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The Best Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake 

Light, soft, super moist, and jam packed full of lemon and poppy seeds, this vegan lemon poppyseed pound cake is the best! Simple ingredients and easy to make. 

A down shot of many slices of lemon poppyseed cake on a black serving tray with lemons and fresh mint surrounding it.
A vegan lemon and poppy seed pound cake sliced up and ready to serve.

Perfect for breakfast, brunch, a summer time dessert, or any fans of Starbucks Lemon Loaf cake, this vegan lemon and poppyseed pound cake is so dang delicious. Topped with a lemony icing glaze that makes this lemon pound cake better than any store bought cake. 

Pound cake has been a family staple recipe for Easter for as long as I can remember so I wanted to veganize the family recipe. To pass the test it needed three things: It has to be tall and soft, the cake had to stay moist, and it had to be full of vanilla and lemon flavor. 

After many rounds of testing, this cake passes with flying colors! I hope you and your family love this cake as much as we do. 

In the mood for more spring time desserts? Check out my classic super moist vegan vanilla cake, vegan coconut cupcakes, or my favorite carrot cake sheet cake

Ingredients 

Here is a quick rundown of what you’ll need to make this lemon poppyseed pound cake. For the full list of ingredients and measurements, please see the recipe card below. 

Ingredients for the vegan lemon poppyseed cake in various bowls and plates on a wood table. Black and white labels have been added to name each ingredient.
Ingredients for the pound cake measured into bowls and ready to mix together.
  • Plant Based Milk: My favorite to use is either soy milk or coconut milk (the kind in the carton not the cans) but other plant based milks will also work great. Just make sure that they are unsweetened and especially unflavored milks so they don’t compete with the lemon flavors. 
  • Oil: A little bit of a neutral flavored oil to help keep the cake moist. 
  • Vegan Yogurt: This is the secret ingredient for a good vegan pound cake. The yogurt acts a bit like an egg replacer and a bit like the oil in making the cake super soft and super moist. Use your favorite plant based yogurt, making sure that it is either plain or vanilla flavored. 
  • Sugar: A bit of sugar to make it sweet.
  • Vanilla: When combined with the lemon juice and lemon zest, the vanilla adds a beautiful flavor. 
  • Lemon Zest + Juice: I recommend using the zest in the cake and the juice in the frosting. Lemon juice can inhibit baking powder from working, resulting in a pound cake that can’t rise fully in the oven and leaving you with a flat and sunken cake. By only using the zest you get all the flavor without the sinking risk. 
  • Flour: Regular all purpose flour is all you need. 
  • Cornstarch + Leaveners: The combination of cornstarch, baking powder, and baking soda makes for a cake that has a super soft crumb and rises well. 
  • Poppyseeds: Finally, the poppyseeds! They provide a bit of flavor and make the cake all freckled. 
  • Powdered Sugar: Needed for the icing on top. 

Variations

I typically make this with a lemon glaze on top, but you can also enjoy it plain, with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, or with a vanilla or cream cheese frosting. For a fun twist, try this with my vegan strawberry buttercream

Instructions 

Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.

Making this pound cake is super easy, even if you are a beginning vegan baker! 

Now for the other secret to making a great pound cake rise in the oven: Just before you place it in the fridge, take a butter knife and cut the cake long ways down the middle of the cake. This provides a crease so that as the cake rises, it knows where to split evenly. That means you have a perfect rise every time! 

Prep Step: Preparing the Pan and the Oven 

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and make sure that the oven rack is in the middle or lower third of the oven. This will prevent the cake from browning too quickly. 

Use a 9×5-inch or an 8×4-inch pan to make this cake. Lightly spray it with a neutral flavored cooking spray and then line with parchment paper. 

Tip! The best pan to make this in is a metal loaf pan. A glass or ceramic pan conducts heat differently. 

Step One: Making the Cake Batter 

The whisked together wet ingredients in a glass bowl on a wood table.
The whisked wet ingredients.
The whisked together dry ingredients in a glass bowl on a wood table.
The sifted dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the wet ingredients of plant based milk, oil, the yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Give it a good whisk until the ingredients are fully incorporated. 

Into the same bowl sift together the dry ingredients of all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder and baking soda, salt and the poppy seeds. 

At this point I typically switch to a spatula to fully mix the batter together. 

The cake batter should be thick. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake! 

The finished lemon poppyseed cake batter in a glass bowl on a wood table.
The finished batter is super thick!
Finished batter in a parchment lined pan on a wood table.
Don’t forget the trick with the butter knife down the center to help it rise.

Step Two: Baking the Cake

Bake the cake in the oven for about 60 to 65 minutes. The length of time depends on the size, shape, and material that you make your cake in. 

For me, I use a metal 9×5-inch pan and it takes 65 minutes to bake up beautifully. 

  • An 8×4-inch cake pan should take about 55 to 65 minutes. 
  • A 9×5-inch cake pan should take 60 to 65 minutes. 
  • If using glass, reduce time by 5 minutes. 
  • For a ceramic pan, add up to 5 additional minutes and remove the cake immediately after baking. 

If the cake is browning before it is ready, you can add a little tin foil tent any time after the halfway point of baking. 

The first 30 minutes of baking is critical to the success of your cake. Don’t open the oven door to check on it or add the foil tent. The heat needs to be concentrated in this time so the cake rises. 

Finally, allow the cake to cool for at least 45 minutes in the hot pan on the countertop. It needs this time to cool and rest so that the crumb stays moist. 

Step Three: Making the Glaze

The finished vegan lemon poppyseed cake with lots of white icing pouring over top on the table surrounded by lemons.
Lemon poppyseed pound cake with icing dripping over the sides.

Maybe my favorite part about this recipe is making the glaze to go on top of the cooled pound cake. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. You want it to be thick but still pourable. Then, pour over your loaf cake and serve! 

How to Store 

Countertop: Keep the cake in an airtight container on the countertop for up to 3 days. 

Fridge: Honestly, I love a cold slice of lemon pound cake, so this is my preferred method of storing! Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. 

Freezing: Bake and fully cool the cake but do not ice the cake. Wrap it in plastic wrap and then foil, or keep it in an airtight freezer safe container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the cake to thaw in the fridge overnight before bringing to room temperature on the countertop for a few hours before icing and serving. 

Showing the inside slice of a lemon poppyseed cake with white icing on top. Fresh lemons surround the cake.
Starting to slice the lemon poppy seed pound cake.

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A down shot of many slices of lemon poppyseed cake on a black serving tray with lemons and fresh mint surrounding it.

The Best Vegan Lemon and Poppyseed Pound Cake

Light, soft, super moist, and jam packed full of lemon and poppy seeds, this vegan lemon and poppyseed loaf cake is the best! Simple ingredients and easy to make.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Baked Goods
Keyword: cakes and cupcakes, dessert, vegan, vegan baking
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 303kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls
  • Mixing spoons
  • measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • parchment paper
  • Loaf Pan

Ingredients

Lemon Pound Cake

  • 1 cup plant based milk
  • ½ cup neutral oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegan yogurt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest about the zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon poppyseeds

Lemon Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line an 8×4-inch or 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease. Set the oven racks to the middle or lower third of the oven.
  • Make the batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients of the plant based milk, oil, vegan yogurt, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Into the same bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppyseeds. Switch to a spatula and mix to combine. The batter is very thick so try to avoid overmixing.
  • Place batter in pan. Using a large spoon, spread or pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Take a butter knife and run a line through the long ways of the cake to provide a perforation in the cake batter for best rise.
  • Bake the cake. Bake uncovered for 60 to 65 minutes, depending on the size and type of loaf pan you are using. An 8×4-inch cake will take 55 to 65 minutes and a 9×5-inch cake will take 60 to 65 minutes. If the cake is browning too quickly, tent with foil half way through baking. Bake times can vary, so please pay attention to the cake as it bakes and don’t be alarmed if your cake takes a few minutes longer. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the cake pulls out mostly clean. A few crumbs on the toothpick are okay.
  • Cooling the cake. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the hot pan for a minimum of 45 minutes. Then, carefully remove the still warm cake from the pan to either cool completely or frost with icing.
  • Make the Icing. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Pour over top of the cake and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

  • How to Store 
    • Countertop: Keep the cake in an airtight container on the countertop for up to 3 days. 
    • Fridge:  Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. 
    • Freezing: Bake and fully cool the cake but do not ice the cake. Wrap it in plastic wrap and then foil, or keep it in an airtight freezer safe container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the cake to thaw in the fridge overnight before bringing to room temperature on the countertop for a few hours before icing and serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 0.3mg | Sodium: 225mg | Potassium: 66mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 1mg
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