Free Bonus: 5 Secrets to Stress-Free Dinners

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting [+ Video]

47 Reviews

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting – it’s the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

Hi there! It’s Fiona stopping in from Just So Tasty, and today I’m sharing this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

From Poppy Seed Muffins to Cake!

It’s a soft, buttery, perfectly moist lemon cake that’s dotted with poppy seeds and topped with cream cheese frosting. It’s one of my favorite cakes, and it’s the perfect dessert if you love lemon poppy seed muffins.

The inspiration for this cake came after a friend gifted us with a poppy seed roll. It was a yeast bread with a swirl of poppy seed filling, and absolutely delicious. As I was having a slice with a thick slather of butter, it got me thinking about poppy seed recipes and I realized I hadn’t made any in a very long time.

So – this lemon poppy seed cake was born.

We have an entire video of exactly how to make it, so check it out!

 

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

For the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

The lemon poppy seed cake starts with real butter for extra flavor. We’ll cream together the butter and sugar, then mix in the eggs and vanilla. Then we’ll alternate between adding in the sour cream and the dry ingredients. And finally the lemon juice, lemon zest and poppy seeds are stirred in.

How to Make Your Cake Moist

For this lemon cake, we’re using sour cream because it makes the cake crumb oh so soft and perfectly moist. Just make sure it’s room temperature for easy mixing.

Then for the best lemon flavor, we’re using a combination of freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest. Make sure that you don’t use lemon juice from the bottle, otherwise the flavor will be too sour.

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

After the cake is done baking and cooled, it’s time to make the cream cheese frosting. Simple, creamy, a little tangy, and the perfect pairing for this lemon cake. We’ll first beat together the cream cheese and butter, then slowly add in the powdered sugar along with a little vanilla extract and lemon juice.

You’ll want to make sure both the butter and cream cheese are well softened to avoid lumps in the frosting, but otherwise it comes together with very little effort.

Can You Freeze Poppy Seed Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting?

You can freeze Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream cheese frosting  is ideal for freezing.

It is sturdy, with plenty of fat, and it will do better in the freezer than a more delicate meringue-based icing.

Just wrap the cake well and freeze.

Thaw before serving.

OR You can freeze the cake before it is frosted. Wrap your cooled cake in plastic food wrap.

Then wrap in tin foil or place in a plastic freezer bag and remove the air.

Thaw the cake completely and then frost.  

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

Do Poppy Seeds Have Nutritional Value?

Poppy seeds add color and crunch to baked goods, but you’ll also gain nutrients, even from the amount sprinkled on top of a roll. They contain some niacin and folate, but poppy seeds are a better source of minerals. Just 1 teaspoon provides measurable amounts of calcium, iron and zinc.

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

I brought this lemon poppy seed cake with cream cheese frosting over to a family dinner, and there wasn’t even a tiny sliver left over. It’s buttery, moist, filled with fresh lemon flavor, and the cream cheese frosting is everything that you’d want it to be. Seriously – if you love lemon, you need to try this cake!

Does a Glass Dish Require More Cooking Time Than Metal?

A reader recently asked if her cake pan that is a glass dish requires more cooking time than a metal dish does and as it’s such a good question I wanted to mention it here.

Glass heats up slower but holds on to heat longer, so you may require a little more baking time. To help us not over bake this cake we like to open the oven at the end and let the glass dish cake rest for up to 4 minutes more before removing it from the oven to cool.

More CAKE RECIPES You Have to Try:

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.24 from 47 votes
Servings: 15 -18
This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is soft, moist & deliciously buttery with a fresh lemon flavor. Dotted with poppy seeds & topped with cream cheese frosting - it's the perfect dessert for lemon lovers!

Ingredients

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2-4 tablespoons poppy seeds I used 3 tablespoons

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

For the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
  • Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  • In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Then beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Using the electric mixer on low speed, beat about 1/2 of the sour cream into the butter mixture followed by about 1/2 of the flour mixture.
  • Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the sour cream and flour mixture.
  • Fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice and poppy seeds using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Once the cake is cooled, make the frosting.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until evenly combined.
  • Then slowly beat in the powdered sugar followed by the vanilla & lemon juice.
  • Frost the cooked cake using a flat edge knife & serve

Notes

*Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days or on the counter.
Nutrition Facts
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 448 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Polyunsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 92mg31%
Sodium 196mg9%
Carbohydrates 60g20%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 43g48%
Protein 5g10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Lemon Loaf

Super soft & moist lemon loaf with lemon glaze is bursting with fresh lemon flavor. Seriously better than the Starbucks version.Super soft & moist lemon loaf with lemon glaze is bursting with fresh lemon flavor. Seriously better than the Starbucks version.

Lemon Jello Cake

This Lemon Jello Cake is perfect for anytime of year. The fresh tastes of summer or to brighten the winter holiday meals.

quick and easy, moist lemon jello cake is pretty much our all time favorite dessert right now!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Oh, Sweet Basil on Instagram

Want more of our family, recipes, and all our shenanigans?

Check us out on Instagram and be sure to tag us @ohsweetbasil #ohsweetbasil for a chance to be featured!

Free Email Series 5 Secrets to Stress-Free Dinners

About the authors

Cheney Family

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

Leave a comment

34 comments

  • Could I use my jelly roll size pan? And the time would stay the same?

    • Reply
    • Yes! The bake time will be slightly less. I would start at 20 minutes and check it. Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • 3 CUPS of powdered sugar for the frosting? That can’t possibly be correct.

    • Reply
    • Yes that is correct. It needs that much to balance out the cream cheese and butter and to cover the whole cake.

      • Reply
  • How long would I bake if I were to make this as cupcakes?

    • Reply
    • I would start with 18-20 minutes.

      • Reply
  • Hi! Can I substitute the sour cream with 0% Greek yogurt? If yes, will it affect the overall taste of the cake?

    • Reply
    • Hi, We haven’t tested doing that but we’ve done it in other cakes, so you should be fine. It’s just not as thick and fatty so you may lose some density

      • Reply
  • Hi,

    I used a glass pan and, while the toothpick came out clean after 30 minutes, the center of the cake fell after I took it out of the oven. I’m a novice baker – what did I do wrong? Does the glass dish require more cooking time than metal?

    Thanks so much!

    • Reply
    • Hi Liz,

      The drop in temperature is most likely the issue. We like to open our oven and bring the temperature down a little, then remove it a minute or two later. A glass pan takes a little longer to heat up and then holds on to the heat so it can occasionally need a few extra minutes. This is why we let it sit in an open oven as the temp won’t be as high and won’t drop too quickly but will still help it be baked well.

      • Reply
  • Hi, can I use a 9×13 glass baking dish rather than a metal one?

    • Reply
    • Yup! The baking time might be a little different, so I’d just watch carefully 🙂

      • Reply
      • I used a Pyrex pan and it took an extra 20 minutes to test done.  

  • I made this yesterday to bring to work and it was devoured right away. My frosting was kind of heavy and limp and I think it’s because I used fat-free cream cheese (I know I’m an animal, it’s what I had on hand), which never seems to whip up nicely. This is a keeper!

    I will be posting pics to my Instagram later and will be sure to tag you. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
    • haha, I love when people say “I know I’m an animal” when referring to making subs. We always have the lower fat cream cheese on hand and we go for it anyway as well. Can’t wait to see it!

      • Reply
  • I made this last night for my roommate whose birthday was back in August as a belated birthday cake. First of all I did use 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds. My bake time was off as each oven is different. I baked mine an additional 6 minutes and it was perfect! He loved the lemony taste with the fresh lemons opposed to bottled lemon juice. However I did cheat with the frosting and used lemon from the bottle. The frosting was super easy to make and oh tasty! Thanks for the great recipe! I know I’ll be making it again.

    • Reply
    • So happy to hear that and thanks for taking the time to comment on your bake time, I’m sure that will help others. xoxo!

      • Reply
  • Baked it last night… Will serve it at a baby shower today…

    • Reply
    • Hope you enjoy it!

      • Reply
  • Hello! So i made this 2 nights ago and it is delicious! My husband especually loves it. We’re big fans of anything Lemon poppyseed 🙂

    I put it in the fridge with an airtight seal and now it’s become incredibly dense. Still tastes amazing but its like cutting through fudge or something. Did I do something wrong or is this normal?

    Thank you!!!

    • Reply
    • Hi Robbie,
      There’s no need to refrigerate so it probably just condensed down in the cold. 🙂

      • Reply
      • Oh okay. On the very bottom of your recipe it says to refrigerate 😊
        Thank you!

      • Would I use half the ingredients for a 9” round or square pan??
        Thanks so much!

      • Yes, that should work. The baking time will be reduced a little too.

  • This was amazing! The combination of lemon and cream cheese icing was awesome!

    • Reply
    • So happy to hear you liked it!

      • Reply
  • I’m guessing that’s a 1/4 cup of butter for the frosting?

    • Reply
    • Yes – thanks for the catch! 🙂

      • Reply
  • The recipe sounds delicious and I’d love to try it. What is the purpose of the corn starch in the cake batter though I have never seen that in a cake recipe before.

    • Reply
    • All purpose flour and cornstarch are a substitute for cake flour. So it makes the cake lighter and gives the cake a more delicate crumb 🙂

      • Reply
      • Can just cake flour be used? 2 and 1/3 cups? Thank you.

      • Yup! That would be fine 🙂

  • This looks like one of those recipes that looks/feels a bit dainty, but has a powerhouse of flavor. I am gonna try this!

    • Reply
    • Perfectly said!

      • Reply

Free Email Series 5 Secrets to Stress-Free Dinners