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Best Muffin Recipes: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Best Muffin Recipes: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Best Muffin Recipes: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
There’s just so many good muffin recipes–but this recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins is one of my favorites. Like my grandma, I’ve got a thing for lemon. Lucky for me, these  are relatively fast to fix.

Best Muffin Recipes: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Unlike some of my other treasured muffin recipes, this  lemon poppy seed muffins recipe begins with real butter. There’s no shortening or vegetable oil in this one either. It’s not like I am entirely against those things, I just like to mix up my baking every now and again–and recipes without ingredient overlap work especially well when the pantry is empty and I forgot to make a trip to the store.

This recipe creates a delectable little muffin that is good all on its own. Of course, if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you can always go one step further. Combine a small amount of powdered sugar and a scant amount of liquid (either milk or milk and vanilla extract or lemon extract), and drizzle over slightly cooled muffins. It does mean you won’t get to experience the pleasure of eating these lemon poppy seed muffins while they are fresh out of the oven though.

The original recipe (from calls for lemon peel. If you have it, go for it, but I have found orange peel to be an easy substitute that helped these lemon poppy seed muffins keep their bright flavor. Just make sure to use fresh poppy seeds to avoid a bitter flavor.

A History of Poppy Seeds

Best Recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Best Recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
I do love muffins with poppy seeds. They rank among my favorites. Part of it is probably due to middle school sleepovers when my best friend’s older sister would make us a batch of (packaged) lemon poppy seed muffins in the morning. They were always my favorite and, truthfully, it’s the first type of muffin I will turn to. The other part boils down to the flavor and texture. Homemade muffins, of course, are so much better. Poppy seeds just add that little extra something. They make the humble muffin look kind of special, with that slate-blue coloring, don’t you think?

According to the DEA Museum (the Drug Enforcement and Administration), opiates were used as pain relievers, sleep inducers, and bowel helpers by the ancient Greek and Roman physicians. Not only did they believe that opium could protect someone from being poisoned, but they also realized the effects it caused. They were no dummies.

We don’t generally worry about being poisoned to death in this modern age, thank goodness. But if ancient people saw something in it that helped with illness, what does this mean for the people of today consuming poppy seed bagels, poppy seed cake, and oodles of poppy seed muffins? There’s nothing to worry about–to a point.

Don’t worry about it. The DEA assures, “The majority of poppy seeds used for food come from the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. Although these seeds do have opium content, the amount used for cooking purposes is extremely small.” The Encyclopedia Britannica elaborates, “Poppy seeds have no narcotic properties, because the fluid contained in the bud that becomes opium is present only before the seeds are fully formed.”

Health Benefits of Poppy Seeds

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins Recipe
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins Recipe
What poppy seeds lack in size, they make up for with one heck of a nutritional punch wrapped up inside a delectable nutty texture. LiveStrong reveals that poppy seeds are “a good source of protein, dietary fiber and minerals.” There’s more, “One half teaspoon of poppy seeds contains 7 calories, 0.25 grams of protein, 0.58 grams of fats and 0.39 grams of carbohydrates. Poppy seeds also provide 7 percent of the daily value of dietary fiber.” That’s not too bad! It’s only the beginning.

When it comes to minerals, the LiveStrong article shares more positive nutrition data on the poppy seed, “29 percent DV [daily value] of manganese and 13 percent DV of calcium from 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds. They also provide magnesium and phosphorus at 8 percent DV, copper at 7 percent DV, iron and zinc at 5 percent DV, and potassium and selenium at 2 percent DV.”

That’s not a bad place to be. The poppy flower certainly has made its way into movie history, with the unforgettable scene in the Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch of the West places a sleeping spell over a field of red poppies. Unsurprisingly, poppies have been a symbol of sleep, peace, and even death (back to those Greeks and Romans again–and their myths).

Poppies have been worn as a symbol of remembrance, due to the trench war in France that took place in a poppy field during World War I. According to the Telegraph, there were nearly half a million casualties on all sides. People around the world honor their losses by wearing poppies.

Some species of poppies can grow to four feet tall, with blooms six inches across, while others are much, much smaller. They do have four or six petals, are used as a pollen source by bees, and some varieties are popular in wildflower seed packets here in the United States. I know, because when we purchased our home eight years ago, there were wildflowers everywhere. The only flowers in that bunch that I didn’t mind were the poppies! Their bright red petals are so pretty, don’t you think?

Poppy Seeds in Muffins

As warm breakfast lovers, we eat a lot of muffins. If you are looking for a lemon poppy seed muffin that will satisfy–and that makes a nice mid-morning snack–this one is it. With or without a glaze, I think you will love them.

If you enjoy this recipe, please take a look at a few of my other muffin recipes.

Best Muffin Recipes: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

Yield: 12 Muffins (more or less)

Serving Size: 2 Muffins

Best Muffin Recipes: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, Separated
  • 1 1/3 Cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Poppy Seeds
  • 2 Lemons, Zested
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Buttermilk or 1/2 Cup Plain Vanilla Yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Grease Muffin Tin. Set aside.
  3. Cream Butter and Sugar.
  4. Add Egg Yolks and beat well.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients, including Lemon Zest and Poppy Seeds.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with Buttermilk, Vanilla, and Lemon Juice. Do this two times. (I combined these items and alternated with dry ingredients as stated)
  7. In another bowl, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form (I skip this step and throw the whole egg in at Step #3). Fold into batter.
  8. Spoon into prepared pan 3/4 full.
  9. Bake 350* for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  10. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing.


I've substituted Orange Peel for the Lemon Peel and Milk in place of Buttermilk in a pinch with no issues. Same great taste!

Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is little Indiana!

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About Jessica Nunemaker

Jessica Nunemaker is the Owner of little More than a website, little Indiana is a PBS segment on the state-wide program "The Weekly Special," a bi-weekly column in a local newspaper, and soon to be a book! Look for "little Indiana: Small Town Destinations" published by Indiana University Press in early 2016--just in time for Indiana's BIG 200th Birthday Celebration! Jessica Nunemaker is happy to speak about small towns, creating community, or Indiana tourism at your next event, large or small.

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  1. Jessica Nunemaker

    Glad your family loves them too! :)

  2. Yum. These are delicous. A hit with the whole family. The beaten egg whites make them nice and light.

  3. Jessica Nunemaker

    Happy to hear it!

  4. Jessica Nunemaker

    Glad you enjoyed them! :)

  5. Just made these muffins. Sooo what I needed! Very good (and followed your tweaks).

  6. Great recipe!!! This is a definite keeper :)

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