This Lemon Poppy Seed Bread recipe uses a lemon cake mix and lemon-flavored dry instant pudding mix, making this an easy quick bread that yields 2 delicious, moist, and lemon-flavored loaves.

Overhead photo of Lemon Poppy Seed Bread on a white rectangle plate resting on a blue cloth.

I love this lemon poppy seed loaf cake because it has the perfect balance of flavor, not too sweet and not too tart. The lemon juice in the glaze on top adds an additional lemon flavor, without being overpowering to the loaf. 

By adding the dry instant pudding mix and having the right ratio of fat (oil) and dry ingredients (from the cake mix), we get a moist bread that isn’t as dense as a pound cake but isn’t as airy as cake. Dare I say, it’s the perfect texture.

A loaf of Lemon Poppy Seed Bread drizzled with a white glaze against a white background, with yellow lemons stacked on a plate near the loaf.

Ingredients 

Bread

  • Lemon cake mix box — Yes, this is a doctored bread recipe, meaning we use a cake mix as the base, but trust me — it’s amazing!
  • Package dry instant lemon pudding mix — Make sure it’s the dry lemon pudding mix and not the already-made-into-pudding option. This adds an additional lemony flavor and a soft consistency to the bread.
  • Poppy seeds — For the iconic look and taste! 
  • Vegetable oil — This is the necessary fat we need for a moist crumb.
  • Water — For added liquid.
  • Eggs — Acts as a binding agent and aids in the rise.

Glaze

  • Powdered sugar
  • Lemon juice — Preferably fresh lemon juice.
  • Milk — Any % will do, the milk is merely helping the glaze achieve a pourable consistency.
Ingredients used to make lemon bread on a baking sheet: lemon cake mix, water, oil, eggs, lemon pudding mix, and poppy seeds.

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Bread with Cake Mix

  1. Prep pans.
    Spray 2 regular-sized loaf pans (8″x4″ or 8″x5″ pans) with nonstick cooking spray. I use the kind with flour in it to ensure there is NO sticking. You can also use 4 mini loaf pans instead. 
  2. Mix.
    Place all of the “bread” ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. 
  3. Divide & Bake.
    Divide the batter between the loaf pans and bake for 35-40 minutes for the larger loaves or 20-25 minutes for mini pans. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  4. Cool.
    Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before removing them from the pan. 
  5. Make the Glaze.
    Whisk the glaze in a bowl until smooth. Add more powdered sugar or more milk/lemon juice for a thinner/thicker glaze. Spoon the glaze over each warm loaf. Let glaze set before slicing and serving.

Tools Used for This Recipe

Bread pans — The pans I linked to here are 8″x4″ inch bread pans, great size for this recipe!

Mini bread pans — Can make this recipe into 4 mini loaves if you prefer. Mini loaves are great because they’re the perfect size to give away to friends and neighbors.

Mixing bowls — You’ll use the small (for the glaze) and medium bowl (for the bread mix) for this recipe.

Hand mixer — I use this mixer and love it!

Recipe Tips

The glaze should pour or drizzle well. You shouldn’t need to spread it. Add more milk or lemon juice until it reaches a drizzle consistency. 

To amp up the lemon flavor you can add lemon zest to the bread and/or glaze.

Add some fresh lemon zest as a garnish on top just before serving! Or dress it up even more (if you’d like) with some candied lemon slices on top!

Try my lemon poppy seed muffins from scratch recipe — with a yummy crumb topping!

You can use chia seeds instead of poppy seeds if you’d like, too.

Let the bread cool to about room temperature (if you can wait that long!) until cutting — this will keep it from breaking as you cut. 

A slice of lemon poppy seed bread on a white plate with a fork next to the slice.

FAQs

Why does my quick bread have a crack on top?

That’s a good sign! When quick breads expand properly, a crack will form on the top. This is due to the top of the bread cooking quicker than the inside. While the inside is cooking, steam escapes out of the top, forming the crack. However, if you don’t have a crack, that doesn’t mean that your bread hasn’t performed well in the oven. Your oven temperature, altitude, bake time, oven rack location, etc. can all affect the bake.

Can you freeze lemon poppy seed bread?

Yes! Don’t glaze your bread, and let it cool completely. Once cooled wrap the loaf/loaves in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Place in the freezer. The quick bread will last up to 3 months in the freezer. On the day you want to eat it, pull it from the freezer, remove the aluminum foil (keep the plastic wrap on) and let the bread thaw completely. Prepare the drizzle and apply to the top of the bread. (You can warm the bread for 20-30 seconds in the microwave if you’d like so the drizzle warms on the bread a bit.)

What is a quick bread?

Quick breads are loaves that use baking powder or baking soda (or both) as leavening agents instead of yeast.

A fork cutting into a slice of lemon poppy seed bread on a white plate.

Clearly, I LOVE Lemon Recipes. Check out these favorites:

If you make this recipe and love it, I would be so grateful if you come back to leave a rating and review. Thank you! ❤️

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

This easy lemon bread is so soft, fluffy, and moist and it's topped with a sweet lemon glaze. This recipe is bursting with lemon flavor! Perfect for spring and summer or whenever you need a cheerful snack or treat. You won't believe how fast it comes together (5 minutes). This recipe makes 2 regular size loaves or 4 mini loaves.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Servings: 2 loaves

Ingredients
 

Bread

  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 3.4 oz instant lemon pudding mix - dry
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice - freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Equipment

Instructions
 

Bread

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 — 8"x4" or 8"x5" sized loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray (or you can spray 4 mini sized loaves instead). I use the kind with flour in it to ensure there is NO sticking.
  • Place all of the “bread” ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. 
  • Divide the batter amongst the loaf pans and bake for 20-25 minutes for mini pans and 35-40 minutes for the larger loaves. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. 
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before removing them from the pan. 

Lemon Glaze

  • Whisk the glaze in a bowl until smooth. Add more powdered sugar or more milk/lemon juice for a thinner/thicker glaze. Spoon the glaze over each warm loaf. Let glaze set before slicing and serving. 

Nutrition

Calories: 1236kcal (62%)Carbohydrates: 154g (51%)Protein: 13g (26%)Fat: 67g (103%)Saturated Fat: 48g (240%)Cholesterol: 328mg (109%)Sodium: 383mg (16%)Potassium: 209mg (6%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 104g (116%)Vitamin A: 475IU (10%)Vitamin C: 9mg (11%)Calcium: 187mg (19%)Iron: 2mg (11%)
Course: bread, Dessert
Cuisine: American
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