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!!

MY OTHER RECIPES

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!!

 

 

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.

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 9×5-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

Only Eats

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!

460 comments on “The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)”

  1. do you think the texture will be compensated if I use fresh lemon juice in replace of lemon extract. I would assume the lemony taste will be lighter, since it is lemon juice.

    • Please read some of the prior comments because others have asked about it and I’ve given my opinion to them about this question. I’ve never had success doing it that way but you may.

  2. I ended up using a glass pan when I realized my metal pan was too big. It still came out great! Everyone really enjoyed it. Although, to be honest, it wasn’t as to-die-for as Starbucks. Maybe they put drugs in theirs lol! Who knows.

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and glad it came out great and everyone enjoyed it!

      Out of the hundreds of people who’ve written me to say they’ve tried it, you are the first who said you still prefer the Starbucks version! Guess I can’t win em all :) I am thinking the glass pan you used has something to do with it because of how things bake in glass vs. in metal. I always bake my breads/loaves in metal because I personally seem to get better results overall..so maybe if you try in metal you’ll never need the Starbucks version again!

  3. I just baked this in 8 mini loaf tins for 20 minutes. They came out perfectly moist and airy. Best of all, they looked absolutely adorable! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. I was thinking about making this this weekend but noticed that for some reason my loaf pan is 9.25in by 5.25 in. That little bit of a difference shouldn’t matter too much, right? I have no idea why I would randomly have one that size or where it even came from but thought I’d ask just to be sure!

  5. Hi! First off I love your recipes! I was wondering if you could make this in a bundt pan and how long you would bake it for. Thanks so much!

  6. This looks amazing! I cannot wait for try this recipe out. We don’t have many Starbucks here in Melbourne but I am always on the look out for a lemony loaf that will go really well with my afternoon blog surfing sessions. Love your blog layout too :) x

  7. I’m a big lemon fan and while I haven’t tried this in Starbucks (the calorie counts on everything scare me off)..I made this twice this weekend …… and it was amazing! Even though I messed up the glaze on the second cake, it was still delicious.

  8. This cake was SO easy to make and so delicious! Will definitely make it again!

  9. Cake is very easy to make. Taste ok. Gave to my son who loves Starbucks and he told me that he prefer Starbucks over this recipe. But he loves my cake much better than this and Starbucks. So I guess I will stick with my recipe

  10. Your pictures look delicious but I’m afraid I butchered this recipe ! My loaf turned out very spongy, almost a gummy texture. I believe I must have over mixed it. Crazy what a difference that can make

    • Over-beating dough, i.e. over-developing the gluten, especially in cakes, muffins, and breads can create a very gummy texture in the final product, or tough/chewy. I think that was the culprit in your case.

    • Same thing happened to me! The taste was there and it was delish but the texture wasn’t good at all,  it was spongy. I will try it again maybe tomorrow and see what happens.

  11. I made this recipe as muffins. Turned out amazing. Thank you.
    I skipped the glaze to reduce calories. 

  12. I’ve made this lemon loaf three times now for my mother who loves all things lemon.  She and everyone else in my family are in love with this cake. I usually bake at night and they will stay up to have a warm slice. They literally applaud when I take the cake out of the oven!  It is so velvety smooth and lemony. I actually stopped ordering it at Starbucks because theirs just doesn’t taste as good to me as this version!  Thank you so much for perfecting and sharing this recipe.  

  13. Just took your Lemon Loaf(Better Than Starbuck’s Copycat) from the oven. It smells wonderful. I will have to freeze it because I am taking it to my son’s team at the Apple Store in Charlotte,NC. Also have your best Choc. Chip Chunk cookies in the freezer ready to cook before we go. I have made the cookies twice. My husband loves them.  I would love to cut the lemon loaf while it is warm. HAHAHA!!! I LOVE lemon.

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it smells wonderful and it freezes just fine. Your son will love it! I know it smells so good…hard to wait to cut it :)

      And so glad you love the Choc Chip Chunk Cookies, too!

  14. Made this yesterday. It was wonderful. Thanks for the recipe. 

  15. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! Re posted on my blog http://www.chasingtrendy.com.
    It’s a work in progress, still trying to work on the kinks….

  16. Hi There!

    Tried the recipe and it was delish! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.
    I’ve tried it with the oil and now I’m wondering could I use butter (melted) to substitute the oil?
    Trying to read the “butter vs oil” online and wanted to hear your opinion. Thanks!

  17. Just made the best lemon loaf ever! Very delish mine tuned out exactly like the picture. Very moist.. Great receipt definitely will make this one over and over again! Next time I might add some poppy seeds and see how it turns out.

  18. O. M. G.  Okay…we are huge fans of the Starbucks lemon loaf.  You completely nailed it with this recipe!  It is amazing!  Thank you so much for taking the time to make this perfect, because it really paid off!  :D  I’ve never made a recipe of yours that I haven’t loved, and I’ve made a lot of them.  Thank you!  

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you and lives up to the Starbucks version and then some! Thanks for making tons of other recipes as well and the praise!

  19. Averie, this lemon loaf is incredible! I’ve made it twice in the past month and both times it turned out perfectly. Thank you for the recipe – your time developing it is much appreciated! After learning the starbucks slices were almost 500cal each, I just couldn’t do it! 

    I’ve re-posted it on my blog and tracked back to you as well – http://www.livingtoat.com/2015/06/16/better-than-starbucks-lemon-loaf/ 

  20. Can I use apple sauce instead of oil? I only have Olive oil in the house right now.

    Thanks

    • I haven’t tried it and just thinking about it logically, no I don’t recommend applesauce. This was a VERY challenging recipe to come up with and I recommend sticking to it, 100% as written.

  21. I just decided to make the kids a treat for school tomorrow and was out of  lemon extract, white flour and veg. Oil. So I used vanilla extract, whole wheat flour and coconut oil. It was great and healthy! 

  22. Love this recipe! Thank y  It is also good gluten free if you use Cup4Cup. I made it again yesterday and am glazing it soon. It is going to be great !

  23. Can I double this recipe?

  24. Just made the lemon loaf and the texture is great, it looks wonderful, but I can’t help but comment that it is lacking flavor. I find the Starbucks loaf has a huge lemon kick, I did use the two teaspoons of lemon extract
    and zest… but to me it taste likes its bordering just a regular white cake. Perhaps next time should I add a table spoon more extract or zest?

    • I think all brands of extract do vary in their intensity and also lemons do too in the amount of zesty-ness that they provide. As written, I’ve never had anyone say it lacked any flavor and was bordering on white cake. I would switch brands of extract for sure! You could always add more, too. I actually find that with the glaze, you can make it so lemony you almost can’t take it that it’s so tart-sweet-strong-intense all in one if you add lemon juice and lemon extract to the powdered sugar, just enough to thin it out into a glaze. But between that and the cake itself, it shouldn’t be bland at all. I can’t say for sure, but I am suspecting your extract was on the weaker side so just change brands and/or add more!

  25. Id like to correct my comment as it is bordering midnight where I am- I used two TABLESPOONS of lemon zest and extract lol. It is a great recipe though, just not as lemony as I had hoped for
    imo ;)

Leave a Reply

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