The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)

This recipe is beyond a long time in the making. I’ve been trying to make this loaf on and off for years.

I can’t even tell you how much I have obsessed, tried, trialed, and failed at it. Until now.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

If you’ve ever had Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf, you know how good it is. Full of lemon flavor, moist, dense, and rich.

Anything that good I shouldn’t want to learn how to make at home, but I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

I’ve tried countless internet recipes for lemon poundcake and some were ‘fine’ but not quite perfect while others were total fails. And I definitely didn’t want to go the cake mix route.

I’ve tried using butter creamed with sugar versus oil whisked with sugar. I’ve tried various combinations of whole eggs and yolks, cake flour and all-purpose flour, and endless variations of lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract. I even sent one almost-a-possibility-but-not-quite to my mom to have her trial it.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

Something as ‘simple’ as a poundcake eluded me for ages until I rediscovered and slightly adapted my own 2012 recipe for Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze.

It’s an easy, no-mixer, one-bowl, whisk-together batter. From my existing recipe, I added an extra egg, omitted the blueberries and incorporated lemon zest and lemon extract into the batter, and baked it in a loaf pan rather than a cake pan. Love it when the answer to my poundcake prayers was right under my nose.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

It’s soft, springy, and moist without being heavy or dry, problems which often plague poundcake. Nor is it oily which sometimes happens with the Starbucks’ version. Plus, you probably have all the ingredients on hand to make it and you can pronounce every ingredient used.

The cake itself is perfectly lemony, and the lemon glaze boosts the lemon flavor even more. Lemon lovers will be in their glory. And just think of all that money you’ll save by making it at home. That’s almost dangerous.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

 

 

Print Recipe

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)

This is an easy, no-mixer, one-bowl, whisk-together batter. The loaf is soft, springy, and moist without being heavy or dry, nor is it oily. Plus, you probably have all the ingredients on hand to make it and you can pronounce every ingredient used. The cake itself is perfectly lemony, and the lemon glaze boosts the lemon flavor. I used 2 tablespoons of lemon extract because no actual lemon juice is used in the loaf and I found 2 tablespoons of lemon extract necessary for full-bodied lemon flavor, but add to taste. Don't use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably.

Yield: one 9x5-inch loaf

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: about 50 minutes

Total Time: about 90 minutes, for cooling

Ingredients:

Loaf
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or Greek yogurt (lite okay)
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon extract, to taste (not teaspoons; and not lemon oil and not lemon juice - see step 4 in directions)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Lemon Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. Loaf - To a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined.
  3. Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
  4. Add the lemon zest, lemon extract, and whisk to combine. Note - I used 2 tablespoons of lemon extract because no actual lemon juice is used in the loaf and I found 2 tablespoons lemon extract necessary for full-bodied lemon flavor, but add to taste. Don't use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably because they're not; oil is much more potent and intense. Don't use lemon juice in place of lemon extract because it's not strong enough and the acidity can alter the overall results.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and stir until just combined, don't overmix. Some lumps will be present and that's okay, don't try to stir them smooth.
  6. Turn the batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Bake for about 50 to 52 minutes, or until top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter. In the last 10 minutes of baking, tent pan with foil (loosely drape a sheet of foil over pan) to prevent excessive browning on the top and sides of bread before center cooks through.
  7. Allow loaf to cool in pan on top of a wire rack for at least 30 minutes (I cooled 4 hours) before turning out onto rack to cool completely before glazing.
  8. Lemon Glaze - To a small bowl, add the confectioner's sugar and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice while whisking until smooth and combined. You may need to play with the sugar and lemon juice amounts a bit as necessary for desired consistency and flavor.
  9. Evenly drizzle glaze over bread before slicing and serving. Extra glaze can be spread on the cut surface of the bread like you'd spread butter on toast and it soaks right in making the bread even moister and more lemony. Or you can halve the glaze recipe if you're not a glaze person. Bread will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months; I don't recommend storing it in the fridge because it'll dry out.

Adapted from Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

Related Recipes

Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze – Soft, easy, moist blueberry cake with a touch of lemon flavor!

Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

Lemon Lemonies – Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!

 Lemon Lemonies - Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!

Lightened Up Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake – No BUTTER in this healthier cake with big juicy blueberries and refreshing lemon! It’s a keeper!

Lightened Up Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake - No BUTTER in this healthier cake with big juicy blueberries and refreshing lemon!! It's a keeper!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they’re from a bakery!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting - Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they're from a bakery!

The Best Lemon Bars – Truly the best lemon bars I’ve ever had!

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze – Almost more berries than cake in this soft, fluffy cake! 

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze - Almost more berries than cake in this soft, fluffy cake! The lemon glaze is plate-licking delish!!

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies – Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They’re soft, chewy and not at all cakey! 

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies - Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They're soft, chewy and not at all cakey!

309 comments

  1. I have made this over a dozen times and I must say it is THE BEST LEMON LOAF I’VE EVER HAD!!! I followed the recipe and didnt make any alterations. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and especially for all the time you put into perfecting it!

  2. What lemon extract do you recommend?

  3. Hi Averie, I live in Switzerland and wanted to let you know I have made this loaf 4 times (just cutting half the sugar) and everybody who tried it, loved it! So you know, you’re recipe has gone international ;o) thank you!

  4. I made this last night; it makes a beautiful loaf! I let it cool in the (glass) loaf pan over night and it came out easily in the morning – always the fear with loaf pans – I was kicking myself last night for not putting parchment paper in the bottom of the pan to make sure it came out whole, but it turns out I didn’t need to worry. I found that it took a fair bit longer to bake, but I have a bit of a weird oven, so that could be why.

    • Glass takes longer to bake in than a metal pan does and despite the video showing a glass pan (that’s what my video team had in their kitchen) when I bake this loaf in my kitchen I use a metal pan. Glad it didn’t stick and that you’re enjoying it!

  5. Do you think regular 2% yogurt would be fine? I don’t have any greek on hand right now.

  6. Hello! I live in Argentina and I don’t have lemon extract. What do you recommend to use in replace? Instead of greek yogurt may I use natural yogurt or do I use sour cream for better? Thanks for your reply. Laura 

    • I don’t know what to recommend as a substitute – this ingredient is critical for the success of the recipe. Use sour cream, not natural yogurt if you don’t have Greek.

  7. Hey i soo want to try this recipe but there is this troubling thought bugging me. This recipe uses yoghurt hence it has an acidic factor but no baking soda is used .i usually add baking soda whenver i use buttermilk or yoghurt. So Will that work anyway? I mean without the soda

    • Being that I tried SO MANY times to get this recipe to work, I recommend following it EXACTLY because if you don’t, I have no idea if it will work or not. I tried so mnay various things that I ‘swore would work out’ but then the loaf would fail until this combo of ingredients.

  8. Hey . I can i replace greek yoghurt with homemade yoghurt? Would i have to add some baking soda in that case? As yoghurt is acidic

  9. my girlfriend really loved this thing at starbucks on her last trip to the us, and I’m trying to use your recipe even with this impossible system of weight. You didn’t mention the temperature of the oven, or even if we should pre-heat it. Could you specify?

  10. Made this recipe yesterday with sour cream and it turned out beautifully! Had to bake it for an additional 10 mins, probably due to oven variations. Thanks for this recipe! I love the Starbucks lemon loaf and at almost $5 and 500 calories a slice, it’s hard to justify buying. But this solves all my problems!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *