Lemon Zucchini Bread (Recipe)

Slices of freshly-baked lemon zucchini bread on a white plate.

If you need a quick and easy recipe for brunch or for an afternoon snack, you should try our recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread. Combing the fresh tangy flavor of lemon, the moistness that zucchini provides, and the satisfying crunch of poppy seeds, this bread will become a favorite.

Preparation: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 45 to 60 minutes

Servings: 10 to 12 servings

A prolific summer vegetable, zucchini plants often yield more fruit than any one family can consume. This recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread can help use up your garden surplus and give you a fresh-tasting, lemony quick bread for brunch or for an afternoon snack.

This bread is loaded with the flavor of lemons, and any experienced baker knows that the trick to getting lots of lemon flavor into your baked goods doesn’t lie in using lemon juice or even lemon extract. Rather, the lemon flavor comes from the peel of the lemon.

Lemon peel, in culinary terms, is called the lemon zest, and it is packed with the flavor oils that can yield powerful lemon flavors. However, only the bright yellow, outermost layer of the peel has these oils. The white layer underneath the zest is called the pith of the lemon, and it is incredibly bitter and nasty. You don’t want the pith in your baked goods.

To remove the zest and leave the pith you have several options. You can use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to carefully, with a gentle touch, remove only the zest from the orange. Then, you can mince it fine with a chef’s knife. Alternately, if you have a sharp box grater, you can grate the outside of a lemon, rotating it each time you scrub it across your grater.

Another option is to buy a tool called a lemon zester, which removes the zest in long strips. Additionally, you can find a long-handled, sharp, narrow cheese and lemon zest grater that will be just the thing to make quick work of zesting a lemon. This is our preferred option for zesting a lemon.

A piece of lemon and a long cheese and lemon zest grater.

Our recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread also has an interesting texture thanks to the addition of a few tablespoons of poppy seeds to the batter. These seeds give a satisfying crunch when added to this bread, as well as yielding visual interest to the baked slices.

This bread is super moist and stays that way for days, thanks to the zucchini in it. Grate the zucchini with a box grater. You don’t have to peel the zucchini for this recipe. In fact, the green of the peel makes for a pretty color in the sliced bread.

One medium zucchini yields about one cup of shredded zucchini. If you have extra zucchini that you can’t use up right away, you can shred it and store it in sealed zip-top freezer bags in your freezer for up to six months. When you’re ready to use the zucchini, you can thaw it in the microwave, microwaving it in 30-second bursts, stirring it frequently.

Suppose you missed a zucchini or two in the garden and now you have gargantuan zucchini. Most people don’t know what to do with these oversized fruits because zucchini is best when it’s pretty small. This recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread is a great way to use those fruits. Simply grate it, until you start getting to the part of the flesh where there are too many seeds. Then, you can slice it in half,  scoop out the seeds, and grate the remaining part of the zucchini. Waste not, want not!

Lemon Zucchini Bread Recipe


  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds

The complete set of ingredients to be used for the recipe.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a standard-sized loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the sugar, beating well. Add the eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly until each egg is fully incorporated.

Eggs, sugar and butter are mixed in a bowl.

Step 2: In a separate, medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Flour, salt and baking soda are mixed in a separate bowl.

Step 3: Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Stir well and then add about one-third of the sour cream, stirring well.

Add about half of the remaining flour mixture, stirring to combine. Then stir in about half of the sour cream. Finally, combine the rest of the flour mixture in the batter, and stir in the remainder of the sour cream. Do not over mix. Just stir until the mixture is combined.

Add the shredded zucchini, the lemon zest, and the poppy seeds, stirring them to combine.

The wet and dry bowls are mixed and added with zucchini, the lemon zest, and the poppy seeds.

Step 4: Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake the loaf for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaf tests done.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for fifteen minutes.

Remove the loaf from the pan and turn it onto a wire rack to cool for about an hour.

The combined batter is placed in a ceramic pan and baked.

Slice the loaf into ten to twelve slices and serve. Store this loaf wrapped tightly in foil or plastic wrap for up to five days.

A slice of freshly-baked lemon zucchini bread on a white plate.

This bread does freeze very well. To freeze it, wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store it in a large zip-top bag. Freeze for up to a month. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.


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