The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) – Took years but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!!

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!!

Lots and Lots Of Recipe Testing To Come Up With This Copycat Lemon Loaf

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.

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, and SPOT ON!!

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.

What I Tried

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 poundcake eluded me for ages until I rediscovered and slightly adapted my own 2012 recipe for Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze.

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) - Took years but I finally recreated it! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good!!

How To Make The Best Lemon Loaf (Starbucks Copycat)

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!!

How Does The Best Lemon Loaf Taste

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, and SPOT ON!!

Here’s a video demonstrating how I make the lemon loaf.

Favorite Lemon Recipes:

  • Lemon Lemonies – Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!
  • The Best Lemon Bars – Truly the best lemon bars I’ve ever had!
  • 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!
  • 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!!
  • 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!!

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

Only Eats

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Lemon Lemonies – Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!

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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!!

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!!

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

  1. Very moist, lemony and delicious cake. What Starbucks would like its lemon cake to be (comment of my son). Very easy to prepare. Thank you very much!

  2. First lemon loaf recipe made and only one I’ll need. Came out wonderful. Not a fan of lemon loaf until now. Super easy and super yummy.

    Rating: 5
  3. Amazing recipe! It is definitely a crowd pleaser. It is also very forgiving (which is great as I am not an experienced cook). I used parchment to avoid the mess and it still turned out amazing. I also definitely overmixed and the loaf was still perfect. I am a starbucks-a-holic and now I can enjoy their loaf at any time for half the cost!

    Rating: 5
  4. hello. can i use self raising flour instead of plain flour and baking powder?

    and what size tin /pan is used to bake?

    many thanks!!

  5. Have you tried making this with blueberries added in? Do I need to alter the recipe if I add blueberries?

    • I have not tried. Cannot say because I have not tried.

    • You shouldn’t need to alter the recipe. However, if using frozen berries, I would thaw in a colander (to drain extra moisture).

      Btw, a great combination!

      Good luck!

    • Blueberries sound like an excellent addition! I also think that you will not have to alter the recipe to add these in. BUT I have a tip from Martha that’s very helpful- mix the blueberries with about 1-2 tbsp. of flour first and then mix them in the batter. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom as the loaf bakes in the oven. :)

      • Defnitely! Been using this tip for blueberry muffins for years – the secrets are all in the techniques, no matter what the recipe! 😉

  6. This is the best ever!! Freezes well too!

    Rating: 5
  7. Outstanding!! Made 2 cakes 2 nights ago.. and made glaze last night. Went with a lighter consistency, allowing glaze to be soaked into the loaf. Gave one to my neighbor (who went crazy for it), and froze one. Plan on making more of these. Very, very delicious!!!

    Rating: 5
  8. Lemony, moist, and delicious! Everyone raves about it!

  9. Can I use gf flour

  10. Do you use lemon juice when making the glaze or real lemon juice?

  11. I made it yesterday but using Stevia instead of sugar and my mom and dad told me make it again in day or two. It was so delicious and I was using most organic eggs you can imagine, I am from Montenegro all 99,99% of the food is organic and cake was so yellow…Regards from Montenegro, Europe….

    Rating: 5
  12. This cake is just chuck full of lemony goodness. I didn’t have a loaf pan so I used a bundt pan. Also, I only had to bake for 33 minutes. It was perfectly done at that time. I followed the recipe tothe letter. It really is a bakery/restaurant quality cake. Thanks so much for sharing. Everyone is raving about the cake.

    Rating: 5
  13. This was simple to make and oh so yummy! I made two and taking one to bingo tonight. I made the frosting a wee bit thicker so it didn’t soak in or run down onto the platter. I feel there’s just enough lemon taste to the recipe. I can’t figure out how to add a picture :(

    Rating: 5
  14. Will this recipe double with the same great results?

    Rating: 5
  15. One of the best lemon loafs I have made and i love lemon, so have made a few… i doubled the recipe, and i did not have Greek yogurt handy (as i had just made tzatziki and then found this recipe) ..so i used half sour cream and half buttermilk..it was still amazing ,,, also added lemon rind in glaze ,, because i am a bit of lemon ‘nut’ … I like that it was not dense like many loaves ..it was lighter in texture … going to make this one again, and again

    Rating: 5
  16. So good! I made this last week and it was perfection. I wanted to make a lemon blueberry loaf… do you think I could add a cup of blueberries without messing up this amazing recipe??

    Rating: 5
  17. I have made this bread more times than I can recall. Everyone loves it and as a result, it has been shared with many of my neighbors and friends. In fact, I am making another batch today.

    Rating: 5
  18. Would you need to change anything in this recipe for baking at High Altitude? I live in Albuquerque, NM and I’m always trying to figure out what I need to do to increase or decrease ingredients. Please help! I’d love to bake this for a baby shower brunch!

  19. Can this recipe be used for a 2-layer cake using 2 8″ pans?

  20. This was awesome! I made it into a 9×13 cake instead so it didn’t have to bake so long, and just sprinkled powdered sugar on top. Amazing. :)

    Rating: 5
  21. Have you tried adding poppy seeds to make it a lemon poppy seed loaf?

  22. I thought we were out of yogurt and we never have sour cream. I found cream cheese in the fridge, otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It’s beautiful! It does feel odd not using lemon juice and using oil instead of butter. But hey, sometimes you have to try something new to get new results. I used grapeseed oil. Thanks so much for this versatile recipe. We will use it in so many ways.

    Rating: 5
  23. I made this yesterday and followed the recipe. After it came out of the oven I let it cool for an hour and then glazed it as directed. The loaf was slightly warm and tasted delicious! When I tried another piece before going to bed it had a bitter after taste. The kids wouldn’t even finish their piece of cake which made me sad. When I tried it the first time that wasn’t the case. I made sure when zesting the lemon not to get down to the bitter white part of the rind. Any input as to why this might have happened? It was so yummy until the bitterness came through later.

    Rating: 4
    • I really cannot say…maybe the extract you used had some funky bitterness going on, could be the zest, sometimes baking powder that’s off can do that, it’s hard to say guessing from afar. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  24. Thank you for sharing this terrific recipe! I made a couple of changes and it still turned out great — melted butter instead of veg oil, reduced the sugar to 3/4 c, and added 1 T poppy seed. I also made a lemon glaze that I brushed on top of the loaf once cooled using icing sugar and lemon juice. The loaf was a hit with everyone at the office!

    Rating: 5
  25. I doubled the receipe to give one to my older son. It easily adapted and I actually increased baking time by 10 minutes. The smell was heavenly and the taste was pure lemon heaven. I used 3 tbsp. lemon extract to the batter. Awesome loaves and so perfect.

    Rating: 5

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