Ultra moist and fluffy, these Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins are the perfect treat for breakfast or dessert! They are perfectly sweet and full of lemon flavor with a super tender crumb--and they’re really easy to make too!
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for details.
Hey Internet, I LOVE muffins but I’m pretty picky about them. I don’t want the texture to be like cake, but I also don’t want it to be dense. I don’t want it to be bland. I want EXCITEMENT.
And these muffins are PURE EXCITEMENT! They’re fluffy and tender but they’re also moist (sorry!) and springy and perfect. They’re full of sweet lemon flavor and topped with a tart lemon glaze that’s just chef’s kiss beautiful.
I kind of already love muffins… I’ve got vegan cranberry muffins, vegan lemon blueberry muffins, vegan savory muffins, vegan chocolate banana muffins (gluten-free), and even vegan egg muffins which are only really like muffins in the sense that they’re made in a muffin tin, hah.
And I love anything lemon--this recipe is similar to my vegan lemon loaf if you’ve tried it.
Anyway, this recipe is super simple and easy to make, and the muffins are SO DELICIOUS. Hence all the writing in capslock, hehe.
Why This Recipe Works
I have to admit, this recipe required a lot of tests. Most baking recipes do for me, honestly.
I’m not the worst baker but I definitely would love more experience doing it. Trouble is I don’t have enough people to pawn my baked goods off on. My husband loves them but even he can’t eat them all up, especially when I’m testing multiple batches a day!
But baking is definitely an area I feel less confident in. Sometimes I make silly mistakes like forgetting the leavener or leaving them in the oven for too long. And sometimes I just don’t know how to solve a problem I’m having, so I have to keep changing a variable and testing and retesting.
That’s what happened with this recipe for vegan lemon poppyseed muffins. I had great lemon flavor, but the muffins just wouldn’t rise, or they’d rise and then sink. Even though the texture was great, the sinking was not cool.
So I researched and learned that excess acid (in this instance it was the lemon juice) can inhibit the rise. In response, I reduced the lemon juice.
That helped, but it wasn’t enough. I continued experimenting and found success once I increased the baking soda (not the baking powder). It was the chemical reaction between the acid and the baking soda which increased the rise of the muffins--so the imbalance of those two was causing my rising-and-falling issue.
But that’s why we test, and that’s why I test and retest multiple times to get you the perfect recipe that won’t require a bunch of iterations on your part.
Because that’s not why you come to a recipe blog like mine. You’re here for great recipes and I’m here to give you great recipes. It’s a balance just like baking soda and lemon juice. :)
Did that simile work? Was it cute? I hope so.
Anyway, I really hope you’re going to love these simple and easy to make vegan muffins!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Non-dairy milk: I use unsweetened non-dairy milk as the base to make vegan buttermilk in this recipe. I used almond milk in this recipe, as the soy milk I usually use makes the muffins a little browner and I wanted the yellow to shine through on these muffins! Any unsweetened non-dairy milk will work.
- Lemon juice: We need an acid to curdle the milk to make the vegan buttermilk--but also to activate the baking soda. Fresh lemon juice is perfect since we’re making vegan lemon poppyseed muffins. If you don’t have fresh lemon juice you can substitute apple cider vinegar or another vinegar.
- Organic cane sugar: I say organic because, in the United States (I hear this is not the case in Canada or the UK), some cane sugars are filtered through bone char from animals, making them not vegan, and brands aren’t required to disclose this information. So while some brands have stepped forward and said that they don’t do this, I just buy organic to be sure. That being said, coconut sugar will also work; just keep in mind your cake will be a little darker in color. Coconut sugar is also a more intense flavor, similar to brown sugar which may overwhelm the lemon flavor in the recipe.
- Lemon zest: This adds a lot of lemon flavor to the recipe without inhibiting the rise. Lemon zest tends to clump, so I like to mix it with the cane sugar to distribute it evenly. I used about a tablespoon or so of lemon zest, from about 2-3 small lemons.
- All purpose flour: I’ve only tested this recipe with unbleached all purpose flour (I usually bake with Trader Joe’s flour, although I also often use Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Baking Company). If I were to make this recipe gluten-free, I’d use a good quality cup for cup gluten-free blend. I’ve personally used and loved King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour and Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour. I’ve also heard good things about Cup4Cup.
- Baking powder and baking soda: Leaveners! Using the two together creates the perfect rise for these muffins.
- Salt: I used iodized table salt in this recipe as I wanted the fine grains to blend well in the batter--my sea salt is a little bit larger grained. Either will work.
- Vegan yogurt: This is a great way to make the muffins super moist and fluffy without any oil or much fat at all. Use a thick non-dairy yogurt, nothing thin or drippy. I love Kite Hill, but Forager Project and So Delicious are also good choices. If you can’t find one, you can substitute unsweetened applesauce or the thick part of a can of full fat coconut milk.
- Vanilla and lemon extracts: For flavor. If you can find the lemon extract it’s super delicious in this recipe. I can usually find mine in the baking and spice section of my grocery store.
- Poppy seeds: The most important ingredient for vegan lemon poppy seed muffins? Poppy seeds! I love the crunch they give the muffin like these little pops of crunchy among the tender and soft muffin. Find them in the spice, baking, or nut and seed section of grocery stores.
- Organic powdered sugar: This is used to make the optional glaze along with a little extra lemon juice and extract. The tart lemony glaze adds extra lemon flavor to the muffins and it’s a great combination.
How to Properly Measure Flour
We want to measure our flour by weight, not by volume. When you scoop flour out of a bag or tin with a measuring cup, you're packing it in there and not necessarily getting the same amount each time.
What's better is to use a food scale with a tare function (allowing you to zero out the scale after you've put the bowl on it so your bowl isn't playing a factor in your equation.
Working in grams, put your bowl on the scale and zero it out. Scoop the flour into the bowl until you reach the desired measurement.
How to Make Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins Step by Step
- Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius). I know that seems high but trust me on this! Get out your muffin pan too. I like to use this hybrid silicone muffin pan because it has a metal frame but silicone cups, making it easy to get the muffins out and they don’t stick (they’re quite low in fat so silicone makes a difference). Since I have a silicone pan I like to put a plain baking sheet underneath it to keep everything even.
- Make the vegan buttermilk: Simply pour the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and the non-dairy milk into a measuring cup or small bowl (I prefer the measuring cup as it has a spout) and whisk (or mix with a fork) to combine. It may separate after a few minutes which is totally normal! Just give it another quick mix when it’s time to add it to the dry mix.
- Make the lemon sugar: Add the sugar to a medium bowl and add the lemon zest (use a microplane or zester to zest the lemon(s)). Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar, separating the zest as you go. This will help distribute it as you go.
- Mix the dry ingredients together: Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk them together. Then add the lemon sugar and whisk that in too. Use a spatula to create a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- Give the vegan buttermilk a quick mix and add the vegan yogurt (or applesauce), vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Give everything a good mix.
- Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the well you created in the bowl of dry ingredients. Fold the mixture in, but don’t over mix. It will be very thick. Gently mix until you just see streaks of flour. Add the poppyseeds and gently mix again.
- Add the mixture to your muffin pan but don’t overfill the cups. About ⅔ to ¾ full is plenty. I like to use a large cookie scoop to fill them quickly and easily.
- Bake the muffins on the center rack for 7 minutes and then WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR, turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 20-23 more minutes. The not opening the oven door is important. When we bake the muffins at 425 at first, we’re helping the muffins rise. Then lowering the heat without opening the door will help them bake perfectly and evenly. They’ll still be super moist and fluffy but with good color and height. You don’t want to let the heat escape by opening the door--that will cause muffins to sink. Muffins are done when they’re light-medium golden brown and a toothpick comes out with tiny crumbs or comes out clean.
- Let the muffins cool completely before glazing. Make the glaze by whisking powdered sugar together with lemon juice and a little lemon extract if you like. Let the glaze set for 10-15 minutes and enjoy!
- Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days. They also freeze well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, poppy seeds are perfectly safe to eat! But you can always leave them out if you prefer and this recipe will be just as delicious.
They are the best texture for the first 2 days but will last about 4-5 days in an airtight container on the counter.
You can absolutely freeze them! Freeze in an airtight container or a zippered freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost on the counter overnight and enjoy in the morning, maybe reheated with a little vegan butter, yum.
I love this hybrid silicone muffin tin because it has a metal base inside the silicone, but the cups are still flexible. Nothing sticks in this pan, and it’s super easy to get the muffins out. All you do is push them up from the bottom of the cup and they pop out easily. Otherwise usually Wilton nonstick muffin tins are good quality.
Expert Tips for the Perfect Muffins
- Use a thick non-dairy yogurt, nothing thin or drippy. I love Kite Hill, but Forager Project and Silk are also good choices. If you can’t find one, you can substitute unsweetened applesauce or the thick part of a can of full fat coconut milk.
- Don’t overmix! I like to mix my dry and wet ingredients separately and gently fold them together with a spatula. If you see powdery streaks still, don’t worry. Add the poppy seeds and do one more gentle stir. It should look fully incorporated. If it just won’t come together, add a tablespoon of non-dairy milk.
- I like to use a large cookie scoop, slightly heaping, to fill my muffin cups quickly and easily.
- If you don’t want to use a glaze, try sprinkling a bit more of the lemon sugar (lemon zest + sugar) on top of the wet batter loaded cups before baking for a delicious sugar crust.
- If you are using the glaze, you can either drizzle it off a spoon or if you want a cleaner look, pour it into a zippered plastic bag and cut the top off. Carefully drizzle the glaze over the muffins while they’re on a cooling rack on top of a sheet of parchment or something else easily cleaned up.
More Recipes Like This
- Vegan Lemon Loaf
- Vegan Matcha Pound Cake
- Gluten-Free + Vegan Banana Bread
- Vegan Hummingbird Cake
- Vegan Tres Leches
- Coffee and Walnut Cake
- Vegan Coconut Cake
- Vegan Apple Cake
Never miss a recipe! Join my mailing list to receive a free copy of my e-book on my go-to plant based recipes as well as vegan tips, NEW recipes straight to your inbox. I promise to NEVER spam you or sell your information.
Finally, did you know I have books? Visit my shop page to see the various e-books (even a print book!) I have available. My best seller is Plant-Based Jewish Recipes, and I’m in the middle of a second volume of that as well as a new book in the works that focuses on one of my favorite gluten-free vegan proteins.