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!!

 

 

MY OTHER RECIPES

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.

5
5 / 5 ()
Did you make this recipe?

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!

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

  1. Hi. I was wondering if you could substitute this with orange extract and zest instead of lemon???
    And I’ve made this lemon cake and all my family loves it! And preferred it over other kinds! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Glad this is a favorite for you and your kids! I haven’t personally done it with orange extract/zest but I know there have been people who’ve commented saying they’ve done that and it’s worked out well for them.

  2. Not sure what went wrong but this cake fell once removed from oven and wound up being dense. The flavor was still good, but the texture wasn’t cake like or even bread like. :(

  3. Hi Averie,,
    I just want to make sure I’m understanding the cooking time correctly. Is it 50-52 minutes “total” or 50-52 plus the extra ten minutes with the foil tent?
    Thanks!
    Anne

    • Baking times vary widely. Keep an eye on it. It could be done in 45 minutes fully, could take 65 minutes. Climates, ovens, pans, etc. Don’t get hung up on a number. Watch it and bake until done.

      That said, for me 50-52 mins is the right amount and sometimes at the 40-ish minute marker, I put a foil tent on. Just depends on the day.

  4. Hi Averie! Would you do anything different when baking at high altitude? Thanks

  5. Want to make several of these for holiday giving. Why can’t I glaze and freeze? Planned to poke holes in the breads and drizzle glaze over. I have glazed and frozen muffins in the past with good results. Thanks.

  6. Want to make several of these for holiday giving. Plan to poke holes in the breads , drizzle glaze over and freeze. I have frozen glazed muffins in the past with good results. Thanks.

  7. Hi Averie,
    Thanks for the recipe! Want to try it for my birthday. I’m wondering if you use lemon extract(powder) or the fluid. Have to order online because I don’t know where to get it ;-)

  8. I want to freeze this and send to family in another state what do you think?

  9. Can I double the recipe or use 2 smaller pans?

  10. I love lemon poppy seed anything. Do you think adding poppy seeds would be OK? How much would you suggest?

    • Other readers have added poppy seeds with success. Since I haven’t done it I can’t say. Maybe 2 to 3 tablespoons…start slowly and see how it’s looking after you add them to the batter.

  11. I loved this recipe! I had a few little modifications of my own on my second try, I added blueberries (rinsed and coated with a little flour) and also didn’t have lemon extract for the batter… so instead, once the cake cooled, I drizzled fresh squeezed lemon juice on the loaf before I added the icing!

  12. I have been looking for strawberry bread, made with strawberry extract, and it is near impossible to find anyone who has done this. I have made this lemon bread many times,and it is absolutely delicious! I wonder if switching lemon extract for strawberry extract would work? Wish me luck, i will let readers know how it turns out!!!

  13. This recipe looks AMAZING! I can’t wait to try it!

    I’m assuming that, if I wanted to cook it in a bundt cake pan, I would need to double the recipe? Or would it just not work to make a bundt cake?

    Thank you for always sharing such awesome recipes!

    • Tough call. I would say as-is, it will bake fine as a Bundt in a normal 12-cup Bundt pan, albeit a little on the short side. However I feel like doubling the recipe could almost be too much batter but it’s hard to say. I would say make as written first and if it’s just way too short for you, double it next time, or maybe try to 1.5x the recipe rather than 2x it. I realize that gets into egg confusion, etc.

    • Hi! Did you try baking in the bundt cake pan? I am wanting to attempt the same idea… but am curious how it turned out?! My son has requested a lemon pound cake with blueberries for his birthday ;) haha! I think this recipe sounds delicious (and should be okay to toss blueberries in!). Thank you :)

      • I think you will be fine in a Bundt, it could be a bit ‘short’ and not as tall as a regular Bundt but it will definitely ‘work’ fine; just cosmetically a little short. You could 1.5x the recipe. I think a straight double could almost be too much batter.

      • I doubled the recipe for a stanadard Bundt pan, and it turned out great! The only thing I didn’t truly double was the extract—I just added a little extra based on taste. It was delicious!

      • Great info and thanks for sharing! This Bundt pan question comes up a lot and so it’s nice to hear from someone who tried it! Glad it came out delicious!

  14. I love this lemon pound cake recipe but every time I make it, the cake sinks in the middle.
    What can I do differently to fix it?

  15. Hi Averie! I just discovered your “Best Lemon Loaf – Better than Starbucks” recipe and I’m dying to make it! Your recipe requires sour cream or Greek yogurt! I saw pretty much every Greek yogurt at the market and don’t know which brand to get or which flavor! I don’t want anything to change or alter the lemony taste and yumminess!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! This is easily the best lemon loaf I have ever made. I have been making your lemon loaf recipe for 2+ years now and it gets SO many compliments every time. Just wanted to reach out and comment to thank you for this recipe as it has become a staple and go-to gift in our house!

  17. Just made the lemon loaf today, wonderful , just used 1 tablespoon of extra , very nice, perhaps 1/2 tablespoons next time , thanks so much?

  18. I would like to know if I need to bake longer if I double the recipe and use a larger loaf pan? Please advise. Thank you.

  19. Thanks for this great recipe! i am not a baker and often mess things up (despite following recipes carefully)…but this was so easy and turned out perfect! Thanks for attaching videos to your recipes–it really helps us non-bakers. I will definitely try your other recipes now.

  20. I made this yesterday, and it was fabulous!!! Thank you for sharing your masterpiece. My husband’s exact words were “you’ve outdone yourself on this one”. He couldn’t rave enough about the full-bodied flavour, and how moist it turned out. He said this recipe is a “keeper”. 😀😀

    Rating: 5
  21. Hi Averie! I want to make this for church this week, but want to make it in a 9×13 pan to get more icing coverage :) If I double the recipe and baked in a 9×13, how long would it need in the oven?

    Rating: 5
    • It’s hard to say because I always make it in a loaf pan so it needs to cook for an hour, give or take. Being baked in a flatter pan, and then also doubling, very hard to say. My guess would be 40ish mins but start checking early. Could also take up to 50ish…just bake until a toothpick comes out clean.

  22. Could I substitute applesauce for oil here to moisten the cake?

  23. I made this last week for my friends and they loved it! I added about 1tbsp of fresh lemon curd for the base of my glaze and it took it to an all new flavor level. I had to do a little fix-up on my cake edges though. I used a glass loaf pan greased with floured spray and I was shocked to see that my cake was quite dark on the sides and bottom when the middle still wasn’t done. Does this ever happen to you? Or do you have any idea why it could happen? Your pic above looks soo good! — how do I duplicate that color?

    Rating: 4
    • Sometimes when baking loaves of bread that can happen. I would say tent the pan with foil in the last 20 minutes or so and/or turn your oven down by 25 degrees. Sometimes it’s just unavoidable though that the sides get a little browner than you’d prefer.

  24. Thanks for the quick response! I took your suggestions and it came out a much lighter brown than before. The inner cake was, with no surprise, super delicious again. :)

Leave a Reply

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