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This lemon poppy seed loaf is a moist, tender, and absolutely delicious treat with the perfect amount of poppy seeds for a bit of crunch and a tangy, sweet icing. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it a copycat of the famous lemon loaf from Starbucks – but I think you’ll find it’s even better!

Indulge in this delectable lemon poppy seed loaf topped with icing.

If you’re a fan of the lemon loaf from Starbucks, you’ll be thrilled to know that this is a spot-on copycat version that you can enjoy anytime. It’s moist, tender, and perfectly tangy!

If you’re a fan of this recipe, you’ll definitely want to try some of my other lemon recipes. From the always popular lemon blueberry poppy seed loaf and the surprisingly delicious lemon zucchini bread to the elegant lemon almond scones with a tasty lemon glaze, there’s something here for everyone

A lemon poppy seed loaf on a plate with lemon slices.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Moist: This loaf is incredibly moist and stays that way for days, thanks to the buttermilk. It’s the perfect comfort food, especially when you need a little pick-me-up.
Perfect Icing: The thick, sweet icing on top perfectly complements the tangy lemon flavor, making each bite a true flavor-packed treat.
Better than Starbucks: Do you miss the loaf they sold at Starbucks? It tastes just as good, if not better and it’s so easy to make it at home. Trust me, you’re going to love this recipe!

Indulge in a delicious lemon poppy seed loaf topped with icing, inspired by Starbucks' famous recipe.

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Recipe Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Flour: The structure of our lemon poppy seed loaf. It’s a versatile ingredient that is a staple in baking.
Lemon: We’ll be using both the juice and the zest of this citrus fruit to add a tangy flavor to our loaf.
Buttermilk: This is a trick to make our lemon poppy seed loaf extra moist and tender.
Poppy seeds: These little seeds not only add a slight crunch but also a pop of contrasting color to our loaf.
Icing sugar mixture: A simple mixture of icing sugar, lemon juice, and milk is used to make a sweet and tangy glaze to drizzle over the cooled loaf.

Ingredients for a lemon poppy seed loaf on a gray background.

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Prepare the loaf pan: Preheat your oven to 350F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Combine the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Prepare the wet ingredients: In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then mix in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Combine the wet and dry mixtures: Alternately mix the buttermilk and the flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients, mixing just until everything is combined.
Finish the lemon poppy seed loaf batter: Mix in the poppy seeds, then pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan.
Bake: Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow loaf to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.
Prepare the lemon loaf glaze: To make the glaze, simply whisk together the icing sugar, lemon juice, and milk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaf.

A blue baking dish with lemons and poppy seeds, perfect for making a lemon poppy seed loaf or cake.
A person pouring lemon juice into a bowl with a spoon to make icing for a lemon poppy seed bread.

Substitutions and Variations

Change the flavor: Try this recipe with orange juice instead of lemon and add the zest of one orange. You can also add some fresh or frozen berries for a different fruity twist.
Different forms: If you prefer, you can make this in a muffin tin instead of a loaf pan. It’ll only take 20-30 minutes to cook that way. Or you could add the mixture to a square cake tin and make poppy seed cake bars.
Add Eggnog: Replace the buttermilk with eggnog for a Christmassy treat. This is a great option if you want to make a special glazed loaf recipe for a holiday or other special occasion.
Different toppings: You could add some nuts to the batter or sprinkle them on top. Or, instead of the simple lemon icing, you could use a cream cheese frosting.

A delicious lemon poppy seed loaf drizzled with icing - a starbucks copycat treat.

Serving Suggestions

Condiments: Extra icing can be a great addition to your lemon poppy seed loaf. If you have a sweet tooth, you can add a bit more icing on top to make it extra indulgent.
Desserts: Ice cream is always a good idea to serve with any kind of cake or loaf. The contrast of the cold, creamy ice cream with the soft, sweet cake is always a hit. You might like to try lemon ice cream or sorbet for a more intense lemon flavor.

Lemon poppy seed bread on a cooling rack.
A delightful lemon poppy seed loaf drizzled with icing, reminiscent of a Starbucks copycat recipe.

How to Store Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

Store: Keep your lemon poppy seed loaf fresh by storing it in an airtight container. It’ll stay fresh and delicious on the counter for up to 4 days.
Freeze: You can freeze your lemon poppy seed loaf! Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and it’ll keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

A loaf of lemon poppy seed bread on a plate with fresh lemon slices.

Top Tips 

Use fresh ingredients: When making this Starbucks lemon poppy seed loaf copycat recipe, use fresh sweet lemon juice and a micro-plane zester to grate the peel off the lemon. Fresh lemon zest adds a great fresh lemon flavor to the cake.
Soften your butter: Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature before you start. This will make it easier to cream with the sugar and incorporate air into the batter for a lighter cake.
Don’t overmix: When adding the dry and wet ingredients, mix until just combined. Overmixing can lead to a denser, less fluffy cake.

A loaf of lemon poppy seed loaf with slices of lemon on top.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake FAQs

Why Is there a large crack on the top of my loaf?

A large crack on the top of your loaf is not a bad thing, it actually shows that your cake has risen well. However, if you’d prefer a more even top, try making a
little dent in the middle of the batter before you put it in the oven. This can help it rise more evenly.

How can I ensure my loaf doesn’t stick to the pan?

If you’re not using a non-stick loaf pan, you might want to use parchment paper. Let it overhang on both sides of the loaf pan. This will let you lift the cake
out of the pan more easily and can help prevent sticking.

Can I make this loaf vegan?

You might be able to make this recipe vegan by using a butter substitute and an egg replacer. However, I haven’t tested it this way so I can’t guarantee the

Is there a way to make this recipe gluten-free?

You could try making this with a gluten-free flour blend. Look for one that you can substitute in the same quantities as the all-purpose flour and that already
contains xanthan gum, to help with the texture.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Recipe

5 from 54 votes

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

By: Bella Bucchiotti
This lemon poppy seed loaf is a moist, tender, and absolutely delicious treat with the perfect amount of poppy seeds for a bit of crunch and a tangy sweet icing.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12 Slices


  • 2 Cup flour
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 3/4 Cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 Teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 Cup lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3/4 Cup butter milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoon poppy seeds


  • 1 Cup icing sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice , fresh
  • 2 Tablespoon milk , or more if needed


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. 
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set these dry ingredients aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer at medium-high speed. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat the wet ingredients until incorporated.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture and mix until almost combined, then add half the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and then the last half of the buttermilk, ending with the last third of the flour. Beat until just combined.
  • Add poppy seeds. 
  • Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • When the cake is done, let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Carefully transfer the cake to a cooling rack. Allow cake to cool completely.
  • For the icing, whisk the ingredients together until smooth. The icing should be thick and not too runny. Drizzle over cake.


Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 204mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 443IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This lemon poppy seed loaf is a moist, tender, and perfectly tangy recipe that’s not only a cinch to make but also a real crowd-pleaser. With the right amount of poppy seeds to add a bit of subtle crunch and a drizzle of sweet icing on top, it’s a true comfort food classic. Plus, it’s the perfect copycat of the lemon loaf from Starbucks!

Other Recipes to Try

Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.


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