mixing when the batter reaches a soft, fluffy, and pillowy texture. Do not overmix.
- Add poppy seeds and fold them in gently. You can also add poppy seeds to the dry mix.
- Use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to evenly distribute the batter across each of the cavities of the muffin tin. They will be full.
- Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes until lightly golden. When you can stick a toothpick in the center, and it comes out clean, they are done!
- Let the muffins remain in the pan and cool for 5-10 minutes. They will be very soft and moist, especially while hot. Once cooled, lightly run a knife around the muffin (if necessary) before removing them.
- For the final touch, mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with ½ cup of powdered sugar to create a lemon glaze, then lightly glaze the top of each muffin. Although optional, the glaze is a must-have for the most delicious lemon poppy seed muffins!
- Always follow the ingredients and quantities the recipe provides for the softest, moistest muffin texture.
- Use lemon zest instead of lemon juice for the most flavorful lemon glaze.
- If you can’t buy milled and finely ground flax seeds, grind the whole seeds in a coffee grinder. The finer the seeds, the better they will absorb and bind.
- You can use an electric mixer or a spatula to mix the flour and milk and achieve the same result. As long as you do it quickly, you will not overmix it.
- Do not bake longer than 30 minutes, as it will dry out the muffins. In an oven similar to mine, 35 minutes is too long.
- With fruit – Add mashed bananas or juicy berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or cranberries. See my vegan blueberry lemon muffins and vegan orange cranberry muffins recipe for inspiration.
- With orange zest – Replace the lemon with orange zest for a different citrusy flavor profile, as I do in my vegan orange muffins.
- With nuts – Add some additional crunch to the muffins by adding crushed nuts to the batter or sprinkled on top!
- With vanilla extract – Add a few drops of pure vanilla extract for a delicious vanilla flavor.
- Scale – A scale is critical for accurately measuring ingredients and creating the most delicious and moist muffins.
- Electric hand mixer – An electric mixer is helpful when creaming the butter.
- Rubber spatula – A rubber spatula comes in handy when mixing the ingredients. It will also ensure you scrape all the batter from the bowl without leaving a drop behind!
- Muffin tray – I recommend using a muffin pan with 12 cavities of 3-in dia. x 1 in. (7.6 cm dia x 2.5 cm)
- Paper muffin liners – I use paper liners in all my recipes; however, using them is optional.
- Ice cream scooper – You can also use two spoons if you do not have an ice cream scoop.
For the tastiest and most tender lemon poppy seed muffins, it is best that you enjoy them the same day you make them. However, if you have leftovers or need to make your muffins in advance, here are some storage tips to keep them fresh.
Room temperature – Store the muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
In the refrigerator – Once cooled, store the muffins in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
In the freezer – Once cooled, place the muffins in zippered plastic bags or an airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to three months.
Defrosting and reheating – To defrost, thaw at room temperature before eating. To serve warm, wrap in foil and place in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. Or, place the muffin on a microwave-safe paper towel or plate and microwave on high for approximately 30 seconds.
Poppy seeds are naturally gluten-free. However, it is always best to check the packaging in case of any unknown additives.
While you can use lemon juice instead of fresh lemon zest when making the muffins, I do not recommend it because you will lose some flavor and change the texture.
I have not tested this recipe with any apple cider substitutes. Still, you could use other acidic liquids, such as fresh lemons or limes, or with other vinegar, such as white vinegar, cider vinegar, or malt vinegar.
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Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- If you want this to come out just like in the photos with the moist and soft cake-like texture, use a scale to measure all ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (ca. 180 °C) and put an oven rack in the middle position. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. I don’t mind if the muffins stick to the papers, but if you do, spray the pan and the liners with non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix dry ingredients (poppy seeds, lemon zest, flour, salt, and baking powder) in a small bowl.
- Add apple cider vinegar to the room-temperature milk.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the soft room-temperature butter with cane sugar. The sugar will not melt in the butter. 2 minutes are enough.
- Add flax egg (from ground flax, not flakes) and olive oil. Mix them well.
- Add half the dry ingredients and half the “buttermilk” to the batter. Use a spatula or spoon to mix it well. Then add the second half and mix again. Don’t need to over-mix it. You’ll get a soft, fluffy, pillowy batter.
- Use two spoons or an ice cream scooper to arrange the muffin batter evenly. It will be full.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden. Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for about 5-10 minutes. They are very soft and moist, especially while hot. Run a knife around the edge of each muffin if necessary before taking them out.
- Don’t forget to glaze it (1 tsp lemon juice + ½ cup powdered sugar)! It is a must-have to get delicious lemon poppy seed muffins.
- Lemon zest gives more flavor than lemon juice.
- If you can’t buy milled and finely ground flax seeds, grind the whole seeds in a coffee grinder. They absorb and bind so much better in a fine powder form.
- Using an electric mixer or a spatula to mix the flour and milk with the batter have the same result. As long as you do it quickly, you will not over-mix it.
- While these muffins don’t have a huge mushroom top, they are by far the most soft and moisture muffins I have ever eaten. Every time I adjusted the ingredients, I lost that texture.
- Don’t over-bake it, as they will turn dry. 30 minutes should be enough. 35 minutes is too long in my oven.
- I always use paper liners, so I never tested this recipe using only cooking spray.