Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread stacked on a plate.

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.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake in a stack.

Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Bread

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices


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

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

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