Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

DessertBakingBundt CakeLemon

Three layers of lemon—in the cake, the syrup and the glaze—make this Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake extra lemony! This is easy cake is so dramatic and beautiful on a brunch table.

Photography Credit: Cindy Rahe

Bundt cakes like this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake are one of my favorite types of cake to make—they manage to be both a simple homey dessert and a showstopper. There really is nothing better for a home baker!

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For this bundt cake, I wanted to make a cake that was reminiscent of a pound cake with a fine, buttery crumb that had lots of lemon flavor and a generous crunch of poppy seeds.

To achieve that texture I wanted, it ultimately came down to the amount of butter. I tested the cake with 1 cup and 1 1/2 cup of butter, and more butter was definitely better.

The lemon makes its way into this cake in three ways: in the batter by way of lots of zest and some juice, in the tangy lemon syrup that soaks into the warm cake, and in the zippy lemon glaze that is drizzled over top.

And for the poppy seed crunch, I add a generous 1/4 cup of seeds. This ensures that every slice is speckled with seeds and every bite has a little crunch.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake


There are a ton of gorgeous bundt pans available on the market these days, and any 10-cup capacity pan will work with this recipe. I particularly like the Nordic Ware Heritage pan I’ve used here for its dramatic peaks and slopes.


Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings

You'll need 6 to 8 lemons total for this recipe.


For the cake:

  • 3 cups (374g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (43g) poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups (339g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest (from 4 to 6 lemons)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the lemon syrup:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar

For the lemon glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups (170g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Special equipment:


1 Prep the pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Generously spray a 10-cup capacity bundt pan with baking spray.

2 Mix the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Cake mix the dry ingredients

3 Make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and lemon zest, beat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition.

Whisk the lemon juice and buttermilk together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on medium-low, beat in a third of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the milk mixture. Continue to add the flour and milk, alternating between the two and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Homemade Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from Scratch adding the eggsLemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake add the dry ingredients How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake add the milk

4 Bake the cake: Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to make sure the batter settles into the crevices of the pan.

Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back to the touch.

Simple Lemon Poppy Seed Cake transfer dough to cake pan

5 Cool the cake: Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before unmolding on a wire rack. The cake should still be warm.

6 Make the syrup and drizzle over the cake: While the cake is cooling in the pan, make the lemon syrup. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat.

Brush the syrup over the still-warm, unmolded cake. You should use up all the syrup. Cool completely before icing.

Homemade Lemon Poppy Seed Cake unmold and brush with syrup

6 Ice the cake: To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar and lemon juice together, followed by 1 tablespoon of the milk and the salt. Whisk in additional milk as needed until the icing is thin enough to pour, but still holds a ribbon on the surface.

Spoon the icing over the cooled cake. This cake keeps well, glazed or unglazed, at room temperature wrapped in plastic for 3 days. (If glazed, let the glaze set until dry to the touch before wrapping in plastic.)

Simple Lemon Poppy Seed Cake make the icing Homemade Lemon Poppy Seed Cake drizzle with icing

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Cindy Rahe

Cindy Rahe is the recipe maker and picture taker behind Hungry Girl por Vida. She loves to bake from scratch and make things that taste as good as they look. Cindy was born near Seoul but grew up in California and Nevada. She believes strongly in homemade birthday cakes, creamy coffee, and making room for dessert.

More from Cindy

20 Comments / Reviews

No ImageLemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. SuSu

    It was really yummy. I reduced the sugar for the cake to 280 gms. And wasn’t able to get the cake to drink all the syrup.


  2. Ann

    Wow!..this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. I made a couple of small changes. I didn’t have buttermilk but I had 1/3 c heavy cream, added the lemon juice to that, then topped it off with some water. I live at 7,000′ elevation so I tend to either skimp on the moisture or add a little more dry ingredients – it works for me. Also, I just drizzled the lemon/sugar syrup on top after I turned it out of the pan. I brought it to work for a treat and it was loved!


  3. Karen

    This was delicious! I will definitely make it again. However, in the future I will increase the amount of confectioners sugar in the glaze to make it thicker; a lot of it ran off the cake last time.


  4. Helena

    Where I live there’s no buttermilk readily available. Can you recommend a substitute?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Denise

    Having made many bundt cakes in my life, this recipe looked straight forward and simple. However, after cooling my cake in the pan for 15 minutes, I turned it over with a wire rack and the cake did not come out. Tried a couple more times and then it fell out in many, many pieces. Talk about disppointing!
    If I make this again, I’ll let the cake cool for much longer and instead of cooking spray, I will grease and flour the pan-which is what I usually do for bundt pans (Nordic).
    Denise Shook Jones

    Show Replies (1)
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