My light and fluffy Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are filled with a tangy homemade Lemon Curd before baking - for the best mashup of a muffin and a lemon tart!
These muffins were inspired by my friend Sam and her lemon curd stuffed cookies. As soon as I saw them I messaged her that I had to make them - but as a muffin. She wholeheartedly agreed that this had to happen. It's happening Sam!
I have made more muffins than anyone I know. Really. When I was a night baker, firing the ovens at 2 o'clock in the morning, I would make dozens and dozens of giant and mini muffins. These might be the best muffins I've ever made. Seriously.
There are two components to these muffins: the lemon curd and the muffin. Let's see what you need for each!
- Special lemon notes - Here's a tip. Make sure to zest your lemons before juicing them. Don't ask me how I know, but trust me, you cannot zest an already juiced lemon.
If you need a third lemon to get enough juice for the curd, zest the third lemon onto a piece of parchment paper, place it in a zip top bag, and freeze it. It will thaw quickly when you are ready to make your muffins in the morning. And frozen zest will last up to six months in the freezer.
See recipe card for quantities.
Not having the exact ingredients doesn't always mean you can't make the recipe. Here are a couple of simple substitutions you can make.
- Buttermilk - if you don't have access to buttermilk, or don't want to buy a whole container for one recipe, you can make your own. Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice into one cup of milk. Let sit for 10 minutes to thicken.
- Yogurt - if you don't have greek yogurt, you can substitute with an equal amount of sour cream.
- Lemon juice - the great thing about lemons is they come prepackaged with their own zest. BONUS! But, if you don't have fresh lemons, you can use bottled lemon juice. It won't have the same fresh flavor, but the muffins will still be delicious!
- Lemon curd - This is the simplest recipe for lemon curd you will ever come across, but if you would rather use store-bought curd, get the best quality you can afford and carry on!
The great thing about citrus curds is that you can use any citrus you would like! No change in measurements is needed.
- Orange - orange curd is ridiculously bright and flavorful and substituting orange zest in the muffins is a snap.
- Grapefruit - can you imagine the sharp tang of grapefruit in these muffins? I sure can!
- Lime - give your muffins and curd that key lime vibe with a lime muffin and lime curd!
Two simple elements come together to make one fantastic Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin. Here's how to make the curd and the muffins best friends forever.
Unless you get up very early in the morning (like me), you'll want to make the lemon curd the night before, or up to two days in advance.
1a. In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, lemon juice, zest, and a pinch of salt.
1b. Cook over low heat until it thickens and will coat the back of a spoon, about 5 to 8 minutes.
1c. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, a small piece at a time, waiting for each piece to melt before adding the next.
1d. Transfer curd to a bowl, straining it through a fine mesh strainer to remove zest and cooked egg bits. Store with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid formation of a "skin".
This is essentially my Basic Buttermilk Muffin recipe with a few changes. There are three lemony additions to bring home the lemon flavor, and the addition of Greek yogurt makes the muffins even more light and fluffy, to support the lake of curd that will be baked on top!
2a. Add your lemon zest directly to the sugar and scrinch it together with your fingers.
2b. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, Greek yogurt, melted butter, vegetable oil, lemon juice, and lemon extract. Add poppy seeds and let soak for 10 minutes.
2c. Whisk the lemon sugar together with flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2d. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Don't overmix. A few lumps are okay.
2f. Press the back of a greased tablespoon into the top of each scoop, leaving an indentation.
2g. Use a small scoop, or a tablespoon, to drop a bit of lemon curd into each depression.
2h. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then turn down to 350°F for 18-22 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the muffin portion at the side comes out clean.
2i. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then enjoy! Caution! The lemon curd is very tempting, but also very hot! Once you remove the muffins from the pan, you might want to leave them to cool for another 10 minutes.
This recipe makes 8 jumbo muffins or 12 standard size muffins. You can purchase a jumbo muffin pan, like the one I have, or you can make them in fancy folded muffin liners, the way you see them displayed in bakeries. It's really a personal choice, but my preference is to use tulip liners in a standard 12 well muffin pan.
- Stir, stir, stir! When making curd, you are heating egg yolks, a whole egg, and lemon juice. If left alone, you will make very tangy scrambled eggs. Keep the mixture in motion with your whisk the whole time to avoid this.
- Keep it low. Don't try to speed the process along by increasing the heat. Low heat, along with constant whisking, will keep the mixture from scorching on the bottom and making burnt, tangy scrambled eggs.
- Strain it! Don't forget to strain your finished curd with a fine mesh strainer when putting it in a bowl. The zest has done its job of amping up the lemon flavor and straining will remove it. It will also remove any stray bits of cooked egg or shell that may be hiding in there.
- Use room temperature ingredients. When baking these muffins, it is important that all your ingredients be at room temperature. Room temperature ingredients are key to making a homogenous, velvety batter. Don't skip this step. Take your ingredients out at least 30 minutes before you are ready to start.
- Measure correctly. When baking, I always recommend weighing your major ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, and liquids. What I scoop as a cup may weigh as much as 30 grams less than what you measure! If you don't have a scale, measure your flour by fluffing it up with a spoon, scooping it into your measuring cup, and using the flat of a knife to level it out. Then charge your family for these delicious muffins so you can buy a scale!
Muffins are always best eaten the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a cake stand, or other airtight container until the next day. Since butter is solid at room temperature, they may eat dry.
To reheat, I recommend placing them in the microwave on high for about 10 to 15 seconds to take the chill off. They will be moist and delicious! (be careful as the curd will be hot)
Some people prefer to avoid poppy seeds. If you are one, feel free to leave them out of the recipe. You'll still have delicious lemon muffins, which sounds great to me!
Yes. You can substitute with an equal amount of sour cream.
More Lemony Recipes
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Curd
- Zest from 2 lemons
- ½ cup lemon juice from 2-3 lemons
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup buttermilk room temperature
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- In a small saucepan, whisk together your egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and a pinch of kosher salt until well combined.
- Place pan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. It will begin to thicken. Continue to cook until the mixture coats the back of your spoon and running your finger through leaves a nice clean trail, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Remove from heat and drop in your butter piece by piece, waiting for each bit to melt before adding the next one.
- Transfer the curd into a bowl, using a small strainer. Press the curd through the strainer with a rubber spatula to remove the zest and any possible cooked egg or shell bits.
- Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate at least two hours. After making the muffins, any leftover curd can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to two weeks.
- Zest one lemon into your sugar, before adding to the dry ingredients. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers to release the lemon oils and add more lemon flavor.
- Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.
- Whisk together all of the wet ingredients. Add the poppy seeds and allow to soak in the wet ingredients for 10 minutes.
- Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. Don't over mix. Just bring together until all the dry flour disappears. A few lumps are okay.
- To make jumbo muffins, use a jumbo muffin tim or use tulip muffin liners in a standard muffin pan. Scoop ½ cup of batter into 8 jumbo cups or liners.
- To make 12 standard size muffins, use a medium scoop or measuring cup, and fill each muffin cup ¾ full (about ⅓ cup).
- Spray the back of a tablespoon with nonstick spray and make a depression on the top of each muffin. Add one tablespoon of lemon curd into each depression.
- Bake at 425° for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes turn the oven down to 350°, without opening the oven door. Bake for another 18 to 22 minutes for jumbo muffins and 15 to 18 minutes for standard size muffins, or until a clean toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out with no crumbs attached.
- Allow to cool in the muffin pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool a bit more before eating. Careful the curd is hot!
- If you need the juice from part of a third lemon, zest it first and then place the zest in a single layer on a piece of parchment or waxed paper and quick freeze it. Once frozen, transfer the zest to a zip-top plastic bag. It will defrost quickly when you need it in the morning.
- Keep the curd mixture in motion with your whisk the whole time to avoid scrambling the eggs..
- Don't try to speed the process along by increasing the heat. Low heat, along with constant whisking, will keep the mixture from scorching on the bottom and making burnt, tangy scrambled eggs.
- Strain your finished curd with a fine mesh strainer when putting it in a bowl. This will remove the zest and any stray bits of cooked egg or shell that may be hiding in there.
The nutritional and caloric information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It does not assert or suggest that readers should or should not count calories, and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s or doctor’s counseling.