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Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins (Gluten Free and Sugar Free options)

These vegan lemon poppyseed muffins are the fluffiest, lemoniest, poppy seediest (?!?), most delicious muffins you will ever have!  Drizzle a little icing over the top and you’ve got yourself a perfect breakfast treat.

Close up of one muffin bitten into

Hello, lemon poppyseed lovers.  I have a lot I can say about these vegan lemon poppyseed muffins, about this flavor combo, and about muffins and breakfast sweets in general.  But I’m going to forego all of that, and instead say that in writing this entry, I googled “lemon poppyseed muffins” because I had a weird thought and wanted to know when these muffins became a thing.  Like, did older generations also eat lemon poppyseed muffins, or is this flavor combination a newer fad?

Anyway, in this Google rabbit hole, I stumbled upon one of my favorite internet things I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.  This is a petition for Canadian Costco to bring back lemon poppyseed muffins, which apparently Costco had stopped selling due to poor sales.  And in the comments section, under the area that says “reasons for signing”, a wise person wrote “it’s the right thing to do.”

And that is where I will leave you in this section.  Eat lemon poppyseed muffins.  It’s the right thing to do. 

Artistic photo of completed muffins iced on a cutting board

How To Make Them:

There are three things I want to note about this recipe before getting into it. 

1-Similar to my Lemon Pound Cake, I lean on lemon zest for the lemon flavor, NOT lemon juice.  I find the zest is really what gives it the bright flavor you are looking for, and as soon as you start adding too much juice it can turn from delightfully bright and tart into sour and icky. 

2-I bake these vegan lemon poppyseed muffins at a lower temperature than usually used for muffins.  Most muffins bake best at 375 degrees F, or even starting higher at 400 or 425 for a few minutes.  However, the combination of doing these vegan, (optionally) gluten free, and the fact that there is no fruit or anything else inside that gives off moisture, I find it best to bake them at 350 degrees so they cook more slowly, and to pull them the moment they are done so they don’t dry out.

3-On this note of not drying out, I encourage using the icing for these muffins.  They are absolutely delicious without the icing, they don’t need this for flavor, it’s just to help keep them moist a little longer. 

Now that you know all the thoughts in my head, let’s get baking! 

Some prep work..

The first thing you want to do here is zest your lemons.  We have two steps that come right after zesting the lemons, so it’s best to get it done first.  I use two full lemons’ worth of zest in these muffins, but of course you can do a little more or a little less to your own taste.  Once zested, measure out the necessary sugar (see the Ingredients Needed section to learn how to make these sugar free!) into a small bowl, and mix the zest with the sugar.  The zest will be moist, which will turn the mixture into a crumb-like texture (first photo below). This perfumes all of the sugar with lemon, and is a great tool for making sure the lemon flavor is evenly distributed throughout the whole batch.

Next we want to make the vegan buttermilk, which can be done either by using the fresh lemon juice from the lemons you just zested (nothing goes to waste here!), or can be done with apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.  Haven’t made vegan buttermilk before? It’s so easy!  Basically you use non-dairy milk and mix it with a bit of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar, and let it sit for a few minutes to curdle.  This gives it a thicker texture and keeps the resulting baked goods extra moist and well formed.

Sugar and lemon zest in a bowl
Completed batter in a bowl

While your buttermilk is doing its buttermilk thing (aka- curdling), this is when I like to measure out the dry ingredients and mix them together in another small bowl.  I use two tablespoons of poppyseeds here, that’s the amount that I like best and exactly what you see in the photos, but similar to the zest you can use a little more or a little less to your own preferences.  

Making the batter..

To get the batter started, add the curdled buttermilk, neutral oil, vanilla extract, and applesauce into a large bowl and whisk together.  Important note here – the applesauce is optional.  If you do not have any on hand, don’t worry about going and getting some.  The muffins are nearly identical without it, I just find the consistency of the end result stays a bit more moist with the applesauce added. 

Once the wet ingredients are combined, add the lemon zest/sugar mixture and whisk again.  Finally combine with the dry ingredients and mix until it is smooth.  Pour into cupcake liners or a well-greased muffin tin, and bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.  Again, I know this is a lower temperature and time than you’re used to with muffins, but these don’t enjoy the luxury of having fruit or anything inside to keep them moist for longer, so you are best served by taking them out the moment they are cooked through so they retain as much moisture as possible!  Use a toothpick to test for doneness. As soon as the toothpick is coming out just with crumbs, not wet batter, take the pan out of the oven and move to a cooling rack.

Wet batter in a muffin tin
Baked muffins still in the tin
Icing!!

If you want to use an icing over the top once they’ve cooled, combine together either non-dairy milk or lemon juice with powdered sugar.  My personal preference is the sweeter icing, using non-dairy milk instead of lemon juice, but if you want all lemon flavor all the time then go that route instead!

And that’s it! Time to eat your delicious vegan lemon poppyseed muffins!!

Nutritional info can be found in the Notes section below the recipe instructions.

Storage:

Here’s the thing about muffins, especially vegan and gluten free ones – they lose their quality pretty quickly. If you are eating them all immediately, for which I do NOT judge you, then they will be fantastic. But if you want to enjoy them for more than a day or two, I’d recommend letting them cool, then within the day wrapping them in something air tight and freezing them. Saran wrap or a tupperware or a Ziploc bag. This way when the muffin craving hits, you just defrost one and it’s (nearly) as good as new!

Pro Tips & Tools:

  • Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups.  This will ensure accuracy!  I love this set.
  • Be a lemon master! Get the finest zest using this microplane, and get the most juice out of them using this juicer.
  • Missing any of the basics? Here is my go-to muffin tin, and my go-to cupcake liners.
One iced muffin surrounded by other muffins

Ingredients Needed:

  • Lemons – I use 2 for the zest, and this should be more than enough lemons if you’re also using the juice for curdling the non-dairy milk as well as making a lemon icing for over the top.
  • Non-dairy milk – any should do here!  I usually use soy.
  • Neutral oil – any should do here!  I always use grapeseed.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened applesauce – this is optional!  If you have some laying around, I find it keeps the muffins moist for longer.  But it is not needed for flavor, texture, consistency, or anything else.
  • Granulated sugar – If you want to make these sugar free, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of granulated sugar.
  • Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Poppyseeds
  • Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Powdered sugar – optional, for icing over the top. If you want this part to be sugar free, you can use this Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener in place of powdered sugar.

What To Bake Next:

Close up of one muffin bitten into

Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins (Gluten Free option)

The fluffiest, lemoniest, poppy seediest (?!?), most delicious muffins you will ever have!  Drizzle a little icing over the top and you’ve got yourself a perfect breakfast treat.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Total Time 32 mins
Course Breakfast, Lunch Box
Servings 12 muffins

Ingredients
  

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1-2 lemons’ worth of zest and juice
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup neutral oil
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce *optional, see notes
  • ½ cup + 3 tbsp + 1 tsp granulated sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see “Ingredients Needed” section for further info.
  • 2 tbsp poppyseeds
  • tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Icing Ingredients

  • ½ cup powdered sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite powdered sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice *can be subbed for non-dairy milk to make a sweeter icing instead of a lemon icing

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or grease the tin.
  • Zest the lemons – I like to use the zest of 2 lemons, you can do a little more or less to your own taste – and mix the zest in a bowl with the granulated sugar. 
  • Measure out the non-dairy milk and add in 2 tsp of lemon juice to curdle and create a vegan buttermilk consistency.  Let it sit for a few minutes until curdled, using this time to mix together the dry ingredients – flour, poppyseeds, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the curdled buttermilk, neutral oil, vanilla extract, and unsweetened applesauce if using.  Then add in the sugar/lemon zest mixture and whisk again until combined.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
  • Spoon the batter evenly into each liner, they will fill around 2/3 of the way up.
  • Place in the oven for 18-22 minutes.  You want to take these out as soon as they are done to keep the insides as moist as possible.  You will know they are ready once a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out with just crumbs, no wet batter.  Let them cool in the pan 5-10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  • If you are making the icing, mix the lemon juice (or non-dairy milk if you would prefer a sweeter glaze rather than a lemon glaze) and powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Adjust amounts if you’d rather a thinner or thicker glaze.  Drizzle over the top of the cupcakes.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Notes

  • Unsweetened applesauce – this is optional!  If you have some laying around, I find it keeps the muffins moist for longer.  But it is not needed for flavor, texture, consistency, or anything else.
 

NUTRITION INFO

Total amount: 12 muffins
Serving size: 1 muffin
Per serving amounts: (note – this does not account for icing)
  • Calories – 233
  • Grams of fat – 10.4
  • Grams of carbs – 32.1
  • Grams of protein – 3
Keyword breakfast muffins, gluten free muffins, lemon muffins, lemon poppyseed, lemon poppyseed muffins, vegan muffins
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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