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.

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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

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

  1. Most wonderful moist, lemony goodness. My hubby loves the Lemon Poppyseed Loaf from Starbuck’s, so I used your recipe and added 2 Tbsp Poppyseeds. Turned out perfect!

    Rating: 5
  2. Really enjoyed this recipe. It was my first time making lemon loaf and my son adores the Starbucks version. I feel next time I’d adjust slightly and use 2 eggs instead of 3 (seemed too eggy and dense for me) reduce lemon extract to 1 T. (I used 1.5 T.) and use slightly less zest. Overall a great cake – very zingy lemon flavour!

    Rating: 4
    • Thanks for trying the recipe and glad you liked it overall! As always with baking, adjust to what you think is best for your tastes. Hope the changes give you exactly what you’re looking for.

  3. This recipe looks AMAZING! I have not tried it yet but most definitely want to. Although I need to know, is there an adaptation to make these as Muffins? I figure the batter/recipe would be the same, just different baking instructions/baking time and/or different temperature? I would love to make these for a school function and individually wrap them as Muffins. Please let me know if you can…I will be so excited to try it!!!

  4. Hi Averie! I just found your recipe recently and made it for my husband, who just LOVES lemon loaf. He said your recipe is the best he’s had! Thank you so much for sharing. I have a question though. While he loves the loaf, I was not sure I had done it right. It was more bread-like than I thought it should be. I was looking more for a fine lose crumb like a cupcake, but my loaf had more of a stiffer texture. Do you know if maybe I messed up? or perhaps do you think I can substitute the AP flour with cake flour to get a more cake like texture? Sorry for the long-windedness. and thank you for reading!!ALice

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad this was the best lemon loaf your husband has ever had!

      This does not have a ‘light’ texture per se, it’s more on the dense side for me, but it shouldn’t be overly dry or stiff. I would say, don’t overmix the batter once you add the flour. Don’t overbake it either. And you could experiment with cake flour for a silkier texture but it’s not always a 1:1 substitution with cake flour to AP flour.

      I had soooo many fails with this loaf, like probably at least 10+ before I got it just right so I personally don’t mess with the recipe and just make it as is. Good luck. Keep me posted what you try.

      • Thank you so much for the reply! I will let you know if I end up playing around with the recipe. I should also mention that my husband all but forbade me from messing with this perfect lemon loaf!

      • My advice generally is to leave well enough alone if you someone says ‘it’s the best I’ve ever had’ . :)

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