Lemon Buttermilk Muffins

April 20, 2011(updated on August 30, 2021)

lemon buttermilk muffins

I am at that age where nearly everyone I know is either pregnant or a newly minted parent. I am currently on a first name basis with eight children under the age of 18 months and there are at least seven more on the way in the next six months. This means that I am regularly in the position of trying to imagine some delicious treat to bring to bewildered mamas and papas.

For some reason, I’ve never been good at bringing fully prepared meals to people and instead opt for bringing fairly healthy, easy to grab treats instead. In the past, this has meant that I’ve offered things like nutty oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (at least they’re full of protein and fiber) or loaves of quick bread that are good plain or toasted and buttered.

lemon buttermilk muffins

Yesterday, I went to visit my friend Kate and her new baby girl and took along a batch of these Lemon Buttermilk Muffins (yes, this is where the buttermilk from the cultured butter I wrote about last week went). These muffins are good for new parents because they can easily be eaten one-handed (a nice, firm crumb means that they won’t break to pieces), they aren’t too sweet (eat them for breakfast or alongside a cup of soup for lunch) and since they’re made with whole wheat flour, they feel more virtuous than a cookie.

The recipe is a further tweak of this one that I posted exactly two years ago today (amazingly, I didn’t plan that, it just happened). The yogurt gets replaces with buttermilk, the number of eggs is reduced and I brought in lemon instead of orange. What’s more, if you happened to make a batch of the lemon sugar I mentioned here, this is an excellent place to use it.

Of course, you don’t need to have a new baby around as an excuse to make these muffins. They’re good just about any time.

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Lemon Buttermilk Muffins

Servings: 12 Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup cane sugar
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • scant 1/2 cup of olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a larger mixing bowl, rub the sugar and zest together until combined and fragrant. Add the buttermilk, eggs, extract and olive oil and whisk together.
  • Add the dry ingredients and combine.
  • Scoop batter into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. When the tops of the muffins are golden brown, they are done.

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24 thoughts on "Lemon Buttermilk Muffins"

  • What a lucky mom! When our kids were born, we were so grateful for friends who feed us, freeing us up to gaze at our newborn and sleep! The muffins look delicious, buttermilk, olive oil, mmmm… Thanks for sharing.

  • Oh, I am so with you: three babies, count ’em THREE, this March alone. Some big hits with new parents for me have been pumpkin granola and granola bars (the one-handed thing again), frozen soup in quart Mason jars and fancy cheese-tray preserves to feed all of the people who stop by to visit. These muffins sound lovely and I *do* have some buttermilk in the fridge…

  • I am no longer holding babies in one arm, or chasing toddlers, in fact my children now have their own homes, but I still feel the need for a little muffin therapy. Thanks for the delicious looking recipe.


  • I am a newbie to homemade dairy products, so this might be a silly question, but the whey/buttermilk from the cultured butter recipe behaves the same as store bought cultured buttermilk, right? I started out with your creme fraiche recipe this weekend for soups and salad dressing (wonderful)…tonight I’m moving on to the cultured butter…and then I hope to use the whey for baking this weekend. Won’t waste a thing!

    1. Rachel, it’s not a silly questions. Yes, the whey/buttermilk leftover from making cultured butter looks and behaves similarly to the buttermilk you buy at the store. It’s thicker and creamier that what’s left behind when you make butter from uncultured cream.

  • How did you know I had a bunch of lemons and buttermilk staring at me, longingly, from my fridge? What fortuitous timing! Thanks for sharing – will definitely be making these pronto.

  • Ok – I feel like everyone around me has little peeps as well. I really want to say “wait Michelle” but not going to this time… nor am I going to pas up these muffins!

  • Marisa: have you made any of your new mamas some lactation cookies yet? (Google it, there’s lots of recipes out there.) (-:

  • Marisa, I made these this evening to help myself feel better after the visit to the vet, and they’re very yummy. I made half following the recipe, and added about 1/2 shredded coconut to the other half. Yum! Next time I’m going to try adding lavender.

  • I made these – using lemon peel and lemon flavor in place of zest – and added blueberries. yum yum yum yum.

  • I am going to make these tomorrow but only have whole wheat regular flour. Is there any adjustment I should make to make it more pastry flour-ish? I also have AP, white cake flour, and wondra. Thanks in advance!

    1. I’d do half whole wheat and half AP. If you made them with all whole wheat flour, I’m afraid they’d be impossibly heavy.

  • I notice your recipe doesn’t call for any soda. I was taught you needed the soda
    when buttermilk is used..esp. with the baking powder…..that could cause an explosion???? Baking soda counteracts this chemical reaction . Is this not true???

    1. Hmm, I didn’t have any sort of explosive reaction when I made those muffins. I’d not ever heard that you have to use soda when you use buttermilk. I don’t know what to tell you other than the recipe works well just as written.

  • You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation however I in finding this matter to be actually one thing which I think I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very vast for me. I’m taking a look ahead for your subsequent post, I?ll try to get the grasp of it!

  • I made these and they are perfect. I will wrap individually and freeze for when I needs pick me up for when baby is born in about 6 weeks! Thanks!

  • Thank you for this recipe! I made these this morning and they are delicious! I did sub 1/4 cup lemon juice for part of the buttermilk–they came out nice and lemony.