Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Sweet, simple, luscious glazed lemon poppy seed Bundt cake to bring sunshine to even the coldest of days.

overhead image of lemon poppy seed bundt cake cut into slices on a yellow plate

lemon poppy seed bundt cake in a bundt pan

When it comes to lemon desserts, what I run into often is finding the right balance between tart and sweet. And too much flavor vs. no flavor at all. But this lemon Bundt cake nails it. Lemon is worked into every single component:

  • Lemon poppy seed cake
  • Lemon simple syrup
  • Lemon glaze

Even when used in each layer, the lemon flavor doesn’t taste overwhelming. The cake itself is balanced out with sweet vanilla and rich buttery flavors. The simple syrup seeps into the cake creating that mouthwatering moist texture. And the lemon glaze on top? Well that’s just a given. What’s cake without some frosting?!

halved lemons

For the softest, most cakey texture (read: the best texture!)– I like to use creamed butter and cake flour in the batter. Creamed butter and sugar provide a deliciously cakey base for the recipe. And as you might remember from my red velvet cake, cake flour produces a sensationally soft cake. I don’t use it all the time for my cakes and cupcakes, but for Bundt cakes that are usually a little heavier, it’s just perfect. I actually ran out of it when I began making this cake. (A good reminder to  measure out all your ingredients before beginning a recipe.) So I used all-purpose flour with some cornstarch (this is a quick “DIY” homemade cake flour).

Bundt cakes have the tendency to be a little dry, so let’s use a few eggs for tenderness and buttermilk for a moist texture. Some poppy seeds add a sprinkle of light crunch and let’s use lots of fresh lemon zest and juice for flavor.

The simple syrup, which goes onto the cake as it cools, is crucial. I’ve been toying around with using simple syrups on cakes for the past few months. A drizzle of homemade lemon syrup over this cake puts it over the top. It gives the edges, which can dry out quickly, moisture and flavor. In fact, I ate the syrup-soaked edges of the cake before even making it to the center of the cake. They’re the BEST part.

So, the simple “soaking” syrup. It’s imperative. 

2 images of lemon simple syrup in a glass measuring cup and overhead image of lemon poppy seed bundt cake on a white serving plate

A light glaze made from confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice finishes things off.


slice of lemon poppy seed bundt cake on a white plate with a fork

overhead image of slices of lemon poppy seed bundt cake on white plates with forks

This blissful sunshine cake, everyone, is the epitome of lemon desserts. And the perfect cure for those cold winter blues. Kevin doesn’t even like lemon and he raved about this cake. The man also never raves about anything besides motorcycles and bikes, so that should be enough to convince you.

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overhead image of lemon poppy seed bundt cake cut into slices on a yellow plate

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This lemon poppy seed Bundt cake is full of fresh lemon flavor! Don’t skip the simple syrup; it’s the best part. Bundt cakes are usually a little heavier, so don’t expect a super light texture. Soft and cakey, most definitely. Avoid overbaking, which can dry out your cake. Read the recipe in full before beginning. You will need 4 and 1/2 large lemons total.



  • 2 and 3/4 cups (344g) all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 3 large lemons (about 1/4 cup, packed)
  • juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature

Lemon Simple “Soaking” Syrup

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup (120g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon (or 1 medium – 2 Tablespoons)


  1. Lower the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray the inside of a 10 inch Bundt pan with nonstick spray or grease thoroughly with butter. Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a large bowl. Whisk in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and poppy seeds. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter evenly into the Bundt pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake loosely with aluminum foil if you begin to see the top browning quickly. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes inside the pan.
  5. During this time, make the simple syrup. Combine the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Invert the slightly cooled Bundt cake onto a wire rack set over a large plate or serving dish. Spoon the syrup on top of the cake. Allow cake to cool, then place on serving plate before topping with icing/glaze. (Next step.)
  7. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Drizzle over cake. Slice and serve.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake and syrup through step 6. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 2 months. The flavor will be amazing after this time! Bring to room temperature and continue with step 7.
  2. Flour: 3 cups cake flour work here instead of using the mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
  3. Room Temperature Ingredients: Room temperature ingredients mix together more easily, evenly, and ensure a uniform texture in the cake.
  4. Buttermilk: Buttermilk helps produce a supremely moist cake. If you don’t have buttermilk, use whole milk instead. You can use lower fat or nondairy milks in a pinch, but the cake won’t taste nearly as rich and moist.
  5. Here is the Bundt pan I own and love. Heavy-duty, long-lasting, love the grip handles!
  6. Adapted from Make it Ahead by Ina Garten.

Keywords: lemon poppy seed bundt cake, lemon bundt cake


  1. I made this tonight (sans poppy seeds) and it’s amazing! We’ve already eaten half of it. Thanks so much.

  2. I made this this weekend for my sister’s birthday & she loved it!! She loves lemon & thought it was perfect. I want to make it again but I was wondering how it would work as muffins.

    1. Simply use a few muffin pans, fill the cups halfway (I suggest using cupcake liners), and bake at 350. Unsure of the exact baking time. This recipe will make a ton of muffins. You can try my orange lemon poppy seed muffins if you’d like:

  3. Thanks for this great recipe. My teenage daughter whipped it up last week for a get together. While it was tasty that night, we all agreed the leftover cake was even better the next day!

  4. I made this yesterday and we all LOVED it! I didn’t put the glaze on and we ate it as “strawberry lemonade shortcakes”. A slice of cake, a bunch of cut up strawberries and vanilla ice cream. It was SOOOO good! Thanks!

  5. Thank you for this recipe! What a wonderful cake! I made it for brunch for my family and I was so pleased. It has the perfect balance of sweet and sour. It is moist and just perfect. It was very forgiving as well. I did not sift all the dry ingredients and it still was just right. I am so glad I found it and it worked out so well, thank you so much!!

  6. This is in my oven right now – I wish I had smell-o-vision to send little smell-o-grams to my friends. The baking cake smells absolutely HEAVENLY!!! Lemon desserts are my favorite, too – I love the sour citrus flavor in desserts. I’m at bringing this to an easter brunch tomorrow so I can’t try it until then!! Agony! Thanks for another great recipe – I always come here when I need a kick-ass delicious dessert.

  7. Hey Sally! I’m making a wedding cake and wanted to use this recipe. Can I use a regular 9″ pan?

    1. Also, would I need to double the recipe?

      1. NO need to double the recipe unless you are making a very large cake. This recipe will fit nicely into two 9×2 cake pans.

  8. Hi Sally. I think this is the most DELICIOUS cake I have ever made! The lemon flavors came together beautifully. I was so pleased that when I took my cake out of the oven, it looked just like the cake in your picture! Your step by step instructions were very clear, I really appreciate that. The only substitution I made was chia seeds rather than poppy. The batter was enough for a good sized bundt cake as well as 7 muffins. Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe!.

  9. Hi Sally!

    This cake is absolutely fantastic! I made it today for my mom’s birthday and it turned out to be the best lemon cake I have ever had. My mother is a lemon dessert fan and loved it. My father explicitly said I should give a  five stars review to your recipe, and I totally agree with him. I can’t wait to try other recipes on your blog!

  10. What a wonderfully delicious cake!  I used a serving fork to poke holes in the top of the cake so the soaking sauce might soak more deeply into the cake. I’m not sure it did much good. What’s the most effective way to get the sauce to soak the deepest? Cool cake, warm sauce? Both cool? Both warm? I’ve also thought to use Grand Marnier for part of the soaking next time.  Have you ever used that? THANKS!

    1. Deb– poking holes is a great idea. Warm cake, slightly warm sauce will soak the most. Grand Marnier would be incredible! I haven’t tried it with this cake yet.

  11. Hello. I was wondering if I could make these into muffins? Would anything have to be changed? By the way the cake looks delicious! You’re very talented. I’ve made many of your recipes and they always turn out wonderful!

    1. No changes– just the baking time would be reduced. I’d say around 20 minutes. Thanks April!

  12. This recipe turned out incredibly well for my husband’s birthday cake! The next day it the glaze turned it into a donut-like cake! Simply put of this world! Thank you so much!!

  13. Can I substitute orange for lemon in this recipe and make this a orange poppyseed bundt cake? Same amounts on juice and zest, etc?

    1. Make this one (basically the same) and add poppy seeds 🙂 So good!

  14. this turned out very floury and dry even though i followed the recipe and measured everything exactly – used 300g of cake flour. It was really disappointing, not sure what happened:(

  15. Hi Sally,
    I baked this cake in a bundt pan and I also made one small cupcake at the same time (as a sampler so I could taste it without cutting into the cake!) The cupcake cooked perfectly (and was delicious!) but the centre of the cake sank. It never got the proper rise, and became dense and spongy instead. Any idea what I might have done wrong?

    1. Hi Caitlyn! I wonder if the cake was underbaked. That’s typically the reason why cakes sink in the center. Did you open/close the oven a lot during bake time? A change in oven temperature could also be the reason.

  16. What to do if you live in India where no huge lemons exist even in the fanciest of markets and the only thing you get is super thin-skinned lime, which even though adds a pretty amazing lemon flavor, but is almost impossible to zest, as the peel is so thin? Is there any other way round to jot down a lot of lemon flavor by using lemon juice and NOT any essences? If yes, will the addition of lemon juice make the batter over acidic? Would love to hear a suggestion. Thank you!

    1. I would suggest a lemon extract if you can get your hands on it.

  17. This cake was absolutely wonderful! So full of lemony flavor that lemon-lovers just raved about it! Three months after serving it, I’m still receiving compliments! I’ve got to make it again, soon!

  18. Absolutely fabulous.  Served at a baby shower and the only change was the addition of some strawberry juice to the glaze to make it pink! Beautifully moist, dense crumb.  Definitely going in the recipe folder.

    1. This is Ina Garten’s EXACT recipe for lemon poppyseed cake. I made it two weeks ago. I was just scrolling through Pinterest for more variations but this is completely plagiarized.

  19. Tried out this recipe for Father’s Day and it was a hit. I added in ½ cup of poppy seeds (as it gave the bundt a textural element). I also did not use the lemon soaking syrup and am glad because the lemon flavor from the zest, juice and glaze is plenty. I baked the bundt for 50 minutes but closely kept checking as to not dry it out–the crust was beautiful and golden with a fluffy lemony center. Great recipe!

  20. How much cake flour should be used in this recipe?

    1. See recipe note– enjoy!

  21. Can I use this recipe for mini Bundt cakes? If so, how long should I bake them?
    Thanks Sally!! You’re amazing and I love all of your recipes that I’ve tried 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah! Thank you for the sweet comment! You can use this regular size Bundt cake batter for mini Bundt cakes, but I’m unsure of the bake time.

  22. Hi Sally,

    Love your recipes so much! I make this recipe all the time as a bundt and it always goes down so well. I’m wondering how to adapt it to make in a loaf tin? What would you suggest? Different cooking time/temperature? Or do you think it would work better to adapt your lemon pound cake ( by adding poppy seeds and the lemon soaking syrup)?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kirsty! Thank you so much for the comment. I suggest making my lemon pound cake recipe instead. Add 1-2 Tbsp poppy seeds and you can brush with soaking syrup when it’s done. 🙂 Enjoy!

  23. Love your recipes ,always search for the cakes I want to make here first. Can I make this cake in a regular Cake pan? I just moved and left my bundt tin in another country Thank you!

    1. Hi Rania! You can use this batter for any size pan, but the bake time will vary. Fill whichever pan halfway with batter and use any extra for cupcakes/muffins.

  24. Hi Sally! I just turned this out of the bundt pan and am excited to try the finished product! I am curious though – have you ever made this and had a thin layer of the cake stay in the pan and leave a rougher looking texture on the outside of the bundt? It was the gorgeous golden brown that was still in the pan. I’m wondering if it’s because I used cooking spray vs. butter to coat the pan. I cooked 45 minutes until toothpick came out clean and let it cool in pan for 10 minutes. It didn’t release easily when I turned it over but let it sit upside down in the pan on a rack until it dropped out. Perhaps I should have let cool a tiny bit more in the pan…? Thanks for any insight! I know it’s going to taste delicious!

    1. Hi Shay! I usually use nonstick spray in my Bundt pans. There are just so many crevices and nonstick spray seems to get in everywhere it should! So anyway, I don’t think it was the cooking spray. It was likely the cooling OR it wasn’t actually baked all the way. I usually let my Bundt cakes cool completely in the pan but this recipe uses a sugar syrup for soaking into the warm cake. If you try the recipe again, cool the baked cake for a little longer inside the pan. Maybe 20-30 minutes instead. Bake a few extra minutes next time too. And don’t forget lots of cooking spray!

  25. I made this one for this week’s night shift!! I think I overcooked it a little so it was a bit dry. And would use leas sugar next time (I’m not an big sweet tooth) but it was nonetheless devoured!! Thanks for feeding us nurses- look forward to next lot of nights to try something else!!

  26. This was DELISH!! This cake wasn’t too sweet and had just the right amount of lemon taste to it, I LOVED this recipe! I didn’t add the poppy seeds only because I didn’t have any and I did not have a bundt pan so I used 2 loaf pans, it was cooked perfect at 40 mins in the loaf pans. Looks like I’m going out to buy a bundt pan cuz I’m definitely making this again! Thank you!

  27. Very refreshing summer treat. I halved the recipe for a 9×5 loaf pan and used 150g cake flour. The cake finished baking at exactly 40 minutes, but I added 3 minutes just for a bit of color on top. I poked holes into the loaf before pouring the syrup on top. Instead of lemon juice, I dissolved the powdered sugar in milk. I found the glaze a bit too runny (I like a thicker glaze), so I doubled the powdered sugar and just added a bit more milk. The cake’s texture was both soft and moist, and lemon lovers will be very happy with the flavor. Will definitely make it again.

  28. I make this cake every summer, minus the poppyseeds! its always a hit.
    this year, i forgot the buttermilk… ooops. (i just read your Chocolate Tuxedo cake story and felt better after hearing you once forgot to put the sugar in!). We didnt even notice buttermilk was missing, it was beautiful coming out of the oven and very fragrant! However, it fell into 6 pieces when i took it out of the bundt pan. Insert Sallys lemon buttercream frosting – YUM. I whipped that up quickly and made lemon cake balls. they were a HIT. thank you Sally for such a great volume of recipes that are so flexible.

  29. This is the most delicious lemon cake EVER. It makes a beautiful bundt and the syrup and glaze ands so much lemon flavor. This is a huge hit! You’ve got to try this.

  30. Martha Cárdenas says:

    Excellent recipe, thank you Sally

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