Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

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These lemon poppy seed cupcakes are light and fluffy, bursting with citrus flavor, and wonderful crunch from the addition of poppy seeds. Topped it with a lemon buttercream frosting for a perfectly puckery, sweet treat.

lemon poppy seed cupcake on a plate


I don’t know about you but I was never much of a lemon dessert person. Then for some odd reason the older I get, I’m like more lemon please!! The more lemon, the better. Who is with me? 

And then you add in poppy seeds and it’s just the perfect dessert. Like this lemon poppy seed bread. Full of citrus and texture. I can’t get enough. 

So I thought why not swirl some poppy seeds into a lemon cupcake? Yup it was a good idea. I started with my Lemon Cupcakes With Berry Buttercream, but added in a bit more lemon flavor (in the form of fresh lemon juice), stirred in the poppy seeds, and made a lemon buttercream frosting this time.

Ingredients For These Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • Dry Ingredients – You will need cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Just measure and whisk them together in a bowl.
  • Wet Ingredients – You will need unsalted butter, granulated sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla. 
  • Mix-ins– I added lemon zest,  fresh lemon juice, and poppy seeds into the batter for maximum flavor. 

For the lemon buttercream frosting:

  • Unsalted butter: I always recommend using unsalted butter vs. salted butter so you can control the amount of salt. 
  • Powdered sugar: Or confectioners sugar (or icing sugar). I don’t sift mine in as I find that as long as I mix it long enough I don’t have lumps.
  • Heavy cream: This helps thin out the frosting, and add some richness, but milk would also work.
  • Vanilla: Pure vanilla is best since the frosting isn’t a baked item and this will give your frosting the best flavor.
  • Lemons: I added in fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to the buttercream frosting. 

How To Make Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

Start with combining your sugar and zest in a food processor. This helps to release the lemon oils. 

lemon zest and sugar into a food processor

This cupcake starts with whisking your dry ingredients- cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

If you don’t have cake flour on hand, here is a step by step tutorial on how to make your own! Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour so it results in less gluten being formed which means a lighter more tender cupcake!

dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk

In a second mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients in a second mixing bowl. Easy peasy right? Make sure your ingredients are room temperature so the butter doesn’t seize up in the bowl. 

lemon cupcakes wet ingredients in a mixing bowl

And then just pour the wet into the dry and mix JUST until combined. And don’t forget those poppy seeds! Stir those in at the end. But be sure to not overmix.

lemon poppy seed cupcake batter in a bowl

Then go ahead and scoop your batter into your pans. You want to make sure to not overfill your cupcake liners. I aim for about 3/4 full. If you overfill the cupcake pans, your cupcakes are likely to sink in the middle at the end. 

Heather’s Baking Tips:

  • Be sure to measure your flour correctly. If measuring by volume, then make sure to spoon and level the flour in. You can read my post here on how to measure your flour correctly. Or for best accuracy I recommend weighing your ingredients. You can read my post on how to measure ingredients here <– there’s a video too! 
  • Make sure your ingredients are room temperature. You want your butter to be softened, and especially your eggs. To bring your eggs to  room temperature quickly, simply place the eggs into a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes.
  • Use an large cookie scoop for even scooping.  I use an ice-cream scoop like this one from OXO to scoop my cupcake batter. It makes quick work of scooping the batter and ensures all my cupcakes are the same size and bake evenly.
  • Do not overfill your cupcake liners when scooping the batter. You want your liners about 3/4 full. Overfilled cupcakes can result in the cupcakes sinking after you baking them. Read this post for 6 reasons why your cupcakes sink in the middle.
  • Double check that your baking powder is still fresh. Because this recipe uses melted butter there is no creaming step to incorporate air, so you need to make sure the baking powder is fresh so your cupcakes rise properly. To check the freshness, add a teaspoon of baking powder to some hot water. If it bubbles, it’s still fresh. If it doesn’t throw it out. And don’t mix it up with baking soda, they don’t react the same. You can read more here about Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda
  • Use an oven thermometer. Make sure that your oven is heated correctly so these bake properly. For more oven 101, read this post.
lemon poppy seed cupcake with a bite taken out of it

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes FAQ’s:

Can I use all-purpose flour?

You can use all-purpose flour but your cupcakes won’t be quite as light and fluffy. Or you can make your own Cake Flour.  Again, it won’t be quite the same as store-bought will be a close second. 

Can I make these cupcakes ahead of time?

Absolutely you can! These cupcakes can be made and filled, without buttercream, one day in advance, and kept covered at room temperature. Buttercream can be made 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Bring cupcakes, and frosting to room temperature before frosting. Nobody wants to eat a cold stick of butter and that’s what the frosting will taste like unless it’s softened again. Or store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Can I freeze these cupcakes?

You can also freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying. Before serving I let them sit at room temperature  to let the buttercream soften again before enjoying. Click here for a full tutorial on how to freeze cupcakes. 

Why did my cupcakes sink in the middle?

This might be because you underbaked them, or overfilled them. I fill mine about 2/3 to 3/4 full to allow them to expand. You can read more here about Why Do Cupcakes Sink?

Can I use low fat milk?

I do recommend using whole milk for the best taste and texture, but you can use a low fat milk if that’s all you have. I haven’t tested it with plant-based milk such as almond or soy, but I think they would also work. I just would make sure to use a plain, unsweetened plant-based milk.

lemon cupcake with a bite taken out of it

Baking Tools To Make These Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes:

More Recipes To Try

Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

These lemon cupcakes with poppy seeds are made with fresh lemon juice and zest, and topped with a lemon buttercream frosting!
5 from 20 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Calories: 549kcal


  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons lemon zest zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 ⅔ cup (200 g) cake flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3/4 Cup (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter melted
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) whole milk
  • ½ cup (113 g) sour cream
  • ¼ cup lemon juice about 4 lemons
  • 2 Tablespoons poppyseeds

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • 283 g (2 ½ sticks, 1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
  • 452 g (4 cups) confectioner sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk


  • Preheat oven to 375F. Line the cupcake tin with paper liners.
  • Add the sugar and lemon zest to the bowl of a food processor then pulse until zest is broken up and the sugar is pale yellow In color.
  • Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl then whisk together and set aside.
  • Add the eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla, sour cream, and sugar to a medium bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the wet to the dry mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the poppy seeds and lemon juice. Fill cupcake papers about 3/4 the way up. Bake for 5 min at 375F then reduce temperature to 350F and bake another 10-12 or until the springy to the touch.
  • Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing.)

For the buttercream

  • With a mixer, cream the butter and zest together. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time.
  • Add in your vanilla extract, heavy cream, lemon juice. The frosting may curdle at this point, but keep mixing it will smooth it out.
  • Mix on medium-high for about 8 minutes until light and fluffy. Frost your cupcakes with a spatula or piping bag fit with a star tip. Top with a few additional poppy seeds.


  • Make ahead: Cupcakes can be made without buttercream, one day in advance, and kept covered at room temperature. Buttercream can be made 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. I keep frosted cupcakes in the fridge, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
  • Storage: Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying. Before serving I let them sit at room temperature  to let the buttercream soften again before enjoying.
  • Lemon: You can substitute the lemon for another citrus like orange or lime.
  • Milk: You can swap out the whole milk for low-fat milk or plant-based milk if need be.


Calories: 549kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 147mg | Potassium: 146mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 910IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @BostonGirlBakes or tag #BostonGirlBakes!



  1. I haven’t finished making these yet but am frustrated because I was using the metric system measurements and realized after it was too late that 120 mls is a half cup of milk not a quarter so I’m not sure if the whole thing will be ruined now. The ingredients are costly and its frustrating to put in the time and work only to realize when it’s too late that any measurements are off. Someone mentioned up top that a few of the conversions were incorrect and it sounded like it had been edited so I assumed it was accurate.

    1. Hi Rebecca, my apologies the metric measurements have been updated to reflect a 1/4 cup of milk which is equal to 60 ml.

  2. angela S. says:

    5 stars
    trying this out right now ty its my mom and dads 31st anniversary
    <3 i love lemon poppy seed and so do they

    1. aw congrats to them! And I Hope they enjoy the cupcakes!!

  3. Kirstie Genzel says:

    For the granulated sugar measurement, it says 1 cup is 297g, but 1 cup usually equals only 200g. Should it be 1 cup (200g) or 1 1/2 cups (300g)?

    1. Hi Kristie, my apologies there was a mistake in the recipe it should be 1 cup (200g) not 297g. And please note The butter measurement has also be fixed (12 tbs or 3/4 cup). Thank you for checking!

      1. Kirstie Genzel says:

        Thank you so much!

      2. You’re welcome 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I absolutely loved this recipe! I wanted to make 24 cupcakes instead of the 12 so I made a double batch and ended up with 33 cupcakes total! The cupcakes came out so soft and fluffy and had that delicious lemon flavor shine through without being overbearing. Thank you for this recipe…it was simply perfect!

    1. Heather Perine says:

      Hi Naomi! Oh I’m so glad to hear you loved the cupcakes!!

  5. Mama Maggie's Kitchen says:

    5 stars
    My mouth is literally watering. My family would love this..for sure! I am going to my kitchen now.

    1. Thanks Maggie 🙂 Let me know how they turn out!!

  6. 5 stars
    I couldn’t think of anything lovelier than this for spring! I love lemon and poppyseed muffins but the idea of making cupcakes is even better 😀 That frosting is swoon worthy!

    1. Heather Perine says:

      Thanks Tammy! Yes cupcakes = frosting 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I love lemon/poppyseed flavors! They just scream SPRING 😉 Your recipe looks wonderful, I think I’ll make these cupcakes for Easter this year 😉

    1. Thanks Veronika! Yes perfect for Easter!

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve always thought lemon and poppy seed were a dream combination, but these have sour cream too – how decadent and flavorful. I appreciate the recommendations for baking tools, there are so many to choose from.

    1. You’re welcome Beth!! Yes decadent for sure 😉

  9. 5 stars
    I’m totally with you with the lemon obsession! I would have never chosen a lemon dessert earlier in life, now it’s those I always go for first! And I’m so happy I re-discovered lemons, because they are just so amazing. Can’t wait to try your lemon poppyseed cupcake recipe!

  10. 5 stars
    These lemon poppy seed muffins look perfect! I want to make these for Easter and I can’t wait! Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Yes these are perfect for Easter Kathryn 🙂

  11. H.L.McCallum says:

    5 stars
    Your cupcake cake recipe looks delicious, and I am betting this would go over well with my friends and family! A must-make recipe for sure. Have a wonderful day, and I will come back to let you know how it turns out.

    P.S. I’m looking forward to checking out your other blog posts to see what I can dig up.


    1. Hi Heidy! I’m so glad you loved the cupcakes! And yes have fun digging around 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    I agree with you when you say that you recommend using whole milk to make these lemon cupcakes. So yummy, great lemon flavor.

    1. Thanks Silvia! I’m glad you loved the recipe!

  13. Veronika Sykorova says:

    5 stars
    These were so light and fluffy and delicious! I love the combination of lemon and poppy seeds, the best spring flavor.

    1. Thanks Veronika! I’m so glad you liked them!

  14. 5 stars
    Been looking for new cupcake recipes! This is so amazing! Thanks a lot for sharing this!

    1. Thanks Allyssa! Let me know how they turn out!

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