Perfectly tender, warm lemon zucchini muffins that would be great with a mug of hot tea or coffee. Smear on a little butter and enjoy!

scattered lemon zucchini muffins on white marble with tiny flowers

I’ve got the post long weekend blues!

It’s been a super chilly week here in Houston. The temps dipped below freezing, and for me, that means. 1) a big pot of warm chili or a pot roast 2) a fire burning in the fireplace and 3) a baking project. 

This weekend all I could think about were warm muffins. Something wintery tasting but speckled with fruit, berries, or veggies. I finally settled on warm lemon zucchini muffins. They’re heavily adapted from the blueberry muffins that I’ve shared with you in the past, only this time, I swapped the blueberries for a heaping cup of grated zucchini and the buttermilk for a homemade version. My grocery store seemed to be out of buttermilk. But I feel that it ended up working out better this way. So much lemony goodness here!

These zucchini muffins are sure to make the whole crew happy!

close up of one lemon zucchini muffin with crinkly sugar top

This isn’t the first time I’ve made zucchini muffins. There’s a chocolate chip version on the blog as well. However, over the years, my tastebuds have seemed to back off from chocolate-flavored-everything. Don’t get me wrong; there are still sporadic chocolate cravings that pop up out of nowhere. See my mocha almond cups or my Nutella pie for further proof. As I get older, I find myself wanting something that pairs better with a cup of coffee in the morning or warm chamomile tea in the evening. And these lemon zucchini muffins fit that craving perfectly.

They’re warm and loaded with a few select spices, almond and vanilla extract, and last but not least, a generous sprinkling of freshly grated lemon zest. Here’s a tip, whenever you use lemon zest in a recipe, grate it directly over the sugar and then using just your fingertips rub the sugar and zest together. Just that little step makes a huge difference regarding lemon flavor! Now of course, since we’re creaming the butter and sugar together in this recipe, I didn’t shove my fingers in there. I just let the hand mixer do the job for me!

broke muffin showing the inside texture speckled with poppyseeds

Ingredients needed to make lemon zucchini muffins:

  • grated zucchini
  • flour
  • sugar
  • butter
  • baking powder
  • extracts
  • lemon zest
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • eggs
  • ‘buttermilk’
  • poppy seeds

One ingredient that really sets these zucchini muffins apart from other recipes is the almond extract (affiliate link) is an ingredient that I often use when making muffins. Up until recently, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this stuff. To tell you the truth, I still reserve almond extract for just a few select muffins, but zucchini muffins make that list. It elevates the flavors and gives it more of a bakery-style quality! A local brunch joint here in Houston makes a zucchini load that is just to die for. I’m pretty sure they add a hint of almond extract to it because these muffins taste really similar to their loaf.

How to make buttermilk in a pinch:

Combine the milk and the lemon juice in a measuring cup and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Doing so will make homemade buttermilk and add more of that lemon flavor to these muffins. Of course, if you’ve got buttermilk in the fridge, feel free to use it in place of my homemade version! The acid in the ’buttermilk’ helps these muffins rise nice and high!

bowl with all the ingredients for zucchini muffins topped with freshly shredded zucchini

How do you grate the zucchini?

Place a cutting board down. Rinse your zucchini, you’ll need one smallish zucchini and a grater. I use the coarse side of my grater. Grate the zucchini then place it in a sieve set over a bowl (or your sink) and allow any excess liquid to drip through. If your zucchini is particularly watery, give it a good squeeze before adding it to the muffin batter.

How to make delicious lemon zucchini muffins:

It’s simple!

  1. Start by combining the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar together and add the eggs one at a time. Then the extracts.
  3. Alternate the buttermilk and the flour until everything is combined.
  4. Fold in the poppy seeds and the grated zucchini.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the muffins and bake. 
  6. Serve warm!

muffin pan lined with white muffin liners filled with muffin batter

Why you should avoid overmixing:

You want to mix the ingredients until they’re just barely moistening the dry ingredients. I know, when you see those small lumps of dry batter, you want to keep stirring until smooth, it’s human nature, but don’t! Over mixing the batter will create too much gluten production leaving you with a tough or dry muffin. Not what we want!

Why sprinkle sugar on top?

The sugar on top gives these muffins a distinct color and crunch. So addicting that way but you can certainly omit it if you’d rather keep it simple.

Do I have to use poppyseeds?

No, you don’t! You can simply omit them from the recipe or swap them for chia seeds to pack on a little more nutrition. Totally your call! 

muffin pan with freshly baked lemon zucchini muffins

Can these be made gluten-free?

Yes, I think it should work! I haven’t tried it with these zucchini muffins, but I have with my blueberry muffins, and it works perfectly. I’m confident it should with this one too!

Swap the all-purpose flour with a 1-1 baking mix, such as this one.

Warm Lemon Zucchini Muffins - these muffins are tender as can be and loaded with spices and zucchini. So good you'll never make any other zucchini muffin recipe again! #zucchinimuffins #lemonzucchinimuffins #lemonpoppyseedmuffins #muffins #baking |

What’s the best way to store them? Can I freeze them?

These muffins will last a few days if left on the counter in an airtight container. However, I have my doubts you’ll have any left to preserve them!

Yes, you can freeze these muffins! Just bake them, allow them to cool to room temperature. Then, place them in a freezer zip-top bag (or box) and freeze them for up to 3 months. Allow them to defrost in the refrigerator overnight or pop them in the microwave straight from the freezer for roughly 20-40 seconds.

stack of two lemon muffins with a bite taken out of the one on top

Yield: 12 muffins

Warm Lemon Zucchini Muffins

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Perfectly tender, warm lemon zucchini muffins that would be great with a mug of hot tea or coffee. Smear on a little butter and enjoy!

Warm Lemon Zucchini Muffins


  • 1¼ cup grated zucchini
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon EACH: kosher salt, ground nutmeg, AND almond extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup and 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons EACH: vanilla AND lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds


  1. PREP: grate the zucchini and place it over a sieve to allow any excess liquid to drip out. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line muffin pan with paper baking liners and set aside. 
  2. DRY INGREDIENTS: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.
  3. MAKE: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute. Then, add 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar and lemon zest and cream together for roughly 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides. With the mixer on the stir setting, add the eggs one at a time and waiting until each is mixed in well before adding the next. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Add half of the prepared flour mixture, followed by all the milk and lemon mixture, and then finally the remaining flour until it is well blended, but make sure you don’t over mix. Stir in the grated zucchini and the poppy seeds until *JUST COMBINED.*
  4. BAKE:  Divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle the muffins with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for 4 minutes. Then, drop the temperature to 375ºF. Bake the muffins for 18-22 minutes or until the muffins are done when tested with a toothpick. Cool for a few minutes in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • combine the milk and lemon juice and let it sit for 5 minutes before you add it at the end of step 3.
  • sometimes I like to swap the poppy seeds for chia seeds
  • if you have unsalted butter, just up the salt to ½ teaspoon total.
  • leftover muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days and kept at room temperature. You can also pop these into a zip top bag and freeze them for later.

Have you made this recipe?

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below. You can also share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #LITTLESPICEJAR, I'd love to see what you made!

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