These plant-based Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins have a tender texture with a bright lemony flavor and optional lemon drizzle. They may just become your favorite muffin recipe!
Lemon poppy seed has never been one of my favorite flavor combos but these muffins somehow rise above that mediocre flavor (IMO) profile and transform into a muffin that's light and airy and perfect with a cup of Earl Grey tea. You're going to love these easy Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins!
Gluten free baked goods are sometimes dense and gelatinous, but not these muffins! The crumb is perfectly tender and light.
The lemon flavor isn't muted but remains bright even after baking. The key is to use lots of fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Using bottled lemon juice or lemon extract doesn't give the same acidity and brightness as fresh lemon juice.
History of the lemon poppy seed flavor combination
The refreshing and unique flavor combination of lemon and poppy seed has been a popular ingredient pairing for centuries. The first written mention of the two ingredients being used together dates back to the late 16th century in the Netherlands, when they were combined with honey and dusted with sugar to make a light-tasting snack cake.
Throughout Europe, this treat was often served at weddings and christenings as an alternative to heavier cakes.
By the mid-19th century, lemon poppy seed cakes had become a mainstay in bakeries across Europe and beyond. In France, the cake was known as Gâteau de Maïs au Citron et à la Graine de Pavot, while in Germany it was referred to as Mohnkuchen. It also gained popularity in North America during this time period, where it became one of the most popular flavors of pound cake.
One of the earliest recipes for lemon poppy seed muffins can be found in Fannie Farmer’s 1896 cookbook The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Since then, variations on this classic recipe have appeared in many other cookbooks throughout the years. In particular, these muffins proved popular during World War II as they were easy to make using rationed ingredients and required minimal preparation time.
In recent decades, lemon poppy seed has become well known for its versatility in both sweet and savory dishes. Savory dishes like pork or beef roasts are frequently flavored with a mix of lemon and poppy seeds, while sweet treats such as cupcakes or jams can also benefit from their delicious flavor combination. Considering how long ago it first made its appearance in cookbooks around the world, it is clear that lemon poppy seed is here to stay!
Even though lemon poppy seed has never been a personal favorite, it's clear that it's a winner all around the world. Maybe it's my love affair with chocolate that keeps me from going all in on loving anything other than a chocolate muffin but I'm slowly realizing that there's more to the world than chocolate...not much, but a bit 😉
Ingredients in Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- Almond flour - you'll want super-fine almond flour but this recipe is forgiving so if you have natural almond meal on hand feel free to use it!
- All-purpose gluten free flour - I always use Bob's Red Mill 1:1
- Oat flour - you can purchase oat flour but it's also really simple to make your own! Just place a few cups of rolled oats into a high-speed blender and blend until a fine flour is formed. Transfer to a sealed container and store at room temperature!
- Poppy seeds
- Baking powder
- Sea salt
- Baking soda
- Plant milk - I use unsweetened plain almond milk but any plant milk will be perfect
- Olive oil - I try to avoid added oil in most things these days but I adore a rich olive oil in these lemon poppy seed muffins. The olive + lemon flavor combo is delicious! If you want to skip the oil, plain unsweetened applesauce works great! If you're using oil but don't want to use olive oil, you can use coconut oil, avocado oil, or any other oil you like.
- Maple syrup - you can also use date syrup or agave
- Vanilla extract - vanilla paste is also really great in these, as is fresh vanilla bean but extract is what I have on hand most often and I bet you're the same?
- Fresh lemon juice + zest - see above, no bottled juice here!
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Are you ready for how easy this recipe is? Just one bowl is all you need to make these lemon poppyseed muffins! First, Preheat oven to 450° F and line a muffin tin with paper liners then follow the steps below:
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Stir in the wet ingredients.
Divide the muffin batter evenly between 12 muffin cups, transfer to the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350° F and bake for another 10 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving or storing.
Hint: for bakery style muffins, use a jumbo muffin pan and fill the cups almost to the top.
As noted above in the ingredient list, there are some easy substitutions you can make. But since this recipe is already gluten free and vegan, the only dietary sub is making these oil-free and possibly nut-free.
- Oil-free - instead of olive oil, use applesauce
- Nut-Free - Unfortunately, I haven't tested this recipe without almond flour so I can't be certain if the recipe would work well without almond flour. Maybe just increasing the GF flour would work? If you give it a go, please let me know how it turns out in the comment section below!
Adding a lemon glaze
If you want to use a glaze, simply whisk together some powdered sugar and lemon juice until a glaze is formed. I use about 1 cup powdered sugar per 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Drizzle the glaze over the muffins before serving.
You simply need a mixing bowl, muffin tin, muffin liners, and a whisk and a spatula.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, oat flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, sea salt, and baking soda.
- Stir in the milk, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix until no dry flour remains. Mix in the lemon juice and zest.
- Divide the batter evenly between 12 muffin cups, transfer to the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350° F and bake for another 10 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving or storing.