This Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake is made with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for a bold and delicious lemon flavor! The bundt cake recipe is made all from scratch! Plus, it has sour cream and oil in it to ensure the most tender and moist texture. Pair that with a delicious lemon glaze, this bundt cake recipe will wow everyone who tries it! 

For more delicious lemon poppy seed recipes, try my Lemon Poppy Seed Cake From Cake Mix, Lemon Poppy Seed Scones, Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies, and my Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Bread!

An overhead photo of a Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake topped with a white glaze with sliced lemons around the cake.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Moist lemon poppy seed bundt cake. I really wanted to make sure this cake was deliciously moist and tender! The recipe includes oil (which is the best fat to use in cakes since it is a liquid at room temperature) and sour cream! Using the additional sour cream will give the cake an extra added moistness! 
  • Bold lemon flavor. I tested this recipe multiple times in order to get it just right. This lemon bundt cake has a beautifully balanced yet prominent lemon flavor! We use fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice to get the truest and boldest lemon flavor. 
  • Topped with a lemon glaze. This lemon poppy seed bundt cake recipe is coated in a thin lemon glaze that seeps into the cake, which keeps it oh so moist, lemony, and delicious! Then it is topped with a thicker lemon glaze that give it the perfect presentation! 

Ingredient Notes

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake ingredients portioned into glass bowls on a cream textured background.
  • Flour: Regular, all-purpose flour works great here! 
  • Baking Powder: This cake was baked at sea level. If you’re baking at a high elevation you might consider following some of King Aurthur Baking’s tips on high-altitude baking. When baking at higher altitudes, the amount of leavened you need may change. 
  • Poppy Seeds: I use 3 tablespoons in this recipe, I love a poppy seed loaded cake!
  • Butter: If using salted butter instead of unsalted, reduce the amount of salt 1/4 of a teaspoon per 1/2 cup of butter in the recipe. 
  • Granulated Sugar: In addition to flavor, sugar helps lock in moisture within cakes, provides tenderness, and helps deepen the color of baked goods.
  • Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest: Using fresh lemons will provide a stronger and bolder lemon flavor!
  • Vegetable Oil: When you see a cake recipe that calls for oil, you’ll know the cake will be extra moist and soft! This is because oil is a liquid at room temperature, so when the cake is sitting at room temperature, the moisture in the cake doesn’t solidify.  
  • Sour Cream: Add sour cream gives us another source of fat in the cake to help increase the tenderness and moistness of the cake.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, leavening agents, salt, and poppy seeds.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar. Cream the sugar and butter for 2-3 minutes on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using hand beaters). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add remaining wet ingredients. Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla extract, fresh lemon juice, and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add flour and sour cream. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream, starting and ending with the flour. For example: flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour. Mix until just combined. Don’t over mix. The batter will be fairly thick.
  5. Add batter to a prepared bundt pan. Grease and flour your pan or use a baking spray that has flour in it. Spoon the batter into the bundt pan and level it off so the top is even.  
A Bundt Cake full of lemon poppy seed cake batter.
  1. Bake. Place the cake pan in a 350°F preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Mine baked for 44 minutes. The cake is done when you insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake and it comes out clean with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter.
A baked Lemon Poppy Seed cake in a bundt pan on a white background.
  1. Cool. Once baked, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool on the wire rack until just warm to the touch. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and let it continue cooling until room temperature. This will keep the cake extra moist.
  2. Make the lemon glaze. While the cake is cooling, whisk the fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract and sifted powdered sugar together until combined. 
  3. Drizzle the lemon poppy seed bundt cake with lemon glaze. Once the cake is cool, drizzle the lemon glaze overtop. Slice and serve!
A Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake topped with a white glaze on a white plate on a white background.

Recipe Tips

Use Plain Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream for a healthier option.

When combining the wet ingredients with the dry, do not over mix! Mix until just combined. Over mixing at this stage can make the batter tough, which will affect the bake and rise of the cake, resulting in an overly dense texture.

Use a baking spray that has flour in it. This is crucial! You need the flour in the spray otherwise your cake will stick to the pan and we don’t want that. Often times I’ll even grease and flour AND spray my bundt pan to ensure no cake is left behind. Bundt pans have designs in them, so the better greased and floured your pan is, the better!

I bake this recipe in a 10 cup bundt pan and never have problems! However, some readers have said they made it in the same bundt pan but theirs spilled over. You can bake in a 12 cup bundt pan if you think this might happen to you — or remove some of the batter. 

One thing I like to do with my glazed bundt cakes is to drizzle a few tablespoons of a slightly thinner glaze over the cake. Then add more powdered sugar to make it thicker and drizzle that overtop. This way some of the thinner glaze sort of seeps into the cake while the thicker glaze sticks to the cake accentuating the appearance. 

If the glaze is too thick, add a dash of milk or lemon juice to the glaze. On the other hand, if the glaze is too thin, add powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency.

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Store this cake covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

You may freeze slices of this poppy seed cake. Let the cake come to room temperature and cut into slices. Wrap each slice of cake in two layers of plastic wrap. Store in the freezer for up to 1 week. If wanting to freeze for longer, add an additional layer of aluminum foil and store in the freezer for 1-2 months. Remove and let thaw in the fridge.

A slice of Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake on a white plate.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use store bought lemon juice rather than fresh? 

Technically yes, but you need fresh lemons for the lemon zest, so I would recommend using the juice from the lemons. However, if you don’t have fresh lemons and still want to make this cake, use store-bought lemon juice and dried lemon peel instead. Note: This poppy seed bundt cake recipe calls for fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest. So the lemon flavor will be less prominent if you skip that detail. 

Can I substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream? 

Yes you can make this lemon poppy seed bundt cake with yogurt! I usually lean towards sour cream when I bake cakes because it has a higher fat content compared to yogurt. However, using Greek yogurt will offer a slightly healthier cake and still lend delicious results. If you plan on substituting yogurt for the sour cream, make a straight 1:1 substitution.

Can I substitute gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour? 

Yes, use a 1:1 substitution. You might need to add xanthan gum as well. Check the ingredient list on the gluten free flour bag to see if xanthan gum has already been added. If not, you will want to add xanthan gum to the recipe (which helps with binding and holding moisture for this cake). If you are looking for the best option for gluten free flour, I recommend Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour.

Do I need to alter my baking for high elevation? 

This cake was made at sea level, so if you’ve had success baking cakes that were made at sea level, go ahead and make this cake as is. Air pressure is lower at higher altitudes so you may need to bake your cake for longer. Upping the oven temperature can be risky with cake making. You don’t want the oven to be *too* hot because that can cause the cake to collapse. Cooks Illustrated is a great resource.

Do I have to use a bundt pan for this cake?

No you don’t. You can bake it in two 8 inch round cake pans. 

Can I make this into cupcakes? 

Yes you can! I haven’t used this recipe for cupcakes myself, but it should work. I would start with baking 1 test cupcake. Keep the oven temperature the same, but the bake time would probably be in the ballpark of 12-18 minutes. That’s why I suggest baking 1 cupcake to get the timing right. I’m also interested to see how the cake batter takes to the cupcake liner. You may want to lightly spray them with cooking spray to make sure they don’t stick so much. Be sure to fill the cupcake liner only 2/3 full. Expect around 24-30 cupcakes. 

A Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake against a white background.

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A Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake topped with a white glaze on a white background.
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3 from 2 votes

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

One of my favorite cakes! This lemon poppy seed bundt cake is moist, loaded with lemon-y flavor, and topped with a smooth lemon glaze.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Cool Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
 

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup butter - softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs - at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream - can substitute plain Greek yogurt in a 1:1 substitution.

Lemon Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice - or as needed to thin out glaze
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the oven rack in the center position of the oven. Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt cake (see notes). Set aside
  • In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and poppy seeds. Set aside. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla, lemon juice, and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined. 
  • With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour and sour cream, starting and ending with the flour. (Flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour). Mix until JUST combined. Don’t overmix. The batter will be fairly thick.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes. (Mine baked for 44 minutes). The cake is done when you insert a toothpick in the center of the cake and it comes out clean with a few moist crumbs on it but no wet batter.
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes in the bundt pan. Then, remove from the pan and cool until just warm to the touch. Once warm to the touch, lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and let it cool completely. (This little trick helps keep the cake moist! It's amazing!!)
  •  Once cool, glaze with the lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze

  • Whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. The consistency should be pourable but thick, almost like a thick syrup. Add more powdered sugar to thick it up, or more lemon juice to thin it out.

Notes

I bake this recipe in a 10 cup bundt pan and never have problems! However, if you’re worried it will spill over, you can remove some of the batter and bake that into cupcakes (see my FAQs). 

Nutrition

Calories: 872kcal (44%)Carbohydrates: 120g (40%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 41g (63%)Saturated Fat: 26g (130%)Cholesterol: 166mg (55%)Sodium: 468mg (20%)Potassium: 324mg (9%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 81g (90%)Vitamin A: 864IU (17%)Vitamin C: 8mg (10%)Calcium: 176mg (18%)Iron: 3mg (17%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Leave a star rating and review on the blog post letting me know how you liked this recipe! Take a picture and tag @saltandbaker on Instagram and Facebook so I can see what you’re making!