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

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

  1. Hi,
    Just made a batch and they turned out to be delicious. A friend doesnt eat eggs amd asked me if i can bake it for him without eggs. Is there a substitue that would make it taste this delicious?
    Thanks,
    Ritu

  2. tonight was my second time making this loaf, we enjoyed it the first time. i tripled the loaf tonight one for us, one for my dad and one for the priest (my 4 kids are getting baptized tomorrow) , i added poppy seeds this time. everything was going along fine until i got into an animated chat with my husband and realized when adding the batter to the pans, i had quadrupled half was through! crossed my fingers and hoped for the best (it was already 11pm). just took them out and they look nice. have to wait till the a.m. to taste it, but i think it will regardless be nice with poppy seed.

  3. I have fat free Greek yogurt can I used this?

    • I haven’t tried fat free Greek yogurt in this recipe but it will probably be ‘fine’ and the recipe will still likely work. Baking with 0 fat means there will be less moisture and possibly less flavor in the overall finished product just so you know that going in.

  4. Hi Averie, cannot wait to try this. Would you recommend plain yogurt vs. vanilla?

    Thanks! Cheers from Canada,

    Suzanne

  5. I can’t wait to try your recipe! Have you tried adding blueberries? I will let you know how it goes.

  6. Ahhh this cake is just delicious, I have baked it over 6x and most of my friends and family request this all time. Some of my friends have even started to make it to, I made it once with poppy seeds and I must say it was fab. The loaf tastes so much better after a few days, even more moist! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!! 

  7. Hi Averie, I have tried this recipe and I must say this is really really good. It’s moist, flavorful and burst with lemon flavour. Good job you have here, Averie! And thanks for the great recipe :)

  8. Have You tried making this in a different pan? I have a family glazed lemon cake recipe that I make in a round cake pan…. I’m dying to try your recipe for the pound cake (and use my family recipe for the glaze) but wondering if swapping out the loaf pan for a round cake pan will change the result. Thanks!!

    • Changing pans that dramatically can change results, i.e. from a loaf to a round cake. I haven’t tried this as a round cake so can’t say for sure how the baking time, texture, etc will be and recommend making it as written since it literally took me 3 yrs and dozens of trials to come up with this. I did the hard work for you :) Just follow the recipe is my advice.

  9. Try using Lemon Greek Yogurt. The taste is amazing. I double the recipe and get three  nice size loafs if I use the aluminium loaf pans that are one time use. Thanks for the recipe my family loves it.

  10. This recipe is incredible.  My only very slight modification was to the glaze.    We have a sweet tooth around here so I made a little more glaze and sliced the cake in the pan before drizzling the glaze on.  This way every slice had some extra goodness ready to go.  I was over zealous in my zesting so I added the extra when I made the glaze.  I can’t wait try more of your recipes.  

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! I love things extra glaze-ey and extra sweet too :) I usually make a bit extra glaze for myself with most recipes, too!

  11. Hubby absolutely adores Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf and since there isn’t one nearby nor could we afford it as much as he’d like – I’ve tried several recipes. This one wins HANDS DOWN and I have now made it at least half a dozen times! Thank you!! =) Today is his birthday so you know what I’m making! ;) LOL

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you – all half dozen times!! Nice to know mine wins, hands down! Happy Bday to your hubby and hope he enjoys his ‘birthday cake’. :)

  12. I normally don’t post comments, but this recipe was so good I just had to say thank you! Lemon loaf was my dad’s favourite dessert before he developed celiac disease and could not find a gluten free lemon cake anywhere. I made this for him with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 GF flour and it came out perfectly! My dad loved it and so did I, tastes just like the heavenly Starbucks loaf. So happy my dad can now eat (almost) the same one! thanks again :)

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! And you made it GF, no less! Some other people I believe have mentioned that Cup4Cup GF flour has worked for them in this recipe. So glad your dad can enjoy this with you!

  13. I made this with lemon greek yogurt, and threw in a yellow zucchini! Yummy! Thank you!

  14. it was perfect.
    I’m boycotting Starbucks for many reasons so I was missing this cake .
    I baked it yesterday and I’m trying not to finish it by myself.
    That’s reminds me I need another slice.
    thank you for the recipe.

  15. Made this today, used a 8.5×4.5 pan (it was tall we had) and it got so domed on the top with a perfect little crack down the side so aesthetically, it’s adorable. Coming out of the oven, it smelled ah-maz-ing!!!! It’s so yummy too! Will definitely make this again (and again, and again, and again…) <3

  16. Averie, this recipe is causing me issues. I just popped it in the oven. I can’t wait 39 minutes to get it out because the batter was so amazing. I used coconut oil and it added just the right flavour to it. My daughter is expecting this in her lunch. It may not see morning!  Guess I’ll have to make another one… And one with blueberries… And cupcake version or mini loaves!  Maybe I’d better go to the gym first and pre burn some of this goodness. 

  17. I’m planning on making your lemon bread—looks yummy! Wondering which you prefer- sour cream or yogurt and if there is any significant difference in taste? Also what brand lemon extract do you use?
    Love your recipes!!

  18. OMG! Made the lemon loaf, following recipe exactly and it is WONDERFUL. No need to look for any other recipe. The only thing I will change the next time is add maybe 2-1/2 tablespoons of lemon extract (I love lemon) instead of the 2 I added. Can’t wait to try some of your other items.

  19. Hi! My Daughter is a big fan of Starbucks lemon loaf, so I was very happy when I came across your recipe.I have all the ingredients needed to bake this loaf except for the lemon oil or extract. I do however have teal lemons. I was wondering what exactly will happen if I use real lemon juice & if u can give me any tips on whether or not I would have to make adjustments to the amount of flour, etc used. Thanks :)

    • I am not sure what ‘teal lemons’ are so can’t really say for sure about how they will differ than just standard grocery-store lemons. You need to use lemon extract for that extra punch of flavor that lemon juice alone cannot provide without watering down the batter. Make the recipe as written and you’ll love it!

  20. I tried this and one other online recipe for Starbucks lemon pound cake.  Neither tasted anything like the real thing. Although expensive, I’ll buy mine from Starbucks in the future.  I would give this recipe 1 star out of 5.

  21. I tried your lemon loaf! I didn’t like it at all. I used 2 tablespoons of the lemon extract and all I tasted was a slightly alcohol taste in it. Maybe my extract was bad. I don’t know but I was so disappointed. Sorry!!

    • I think your extract was overly alcohol-ey or as you said, bad. Some extracts unfortunately just taste more like alcohol than they do the flavor of what they’re imitating and I think yours may fall into that camp. I’d try the recipe again with a different brand of extract because you’re one of the very few people who’s ever written in and not enjoyed this recipe. It’s one of my most popular so I’m thinking it was your extract.

  22. Made this yesterday.. me and dd both think it’s better than Starbucks, and the man loved it too. :) Will make this again, and again, and …

    – Also I made this in a glass loaf pan, and it turned out great!

  23. I looked at my extract and the main ingredient is alcohol. So I think you are right. I will check out other extracts and see what I can see on them Ha! I will try again cause I love lemon! Have a great day!!

  24. Recipe is beautiful and sounds very delicious. I do have one questions though. Knowing you didn’t use any fresh lemons is it safe to assume that your lemon zest came from a spice jar? In other words, dry. I ask because I think fresh zest would be much more intense than dried and dried out of a jar would practically use the whole jar to get two tablespoons..

  25. I followed your clear directions to a “T” and the loaf turned out beautifully. My husband and I both LOVED it. I plan on serving it tonight with some berries along side it. I know I’ll be making it time and again. Thank you for all your trials and for sharing it so that the rest of us can just make it and have it turn out yummy the very first time.

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