Lemon Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins
Healthy lemon zucchini muffins are incredibly moist and tender, with a light crumb and fresh lemon flavor. They’re the perfect use for your garden fresh zucchini. Enjoy for grab-and-go breakfasts or tasty snacks!
Muffins are perfect when you want to make something quick and easy that does double duty as a simple breakfast and as a snack. These wholesome lemon zucchini muffins check all those boxes and are irresistibly tender, lightly sweet, with vibrant lemon flavor besides. My five-year-old gobbles them up and asks for more every time!
Only in the past year or two have I realized how versatile zucchini is, and now I can’t get enough. Baking and cooking with it is such a tasty and easy way to raise your veggie quotient.
Lemon zucchini muffins: what you’ll need
- Zucchini: You’ll need 1 cup of it grated, which you should easily get from 1 small-medium plant.
- Lemon juice and zest: One large lemon should do the trick. Zest it first, then cut in half to squeeze out the juice. This is the exact microplane and hand juicer I use to make this super simple and easy.
- Olive oil: Baking with olive oil is a fantastic and easy way to make your baked goods a bit healthier, adding antioxidants and healthy fats, while contributing a lovely and very subtle flavor.
- Flour: I’ve tested these with many different flour combinations, and my forever favorite is 3/4 cup all-purpose plus 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour has the added fiber and nutrition of whole wheat but a milder taste and lighter color. It’s nice but certainly not necessary — these muffins also work great with entirely all-purpose flour. You can experiment with other combinations, too.
- Granulated sugar.
- Baking soda, baking powder, salt.
Helpful tips and tricks
- Rub the right way. Give these lemon zucchini muffins and other citrus baked goods an extra jolt of flavor by combining the sugar and zest as a first step and rubbing it between your fingers for 30 seconds. This breaks up the oils in the zest and infuses them into the sugar, so that little bit of lemon punches above its weight.
- Never grated zucchini? Don’t be intimidated. You can grate zucchini very quickly in a food processor, but you don’t need one — the coarse side of an everyday box grater works just as well.
- Whisk hard, stir soft: For the best texture, use a little oomph to whisk the wet ingredients together really well, then switch to a spatula and slow it down to a gentle stir once you add the dry ingredients and zucchini. This ensures a smooth batter without overworking the flour. Overworked flour = dry baked goods.
- Use the two temperature trick: Start baking the muffins at a high temperature — 425°F to be exact — for 5 minutes, then drop the oven down to 350°F for the remaining bake time. The initial blast of high heat promotes a fast rise and taller, more nicely-domed muffins, as well as a nice “crust” on top. If you kept the heat that high, however, your muffins would overcook on the outside, so it’s the dual temperatures that make the magic. Don’t crack the door or anything — just reset the oven temperature and it will naturally adjust.
On a side note, I stopped using paper liners for muffins about two years ago and never looked back. It’s easier to coat the inside of the wells lightly with cooking spray, and the baked muffins pop right out. Less mess, less effort, less waste.
Storage and freezing tips
Storage: These lemon zucchini muffins keep well for at least 2-3 days. I usually store them at room temperature in an airtight container, leaving the zipper or lid slightly cracked, because they are very moist and this minimizes condensation.
Freezer: Yes, you can freeze these muffins! It’s such a treat to pull them out for a quick breakfast or snack. Let the muffins cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag, squeeze out the extra air, and freeze for 2-3 months. You can defrost as a batch on the counter overnight – crack the container to avoid excess moisture inside – or individually by warming in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
Quick Bread: You can also use this recipe to bake lemon zucchini quick bread. Follow the same instructions for the batter, then bake in an 8×4-inch loaf pan at 350°F for 35-40 minutes. You can top the bread with a simple glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar for an extra sweet treat!
Poppyseed Lemon Zucchini Muffins: Add 1 Tablespoon poppyseeds to the batter for another layer of flavor and texture. Just mix them along with the grated zucchini.
More muffin recipes
While we eat muffins all year long, this lemon zucchini variety is especially perfect in late summer when garden fresh zucchini starts popping up everywhere.
If you try these muffins, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Lemon Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest of 1 large lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour can sub an extra 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup grated zucchini see note
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly coat a muffin tin with baking spray or line with paper cups. (This recipe usually yields 10 regular-sized muffins.)
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the mixture together for a minute between your fingers, so the zest incorporates into the sugar and infuses it with flavor. Add oil, eggs, and lemon juice, and whisk until well-combined.
- Sprinkle flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the batter. Add zucchini and fold gently until the batter is evenly mixed.
- Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, then, without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 12-14 minutes. When done, the muffins will be lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the centers will come out clean.
- Let cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cooking Tip: There is no need to squeeze extra water out of the zucchini for this recipe. The other ingredients absorb the moisture perfectly. This is one of the reasons I love it!
- Storage: Muffins keep well at room temperature at least 2-3 days. I usually store them in an airtight container, leaving the zipper or lid slightly cracked, because they are very moist and this prevents any build-up of water droplets.
- Freezer: Yes, these can be frozen! Store in a freezer-safe ziplock or plastic storage container for 2-3 months. You can defrost as a batch on the counter overnight – crack the container to avoid excess condensation inside – or individually by warming in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
- Quick Bread Variation: You can also bake this as a quick bread; follow the same instructions, and bake in an 8×4-inch loaf pan at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.