Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake – Low Carb and Gluten-Free


Low Carb Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake

What do you think of when you think of lemon poppy seed muffins, or any poppyseed recipe really?  I can’t help it, I instantly think of the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine tests positive for opium after eating poppy seed muffins.  In typical Seinfeld fashion, the scenario seems utterly ludicrous and you think it can’t possibly be true.  But according to snopes.com, it is in fact possible to test for opiates from eating a few poppy seed-containing baked goods.  And people have been fired, suspended and denied employment because of it.  So I suppose this low carb lemon poppy seed bundt cake recipe ought to come with a warning.  Do not eat prior to taking a drug test!  If your employment requires regular, surprise drug tests…well, I can’t help you there.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake Recipe

The other thing about poppy seeds is how ridiculously expensive they are when you try to buy them at the regular grocery store.  I was horrified when I first started looking for them and discovered it was about $6 for a small jar that wouldn’t make it through two recipes.  I highly recommend sourcing them elsewhere, online or at an Asian or Middle Eastern market where you can sometimes get them in bulk.  Poppy seeds shouldn’t cost a fortune like that, it’s not like they aren’t common enough!

Low Carb Bundt Cake Recipe

I don’t even remember what I wanted to make when I first started trying to source poppy seeds.  When I finally had my hands on some not-outrageously-priced seeds, I knew I wanted to make some sort of lemon poppy seed baked good.  Sure, I could have done muffins, but there is something so appealing about eating cake for breakfast.  And I could have done the cake in a loaf pan, but then it would be more like quick bread and I wanted Cake with a capital C.  So I settled on my bundt pan for curb appeal.  And of course I had to top the whole thing off with a drizzly glaze.  A naked bundt cake is just not in my repertoire.

This lovely thing was as delicious as it looks.  That’s all I need to say.

Low Carb Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Recipe

Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake

Yield: 12 servings

Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake

A delicious lemon poppy seed bundt cake with lemon glaze. A perfect breakfast or tea time treat. Low carb and gluten free.


  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1/3 cup unflavoured whey protein powder
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
  • 3 large eggs
  • 20 drops stevia extract
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • Glaze:
  • ½ cup powdered Swerve Sweetener or powdered erythritol
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. For the cake, preheat oven to 300F and butter a bundt pan very well.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, protein powder, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add granulated erythritol and beat until lighter and well-combined, about 2 minutes.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at time, scraping down beaters and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in stevia extract and lemon zest.
  5. Beat in half of the almond flour mixture, then beat in lemon juice and almond milk. Beat in remaining almond flour mixture until well combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
  7. Bake 50 minutes, or until top is deep golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the glaze, whisk together powdered erythritol and lemon juice until smooth. If too thin, add a bit more powdered erythritol. If too thick, at a bit more liquid.
  9. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake.


Serves 12. Each serving has a total of 7.6 g of carbs and 3.5 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 4.1 g.



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  1. says

    I love lemon poppyseed cake! I agree, poppy seeds are ridiculously expensive – I buy many of my more expensive ingredients at ethnic grocers – so much cheaper!

  2. Katharine says

    I love lemon poppyseed baked goods!! I bought some poppyseeds in bulk a few months ago, but then couldn’t find a low carb/GF recipe on line that caught my fancy. I think you’ve just solved my problem! Looks delish. Hope it works in my oooolllllddddd bundt pan.

  3. says

    Haha I totally remember that episode! The show was pretty huge when I was younger so I didn’t understand a lot of the content. I remember not know what opium was but promising myself if never have poppyseeds again. Good memories (and great cake!!)

  4. Lenka says

    When I came to US, I heard about poppy seeds, how people think that’s just a source of opium….”what???what do you mean?Ripe seeds are safe!”…I used to eat poppy seeds as a child almost every day. In my country this ingredient is very popular. Whole seeds in pastry, but mostly ground seeds for baking (cakes, poppy seeds with sugar as a filling in pies…etc.). And my favorite food was cooked noodles with ground poppy seeds mixed with powdered sugar and melted butter poured over it…I am happy to read that some people here can appreciate this great ingredient:)

    • Rina says

      My mother is from Europe and fed us lots of poppy seed dishes as children. We also ate poppy seeds mixed with hot buttered noodles, sprinkled with sugar. Mama would make poppy seed bundt cake, strudel and rolled crescent cookies with sweet poppy seed filling as well as rolls and breads. My kids grew up eating that way too.

    • Nikki says

      sounds gorgeous! What kind (Country) cuisine is that of your youth so I can look up some recipe?? Greetings from Amsterdam x

  5. Luz says

    I love anything Lemon this look great! My glazes never come out looking so thick they always come out too runny! I will try this using the exact specifications, I think I usually add too much liquid.

  6. says

    I’ve bought poppy seeds from the supermarket bakery counter. Ask the person working behind the counter if they will sell some to you. The price is usually very reasonable.

  7. arlene says

    This cake looks SO good, and I am putting it on my immediate bake list. Like…tonight! I was wondering about the xanthan gum, and wondered if I could sub guar gum (which I have already so I don’t have to go out if it works). I googled it and found this info, which you probably know, but others may be wondering too.
    I think I’ll try it with the guar, even if it is a baked application. I’ll let you know if it flops!

    • Carolyn says

      It will probably be okay without xanthan or guar at all, if I catch you in time. You will just need to be a little more careful with it when removing it from the pan.

  8. says

    Carolyn, love the Seinfeld pop culture reference. And, so funny that your innocent recipe had to come with a warning, LOL! (Seriously, it is a good thing you included it.) Your low carb and gluten free Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake looks scrumptious. Here’s to Cake with a capital “C” and curb appeal (Bundt shape & drizzled icing) for breakfast!

  9. Eric says

    I just made your almond crusted butter cake – seriously good! Now you spring this on us? In January? So much for that resolution! Oh well, there’s always lent to give things up (although that is usually when I give up my New Year’s resolution). This looks fabulous.

  10. says

    This sure looks GOOD, Carolyn! I’m off desserts right now, but I’ve printed this out to try one day. Don’t ya just love what whey protein brings to baked goods? I like a little in my cakes and breads, too.

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Kim…no, xanthan is not a must if you want to skip it. It will be a touch more fragile, though, so let it cool properly before slicing into it. I find that gf things hold together better after they are cool.

  11. Nat says

    Hi Carolyn,

    A quick question … when baking with almond flour, I’m finding that it consistently takes much longer to get the centers to cook through than the recipe calls for, resulting in a highly over baked exterior.

    I’m hoping that those with more experience might provide suggestions.

    I’m looking forward to trying this; it’s my husband’s fave. He always ordered (past tense) the lemon-poppyseed loaf at Starbucks. He’ll be thrilled to have it again.

    • Carolyn says

      Sounds to me like you have too much moisture in your batter. It’s a killer for low carb, gluten free things and can make them gummy on the inside. What kind of almond flour are you using? I love Honeyville. I am a huge fan of Bob’s Red Mill, but their almond flour is more like almond meal. It has bigger particles and so you don’t get the same consistency and it doesn’t bake as well in cakes. It’s often great for muffins, though!

      One thing about cakes like these is they will brown a lot on the outside, as you can see from my pictures. More so than a flour based recipe would. But it’s not overdone, it’s just darker in colour. I also have really dark non-stick pans so they tend to make the exterior darker after baking.

  12. Beth M. says

    That looks amazing, and lemon poppyseed is one of my favorite flavors. Unfortunately, I think it might be dangerous for me to have a whole cake in the house. If I were to make muffins instead, any suggestions on how to adjust the baking time?

  13. Jean says

    The lemon poppyseed bundt cake looks wonderful – plan to make really soon. Have only been on sugar-free, wheat-free for 2-1/2 weeks now and just getting into the baking. Any suggestions fo the glaze other than ‘powdered’ sweetner? Unable to find that around here. What about just granulated sweetner with lemon juice? Thanks.

  14. says

    That looks so good! I love poppy seeds, especially when they’re in a paste and rolled up in a poppy seed cake. There’s no hope for me if I have to take a drug test. :) So, since I’d fail anyway, I might as well be munching on this cake!

  15. Luz says

    I made these into muffins last night with meyer lemons since that’s what I had on hand they were soooo good! My glaze once again too runny even though I followed directions so will try again but nevertheless very tasty!

  16. Jean says

    I was not aware that there is a difference when cooking with (especially baking) almond flour and blanched almond flour. I was under the impression it was a matter or whether you wanted it to be blanched or not. However, I am having difficulty now when baking bread, buscuits, etc.. My first try was with a small bag of almond flour (light in color- I assume it was the blanched; next try was with almond flour with husk. How do I adjust for the heavier consistency. My husband (eager for us to get into this) purchased 25# on line of the heavier, darker flour. I must use it, of course.

    • Carolyn says

      It’s not so much whether it’s blanched or not, but how finely ground it is. That’s the real issue. There are only two brands that I find to be finely ground enough for cakes…Honeyville and Oh Nuts. I love Bob’s Red Mill, but it’s best for things like muffins, that don’t quite need such a fine crumb.

      I think if you want to try to get things less dense, you need a bit more protein powder and a bit more leavener. But it’s not going to be perfect for cakes and such, the texture will be less fine. Muffins should be great with it. Tell me what recipes you have in mind and I can help you try to figure out proportions of other ingredients to get a better result.

      • Jean says

        This Saturday I plan to bake the Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake and I do have the whey protein powder. If I use the almond flour I have (not the blanched) do I need to change your recipe? I also made Dr. Davis’ basic bread with the blanched alm. flour the first time – was good texture. The second was with the unblanced purchased on line and it is dryer and texture is not as smooth. We ordered our 25# of almond flour from Honeyville – but it came in a box from Hudson Nut in California. Also, what leaven do you suggest I should use to make the bread lighter? Thank you so much for your help. We are not giving up on this. Already feel wonderful.

        • Carolyn says

          I’ve never used Honeyville unblanched. I suppose the skins would make things a little less smooth. I would suggest adding about 1/4 cup greek yogurt to make it more moist, and about 2 more tablespoons of whey. Then up the baking powder by 1/2 tsp or so. I can’t say for sure that this will work, but I think it will help. Because of the added moisture from the yogurt, you may need to bake a little longer, 5 to 10 minutes.

  17. Katharine says

    Made it. Love it!! Used a large heart shaped nonstick pan because I didn’t have a bundt pan. Now I just need to work on my glazing skills….

    • Katharine says

      Just made this a second time. I bought organic lemons that were huge and I think it made it even better b/c it produced so much zest! I just love it, and it stays so fresh for several days on a cake plate with a glass dome on top. I love seeing a cake on my counter – one that I can eat guilt-free! My kids don’t like it as much as I do, but for me this ranks as one of my favorites from your site. Thanks Carolyn!

  18. Anne says

    What is the purpose of the stevia extract drops if using Swerve? Is Swerve not sweet enough or do they compliment each other?

  19. Nikki says

    This is baking in the oven as I type… I don’t know anything lemon/poppy seed flavour but it has been haunting me since I first read it! I got almost to the end before realizing I didn’t have almond milk (could I make my own by whizzing almonds with water and straining it or would that be something totally different?) so I used heavy cream in stead…. Can’t wait!!!!
    Thanks for the brilliant recipes :) Could you advise me on a pastry to use for savoury pies?? Am English and missing them. Thanks and best regards from dreary Amsterdam x

    • Nikki says

      okay… I have but one thing to say…YUM!!! I had to go to bed last night before it was fully cooled off so I just had a piece for breakfast ^_^ delish! I do think the middle was slightly underdone (though did stand up to the poke test, knife came out clean) as it’s a lot more moist than the rest but even no-lo-carb hubby tasted it and said it was nice, high praise indeed from someone who generally doesn’t like cake. Oh, by the way, I ground my own almonds (both blanched and not) in my blender and it goes very fine, much more so than any store bought as yet. And I bought my poppy seeds at the Moroccan supermarket for around one euro fifty for a 100 grams.

    • Debbie says

      Good question, Maria.
      All I have is brown rice protein powder, and wondered if that could be used in place of the whey protein powder.

      • Carolyn says

        How many g of protein per 1/4 cup does the rice powder have? It will work, as long as we make sure it’s got about the same amount of protein to help give the cake structure.

  20. Heather says

    I just made this. It is AMAZING! I may have to put it under lock and key and give the key to someone to hide so I don’t eat it all. It is currently taking all my self control to not declare a lemon poppy seed bundt cake eating contest against myself and just shove my face in and chow down. Great recipe! Thanks so much!

  21. Carla says

    Made this last night and put glaze over top this morning. I subbed hemp seed protein powder for the whey (I don’t like whey protein) and it is AMAZING! I was worried that it would stick to the bundt pan but it fell away no problem. Sticking to pans often such a pain when baking using alternative ingredients. I think this grain free, low glycemic cake is the truest to regular cake that I have ever tasted. For some reason, it tastes a lot lighter than other almond flour baked goods. Carolyn, do you find the same thing? And if so, any reason why – maybe the hemp seed? I’ve never used it in baking before.
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe – my family thanks you!

    • Carolyn says

      Yes, they come out the pan surprisingly well and it’s not super-dense cake. I think it’s the protein, either whey or hemp or whatever you want to use! :)

    • Jenn says

      I’m glad you posted this Carla, as I was about to ask if I could sub hemp protein for the whey. I do find the green colour of the hemp protein a bit of a challenge to use in baking..unless it’s St. Paddies Day of course :)

  22. Holley says

    One of the most successful GF recipes I’ve made, I can actually say, you don’t have to be GF to eat this or serve it to friends. Really good. I only had vanilla whey protein so I used that, and added a little vanilla, as I am crazy for it!

  23. Lisa says

    WOW!!! This recipe is just wonderful!! I’ve tried sooo many low carb cake recipes and this is the absolute best!!! Thank you Carolyn…I’ll be trying more of your recipes, they all look delicious!

  24. Denise says

    Hi Carolyn,
    I find myself out of erythritol crystals. Could I substitute with powdered? Could you give me some general guidance on this substitution, not just for this recipe? Thanks,

  25. Denise says

    What the heck – I went ahead and did it. I used a half cup of the powdered erythritol. It didn’t really ‘cream’ with the butter, leaving a mixture that was pretty dry and granular, but I added the almond milk and the mixture creamed in the usual way. The cake turned out fine, aside from the fact that I didn’t grease the pan enough. A few chunks didn’t make it out, but hey, they have no calories when eaten above the sink, right?


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