Secret Ingredients: Grandma’s poppy seed bread recipe

The secret ingredient that makes every recipe better is a story. In this installment of our Secret Ingredients series, Grandma’s poppy seed bread recipe bakes into a loaf full of sweet, buttery nostalgia.

By Kailee Meskimen

Ever since I was a young girl, going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house has always been a treasured time. I remember their house was always stocked with bubble gum and smelled of spiced gum drops — a kid’s dream.  And, I knew if I asked nicely (which I always did), Grandma would make me a small loaf of her light and fluffy poppy seed bread. This melt-in-your-mouth bread has long been a staple dessert for my family’s gatherings.


I recently convinced Grandma to bake a few loaves of her poppy seed bread to inspire this story.

Sweet, buttery nostalgia

I was hooked after my first bite nearly 20 years ago. There’s just something about that bread that makes me feel warm inside. The crunchy texture of the poppy seeds complements the buttery bread perfectly. I had never had poppy seed bread before trying Grandma’s, but now I crave it. Not that we weren’t served dessert at home growing up, but Grandma’s sweets were always just a little more special — and this bread is no exception.

The recipe is tucked away in Grandma’s cookbook — but highlighted, starred and bookmarked for easy access because it’s so good and addicting! It’s so popular my grandma continues to make personal mini-loaves for everyone in the family every time we get together, even to this day.

Grandma’s perfect poppy seed bread is surprisingly simple. There are no unique or secret ingredients, other than the nostalgia I feel every time I taste it. The only true surprise is to open up the tin foil-wrapped loaf to see if she brushed her signature hot orange glaze sauce on top, which makes the best bread ever taste even better. The sweet, citrusy glaze acts as a coating, wrapping the delicate bread in a sugary cocoon. She doesn’t add the glaze (also known as the sweet nectar of gods) often, but when she does, it’s an extra-special treat.

I can’t call this recipe healthy, but I can say it’s good for the soul and light enough for a post-dinner snack any time of the year. For a unique twist, try adding chia seeds, crushed almonds or lemon peel.

Grandma’s Perfect Poppy Seed Bread

Yields: 2 9 x 5-inch loaves or 5 mini loaves

Cook time: 40 minutes


2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/8 cups oil
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon butter flavor
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the glaze (optional):

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon butter flavor
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Mix sugar and eggs together in a large bowl.
  2. Fold in oil and milk. Whisk until well blended.
  3. Add poppy seeds, butter flavor, and vanilla and almond extracts.  Mix together well.
  4. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix until there are no clumps.
  5. Pour mixture into 2 greased (9×5-inch) bread pans or 5 greased mini bread pans.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Test with toothpick in center.

For the glaze:

  1. Combine sugar, orange juice, butter flavor, and vanilla and almond extracts into a medium saucepan. Stir to combine.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Poke holes in the top of warm bread loaves with a fork and evenly drizzle glaze over the tops.
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes. Serve immediately or freeze to preserve freshness (if bread includes glaze).

What are some of your family traditions or recipes?

Kailee MeskimenAbout the author: Kailee Meskimen is a content management specialist for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia — allowing her to immerse herself in the world of organic living every day. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, going for long walks with her dog and traveling the world.

2 thoughts on “Secret Ingredients: Grandma’s poppy seed bread recipe

  1. So excited to find this recipe. I’ve been unable to find mine from years ago. I’ve seen similar recipes but this has the correct ingredients. Mine didn’t have the butter flavoring and it also didn’t call for the glaze to be heated. Again many thanks!

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