These soft and fluffy lemon muffins are easy to make! Whip them up in 5 minutes and bake them in 23 minutes for a quick and tasty breakfast or as a snack.
Upgrade them to party status with a streusel or cream cheese topping; you won’t regret it.
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You can expect a soft crumb, fluffy, light, and with the right amount of moisture.
Their flavor is a little sweet and slightly tangy. If you like sweeter lemon muffins, feel free to add the streusel topping or a cream cheese topping (recipes below).
Also, you can easily make this recipe dairy-free by substituting your favorite non-dairy milk for dairy milk, and since we don’t put eggs in the batter, the recipe is easy to make vegan.
We developed this lemon muffin recipe so that it’s easy to make with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
Most important tip: to make light, airy, and soft muffins that are not gummy, don’t overmix the batter, but rather stir it until just barely combined (that’s literally 10 seconds); there should still be some lumps.
Fresh ripe lemons with a fully developed yellow color are best. Under-ripe lemons with a pale yellow or green color will make your lemon muffins too sour.
We use both fresh lemon juice and grated lemon zest. They add plenty of lemon flavor; you won’t need lemon extract.
Since we are using the peel, you might want to get organically grown lemons.
All-purpose flour works great. Cake flour is also excellent.
To make the recipe more wholesome, you can use half-all-purpose and half-whole wheat flour.
We use white sugar. Any sugar in granulated form works, including brown sugar, coconut sugar, and palm sugar.
Coconut and palm sugar might be less sweet, so we recommend adding 25% more.
You can use any milk. We use unsweetened soy milk. All non-dairy milks work well.
Go for canola oil or sunflower oil for the lightest, fluffiest muffins.
If you like heavier muffins, more cupcake-like, you can substitute butter or vegan butter for oil.
You can use vanilla extract or the seeds in a vanilla pod. Lemon muffins need the vanilla aroma to shine.
Baking powder makes the muffins rise, allowing air to be trapped in the crumb, making the muffins light and soft. There’s no need for baking soda in this recipe.
Tip: make sure your baking powder hasn’t been sitting in your pantry for too long, and always check the expiry date.
Salt is optional, and you can omit it if you are on a low-sodium diet. However, it does add flavor and depth to the lemon muffins.
Make it with all-purpose or whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, butter or vegan butter, salt, and rolled oats.
Cream Cheese Topping
Make it with cream cheese (or dairy-free cream cheese), vanilla, butter (or dairy-free butter), and powdered sugar.
Make it with powdered sugar, vanilla, non-dairy milk, and lemon juice.
To a small bowl, add softened butter (or dairy-free butter), sugar, flour, rolled oats, and salt.
Smash and mix with a fork until coarsely combined. Set aside.
Lemon Muffins Batter
Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C. Line a 12-muffin pan (or two 6-muffin pans) with muffin liners or twelve 5-inch squares of parchment paper.
To a large bowl, add grated lemon zest and lemon juice.
Tip: always zest before squeezing the lemon, as doing the opposite would be very hard. Grate only the yellow part of the peel, as the white pith underneath is bitter.
Add milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla, and whisk the wet ingredients until well combined.
Sift in the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk or stir until barely combined (about 10 seconds by hand). Lumps are ok.
Tip: don’t over-mix batter. This is really important for making soft and fluffy muffins.
Bake Lemon Muffins
Pour batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling the liners 3/4 to the top. Cover the top with the streusel.
Note: we tried with and without streusel. The left side picture is without streusel; the right one is with streusel crumb topping. We prefer lemon muffins with streusel.
Bake at 350°F or 180°C for 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Let muffins cool down in the pan for 15 minutes, then take them out, cool down for 15 more minutes on a wire rack at room temperature, and enjoy.
Cream Cheese Topping
Beat the cream cheese ingredients together with a hand mixer until creamy. The butter (or dairy-free butter) should be softened.
Cover the top of the lemon muffins with the frosting.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make ahead: lemon muffins are a great make-ahead recipe because they stay soft for up to 4 days.
Room temperature: up to 4 days, in a cool corner of your kitchen. Keep them in an airtight container or plastic bag to stay moist.
Refrigerator: up to 1 week, in an airtight container or plastic bag. You can also individually wrap them.
Freezer: let muffins cool down completely, then transfer them to a freezer-friendly bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw: we find the best way to thaw frozen muffins is in the microwave with the thawing function. The muffin will get slightly warm, soft, and moist again.
Reheat: we like to reheat our leftover muffins for 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave. They’ll regain moisture as they warm up.
Over-mixing is muffin enemy number one because it develops the gluten in the flour, which makes the muffins gummy and dryer.
Preheat the oven and line your muffin pan in advance because you want to bake the batter as soon as possible to take full advantage of the baking powder’s rising power.
Don’t open the oven door
That’s baking rule number one. Don’t open the oven door while the muffins bake, or they’ll deflate.
It depends on your taste. We prefer muffins with oil (canola or sunflower) because they are lighter, moister, fluffier, taller, and softer.
You can substitute melted butter or vegan butter for oil if you prefer a shorter and denser muffin (more like a cupcake).
In general, we use oil for muffins and butter for cupcakes.
To make lighter and fluffy muffins, use neutrally flavored vegetable oil like canola oil or sunflower oil instead of butter.
Butter makes dense, heavier muffins. Oil makes tall, light, and fluffy muffins.
Also, avoid over-mixing the batter. Over-mixing develops the flour’s gluten, resulting in gummy, dry, and heavy muffins.
More Muffin Recipes
If you love easy muffins, get inspiration from these light and breakfast-friendly muffin recipes:
More lemon desserts
Get tangy and sweet ideas for your next dessert with these bright and yellow lemon desserts:
- 12-muffin tin (or two 6-muffin tins)
- 2 ripe lemons the grated zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup milk any, we use unsweetened soy milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour or half all-purpose and half whole-wheat
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons butter or dairy-free butter
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- To a small bowl, add softened butter, sugar, flour, rolled oats, and salt.Smash and mix with a fork until coarsely combined.
LEMON MUFFINS BATTER
- Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C. Line a 12-muffin pan (or two 6-muffin pans) with muffin liners or twelve 5-inch squares of parchment paper.To a large bowl add lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, sugar, oil, vanilla, and whisk until combined.
- Sift in flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Whisk or stir until barely combined (about 10 seconds by hand). Lumps are ok.
BAKE LEMON MUFFINS
- Pour batter into muffin tin, filling the liners ¾ to the top. Cover the top with the streusel.
- Bake at 350°F or 180°C for 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
- Let muffins cool down in the pan for 15 minutes, then take them out, cool down for 15 more minutes on a wire rack at room temperature, and enjoy.
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