Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread

41 reviews / 4.8 average

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with zucchini, brown sugar, zested lemons, olive oil, ginger, and poppyseeds. The most healing breakfast or snack!

Oh. Me. Oh. My.

This just in: guess what I've made six times in the last two weeks? You're looking at it. I officially belong to the elite club of people who could live off of lemon poppyseed zucchini bread FOREVER.

Friends. You just take a minute right now and you drink in those virtual smells. Are you ready? The lemony oils with the coarse sugar. The spicy ginger. The lightly floral smell of the olive oil. The poppyseeds and all their cute little nuttiness.

This is a bakery meets spa situation and I cannot get enough.

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Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread slices.

Can we go to the food feelings zone for a second?

Something about this cake is inherently soul-HEALING. And in the grey-meh-bleh days when you find yourself leaving for work and returning home all in a blur, and where everyone and everything is recovering from being either body-sick or heart-sick, and life can just feel hard, healing is good. Healing is very totally necessary.

Ingredients for Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread.
Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread batter in a bowl and on a whisk.

Making this cake requires *just* enough work to remind you that good food takes time. We're grating zucchini and gently pressing out the water. We're zesting lemons and slowing down to smell the little curls of zest along the way because YUM. We're pressing our own olives to make... no, we're not actually. Thank you, Store Bought Olive Oil. We're just breathing in the olive oil as it drizzles into the batter. Is that allowed?

With ONE FULL CUP of olive oil in there and a big handful of poppyseeds (why so expensive, little guys? I don't understand it), this is less of a quick/easy/cheap situation and more of a love song to high quality, delicious ingredients.

Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread with sugar topping.

On a physical level, it is straight up aromatherapy.

On an emotional level, it is lemon-loaded love.


You know I love my sauces, toppings, and extras x10 on everything. But honestly, I'm here to tell you that this cake doesn't need any butter, any honey, any glaze or frosting or any anything. (!!) That's kind of a big deal.

All this zucchini bread needs is you on the couch with a house that smells like a bakery + spa combo, holding a warm mug of dark coffee and a few (dozen) slices of this bread. ♡

We are so FEELIN IT.

Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread sliced on a plate.

More Sweet Breads To Love

Common Questions About This Zucchini Bread

How can I make these into muffins?

To make these into muffins, follow steps 1-3 as listed, and then pour the batter into a greased muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins. Full recipe will make about 18 muffins. Alternatively, you can make these muffins.

How can I make this cake lighter in color?

Use half brown sugar and half white sugar. Or all white sugar. I've made this six times, a little different each time, but my favorite variation was the all-brown-sugar version (as written) which gives a darker, more caramel-like crust on the whole bread. It might seem a little dark at first compared to other loaf cakes, but give it a little time in the fridge and it will be magic in your mouth.

Is this best served hot or cold?

For whatever reason, I think this lemon olive oil cake tastes THE BEST when stored in the refrigerator. I cannot get enough of it. Just stick it in the fridge after you've eaten the first warm slice, and then the next morning treat yoself to the most dense, moist, luscious lemon olive oil bread.

Can you make this lower in sugar?

Yes, it's a lot of sugar in this recipe. I did try it with less sugar and while it tasted pretty good, the texture just wasn't quite there. I generally opt for less sugar in my recipes, but in this one, I really felt like the full sugar amount was necessary to achieve the best texture. The batter WILL taste overly sweet. Don't panic. It all evens out once it's baked.

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Lemon Olive Oil Cake in a stack.

Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread

  • Author: Skillful Cook
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices 1x


Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread with zucchini, brown sugar, zested lemons, olive oil, ginger, and poppyseeds. The most healing breakfast or snack!


  • 3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 zucchini)
  • grated zest of 2 large lemons
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar (packed softly)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • optional: tiny pinch of nutmeg
  • optional: a small grated piece of fresh ginger


  1. Drain zucchini: Preheat the oven to 350. In a small mixing bowl, mix the zucchini with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer set over the mixing bowl. Fill another small bowl with water and set it directly on top of the zucchini so that it is pushing down, pressing the water out into the bowl below.
  2. Add wet ingredients: Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Whisk together the remaining brown sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla until well blended. Beat in the olive oil gradually, whisking it in until it's thoroughly incorporated. 
  3. Add dry ingredients: Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds, nutmeg, and ginger until just combined. Add the pressed zucchini to the batter and stir it in gently until evenly incorporated.
  4. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. The outer crust of the bread will be firm to the touch and on the darker side of golden brown (see FAQs).
  5. Eat: Cool the bread in the pan for about 20 minutes. Remove, cut, and serve (but also see FAQs about chilling the cake which is unusually delicious).



Sugar Topping: Optional but crunchy and delicious. Remove from oven at 55 minutes, add 2-3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar (all it needed), and finish baking for the last 15 minutes.

Source: This recipe was inspired by the ginger olive oil zucchini cake on Food 52.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Category: Snack
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: lemon olive oil bread, lemon olive oil loaf, lemon bread, lemon poppyseed bread, lemon zucchini bread

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of easy zucchini recipes. Check it out!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I already skipped the Tao Bo work out and missed my spin class, so back in the kitchen for me to make this bread! You have won my heart with the poppy seeds and I think I will add both the ginger and the nutmeg for some serious spicy fun. I need some more spice in my life ~ I am becoming boring! But a lemon spin on zucchini? Can’t wait to munch on this!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Loved this! Everyone around me loved it, the whole loaf disappeared in a day!
      Looking to make this for a friend who is pregnant (in her 3rd trimester) and can’t have poppy seeds. I assume I would be okay to omit the poppy seeds altogether and there is no need for a replacement?


  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    oh whoa, it’s so sunny yellow (despite all that zucchini!). and normally i’d be tinkering with this and insisting on some sort of puckery lemon glaze, but if you say that it doesn’t need it, then it must be really good (and i need to make it asap!).

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Check out the Food52 version that I linked at the beginning of the recipe. She has a glaze that all the comments raved about but I just couldn’t even get that far because THE CAKE ALONE had me at first bite. 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Yes! Flax eggs work great. I’ve also had success replacing the flour with white-whole wheat flour and replacing half of the oil with applesauce!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi. Just made this and it is absolutely yum yum yum. Love the spice and zest 😋 totally changes the taste. Thank you!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I made the loaf vegan and it was delicious!! Gonna make again, but muffins instead How long would I bake if I made muffins instead?

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay! Lindsay!
    I just LOVE your writing style! You kickstart everyday for me with your humor & your take on the world! The real world we’re all living in!!
    Thanks so much!
    Be good !

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    So at the beginning you talked about how you’ve decided to live off of this cake forever…
    Which sent me down a rabbit hole of thought. Imagining a food blogger who always only posts the same thing every single post… different photos, always presenting it as though it’s brand new! Hahaha! It got me so tickled.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is a great recipe to make for the entire family! Olive oil may seem a bit daunting to put in a cake. In my opinion, you never know until you try!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh, snap! Can we talk about the “AIR CONDITIONING” situation?! Yikes! Prescription: Have a warm slice of this CRAZY, DELICIOUS olive oil cake. It will be warm where you are, and you will be the warmth. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Made this last night and it was by far the BEST bread I have made since my Covid induced seclusion mad baking started! I did add the ginger but only a desk of the spice, not fresh. Still is so yummy! Signed up for more of your recipes!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m a huge fan of olive oil in desserts! The combination with lemon, zucchini and poppy seeds must be to die for – I totally get why you would make it so many times 😀 I bet a single batch won’t last too long once I make this. And a ton of bonus points for this being perfect without frosting or icing – I hate how sticky everything (and everyone) gets when eating breads and cakes with sweet stuff dripping off of them

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks absolutely amazing. I am a gluten free blogger and wanted to see if it would be ok to post a gluten free modified version on my blog once I’ve experimented with the flours.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love love looovee olive oil and lemon in baked goods! It’s so different and has such a luxurious flavor. Thank you for featuring these healthful and underrepresented ingredients in this lovely recipe!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just wondering what I can use instead of brown sugar? Would coconut sugar be okay?