Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

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.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
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!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake From Scratch

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
Cindy Rahe

The Best Bundt Cake Pan

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.

More Great Lemon Recipes!

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 60 mins
Total Time 75 mins
Servings 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 kosher salt

Special Equipment

  • 1 (10-cup) bundt pan
  • Stand mixer


  1. Preheat the oven and 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
    Cindy Rahe
  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
    Cindy Rahe
    Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from Scratch adding the eggs
    Cindy Rahe
    Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake add the dry ingredients
    Cindy Rahe
    How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake add the milk
    Cindy Rahe
  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
    Cindy Rahe
  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
    Cindy Rahe
  7. 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
    Cindy Rahe
    Homemade Lemon Poppy Seed Cake drizzle with icing
    Cindy Rahe
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
584 Calories
26g Fat
83g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 584
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 34%
Saturated Fat 15g 76%
Cholesterol 124mg 41%
Sodium 320mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 83g 30%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 57g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 5mg 24%
Calcium 110mg 8%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 141mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.