Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Bread

Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Bread

This gluten free lemon poppyseed bread is a classic, with the subtle taste of fresh lemon from lemon juice and zest. And it turns out moist and tender every time.

Two slices of gluten free lemon poppyseed bread on a plate, one broken in half to show moist and tender crumb inside.

Lemon yes, lemonade no thank you

Most people love fresh lemons and most things they’re used to flavor, like this gluten free lemon poppyseed bread. But maybe you’re like me and don’t care for lemonade? It’s one of life’s little mysteries. ?

How to make this bread

This quick bread batter is made in a single bowl, and comes together very quickly. Like most baking recipes other than pastry, the ingredients must be at room temperature before using them in baking or they won’t incorporate fully into one another.

Zesting the lemon is easiest when the lemon is cold because the skin is taut. But I think you’ll find that even the lemon itself should be at room temperature when you juice it. If you haven’t let it come to room temperature ahead of time, just pierce it in two places with a knife and microwave the lemon for 20 seconds and juicing will be a breeze.

The batter is thick enough that it’s pretty easy to shape a bit in the loaf pan if you’d like. Just use a wet spatula to pull it away from the short ends of the pan a bit and pile it a bit higher toward the center.

Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Bread

Are poppy seeds gluten free and safe?

Pure poppy seeds without any additives are a naturally gluten free food. But as with dried spices, you want to be sure you buy a reputable source that you trust doesn’t include any fillers or anti-clumping agents. For most spices, and for these poppy seeds, I tend to buy McCormick brand and I feel very comfortable with those.

Something to keep in mind about poppy seeds, especially for government employees who are subject to random drug tests, is that eating them could cause you to fail a drug test (source)! Poppy seeds come from the same plant (the opium poppy) that is used to make opiates, and may have trace amounts. Not enough to make you feel the effects of the drug, thankfully, but enough to potentially confuse a drug test.

If you’d prefer not to use poppy seeds in this bread, you can just leave them out. They’re so tiny and solid that they don’t change the chemistry of the bread at all during baking.

Gluten free lemon poppyseed bread shown raw in a loaf pan from overhead.

Can I make this bread a different flavor than lemon?

This quick bread has a bright lemon flavor, but since we only use natural lemon flavors, the lemon doesn’t punch you in the face. If you’d like to intensify that lemon punch, try using pure lemon extract in place of the pure vanilla extract.

Believe it or not, I get a question like this every time I make anything that is chocolate (can I make it vanilla?), vanilla (can I make it chocolate?), or lemon (can I make it another citrus flavor? can I make it without lemon?). The answer is yes, but frankly why would you want to?

This quick bread is made to showcase its lemon flavor, similar to our gluten free lemon bars. Anytime lemon is used in baking, you can change the flavor from lemon to orange just by replacing the zest and juice from lemon to orange.

Freshly-squeezed range juice tends to have a less potent flavor than lemon juice, so I would recommend squeezing more juice and then reducing it by simmering it in a saucepan to make a more concentrated flavor.

You could also make this into a lime-flavored bread in similar fashion to the lemon bread. Or eliminate the citrus flavor entirely and make our recipe for gluten free chocolate chip yogurt bread instead.

Plated gluten free lemon poppyseed bread showing moist and tender crumb inside and crisp-tender crust.

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy: To replace the butter with a dairy-free alternative, I recommend using Melt or Miyoko’s Kitchen brand vegan butter. If you can’t find one of those vegan butters, you can try using half (3 tablespoons) Earth Balance buttery sticks and half (3 tablespoons) Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. 

For the sour cream, try using your favorite brand of dairy-free sour cream. Make sure you like the taste of it before using it for baking, which will deepen those flavors.

In place of sour cream, if you’re not dairy free, you can also use Greek-style plain yogurt. If you can find a dairy free Greek-style plain yogurt, use that!

Eggs: Each of the two eggs in this recipe should be able to be replaced with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). If you’re willing to cook and strain “flax eggs,” that might work even better.

Corn: In place of cornstarch, try using arrowroot powder or potato starch.


Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Bread

This gluten free lemon poppyseed bread is a classic, with the subtle taste of fresh lemon from lemon juice and zest. And it turns out moist and tender every time.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 loaf bread


1 3/4 cups (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (54 g) cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 medium-size lemon (about 3 tablespoons juice)

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (230 g) sour cream, at room temperature

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well, breaking up any clumps of lemon zest. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, sour cream, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, and mix to combine. The batter will be thick, so be sure to press down on the wet ingredients with the back of the mixing spoon to moisten the dry ingredients as you go.

  • Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and spread into an even layer with a wet spatula. For a more even loaf, with a wet, very sharp knife, slash the loaf down the center about 1/4-inch deep. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue to bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean and the top is lightly golden brown (another 15 to 20 minutes). Remove the loaf pan from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice thickly and serve.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipe unchanged; video and some photos new; text mostly new.


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