The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)
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The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You’re going to love this lemon bread recipe!
Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe
This lemon loaf cake recipe has been beyond a long time in the making. I’ve been trying to make this copycat Starbucks lemon 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.
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.
I’ve tried countless internet recipes for lemon bread 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.
Something as ‘simple’ as a lemon loaf cake 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 lemon pound cake prayers was right under my nose!
This lemon loaf cake is soft, springy, and moist without being heavy or dry, problems which often plague pound cake. 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 lemon loaf 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.
Lemon Loaf Ingredients
To make this copycat Starbucks lemon loaf recipe, you’ll need:
- Granulated sugar
- Sour cream
- Canola oil
- Lemon zest
- Lemon extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
And to make the lemon bread glaze, you’ll need:
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Lemon juice
Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Canola?
I don’t recommend doing so, as that would change the taste of the lemon bread too much. If you want a lemon olive oil dessert, make my Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe instead.
Can I Make This Lemon Loaf Gluten-Free?
I’ve had quite a few readers ask about using gluten-free flour in this copycat Starbucks lemon pound cake recipe. I’ve only made the recipe as written, but readers have reported success using either Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour or Cup4Cup gluten-free flour.
I can’t say for sure if using a gluten-free flour will work, but this is what readers have recommended!
How to Make Lemon Loaf
This Starbucks recipe for lemon loaf couldn’t be easier to make! Here’s a look at how this recipe comes together:
- First, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and sour cream before drizzling in the oil.
- Stir in the lemon zest and extract, followed by the dry ingredients.
- Turn the lemon loaf batter into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan and bake until the top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter.
- The copycat Starbucks lemon loaf needs to cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with the glaze!
Can I Make This Recipe in Mini Loaf Pans?
Of course, just note that your bake time will vary depending on the size of your pans.
One reader reported success making seven mini loaves and baking them at 350ºF for about 35 minutes, if that helps. However, I can’t speak from personal experience.
Can I Double This Recipe?
Most likely, yes. You’d need to bake two 9×5-inch loaves.
A few readers have also asked if they can double the recipe and bake the batter in a 9×13-inch pan or a metal bundt pan. Both options would likely work, although I can’t say for sure.
Can I Freeze Lemon Bread?
Yes, this lemon bread freezes incredibly well. It can be frozen up to 6 months.
Just be sure to glaze the bread AFTER it’s been frozen and thawed (the glaze can be frozen, but the texture changes slightly).
Tips for Making Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf
A few key things to note about the lemon extract in the cake batter:
- 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 you can add it to taste.
- Do NOT use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably because they’re not — oil is much more potent and intense.
- Also, do NOT use lemon juice in place of lemon extract because it’s not strong enough and the acidity can alter the overall results.
What Readers Are Saying
As you can see on the recipe card, this copycat Starbucks recipe for lemon loaf has over 1,500 reviews on it. And if you scroll to the very bottom of this post, you’ll see the 1,000+ comments that readers have left.
To say that this lemon bread recipe has been tried and tested — and loved! — is an understatement!
Here are just a few 5-star reviews that have been left on this lemon loaf cake recipe:
“Delightful! This loaf did not last long in my household – lemony and delicious and a recipe I always come back to.” — Stephanie
“I have been making this recipe for a few years! Always gets the best reviews! I poke holes in it so when I add the glaze it goes into the loaf! This is my go to recipe when I am asked to bring a dessert!” — Joan Kasaris
“Simple, yet delicious! Baked mine for 40 minutes. It’s a dense, flavourful cake and will be my go-to lemon loaf recipe from now on since I have too been looking for the perfect lemon loaf for a long time. Thanks for finding it for me!!!” — Vivi
“Hard to believe a recipe so quick and easy tastes so good. Passed some out to friends and they were amazed at texture and flavor. I followed the reciperight to the end.” — Roger Drenga
“This recipe is incredibly delicious, and this was also my very first time baking a lemon loaf. I’m so happy how it turned out, and everyone in our house loved it. Thank you!” — Danielle
- 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)*
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and whisk vigorously until smooth and combined.
- Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Make the Loaf:
Make the Lemon Glaze:
- *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.
- 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.
- Recipe adapted from my Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 329Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 233mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 6g
More Lemon Desserts:
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!
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!
Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze – Almost more berries than cake in this soft, fluffy cake!
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!
Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze — An easy buttermilk cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!
Softbatch Glazed Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies — Big, bold lemon flavor packed into super soft cookies thanks to the cream cheese!! Tangy-sweet perfection! Lemon lovers are going to adore these easy cookies!!
Baked Lemon Donuts with Lemon Glaze — They taste like the Starbucks lemon loaf, but in donut (or mini muffin) form!! Easy, no mixer recipe with a tart-yet-sweet lemon glaze that’s PERFECT! Lemon lovers will adore them!!
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